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Crows and Ravens: in Nature and Myths.

A gathering of information.

I apologize for the documents poor quality and lack of order and organization.

Corvids are sociable birds. They tend to form social groups, and this can be seen particularly in the case of rooks, which stay in their flocks all year round. Ravens, the largest of the family, reaching as much as 3 feet from beak to tail, form groups as juveniles, pairing off into lifelong monogamous and extremely territorial relationships at around the age of three. The courtship can involve such fun and games as synchronized snow sliding, and, of course, the synchronized flight test. The corvids can be found all over the world, and are the largest of the Passeriformes, or songbirds. The common raven is widely distributed throughout the Northern hemisphere, and the adaptability and intelligence of this family have made it extremely successful.
Ravens and crows belong to the bird family Corvidae which also includes jays, nutcrackers, and magpies. They exist on every continent except for Antarctica. New Hampshire has one species of raven and two species of crows: American crows and fish crows. All are all black and all are technically songbirds. The ravens are by far the largest and have a more shaggy appearance. They prefer dense forest and are rare in cities. Fish crows are the smallest, but telling them apart from American crows is difficult until one becomes familiar with the different calls and behaviors of the two species. Both ravens and crows have a large repertoire of calls and use these calls to communicate.
The (Perceived) Dark Side of Ravens and CrowsRavens and crows are intelligent birds. They observe us humans and take advantage of opportunities we provide to them. These birds are capable of hunting their own food, but it is often easier for them to scavenge. They know that food is abundant following a battle or by the roadside. They watch us and know many of our habits. They communicate in ways that we cannot always understand. They gather in large groups and their calls can be loud and unnerving. At times they mock us, using our own words against us or attempting to turn our territories into their territories. Aboriginal mythologies frequently portray these birds as tricksters. European lore often associates them with the devil. The more you learn about them, however, the more you will respect crows and ravens as a rich part of our cultural and natural heritage.

Ravens and crows are exceptionally intelligent birds. They can discern individual human faces. They can share information with other crows, such as the presence of dangerous places or predators. They often act as sentinels when another crow is feeding, warning of on-coming cars or other dangers. They are curious and can make use of simple tools, such as sticks for probing crevices. Family Life and Social Life Crows and ravens live an average 7-8 years in the wild, although one rare bird lived 29.5 years. As in common with other birds, many baby crows never live to leave the nest. Although nests are built by both males and females, incubation of eggs is performed solely by females. Because males and females look the same, observation of nesting and reproductive behaviors is the only reliable way to determine a crows sex in the field. According to research done by Kevin J. McGowan of Cornell University, American Crows are cooperative breeders. Offspring remained with their parents for one to six years and helped their parents raise young. 80% of observed nests had helpers. Some individuals left the parental group and helped a sibling who had a breeding spot. Fish Crows did not have helpers attending their nests. No marked Fish Crow was ever seen attending the nest of its parents. (One) Fish Crow was observed at several nests and (it)even fed nestlings, but in all cases the parents reacted aggressively toward the third individual. Observations such as these are often the key to proper identification of the species. Regardless of species, ravens and crows are very social. They frequently form foraging flocks. In areas with a large supply of food, these flocks may number in the thousands. Flocks of any size help to provide safety and, at night, warmth. Gatherings of crows or ravens are poetically called murders, although scientists prefer to call them what they call other bird groups, flocks.

"If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows."
Henry Ward Beecher They're dark. They sound ominous (quark). They'll eat just about anything they can find, including dead bodies on the battlefield or corpses hanging from the gallows.

Crows and ravens (both corvids) are seriousand seriously creepywherever they show up. (Except for the Idiot Crows.) In most of their fictional appearances, they are the go-to scary bird (at least when vultures aren't cultures.

available), and are traditionally associated with death in many mythologies and A group of crows is a murder; a group of ravens is an unkindness or conspiracy (and rooks are a building or parliament, jackdaws are a clattering)note .

On the other hand, corvids are also very clever. This is Truth in Television, as

the Beecher quote shows. They may feature a crow as theDeadpan Snarker or

the Trickster Mentor. While crows and ravens are genuinely capable of speech in Real Life, their speaking voices are almost cartoonish, sounding nothing like the harsh voice of their cawing.

Because they are so visually similar, in many visual media it can be hard to tell whether the bird in question is meant to be a raven or a crow (note that some Old World crows are gray with black head and wings; in Eastern Europe, where this subspecies is ubiquitous, no troubles exist telling ravens from crows). There is little if any difference in how they are treated; however, ravens are more likely to cross over into Big Badass Bird of Prey territory)note . They'll often have the behavior of a crow, but be called "ravens" because the word "raven" sounds more badass.

Corvids suffer from a strange sort of form of the Conservation of Ninjutsu. A single crow will probably be intelligent (and, if one of the bad guys, will also of crows/congress of ravens will just be mindless animals possibly under control of something or someone external. Of course, the significance of various numbers of corvids is the subject of some Older Than take an unnerving interest in the heroes). On the other hand, a whole murder

Feudalism superstitions. Sometimes corvids are shown more-or-less positively (although ravens are usually (but not always) more likely to be heroic characters than crows), and in this case their traditional characteristics

are portrayed in a better light. Heroic ravens are often wise or intelligent

characters, while crows tend to be friendly tricksters or Plucky Comic Relief. On the other hand, crows (never ravens) are a staple of The Golden Age of Animation, appearing in countless funny cartoon shorts set on family farms, crows are always played for humor and aren't the slightest bit scary, though they can certainly be annoying to the farmers (and the occasional living scarecrow). They tend to be Screwy Squirrel tricksters.

where their role is to drive farmers nuts gobbling up their corn crops. Cartoon

Crows and ravens tend to fall under the Trickster Archetype. What Measure Is a Non-Cute? is a matter of some disagreement. For more creepy birds, see Feathered Fiend, but also see the note on scavengers in Carnivore

Confusion. See One For Sorrow Two For Joy for magpies, closely related both not here.) For black feathers used as symbolism,

in Real Life and in tropes. (Any magpie-related examples should go there and

Some cultures, like the Egyptians, Romans, and Arabs, have respected the symbols of pure evil while others have merely viewed them as omens or prophets.

power of these birds while others have feared them. Some have viewed them as

The Irish once used these birds for divination because they believed that they possessed second sight. It is said that the British believed that ravens fleeing the Tower of London would be an omen of the upcoming fall of the English monarchy.

Writers have, over the years, written about the raven. Many contended that he is the symbol of death. The bird is even mentioned in the Bible; plucking out the eyes of sinners in Proverbs 30:17 and descending upon the wicked in Isaiah 34:11.

Some contend that the raven was once a beautiful white bird. However, when Noah sent it out of the Ark to test the waters for land, it failed to return to black and condemned it to eat nothing but dead carrion. deliver its message. As punishment, it is was believed that God turned the bird The Greeks, on the other hand, believed that it was the sun god, Apollo, who

turned the bird black when he dared to reveal a message that the god's beloved had been unfaithful. The Norse valued the tattletale nature of the bird. It was observing; returning home to inform him of what was happening among his people. Many religions, including that of Christianity, believed that these blackbirds said that the great god Odin used the raven to travel the world, watching and

were symbols of damnation. In many instances they were even associated with the ultimate sinner; that of the devil himself. Still others thought that the birds were the result of the casting of a witch's spell.

Only a handful of people, including that of some tribes of Native America, have viewed these dark emblems in any kind of positive light. Many tribes, in contrast to so many others, viewed them as guides meant to help mankind

along his journey in both life and death. A few viewed them as those lucky its way to its final resting place.

enough to be granted the power to see the soul as it leaves the human body on Other tribes view these birds as messengers who have shared the secrets of The or raven as the helper of mankind, rather than as a trickster or a bad omen. learn how to survive.

Great Spirit with his people. Many Native American legends deal with the crow The bird is often associated with the creation as well as with helping mankind Some cultures viewed the crow in a negative light while they viewed the raven in a positive one. Most others viewed them as one and the same. In mythology, it wasn't unusual for the gods to take the form of a raven or crow in order to fly down to earth and mix among their people.

Still other cultures considered these blackbirds to be symbols of sexual prowess or even deviancy. They believed that the birds had the power to turn even the best man into a sinner who would commit adultery or other acts of sexual deviance.

Few birds have as much written or verbal lore about them as that of the crow, raven, or blackbird. With perhaps the exception of the eagle or the mythical phoenix, these birds are the most noted. A symbol of loneliness and solitude, it is possible that these black birds are

simply misunderstood. On the other hand, perhaps they are just cunning like that the blackbird, crow, or raven will ever be deemed worthy of any kind of adulation. To quote Edgar Allen Poe "Never more. . ."

the demons and devils that they supposedly emulates. At any rate, it is doubtful

People once believed that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes something so bad happens that a terrible

sadness is carried with it and the soul cant rest. Then sometimes, just

sometimes, the crow can bring that soul back to put the wrong things right. Ravens are perhaps the most common bird symbol in the mythologies and religions of ancient cultures. They assume a variety of roles, ranging from messengers of deities and sages to oracles and tricksters. They play a central realms lying beyond the ordinary experience. What is so lurid about these black-feathered creatures and why does the sight of them send a wave of shivers down ones spine? Studying the folk lore of different cultures may

part in many creation myths and are typically associated with the supernatural

unravel the motives underlying the superstitious beliefs and religious faiths.

In most North European mythologies birds such as ravens, vultures and others feeding on carrionthe flesh of the deadcommonly pass as symbols of war, death and misfortune. Celtic and Irish goddesses were believed to appear in the form of a crow or a raven, gathering over the battlefields, where they

would feed on the flesh of the fallen warriors. Also, seeing a raven or a crow before going into a battle gave a sense of foreboding and meant that the army would be defeated. When the giant Bran, king of Britain in Welsh mythology, was mortally wounded while warring against the Irish, he commanded his followers to behead him and carry his head to the Tower of London for his burial and as a sign of protection of Britain. A popular superstition arose declaring that if the ravens ever fled the Tower of London, the monarchy

would fall. As long as they nested there, Britain would never be successfully invaded. In medieval times these pagan legends resulted in demonization of crows and ravens, which were consequently depicted as familiars of witches.

The history of ravens as mythical birds can be traced as far as the 1000-yeardescribes this bird as a common sign of evil due to its habits of a scavenger. However, raven as a symbol, the authors further explain, acquires also a

old Norse mythology. Under the entry Raven the encyclopedia of Norse myths

positive interpretation. The omniscient god Odin, one of the chief gods in Norse mythology, had a pair ravens called Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Mind) observe what was happening and question everybody, even the dead. By perching on his shoulders. Each daybreak they were sent out into the world to

sunrise they would come back to whisper their master what they had seen and learnt. Since they embodied Odins mind and thoughts, they symbolized his ability to see into the future. The book also makes a mention of an early Norse ravens to the Underworld to investigate the disappearance of the lost goddess Idunn. Sometimes Odin himself would turn into a raven.

poem HRAFNAGALDUR ODINS (Odins Raven Chant), in which Odin sends the

In North American folklore ravens are the creators of the world. Details of the creation tale differ, but essentially the Ravena creature with human body taught them to take care of themselves, make clothes, canoes and houses. He and ravens beakis believed to have made the world. He gave light to people, also brought vegetation, animals, and other benefits for the human kind. Raven assumes the role of Noah from the biblical story of Great Floodhe is said to have taken animals two by two on a big raft in order to save them. After all he

had done for the humans, he wished to marry a woman in turn, but her family refused to let her go. As a revenge, the myth says, the Raven created mosquitoes from crushed leaves to pester the humans forever. The belief in intelligence and cunning of ravens or crows is unquestionable and stories paying a tribute to this winged wisdom may be found both in usually attributed to Aesop The Crow and the Pitcher is just one of the European and North American mythologies. A fable about the crows cunning countless instances. It tells about a thirsty crow that was vainly looking for

something to drink on a deserted land. When it came upon a pitcher, it found out its beak was too short to reach the water in it. It knew that if it had tipped pitcher until the water rose and reached the top. The moral arising from the fable Necessity is the mother of invention, depicts crows as intelligent and ingenious beings. the pitcher over, the water would spill. It dawned on it to throw pebbles in the

Among the native tribes of the New World the raven is depicted both as a sage and as a trickster. Of particular interest is the story of how there was no light in the world. Though there are certain variations, the story is the same: light was kept in a box by the chief of Heaven and people lived in darkness. The

raven didnt like it and conceived a plan to steal it. It took a shape of a leaf

floating in a stream where the chiefs daughter came to drink. She then gave birth to him and as an infant the raven played in the house of the chief. He soon began to cry for the box with the light, and the chief, charmed by his little grandson, gave it to him. The Raven changed into his bird shape and carried fragments giving rise to the stars, the moon, and the sun. In the North the box through the sky. However, he dropped it, and the light broke into tiny American mythology raven is a personification of supreme being. When it the raven who is responsible for the rhythm of seasons and providing the shamans with their visionary and healing powers.

flaps its wings, it creates the wind, the lightning and the thunder. And it is also

North American and Canadian mythology abound in stories depicting the

raven as a rascal or a trickster. Apart from the creation raven is believed to

have changed the world afterwards to a less cushy place so that the life for and strenuous lots the fate dealt them was supposed to be a source of amusement for the raven. Speaking of European cultures and Christian religion, over the centuries

humans would not be so easy. Watching humans struggle with its complexities

ravens have become symbols of something ungodly, having an evil repute. In

Shakespeares play Macbeth the ominous atmosphere is pierced by the ravens

croak foreboding the fatal entrance of Duncan. In Othello the raven flies oer the infected house. Both of these quotes have clear evil connotations. However, having a special intimacy with God on the one hand, such as feeding holy as unclean or a flaw in Gods plan on the other hand (Gen 7:8). in Bible we may find ambiguous instances of ravens both doing good deeds and hermits during a time of turmoil and drought (King 17:6), and being described While peoples of the Old World have persecuted ravens with the zeal of the witch hunters, the Natives in the New World have always held them in reverence. Drawing from this fact their attitude contrasts the dark European perceptions. In Alaska killing a raven was an ultimate taboo bringing on the assailant nothing less than harm. Suzetta Tucker illustrates the case with an example of an archaeological excavation carried out on St. Lawrence Island

during which bones of 45 bird types were found, excluding those of a raven. The experts on mythology and folklore have thus suggested that the 1100year-old Eskimo civilization has long revered the raven. That might also clarify the fact why the ravens are so tame in this area. Furthermore, the author adds that in Ireland raven used to be domesticated for use in divination practices. amounting to that of a supreme entity.

Various cases of worship might readily attest to an honored position of ravens Stories about the origin of the ravens black feathers may be found both in the

Christian tradition and North American mythology likewise although these are without clear parallels. The well-known biblical story of Great Flood goes that after it had stopped raining, Noah sent a white raven to explore the sea and look for a dry piece of land. Instead of coming back to inform Noah the bird sent a white dove which came back with an olive branch. The raven was on carrion as a punishment.

kept going to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth. So Noah summoned to come back by force and was blackened and condemned to feed According to a Ukrainian legend the raven is believed to have had beautifully

colored feathers and a lovely voice before the Fall of Angels from heaven after

which their plumage turned black and they lost their voices. It is also believed on Earth.

that their former beauty will be returned to them after the Paradise is restored Candace Savage explains in her book Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, North American tribal lore:

Ravens, Magpies and Jays the origin of ravens black plumage according to the
"In the olden days, the raven and the peacock were close friends who lived on a plantation. One day, the two birds decided to amuse themselves by painting each other's feathers. The raven set willingly to work and so surpassed itself

that the peacock became, as it is today, one of the most beautiful birds on earth. Unwillingly to share its glory even with its friend, the mean-spirited peacock painted the raven plain black." Other variations of this story suggest the raven exhausted all the color on the peacock, leaving only black for itself.

Popular folk superstitions myths are based on the belief that when someone

dies, his/her soul goes to the land of the dead, in Celtic known as Otherworld or in some parts of Africa as Underworld. If someone died earlier then he/she was supposed to, they would come back after death to complete their interrupted fate, the murdered would return for revenge, and those who were peaceful place. Dead people would return as animals. E.A. Poes The Raven may serve as an illustration of this folkloristic tradition.

not buried in holy grounds would return to have their coffins moved to a more

In Christian tradition ravens were believed to have special taste for criminals, and to enjoy plucking out the eyes of sinners. They were thus thought of as carriers the souls of the damned and as companions of the Satan. While for

Christians raven symbolizes the evil opposite of the innocent dove, in most of of the living and the land of the dead, accompanying the dead souls on their final journey. Indian tribes in the American Southwest, worshippers of the Ghost Dance religion engaged in an ecstatic dance to bring about the regeneration of the earth.[xiv] They would decorate themselves with crow

the North American traditions raven is seen as the mediator between the land

feathers, paint crows on their clothes and sing to the crow. Sometimes they crow.

would sing of their shaman, Wowoka, flying around the world in the form of a Raven commonly appears as an oracular bird, bringing messages from the

other world. In E.A. Poes poem, the narrator asks the Raven, which had flown into his chamber, whether he will ever be reunited with his beloved deceased Lenore, but the Raven only gazes placidly as befits a messenger from the world beyond. The same theme recurs in the film The Crow by Alex Proyas, in which and his fiances death. Eric assumes his former bodyhe is resurrected and rises from his own grave, being watched intently by the crow. Also, the crow helps him by dispersing warnings thanks to its keen sight. Eric thoughtfully quotes Poes The Raven: suddenly there came a tapping / As of some one the gothic quality of E.A. Poes artful pen. gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door, thereby stamping the story with the crow brings back the dead soul of Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) to avenge his

Having only skimmed the easily accessible sources, one may draw clear

parallels between the lore of the ravens in North American mythology and the European religious and folklore tradition with the assertion that the tribal myths are more varied and perhaps a little more humorous than that of or less the same. The characteristics attributed to this bird have been Europe. The recurring themes of death, trickery and wisdom appear to be more resurfacing in literature, film and art over the centuries. From what I have

learnt I dare to say that raven whether as a foreboding messenger, aider of the

devil or as a playful trickster plays as important role in the tribal religions and folklore.

mythologies of North America as in Christian religious traditions and European

Ravens in Celtic Mythology :

Ravens figure heavily in Celtic mythology and legend. They were linked to darkness and death especially the death of warriors in battle. Celtic war goddesses often took the form of a raven. In The Dream of Rhonabwy, the

knight Owein battles King Arthur in a dream world assisted by ravens. Some his death.

tales suggest that the great King Arthur himself was turned in to a raven upon

Rhonabwy is the most literary of the medieval Welsh prose tales. It may have

also been the last written. A colophon at the end declares that no one is able to

recite the work in full without a book, the level of detail being too much for the memory to handle. The comment suggests it was not popular with storytellers, though this was more likely due to its position as a literary tale rather than a traditional one. The frame story tells that Madog sends Rhonabwy and two companions to find the princes rebellious brother Iorwerth. One night during the pursuit they fleas. Lying down on a yellow ox-skin, Rhonabwy experiences a vision of seek shelter with Heilyn the Red, but find his house filthy and his beds full of Arthur and his time. Serving as his guide is one of Arthurs followers, Iddawg

the Churn of Britain, so called because he sparked the Battle of Camlann when he distorted the kings messages of peace he was supposed to deliver to the Arthur, who regrets that Wales has been inherited by such tiny men. enemy Medrawd (Mordred). Iddawg introduces Rhonabwy and his friends to Iddawg reveals that Arthurs men are assembled to meet the Saxons at the gwyddbwyll (a chess-like board game) he is playing against his follower

Battle of Mount Badon. However, Arthur is more concerned with a game of Owain mab Urien (Ywain). While they play, messengers arrive declaring that Arthurs squires are attacking Owains ravens; when Owain asks that this be attack Arthurs servants; when Arthur asks him to call them off, Owain says stopped Arthur only responds, your move. Finally Owain orders his ravens to your move, lord. Eventually Arthur crushes the chess pieces into dust, and the two declare peace between their forces. After this the Saxons send a contingent asking for a truce, which Arthur grants after consulting his advisors. Cai (Kay) declares that any who wish to follow Arthur should come to Cornwall. The noise of the troops moving wakes Rhonabwy, who realizes he has slept for three days. Because King Arthur lived on in the form of a raven, in Corwall it is considered very unlucky to kill one, however there is no consensus about the ultimate meaning of The Dream of Rhonabwy. On one hand it derides Madocs time,

which is critically compared to the illustrious Arthurian age, and on the other is a satire on both contemporary times and the myth of a heroic age.

Arthurs time is portrayed as illogical and silly, leading to suggestions that this Many of the Celtic goddesses are linked with the raven or crow. In this

mythology the goddesses are the aggressive deities, those associated with war and death. Badb, Macha and Nemain are all associated with crows and/or ravens, as is Nantosuelta, a Gaulish water and healing goddess. The wife of the Fomorian sea-god, Tethra, was said to be a crow goddess who also hovered above battlefields, and Scottish myth has theCailleach Bheure, who often

appeared in crow form. The association of the birds with death and war is an in the aftermath of battle. This tendency led, eventually, to the persecution of

obvious reflection of its tendency to eat carrion, plenty of which is to be found

the raven, as a harbinger of doom and destruction, and also to the common is their connection with the Otherworld. Upon Cuchulainns death, the Morrigan perched on his shoulder in the form of a raven.

notion in modern European culture that the main attribute of Crow and Raven

The other main characteristic of Raven in Irish and Welsh myth is that of prophesy. The Morrigan was prone to prophesising and predicting the outcome of battle. King Cormac also came across the Badb as an old woman dressed in red garments (always a bad sign) who explained that she was Irish/Welsh gods. washing the armor of a doomed king. Raven also acts as a messenger for the In The Hawk of Achill Cuchulainns father, Lugh, is spoken of in association with ravens and crows. Ravens warned Lugh of the Formorians approach. Ravens tended Cuchulainn when he was very ill, which is about the only time Cuchulainn appears to have had anything approaching a good relationship entrance to Elysium. He was responsible for killing a flock of magical sea with the birds, save for when he was announced by two Druidic ravens on his ravens, which were large and able to swim in the sea (it is possible, from the description, that the birds were, in fact, cormorants, and not ravens at all. Cormorants also have a certain mythology associated with them). Also

associated with ravens is the son of Cerridwen, Afagddu, who was also known as Morvran, or Sea Raven. Cerridwen s intent had been to bestow the gift of Inspiration upon him. A rather bizarre association is that of ravens and chess. Bendigeidfran (Bran the Blessed),perhaps the best known of the Celtic gods associated with the raven, was a giant of enormous strength and a fierce

warrior whose head continued to speak after he was beheaded. Tradition holds that his head was buried at the White Mount in London, believed to be the site of the White Tower (The Tower of London). His head is a protective charm for Britain. The word Bran means raven, and this may be how the story of the Rooks of The Tower originated.

Tower of London :
Today, ravens are still kept at the Tower of London. The ravens have their own Yeoman Warder to care for them. During World War II, Tower Hill was bombed, and the ravens were lost. Winston Churchill, knowing full well the ancient legends, ordered the immediate replacement of the birds, and they were brought to Tower Hill from the Welsh hills and Scottish Highlands. In England, tombstones are sometimes called ravenstones.

Among the Irish Celts, the raven was associated with the Triple Goddess, the Morrigan, who took the shape of a raven over battlefields while acting as Chooser of the Slain and the protector of warriors.

Irish and Scots Bean Sidhes (Banshees) can take the form of ravens. Their calls occupants.

from over the roof of a dwelling was considered to be an omen of death for the

There is wisdom in a ravens head. Gaelic Proverb

To have a ravens knowledge is an Irish proverb meaning to have a seers of all animals.

supernatural powers. The raven is considered to be one of the oldest and wisest Ravens were the favorite bird of the god Lludd, the Celtic god of artists and Odin and his ravens).

artisans. He was said to have two ravens to attend to all of his needs (similar to

Myths about crows:

If you see a crow flapping its wings, beware: A big accident is about to happen. Nor do you want to see a crow facing your door, because that signals danger. fire department posthaste, because the flames aren't far behind.

And if a crow is sitting on top of a house with a red thread in its beak, call the

These superstitions come from Asia, and they're just a few of the scores of raven.

myths that surround the unfortunate crow and its slightly larger cousin, the

Not all the predictions involving Corvus brachyrhynchos and its relatives are scary. A romantic soul couldn't hope for anything better than seeing a crow, because has to be flying from the southwest at sunset. The same bird coming from the same direction at noon means your enemy is coming, not your lover. Other remains the same. directions and different hours change the message, but the ebony messenger

it means the heart's wishes will be fulfilled. The only tricky part is that the bird

Crows have long been associated with death in many cultures, because they cemeteries.

often could be found feeding on animal and human remains at battlefields or

And while such birds as swallows and storks are welcomed as signs of spring or childbirth, a gathering of crows is sometimes called a "murder," stemming from yet another myth that says crows will sit in judgment of their own and then kill them.

Those who think the crow is getting a bum rap can blame it partly on Apollo, a Greek god known for venting his anger on any number of mortals. According to Greek mythology, the raven was originally a beautiful, silver-white bird, until it had the misfortune to tell Apollo that his human lover, Coronis, had rejected him for a mere man. Apollo turned the bird's feathers black. Not everyone engages in crow bashing. Many American Indian tribes saw the crow as a wise adviser and the spirit of wisdom and the law.

The Norse god Odin used two crows -- Hugin and Munin, representing thought and memory -- as his daily observers of the world.

And members of the American Society of Crows and Ravens, founded in 1982, like to quote American writer and abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, who said:

"If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows."

The Raven and Crow of the Celts Part I: Myth and Legend:

There are about 45 species of Crow in the world known by a variety of common names, including Ravens, jackdaws and rooks. Candace Savage (Crows)
The Raven and Crow make many iconic appearances throughout Celtic myth and folklore. In earlier times, these black birds were often believed to be aspects of the Morrigan, some other divine being, intelligent avian allies of the downtrodden, or merely be the new form of some hapless soul who had been transformed into the black bird through foul magic. Slowly, however, these birds lost their status as divine messengers and instead became servants of the devil. Eventually, in superstition, the black plumed intellects came to represent death and dying. Truth be told, however, both the Crow and the Raven have always symbolized death. Lady Guests 1877 translation of the Mabinogion represents a collection of 11th Century Welsh Tales. Within its pages we find the following shapeshifting claim from Taliesin:

I have fled in the semblance of a crow, scarcely finding rest. In the Notes section of the Mabinogion, Lady Guest says that in some versions of the tale of
Owain, the hero of the same name has an army of Ravens. W. Y. Evans-Wentz elaborates on this statement further in his 1911 book Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries. Within his book he claims that Owain had a Crow familiar which always secured him victory in battle. This avian champion did so with the aid of 300 other black-plumed Crows.

In Charles Squires 1905 Celtic Myth and Legend we are told that Gwynhwyvars father Ogyrvans (ocur vran) name meant Evil Bran or Raven, which was the bird of death. himself is said to be the Celtic Hades, or god of the Underworld. According to John Rhys in Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx, in Cornwall, it was believed that Arthur did not die in battle at all. Instead, Arthur was turned into the shape of a Raven, which was a form in which he still goes about. For this reason, the author claimed that even unto his day, the year being 1900, that a Cornishman would not willingly fire upon a Raven. The Raven and the Crow were aspects of the Morrigan in Ireland. The Morrigan was sometimes seen as a trio of goddesses whose names were Macha, Babd and Namain. These war goddesses often took on the form of the black bird In Lady Gregorys 1904 Gods and Within this text we are also told that Brans (Bran the Blessed) name meant Raven. Bran

Fighting Men we are told that the Morrigan was sometimes called the Crow of Battle or the Battle Crow. In Charles Squires 1905 Celtic Myth and Legend we are even told that: Wherever there was war, either among gods or men, she, the great queen, was present, either in her own shape or on her favorite disguise, that of a hoodie or carrion crow. An old poem shows her inciting a warrior: Over his head is shrieking, A lean hag, quickly hopping, Over the points of the weapons and shields, She is the grey-haired Morrigii!

(Cuchulain with Raven. Joseph Leyendecker. 1911)

Cuchulain, as well as many other heros of Irish myth, was followed by the Goddess Morrigan in her Raven form throughout all of his days. When he does eventually die, A crow comes and perches upon his shoulder. In the 1902 Cuchulain of Muirthemne by Lady Gregory, one of the daughters of the evil Irish druid Calatin appears to Cuchulain in the form of a Crow. Having been influenced by the Morrigan herself, she does this in order to lure Cuchulain into battle. Within Lady Gregorys retelling of the 12th Century Tain, we are also told that Cuchulain uttered these words after killing his own son:

I am a Raven that has no home.

George Henderson in Survival in Belief amongst Celts, published in 1911, says that the famous bull also found in the Tain Bo had at one point taken many other forms including that of the Raven. In J.F. Campbells 1890 Popular Tales of the West Highlands we are told that a Ravan was the son of the King of Lochlin. Not every Raven is black, however. The Tuatha De Danann queen Eriu (Erin) is described in Lady Gregorys Gods and Fighting Men as follows:

In the one moment she would be a wide-eyed most beautiful queen, and in another she would be a sharp-beaked, grey-white crow.
Over time, however, many other cultures and religions influenced the beliefs of the Celtic ancestors. The old gods became fairies and devils, and in turn the Raven and Crow became never tiring pawns of Satan.

The Raven and Crow of the Celts Part II: Fairytales and Folklore

(The Woman With the Raven at the Abyss. Caspar David Friedrich. 1801)

Many of the Celtic Fairytales hold remnants of Gods and Goddesses, handed down from a much older tradition of myth and legend. In Donald Mackenzies 1917 Wonder Tales of Scottish Myth, for example, were told that the Banshee can appear as a black dog, a Raven, or a Hoodie Crow during the day. The older spelling of Banshee, it can be noted, wasBean Sidhe. The word Sidhe is usually used in relation to the Tuatha De Danaan, Old Irelands pre Christian deities.

Thomas Croker claimed, in his 1825 book Fairy Legends of South Ireland, that theLeprechaun properly written was Preachan. Croker said that the name meant, Raven. In the 1773 book Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales by Sir. George Douglas, we find a story reminiscent of the much older shapeshifting myths. In it, a mans wife turns herself into a Raven to avoid some ravenous dogs. The same power of transformation is possessed by the Witches of Mull in George Hendersons 1911 book, Survival in Belief Amongst Celts. The most famous Witch of Mull, of course, was Doideag, a powerful sorceress who some believed sank the Spanish Armada. There are many fairytales in which a person is turned into a Raven, or Crow, as part of a curse. In Joseph Jacobs 1894 More Celtic Fairytales, for example, a man is turned into a Raven when his wife strikes him. Usually, however, the Ravens curse is somehow related to the son of a king such as the two stories which are found in J.F. Campbells 1890Popular Tales of West Highlands. In the story of the Battle of the Birds, found in Joseph Jacobs earlier 1892 book Celtic Fairy Tales, a kings son happens upon a fierce battle. All of the other creatures have already fled the battlefield or are dead, except for a black Raven and a snake locked in mortal combat. The kings son aids the Raven and kills the snake. The Raven then leads the kings son over nine bens, glens and mountain moors in one day, six on the following day, and three on the final day. On the third morning the Raven has disappeared and a handsome lad is standing in his place. This boy claims that an evil druid had put a curse on him, transforming him into a Raven. As thanks, for saving his life and lifting the curse, the Raven-boy gives the kings son a gift of a bundle, which contains in it a Castle and an Apple orchard. In Popular Tales of West Highlands we find the story of The Hoodie Crow. In it, the youngest of three sisters agrees to marry a Crow. Once married, she

discovers that her husband is really a handsome man. Due to her love, the curse becomes partially lifted and the third daughter is forced to decide if she wants her husband as a man or as a Crow during the day. The bride eventually decides that her husband will be a man during the day and a Crow during the night.

(The Hoodie Crow. H.G. Ford. 1919)

The Raven, or Crow, in Celtic folklore can also be somewhat of a guardian angel. Such is the case with the Crow found in Joseph Jacobs Celtic Fairy Tales. In it, a talking bird appears to a man whos having problems with a leaky sieve (we all know what thats like). The Crow tells the man to use red clay from the bottom of the river to repair the sieve. The man does what the crow suggests and it no longer leaks.

The Raven and Crow of Celtic lore is sometimes also given human-like abilities, similar in many ways to the Raven found in many First Nation myths of the Pacific Northwest. In one Celtic story, for example, a Ravens chewing tobacco, in another, hundreds of Ravens are unknowingly seen participating in what would appear to be a semi-formal dance. Theres also an interesting tale found in the 1887 book Ancient Legends,

Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland by Lady Wilde. In this story, a man
steals some Ravens eggs and boils them. He then places the eggs back in the nest. The Raven arrives at the nest, discovers the cooked eggs, and leaves again quickly. The Raven eventually returns with a magic stone, which she rubs all over the boiled eggs. Through this action the eggs are restored to their previous state. The man, as hed planned all along, then steals the magic stone from the Raven intending to use it for his own personal gain (a Leprechaun-like story). Besides the many fairytales and folk stories found within Celtic lore, many Ravenproverbs are scattered throughout the old texts, as well. Ive included many of these, in point form, so that you may see the many similarities, and differences, found between them:

The Raven is equally a bird of omen, Raven-knowledge, or wisdom being proverbial(George Henderson. Survival in Belief Amongst Celts. 1911).

A Raven hovering over a cow meant that there was a blight upon the animal (Joseph Jacobs. More Celtic Fairytales. 1894). A departing soul sometimes took on the form of a Raven (George Henderson. Survival in Belief Amongst Celts. 1911). If a Raven was present when somebody died, it was said to be the Devil retrieving his or her soul. If the bird present was a White Dove, however, it meant that the person had obtained salvation (Thomas Croker. Fairy

Legends of South Ireland. 1825).

A Crow on a house indicated that someone would die (Walter Greger. Notes

on Folklore of Northeast Scotland. 1881).

The howling of a dog at night, and the resting of a Crow or Magpie on the house-step are signs of death (Andrew Lang. Prophecies of Brahan Seer. 1899).

A Raven tapping three times on a windowpane foretold the death of an occupant (John Seymour. True Irish Ghosts. 1914). If Ravens were cawing about the house it is a sure sign of death, for the Raven is Satans own bird (Lady Wilde. Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms,

and Superstitions of Ireland. 1887).

The Crow and Black Hen are ominous of evil (ibid). It is unlucky to meet a Magpie when going on a journey (ibid). The Raven prepared his nest on St. Brides Day and would have a chick by Easter. If the Raven has not he has his death (Alexander Carmichael. Carmina Gadelica Vol I. 1900).

The Devil could appear as a Raven and would land upon a persons head in order to possess their bodies (St. John Seymour. Irish Witchcraft and

Demonology. 1913). The Crow was a bird of darkness. He was always associated with the man skilled in Black Airt [sic] (Walter Greger. Notes on Folklore of Northeast Scotland. 1881).

What is blacker than a Raven? There is Death (J.F. Campbell. Popular

Tales of West Highlands: Vol III. 1890).

The Raven sometimes brings aid to man (J.F. Campbell. Popular Tales of

West Highlands: Vol I. 1890).

The Raven, the Crow, and the Serpent, have appeared as transformed beings of superior power (J. F. Campbell. Popular Tales of West Highlands. 1890).

Give a piece to a Raven and he will come again (A.W. Moore. Folklore of

the Isle of Man. 1891).

To protect young goats, or kids, Scottish Highlanders often gave libations and cakes to the Crow who they claimed often molested them (Charles Squire. Celtic Myth and Legend. 1905).

There is a Scottish chant, There to thee Raven spare my kids! thats used to protect young goats (Alexander Carmichael. Carmina Gadelica Vol I. 1900)

It is a curse to leave a dead Crow (or other creature) on a hearth (George Henderson.Survival in Belief Amongst Celts. 1911). The day will come when a Raven attired in plaid and a bonnet, will drink his fill of human blood on Fionn-bheinn, three times a day, for three successive days the Blood of the Gael from the Stone of Fionn (Andrew Lang. Prophecies of Brahan Seer. 1899).

Over time, the Raven and Crow of the Celts has become an evil bird. It should be no surprise, then, that the Raven or Crow may also really be a witch, or the devil himself, in disguise. In the 1913 book Irish Witchcraft and Mythology by St. John Seymour, a witch on the gallows suddenly disappears. In her place is noted a coal-black Raven. In volume 2 of Popular Tales of West Highland, a gentleman turns himself into a Raven. The story implies that this man is none other than the devil himself. The Raven and Crow of the Celts often represented the darker aspects of life. Its no wonder, then, that these shadow-birds continue to fascinate our imaginations, even until today. These clever birds have always seemed distinguished, compared to their other less intelligent bird-cousins, and have even recently been discovered to be tool makers and users. The Crow and Raven have both always been seen as symbols of darkness, death, and the ignorance of the unknown. Perhaps, our ancient ancestors knew more about

this natural world than we would comfortably care to admit. Now considered one of the most intelligent creatures on the planet, the Corvus does, in fact, continue to feast upon the dead, even unto this very day.

Mythological Stories of the Crow and Raven

From Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Norway and Tibet come many rich and

colorful stories of the crow and raven intertwined with their cultural history. people migrating and invading.

Many layers of stories from different time periods are blended together, due to

From Scotland, come stories of the Hoodie or Royston Crow. This story has a marriage between a human and a crow and the crow eventually leaves the human spouse. The stories of humans marrying animals may be the echoes

from the early days of the aboriginal people who were displaced by invaders, fairies who sometimes come in the form of animals.

and later the earlier aboriginal peoples are referred to as the little people or the

From Ireland come stories of the Celtic War Goddesses and the Morrigu, who changes into a Hoodie or Carrion-Crow, follow the warriors into battles and help to stir their passions to fight.

From Germany comes the early stories of the Swan-Maidens who marry some hunters that have traveled far from their home. They stay married for a short time and then the Swan-Maidens leave. This story is similar to the Scottish story of the crow marrying and then leaving the human wife. Swans were with the Valkyrie and the Raven in the times of the Vikings.

associated with Weather Goddesses and fertility. They later were associated

From Norway, there are stories of the Valkyrie, seemingly a combination of

earlier Weather Goddesses and the Celtic War Goddesses, so that the Valkyries are depicted sometimes as swans and other times as ravens, choosing the slain who will enter Valhalla.

From Tibet, comes the story of the crow told by the Dalai Lama about the great protector Mahakala of the Buddhists, who has the crow as one of his personages. Scotland

The Picts are the aborigines of Scotland. Crow or Craw, Breton Krao, is a shed or hovel. An example of their association with the crow and later the fairy Piskies' Crows that can be found in Cornwall. (1) people, are the prehistoric structures or Picts Houses, called Piskies' Halls and This is a story from Scotland about the Hoodie Crow, the magical being or preceded the stories where it plays a role as the Morrigu or Badb-Catha, associated with the fury of battles in the Irish tales. Scottish Hoodie Crow (Royston Crow) The Tale of the Hoodie-Crow

sidhe, fairy person that marries a human. The Hoodie Crow as a fairy being,

Popular Tales of the West Highlands by J. F. Campbell Volume I, 1890

THERE was ere now a farmer, and he had three daughters. They were waulking clothes at a river. A hoodie came round and he said to the eldest one, M-POSU-MI, "Wilt thou wed me, farmer's daughter?" "I won't wed thee, thou ugly brute. An ugly brute is the hoodie," said she. He came to the second one on the said she; "an ugly brute is the hoodie." The third day he said to the youngest, she; "a pretty creature is the hoodie," and on the morrow they married. The

morrow, and he said to her, "M-POS-U-MI, wilt thou wed me?" "Not I, indeed," M-POS-U-MI, "Wilt thou wed me, farmer's daughter?," "I will wed thee," said hoodie said to her, "Whether wouldst thou rather that I should be a hoodie by day, and a man at night; or be a hoodie at night, and a man by day?" "I would he was a splendid fellow by day, and a hoodie at night. A few days after they married he took her with him to his own house. (2) Ireland From Ireland, come stories of the war goddesses. The Morrigu takes the form of a carrion crow, hovers over the warriors in a battle and works to emblaze the fighting spirit. rather that thou wert a man by day, and a hoodie at night," says she. After this

Five War Goddesses, daughters of Ernmas (mother goddess of the Danu) Fea, the "Hateful", Nemon, the "Venomous", Badb, the "Fury", Macha, a personification of "battle", and, over all of them, the Morrigu, or "Great Queen". Wherever there was war, either among gods or men, she, the great queen, was present, either in her own shape or in her favourite disguise, that of a "hoodie" or carrion crow. An old poem shows her inciting a warrior: From the Battle of Magh-Rath (3) "There is over his head shrieking A lean nimble cailleach, hovering Over the points of their weapons and shields; She is the gray-haired Morrigu.

The following poem is from the Book of Leinster, 1160, a book of medieval Irish mythology and literature. The Cattle-Raid of Cooley is set in the 1st century. The Queen of Connaught wants to take a famous bull away from a single hero takes on the task of defending Ulster. (4) The Decision of the Battle.

chieftain of Ulster. The men of Ulster are unable to fight due to a curse, and a

It was on that night that the Morrigan, daughter of Ernmas, came, and she was engaged in fomenting strife and sowing dissension between the two camps on either side, and she spoke these words: Hoodie-Crows shall pick The necks of men! Blood shall gush In combat wild!

Skins shall be hacked Crazed with spoils! In battle brave, Men's sides pierced Luibnech near!

Warriors' storm; Mien of braves; Cruachan's men! Ruin complete! Under foot;

Upon them comes Lines shall be strewn Their race die out! Then Ulster hail: To Erna woe! To Ulster woe:

Then Erna hail!

(This she said in Erna's ear.) Who them await!

Naught inglorious shall they do

Unusual words from the poem defined (5) -

Cruachan: the ancient seat of the kings of Connacht.

Erna: a sept of Munstermen who settled in Connacht. Mien: facial expression, demeanor Germany

Luibnech: possibly a place now called Limerick, in the County Wexford.

A Swan-Maiden story from the Poetic Edda The Lay of Volund

The Swan Maiden is of German origin. This poem is from the Poetic Edda, a as far back as the 9th century.

collection of poems of Norse mythology and Germanic heroic legends, dating Swan maidens were first associated with the weather-goddesses and gods of early Germanic mythology, and later when these stories were carried into northern lands, the swan maiden became associated with the Valkyries.

Alexander Krappe in his article on Valkyries wrote this: The Valkyries show all the characteristics and fill all the functions of the Heavenly Twins, sons or battle and at sea. Their position in the warrior's paradise of the migration which swept the Teutonic world after the fourth century of our era. (6) daughters of the sky or of the thunder: they are fertility daemons, helpers in period and the Viking Age is late and the outcome of the social revolutions This story also contains the theme of the marriage between a human and the mounds, the sidhe.

animal, as is seen frequently in the Celtic stories related to fairies and people of In this story, Volund the Smith is lamed by a King and then takes revenge. In part of the story, Volund and his two brothers go hunting and build a house by a lake. One morning, they find three swan-maidens at the shore and they take them as their wives.

German Swan Maiden

The Poetic Edda, volume 2 The Lay (Ballad) of Volund the Smith (7) Maids from the south through Myrkwood flew, Fair and young, their fate to and flax they spun. daughter was. follow; On the shore of the sea to rest them they sat, The maids of the south, Hlathguth and Hervor, Hlothver's children, And Olrun the Wise Kjar's One in her arms took Egil then To her bosom white, the woman fair. Swanthrew Next round Vlund's neck so white.

White second,-- swan-feathers she wore, And her arms the third of the sisters

There did they sit for seven winters, In the eighth at last came their longing murky wood, The fair young maids, their fate to follow. Norway

again, (And in the ninth did need divide them). The maidens yearned for the

Now we come to the Vikings and the Valkyries. When Vikings had their battles, the fields would be strewn with the fallen soldiers and afterwards wolves and ravens would feast on the corpses. The raven and the swan became associated the slain who had showed courage to enter the place of honor Valhalla.

with the battle and also with the Valkyrie, the female spirit who would choose Again we can see earlier earth deities replaced or overlaid by gods and spirits of war. The original Yggr of Norse mythology refers to Yggrdrasil, the world god of war, not a god of earth. Also Yggrdrasil has the meaning steed of the terrible one, likely an association of Odin with his horse and spear. tree. Later the name Yggr is associated with Odin who is now the chief god, a

Raven Kennings (kenning is a figure of speech used in Norse Poetry) (8) swan of Yggr (Odin) swan of Gunnr (Valkyrie) swan of blood From Rudolph Meissners Kennings of Skaldic Poetry, 1921

Norse Valkyrie From The Heimskringla (World Circle) by Snorri Sturlason A

collection of sagas about the Kings of Norway, from A.D. 850 to A.D. 1177. (9) King Olafs Forays

Thereafter Olaf Trygvason sailed to England, and ravaged wide around in the thence to Scotland, where he marauded far and wide. Then he went to the he also fought. He ravaged far around in Ireland, and thence steered to

land. He sailed all the way north to Northumberland, where he plundered; and Hebrides, where he fought some battles; and then southwards to Man, where Bretland, which he laid waste with fire and sword, and all the district called When he left the west, intending to sail to England, he came to the islands Halfred Vandraskald of these events: --

Cumberland. He sailed westward from thence to Valland, and marauded there. called the Scilly Isles, lying westward from England in the ocean. Thus tells

The brave young king, who ne'er retreats, The Englishman in England beats. Death through Northumberland is spread From battleaxe and broad spearhead. To Man his glancing ships he guides: Through Scotland with his spears he rides; Feeding the wolves where'er he came, The young king drove a bloody game. The gallant bowmen in the isles The Irish fled at Olaf's name --

Slew foemen, who lay heaped in piles. Fled from a young king seeking fame. In Bretland, and in Cumberland, People against him could not stand:

Thick on the fields their corpses lay,

To ravens and howling wolves a prey."


In Tibet, the crows are associated with Mahakala, who is the Dharma (Buddha's Doctrine) Protector of all Buddha fields. Mahakala shall have the empowerment of all the wisdom dakinis. He shall have the strength of the wrathful Yama, Lord of Death. He shall have the mountain spirits, the nature spirits, the devils and the demonesses as his

messengers. He shall embody the great wrathful empowerments of the Body, times. (from Geshe Damcho Yonten)

Speech, Mind, Qualities and Activity of all the Buddhas throughout the three

The Dalai Lama relates how the crows are associated with the Dalai Lamas and Mahakala.

After my birth, a pair of crows came to roost on the roof of our house. They would arrive each morning, stay for while and then leave. This is of particular interest as similar incidents occurred at the birth of the First, Seventh, Eighth and Twelfth Dalai Lamas. After their births, a pair of crows came and remained. In my own case, in the beginning, nobody paid attention to this.

Recently, however, perhaps three years ago, I was talking with my mother, and she recalled it. She had noticed them come in the morning; depart after a time, and then the next morning, come again.

Now, the evening the after the birth of the First Dalai Lama, bandits broke into they returned and wondered what had happened to their son, they found the

the family's house. The parents ran away and left the child. The next day when baby in a corner of the house. A crow stood before him, protecting him. Later

on, when the First Dalai Lama grew up and developed in his spiritual practice, he made direct contact during meditation with the protective deity, Mahakala. At this time, Mahakala said to him, Somebody like you who is upholding the Buddhist teaching needs a protector like me. Right on the day of your birth, I

helped you. So we can see, there is definitely a connection between Mahakala, the crows, and the Dalai Lamas. (10)

To the Celts, Raven is mystery and magic. Some of the lessons he teaches are initiation, creation, healing, protection and shapeshifting. Raven is also one of the few creatures able to travel freely between worlds. The Celtic Raven things to the surface that people would rather keep buried. received his negative image from his function as a lightbringer; he brings

He is also a messenger, warning of things to come. Raven is similar to the Tower card in the major arcana; illumination through destruction.

To the Tlingit of Alaska and the native Americans of the Pacific Northwest, Raven is a trickster...many stories about Raven are fully interchangeable with stories about Coyote (the main difference is that Coyote is considerably more work for him (usually involving food). lecherous). Most of his stories revolve around tricking people into doing his

Much of Raven's history is passed down by oral tradition. Because of this, the story changes with the storyteller. No two stories will ever sound the same,

often even when told by the same storyteller. The stories here are told the way i heard them, and i'm sure that you've heard them differently. As stated, many of Raven's stories are interchangeable with Coyote and/or Crow (for instance, i've heard the first story as How Mnkahas [Rainbow Crow] Brought Fire). The main difference as far as I can tell is that Coyote's stories usually involve getting someone in bed, and Crow's stories usually have to do with Law and equalisation.

How Raven Invented Fire

How Raven Lost His Beak

How Raven Made the World

the young man and the raven people

Raven didn't always look like he does now. This story tells how he got the way he is.
HOW RAVEN INVENTED FIRE In the beginning, the world was a cold and dark place. The only light ever seen was that of the Sun, but that never lasted long enough. The First People were cold at night and many of the Old couldn't last through the harsh winters.

Back in those days, people and animals lived together peacefully. The animals were people back then...they didn't take their present-day shapes until much later. They were the creators.

A council of the animals was called to try to do something about the cold

problem. They all agreed that something must be done, but none could agree to try to bring fire back to the Earth for people. The only question now was who would do it.

on what. After much debate it was decided that someone had to go to the Sun

They went around the circle to decide who would get fire for the first people.

This being winter, Bear was too tired to undertake such a task. Wolf knew that if he went, there would be no-one left to watch over people. Squirrel was too scattered to be of much help. Snake had no way of carrying anything. It was eventually decided that a bird would be the best suited for the task.

Peacock was too self-possessed and too worried that such a task might harm his feathers. Robin and Wren were both too small to make the long journey. When they came around to Raven, he offered to do it.

Now it's important to note that in the first days, Raven didn't look anything like he did today. He had a straight beak, feathers of very colour of the rainbow and a melodic voice that was the envy of all the other birds.

Now that it was settled who would do it, the question remained, "How?" Raven looked around him for tools but all he saw were a few dead branches. toward the Sun. Inspiration struck. He picked up one of the longest branches and headed off

He flew for three days and nights. When he finally got to the sun, he held the branch to the sun and it started to smoke. Raven beat his wings a little, and before he knew it the branch had caught fire.

As Raven headed back to the Earth and the First People, the fire slowly

consumed the branch. As he neared the Earth, the branch grew shorter and shorter. The smoke choked his lungs and made it difficult to see. The fire singed his feathers and burned away at his beak.

Raven finally made it back to the First People and gave them the branch. They just stared at him. Gone was his beauty and his voice. They were faced with a sooty, hoarse-sounding creature. They didn't know how to react so they just ignored him and started cultivating fire.

A great feast was held by people to celebrate this wondrous new thing. But him scraps.

when Raven showed up, they wouldn't let him near the table. They just threw

This hurt Raven pretty bad, considering all he went through to help out. So he wandered off into the woods alone. As he got deeper and deeper into the woods, he heard a voice calling his name.

Raven, it said. He ignored it. RAVEN, it insisted. "What do you want from me? I have nothing else to give!"
he dismissed.

What you did was very noble, the voice stated. Raven finally snapped out of it
and realised that the voice belonged to the Creator.

"It may have been noble, but look at me! I'm black as night and my voice is choked. The People want nothing to do with me!" he stated.

I've been thinking about that, the voice said. So people don't forget your sacrifice, I won't give you back your original form. You will stay as you are from now feathers, choked voice and you will always scrounge for remind people of your sacrifice. But as recognition, your black feathers will reflect all the colours of the rainbow like you once had. Your voice will strike a shiver in Man to remind him of what he did to you. And your meat will be bitter, so you will never be hunted for food.
And that's how people got fire, and why Raven looks like he does.

Raven is always hungry. Always. Many of the stories concerning him have to do with his enormous appetite and the trouble it caused him. Here is one such story:
HOW RAVEN LOST HIS BEAK So Raven was out in the ocean trying to catch some fish. He managed to catch enough to feed a village but he still was hungry. He looked around but couldn't see any more fish. He was about to give up when he saw a fisherman Raven that much but the bait looked like it would make a tasty morsel.

on a boat trying to catch some fish himself. The fisherman didn't really interest

Now Raven knew he was faster than any man so he didn't even think twice about it. He swam right over to the boat and just snatched the bait up. But Raven didn't realise that the fisherman was paying attention the whole time. As soon as he felt a pull on the line, he started to reel it in. This took Raven by surprise...he thought he was so clever that he wouldn't be caught. As soon as he realised that he was caught, he started struggling for all his worth. Eventually the fisherman pulled so hard that Raven's beak pulled right off! The fisherman pulled the thing out of the water and picked it up. He just

couldn't figure out what it was. While he was taking so long looking at this

black thing he caught, Raven flew up out of the water and onto the boat. He

snatched the beak out of the confused fisherman's hands and stuck it back on. It wasn't until much later that Raven realised that it wasn't straight anymore, it's been that way ever since. that it was all curved now. But he decided that he liked it better that way and

Raven also has been noted for his temper and lack of patience. Here is a good example.

HOW RAVEN MADE THE WORLD Long ago there was no world. When Raven was a fledgeling, his father told stuck with Raven...he liked the idea of being the creator of a world. So time

him that one day he would be big and strong enough to create a world. This went by and Raven got bigger and older and stronger. Eventually he decided about it and had many ideas but none of them seemed to work. One day he almost gave up and went flying out on the wind. while he was gliding around on the wind, inspiration struck.

that he was big and strong enough to create a world. He wondered how to go

Raven went flying around and eventually found some dirt and rocks. He knew that they would be the good foundation for a world, but he just couldn't make them stick together. No matter what he tried to do, they just stayed dirt and rocks. He started kicking the rocks around in frustration and anger when he inspiration struck. He brought back some water to mix in with the dirt and rocks to make it all stick together.

was finished, he realised he needed a drink. He went to where water was and

Raven worked on that mixture for a good long time, patting it down,

smoothing it out, rolling it around. But it never stayed the way he wanted it it never stayed perfectly round, the mixture was inconsistent, all sorts of thing as hard as he could. problems. Eventually he got so frustrated with it that he just kicked the whole

A little while later Raven went to go pick it up and work on it a little more. But when he picked it up, it was all bumpy and dented and not at all what he and left it as it is. wanted. But he was so tired of working on it that he just said to hell with it

And that's why the world isn't perfectly round, and why we have mountains and rivers and oceans.


once there was a young man that was fascinated by the raven people who lived near his people. he would always wander off and hide in trees to watch them.

the raven people, being very sharp and observant, noticed him but for the most part ignored him. but after awhile, one of the raven people flew up to where the young man was watching and asked what he was doing. the young man said, "i mean you no harm. i am fascinated with your people. i only want to interested, and if you like, we will teach you our ways." for many months the Raven people taught the young man all about the the accepted him as one of their own. know more about you." the raven responded, "we are honoured that you are

raven people and how they lived from day to day. over time, the raven people

one day, one of the raven people dropped a nut the man's head. all the ravens

people pointed and laughed so hard that they almost fell off their branches. the young man was hurt by this, and yelled out, "why are you all picking on me!?!" one of the raven people stopped laughing and became very serious. "i thought you understood us, but apparently you don't. it was a joke, a bit of fun. you really should know us better by now."

some time passed, and things settled down a bit, but one day one of the young raven people swooped down and pecked the man on the head. another followed suit. then another. and another. the young man ran across the field him.

and into the woods but the young raven people kept chasing him tormenting

fed up, the young man decided to leave and head for home. the same one who first spoke with him all that time ago stopped him. he asked the young man

where he was going. "home," he replied, "back to where people want me to be around."

"you still don't understand," the older raven said. "the young ones did not mess you should know by now that we fight amongst ourselves. instead of sulking and leaving you should have fought back."

with you because you are different, it is because they accepted you as one of us.

after a pause, he added, "leaving is your choice, but again I tell you that you when you've come so far?"

have come closer to us than any other outsider. do you really want to give up

the young man considered this. he didn't really belong with his old village anymore, and the raven people were still fascinating after all this time. he thought for a few moments, then finally responded, "alright, i'll come back." as he started to head back toward the village of the raven people, one of the old Raven and laughed, "good one, grandfather."

raven people shat on the young man's head. the young man looked up at the

Crow and Raven Symbology

In animal symbolism, crows and ravens are often interchangeableif one is associated with a characteristic, the other often adopts the same characteristic. However, in some aspects, they differ. For example, crows represent those who like to be around other people, while ravens prefer solitude. Both share the characteristic of vision and prediction, meaning prescience and precognition. They are also intuitive and clever, going hand in hand with foresight. The Romans certainly believed they had these powers, since birds were vital to the practice of augury (divining the future from the flight patterns of birds). An augur (a type of priest) would be told the flight patterns, and from that he would divine the message. There is a lot of mythology surrounding crows and ravens. For instance in Greek mythology, Apollo instructed a crow to watch over his pregnant lover. In this myth, crows were white. But when the crow brings Apollo bad tidings about his lover, he turns the crows feathers black. Good or bad, crows and ravens are represented as guards or sentinels. Ravens are said to keep guard over the Tower of London in England. As the legend goes, should the ravens ever leave the grounds, the Tower will fall. Ravens still inhabit the Tower to this day. This brings in an element of magic to these corvids, and magic is something ravens are strongly associated with.

Myths of The Raven: Symbolism and Lore

Learn about the lore of the raven - bird of mystery, magic and omens both good and bad. Raven symbolism is rich and plentiful, with a plethora of raven mythology, raven lore and raven superstitions available from a wealth of cultures. The raven often has a bad press, for being a carrion bird it is ultimately associated with death, and consequently considered a bad omen by many, or a forewarning of war. But there is much more to this enigmatic and intelligent bird than death, darkness and destruction. Raven is a trickster, a protector, a teacher. and a bringer of great magic. Learn all about the Raven and his lore here on this page, and perhaps you will take a little bit of Raven wisdom away with you, to help you on your way...

Raven Biology: Natural History of the Raven

Corvus Corax. Member of the crow family

The raven is not only the largest member of the crow family, but the largest perching bird in the world. An extremely intelligent bird, the raven was once extremely common, but persecution now finds it only in remote areas such as cliffs, mountains and moors. The adult is completely black with a shaggy throat and heavy bill. It flies higher than the crow and is adept at aerial acrobatics. It is a carrion bird, feeding the likes of dead sheep, and will also kill its own food also, including small mammals and birds, reptiles, as well as taking eggs and eating insects and seeds. Ravens prefer to nest in a sheltered spot, favouring a rock crevice but also opting for trees. They build their nests from earth, moss, twigs and heather stalks, lining it with hair and wool. They raise just one brood per year, from February to March, which consists of 4-6 eggs. Ravens are extremely intelligent and in some cases can even learn to talk.

10 Amazing Facts about Ravens :

1.The raven is the largest bird of the crow family: it is twice heavier than a common crow at 1.3 kg (3 pounds), being 60 cm (two feet) long, with a captivity. wingspan of almost 1 m (3.3 ft). Ravens can live 40 years in the wild and 70 in

2.Ravens can soar high above the trees, unlike crows, which rely on active of prey.

flight. Ravens are capable of aerial stunts similar to those executed by the birds

3.Like in many other birds, when a raven is on a branch, the feet's muscles and this.

tendons constrict automatically the toes, so that the birds waste little energy on

4.Ravens live from deserts to coniferous forests and coastal cliffs. In forests, they nest in stick-made nests on trees, on deserts in rock cavities.

5.They feed on fruits, seeds, nuts, fish, carrion, small animals, food remains and garbage. They even dig on snow to inspect plastic bags with waste. They also follow for days fishers and hunters. Ravens are known to steal the food of many birds and mammals, even from dogs. They can act in pairs: one

individual captures dog's attention, while the other steals its food. They also follow wolf packs for picking remains from their preys. 6.The Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Semitic and Siberian legends depict the raven as a messenger of storms or bad weather. In African, Asian and European legends, the raven forecasts death. Shakespeare presents ravens as messengers or exponents of evil (like in "Julius Caesar", "Macbeth" and "Othello"), while in "Titus Andronicus" they are described as benefactors feeding abandoned

children. In his poem "The Raven", Edgar Allan Poe associates this bird with lost love and despair.

7.Raven's calls can express tenderness, happiness, surprise, emotion or rage. Ravens can imitate birds with the same vocal note, mimicking perfectly the raven. Some say they can be even taught to learn the human speech. crows. The penetrating loud croak signals that something has disturbed the

8.Ravens are considered the most intelligent birds, displaying high learning ability and use of logic for solving problems, in some tests bypassing the chimpanzees. In one experiment, a raven had to reach a piece of meat dangling from strings bound to perches. To get to the food, a raven had to follow a series of actions: pull up a string stretch, hold a loop of it on the perch with a claw, then pull up another stretch and hold that loop. The birds had to repeat the action 6 times till getting the meat, while even after 30 trial crows did not succeed. Ravens could perform this complex sequence of actions straight away and they have never seen string before or encountered meat hanging this way. These that involve logic. birds pass very well complex tests, including "no tests" or "trial and error" ones

Ravens put other animals to do tasks for them. Their beak cannot open tough

skins of the carcasses, that's why when they encounter a big corpse, they make the carcass to expose the meat for the birds.

calls that attract wolves and foxes to the site and the large carnivores can break

The raven's developed intelligence is connected to their complex social lives and scavenging lifestyles. The birds must find out very rapidly how to locate sharing a dead animal but close enough to get food. themselves far enough from a wolf or fox not to be exposed to an attack when

Ravens have been even taught to count. 9.Due to their intelligence, ravens are very playful. They prank with the

wolves. Once a raven headed towards a sleeping wolf and pinched it by its tail. When the wolf dashed to bite the raven, the bird jumped out. When the wolf approached tiptoe to the raven, the bird let it approach till 30 cm and flew away, landing a few meters of the wolf's back and repeating the prank.

Another raven played with wolf cubs. When the cubs had enough of playing,

the raven croaked till they started playing again. In Yellowknife (northwestern so that they could push snow on them.

Canada) ravens perched on the roofs of supermarkets waited for people to pass

10.Ravens like to drug themselves. They practice myrmecomany (from Old

Greek "myrmex" ant, "mania" obsession). The bird sits on the soil or on an ant nest, opens its wings stretched forward, while it curbs its tail toward its belly. In the first step, the bird lets itself be invaded by angry ants and sometimes it plumage. picks ants one by one, squashing them a little bit, to introduce them inside the

Wolf and Raven

A Special Relationship

The wolf and the raven are often mentioned together in mythology, lore and scripture. In nature, the wolf and raven have an important relationship. using them to alert them of any danger ahead. Wolves use ravens as aerial spotters for possible sources of food, as well as

The raven also gains from this relationship with the wolf. Being carrion birds, ravens share in the feast provided by the wolves when they bring down their prey. Golden eagles and bald eagles have also been spotted feeding on the remains of wolf prey along with ravens.

There will be an accompanying lens in this series up shortly about the lore of Wolf and Raven, along with their symbolism and meaning in magic, wolf medicine and more

Crows and Ravens in Mythology.

Crows n Ravens For centuries the corvids, ravens and crows in particular (corvus corax is the Latin name for the common raven and corvus corone for the carrion and hooded crows), have had a special place in the mythology of various cultures. literary classic to the film of James O'Barr's cult graphic novel "The Crow",

In modern times this fascination has barely diminished. From Edgar Allen Poe's these birds still exert a powerful hold over the psyche of a significant fraction of the population. The Goths who paint their faces with white make-up and the weekend warriors who expect Raven to take them to the Otherworld to order to shoot large numbers of them every year in late spring. This is,

meet the dead do not see the same animal as the farmers who set up decoys in however, typical of a creature that presents a paradox wherever one looks. Corvids are sociable birds. They tend to form social groups, and this can be

seen particularly in the case of rooks, which stay in their flocks all year round. Ravens, the largest of the family, reaching as much as 3 feet from beak to tail, territorial relationships at around the age of three. The courtship can involve such fun and games as synchronised snow sliding, and, of course, the synchronised flight test. The corvids can be found all over the world, and are the largest of the passeriformae, or songbirds. The common raven is widely distributed throughout the Northern hemisphere, and the adaptability and intelligence of this family have made it extremely successful. form groups as juveniles, pairing off into lifelong monogamous and extremely

As far as the mythology goes, the first confusion arises over the distinction

between Crow and Raven, at least on the European side of the Atlantic. The two the other in a story depends as much on which author is transcribing it as it does on story itself. Whereas John Matthews 1 gives Bran the raven almost exclusively, Miranda Jane Green 2 ascribes to the God's companion animal

appear, in many instances, to be interchangeable, and the appearance of one or

either the crow or the raven, much as both authors do for the Morrigan. The confusion on the American side of the Atlantic is not so profound. There is a so we will start our examination there. distinct geographical trend in the likelihood of Raven appearing in a story, and



In most parts of the world the raven is considered a prophet and a bad omen. The Arabs call it Abu Zajir which means "Father of Omens." In Ireland it was once domesticated for use in divination practices and the term "Raven's Knowledge" was applied to the human gift of second sight. Ravens deserting their nests were very bad omens and popular superstition declared that if the ravens ever fled the Tower of London, the monarchy would fall. In many areas of the ancient world, the sight of a raven flying to the right was a good omen, whilst a raven flying to the left was an evil one. Eaters of carrion, ravens were messengers of death, pestilence, and battle. It was believed that these flesh-hungry birds could smell the scent of death upon a person before they died - even through the walls of a house. In paintings, the raven may be

seen flying over battlefields, eager to feast on the dead. After the Battle of Armageddon, ravens will descend upon the lands of the wicked (Isa 34:11). These birds were thought to have a special taste for the bodies of hanged criminals and to enjoy plucking out the eyes of sinners (Prov 30:17). Christians thought they carried off the souls of the damned and associated this bird with the Fall of Man and Satan who blinds sinners, dulls their moral senses, and feasts on their corruption. Ravens were a symbol of sin especially the sins of gluttony, stealing, and false teaching. They were nicknamed "thieving birds" and Icelandic children were taught that drinking from raven quill straws would cause them to become thieves. Evil priests were said to turn into ravens when they died. To European Christians, this creature is the antithesis of the innocent white dove. But in some African and Native American traditions, he is a beneficent guide whose keen sight allows him to issue warnings to the living and to lead the dead on their final journey. The raven's cry of "Cras! Cras!" was interpreted by Latin speakers to mean "Tomorrow! Tomorrow!" Therefore it became a symbol of the foolish sinner who puts off conversion. Others, however, found in this cry a symbol of the hope of a new and better day. To North American Eskimos, the raven's cry sounded like "Kak, kak, kak!" which means "a deer-skin blanket." According to their legends, the raven's cries warned people not to forget their blankets when they moved. Before Noah sent the dove from the Ark, he sent out a white raven to test the waters. Instead of returning to the Ark, this bird "kept going to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth" (Gen 8:7). According to Matthew Henry, this raven's attitude was like that of the "carnal heart" which, instead of seeking rest and refuge in its Savior, "takes up with the world, and feeds on the carrion it finds there." Jewish legend states that Noah's raven was punished for his failure to return to the Ark by being blackened and condemned to eat carrion. Greeks believed that Apollo turned the raven black when the bird informed him of the unfaithfulness of his lover, Coronis. This episode gave the raven a reputation as a tattler, a spy, and a divulger of secrets. In the Pacific Northwest, the raven's feathers were blackened when his brother-in-law smoked him over a fire as a punishment for his trickery. According to Ukrainian legend, ravens used to have many beautifully colored feathers and a lovely song but after the Fall they started eating carrion. This habit destroyed their voices and blackened their plumage. Their former loveliness is expected to be returned to them when Paradise is restored. In Norse mythology the omniscient god Odin had a pair of ravens called Hugin (thought) and Munin (remembrance) living upon his shoulders or throne. Each morning they flew around the earth observing everything and questioning everyone, even the dead. During the night they returned to their master and

whispered all that they had seen and heard. Sometimes Odin turned himself into a raven. Ravens are known around the world as shapeshifters and humans are often changed into ravens by an enemy's curse. They are prophets, spell-casters, and messengers of the gods. Gods and goddesses of war and thunder such as Badb have ravens as their attributes. They are early emblems of the Danes and the Vikings. In spite of its dark appearance, the raven is often a solar symbol. In Greece he was sacred to Apollo, the god of light. In China, a three-legged raven lives in the sun. His legs symbolize dawn, noon, and dusk. There used to be ten sun-ravens but they gave off such intense light and heat that an archer had to shoot nine of them in order to preserve life on earth. A red raven is the emblem of the Chinese Chow dynasty. Among the natives of the North American Pacific Coast, Raven is a hero, messenger, creator of the world, thief, and trickster. He taught the first humans how to care for themselves and make clothes, canoes, and houses. His position in Native American folklore is similar to that of the wily coyote. Some say he was born of the primordial darkness; others that he was born in the coffin of his dead mother and nourished on her entrails. He was a provident creator who brought sunlight, vegetation, animals, and the tides into the world for the benefit of humankind. He took the animals two by two onto a raft, after the manner of Noah, in order to save them from a great flood. After all the good he had done for humankind, Raven wished to marry a woman but the men refused to allow this. In revenge, Raven created mosquitoes from crushed leaves to pester them for all time. When Raven brought light to mankind, they were so frightened by it that they scattered to all corners of the world. The raven is a symbol for solitude and an attribute of several saints whom ravens fed in the wilderness, including St. Anthony Abbot, St. Paul the Hermit, and St. Benedict. Although the raven itself was considered unclean, God sent ravens to feed Elijah the Tishbite by the brook Cherith during a long drought (1 Ki 17:6; Lev 11:15; Deu 14:14). The raven has long been a symbol of divine providence (Psa 147:9; Job 38:41). Many remember the Lord's command to consider the sparrow and the lilies, but the words, "Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them," are seldom brought to mind (Lk 12:24). In the Song of Solomon, the Beloved's locks are "black as a raven" (Song 5:11). The raven symbolizes filial gratitude and affection, wisdom, hope, longevity, death, and fertility. In alchemy, it represents change and the advanced soul dying to this world. It remains a frequently used symbol in modern magic, witchcraft, and mystery.

Like the larger raven, the symbolic crow is associated with the sun, longevity, beginnings, death, change, bad luck, prophecy, and Christian solitude. It, too, is considered a messenger of the gods. Among ancient Greeks and Romans there were some who considered the crow a bad omen and the raven a good one. White or albino crows were so prized that fowlers tried to change the color of their baby crows by soaking them in various deadly formulas. Among the Celts, the white crow was the emblem of the heroine, Branwen. Her heroic brother, Bran, was pictured as a raven. In North America, the Kiowas taught that the white crow turned black from eating snake eyes. In the telling of myths and legends, the crow frequently took the place of the raven. This is the case in most of the Northwest Pacific myths recorded above and in the story of Apollo and Coronis. The Irish war-goddess, Badb, often took on the shape of a crow. In classical mythology, this bird is an attribute of Cronus or Saturn and Athena, the goddess of wisdom, victory, and the arts. The crow is associated with motherly love and spiritual strength. It was believed that fairies turned into crows in order to cause trouble. In heraldry, a crow was used to indicate a dark person such as a Moor or a Saracen. In Egypt, two crows, like two doves, were an emblem of monogamy. Christians consider the crow an emblem of the Virgin Mary. The words, "I am dark, but lovely...because the sun has tanned me," are believed to mean that the light or love of God has so shown upon her that she is burned and purified as if by a mighty sun or fire (Song 1:5-6). These verses also make the crow a symbol of the Church which says, "Do not look upon me [with scorn], because I am dark, because the sun has tanned me. My mother's sons were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept" (Song 1:6). These verses are interpreted by the Church as a plea that potential converts not be discouraged by the sight of a sinful, suffering, harassed, or persecuted Church, but instead realize that the Refiner's fire and forgiveness has made her darkness more beautiful than the virginal purity implied by the whiteness of a dove. The beautiful song of the blackbird makes it a symbol of temptations, especially sexual ones. The devil once took on the shape of a blackbird and flew into St. Benedict's face, thereby causing the saint to be troubled by an intense desire for a beautiful girl he had once seen. In order to save himself, St. Benedict tore off his clothes and jumped into a thorn bush. This painful act is said to have freed him from sexual temptations for the rest of his life. Like the crow and the raven, the blackbird is considered a bad omen. However, the sight of two blackbirds sitting together is a symbol of peace and a good omen.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotes are from the NKJV Bible.

Gods and Goddesses Associated with Crows and Ravens

A very incomplete list of gods and goddesses associated with crows and ravens includes

the eponymous Pacific Northwest Native figures Raven and Crow the ravens Hugin and Munin, who accompany the Norse god Odin the Celtic goddesses the Mrrgan and/or the Badb (sometimes considered separate from Mrrgan) and Shani, a Hindu god who travels astride a crow

In Buddhism, the Dharmapala (protector of the Dharma) Mahakala is represented by a crow in one of his physical/earthly forms. Avalokitevara/Chenrezig, who is reincarnated on Earth as the Dalai Lama, is often closely associated with the crow because it is said that when the first Dalai Lama was born, robbers attacked the family home. The parents fled and were unable to get to the infant Lama in time. When they returned the next morning expecting the worst, they found their home untouched, and a pair of crows were caring for the Dalai Lama. It is believed that crows heralded the birth of the First, Seventh, Eighth, Twelfth, and Fourteenth Lamas, the latter being the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. Crows are mentioned often in Buddhism, especially Tibetan disciplines. In Greek mythology, it was believed that when the crows gave bad news to the goddess Athena, she flew into a rage, and cursed their feathers to be black. In Hinduism, it is believed that people who died will take food and offerings through a variety of crows called Bali kkka. Every year people whose parents or relatives died will offer food to crows as well as cows on the Shradha day.

Raven Myths and Tales

The hereditary monarchy of the Wangchuk dynasty in the independent Himalayan State of Bhutan was established in 1907. The first king of the Wangchuk dynasty, Sir Ugyen Wangchuck (18621926), was a charismatic figure who came to power against a turbulent background of incessant and complex feuding in that chaotic warrior state. He adopted as the unique symbol of his authority a crown surmounted by the head of a raven. The bird represents a form of Mahakala, Bhutans guardian deity. The prototype of the founding monarchs Raven Crown had first been devised as a battle helmet for his father, Jigme Namgyel (1825 81). Known as the Black Regent, he had worn it in bloody struggles against his many rivals within the country and against the British who tried, unsuccessfully, to subdue him. The story of the Wangchuck dynastys rise and triumph moves from a picture of turmoil and chaos to one of relative peace and stability. The

heredity monarchy is fairly recent and the Wangchuck dynasty was established in 1907. Raven Crown today is the official crown worn by the Kings of Bhutan. The Raven is the national bird of Bhutan. The raven is known locally as Jaroq. One time was a capital crime to kill a raven in Bhutan.
Raven Mocker

The most dreaded of all Cherokee witches is the Raven Mocker, who robs the dying of their life. A Raven Mocker can be of either sex, and there is no real way to know one. They usually look old and withered, because they have added so many lives to their own. During the night when someone is sick or dying, the Raven Mocker goes there to take the life. He flies through the air with his arms outstretched like wings. There will be a wild wind noise around him, and sparks trailing from behind. Every once in awhile he will dive, and make a sound similar to a ravens cry. All those who hear it are afraid, because they know that someones life will soon end. When the Raven Mocker makes it to the dying persons house, he often finds others of his kind there. Unless there is an Cherokee Doctor watching out who knows how to drive them off, they will all go inside (they are invisible) and frighten and torment the sick person until they kill him. Sometimes, those who are attending the sick think the person is just fighting for their breath. After the witches take the life, they take out his heart and eat it, and by doing this, they add to their own lives as many days or years as they have taken from his. Nobody who is attending the sick can see them, and there is no scar where they have removed the heart. Upon further examination, they will find that there is no heart left in the body. Only a medicine person with the right kind of medicine can recognize a Raven Mocker, and if that medicine person stays in the room with the sick person, the witches will be afraid to come in. When one of them has been recognized in his right shape, he must die within seven days. Often, when the friends of a traditional Cherokee know that there is no more hope, they will try to have one of these medicine people stay in the house and guard the body until it is buried. Witches will not steal the hearts after burial. Other witches are usually jealous of Raven Mockers and are afraid to enter the same house with one. When a Raven Mocker finally dies, the other witches sometimes take revenge by digging up the body and

abusing it. Traditional Cherokees also believe that after a person dies, his soul often continues to live as a ghost. Ghosts are believed to have the ability to materialize where some people can see them, although some can not.
Raven Fools Crow

Raven used to live high up in the upper Skagit River country. He was very lazy. In the summer when the other animals were busy gathering food for winter, he would be flying from rock to stump and stump to rock making fun of them. Raven just laughed when Crow (his cousin) urged him to follow Squirrels example but Raven never prepared for the cold months, when the snow would drift over the ground and cover all the remaining food. But now Raven was in trouble. Winter had come and the snows were deep. He was hungry and Raven loved to eat. He had to find someone who would share their food with him. Raven went to see Squirrel. He had a huge supply of pine nuts and seeds and other food hidden all over the place. Raven poked his head in squirrels nest in a old fir tree. Squirrel had lots to eat. Raven politely begged for some food. Squirrel scolded him that was always Squirrels way You refused to work and save for winter and you poked much fun at me, you deserve to starve! Raven went looking for Bear. But Bear was sound asleep in his cave and could not be wakened. Raven looked around for some food, but it was all in Bears belly. Bear had already eaten it all and was sleeping till spring. Raven was now very hungry. He thought: Who can give me something to eat? Everyone is either stingy like Squirrel or sleeping like Bear and Marmot, or they have gone South for winter like the snow birds. Then he thought of Crow he would be easy to fool! Raven flew to Crows nest. Cousin Crow, we must talk about your coming potlatch! Crow answered. I have not planned a potlatch Raven ignored his response. Crow, everyone is talking about your potlatch will you sing at it? Sing? Crow had not known that anybody really cared for his singing voice, though in those days, Crows song was much more like that of Wood Thrush than it is today.

Raven continued to talk of Crows potlatch. You are very talented and possess a beautiful voice everyone will be so disappointed if you dont sing at your potlatch! What potlatch? . You really like my singing? We love your singing, Crow, Raven answered. The Winters cold has chilled the forest and were cold and hungry and singing will help us forget our cold feet and empty stomachs. Now you get started fixing the food, looks like you have plenty here and I will go invite the guests to your potlatch. You can practice your songs as you cook! Crows hesitation now overcome, he began to prepare all the food he had collected for winter, and as he prepared it, he practiced his songs. The more he thought the feast and how everyone wanted to hear him sing, the more excited he got about it. Meanwhile Raven was offering invitations to all the animals of the forest. (Of course Marmot and Beaver were sleeping like Bear, and Robin and Goose were gone South) To each he said the same thing: Come to My potlatch! I have worked hard to prepare it. There will be much food at Ravens potlatch and Crow is helping and will sing for us. There will be fern roots and wild potatoes, dried berries, fish and meat. Come to My potlatch! It will be a great occasion. Raven did not invite Squirrel however since he had refused to share his food with Raven. But all the rest of the animals were invited to Ravens Potlatch. When he returned to Crow he was busy singing and cooking. Raven told him, Everyone is coming be sure and fix all your food, they will be hungry after their journey. And your songs are sounding so good! Crows potlatch will be a great feast! As the guest arrived, Raven welcomed each one to his potlatch. There was Deer and Mountain Goat and Mouse, Rabbit, Ptarmigan and Jay. The guests were seated and the food was brought out. Crow started to sit and eat, but Raven asked him for a song first. Its not good to sing on a full stomach, Crow. So Crow began to sing. Every time he would stop to eat Raven would insist he sing another song. You cant sing with your mouth full, Crow! Encouraged again and again by the guests who were busy stuffing themselves with Crows food. Crow sang song after song after song all day until night and Crows voice became hoarser and hoarser until all he could do was Caw caw.

As was the custom the left over food was collected by the guests and taken by them for their homeward journey. Even Raven had taken his share and left as Crow was cleaning up. Crow had nothing left to eat. At least, Crow thought, I wont go hungry, I will be invited to their feasts. For it was the custom that having been entertained, each guest was now obliged to return the favor and invite the host for a return potlatch. But the invitations never came. Since all the guests thought it was Raven who hosted the feast, Raven was invited to enough dinners to keep his stomach full for several winters and he never went hungry. But Crow, who had been fooled, had been reduced to starving, and never regained his singing voice either. He was destined to spend his winters begging in the camps of men for scraps of food. And thats where we find him today, squabbling over scraps in grocery store parking lots.
A Popular Image

The Vikings used a lot the image of the crow. The put a symbol on their sails. Ragnar Lodbrok had a flag called reaffirmation and embroidered on it the image of a crow. According to legend, if the flag fluttered in the wind, Lodbrok would win but if the flag hung motionless, they lose the battle.

The Raven is a bird of high intelligence in many mythologies is revered and feared. The legends of this enigmatic bird back centuries, having been immortalized with his sinister presence as a bad omen The common raven is between 52 and 69 centimeters in length and its weight varies from 0.69 to 1.7 kilograms. Generally live 10 to 15 but some individuals have reached 40 years. Part of their success is due to their omnivorous diet, the Common Raven is extremely opportunistic, feeding on carrion, insects, food waste, grains, berries, fruits and small animals. In some places large numbers and amazing adaptation to almost any habitat they have forged a reputation as a plague. The Common Raven has one of the largest brains of all species of birds. It has been reported that crows are at other animals to work for them, for example by calling the wolves and coyotes to the place of a carcass. The presence of crows in wars, death scenes, with his appetite scavenger have promoted black bird as a harbinger of death. In many cultures there is mention of this bird in its legends: - In Norse mythology the image of the god Odin has a raven on each shoulder, Huginn represents the thought, while Muninn is memory. Odin sent his birds to travel the world to observe what happens, the old god fearing for the death of both. Their fear is that of the elders at the loss of the ability to think and remember. The Vikings used a lot the image of the crow. The put a symbol on their sails. Ragnar Lodbrok had a flag called reaffirmation and embroidered on it the image of a crow. According to legend, if the flag fluttered in the wind, Lodbrok would win but if the flag hung motionless, they lose the battle. - In Greek mythology, Apollo, the god of the sun sent a white crow to protect Corinis, a mortal of the sun god who fell in love. When she was unfaithful in a neglect of the raven, the bird flew to the heavens and said what happened to Apollo. God burned the crow and the feathers were black, and since then this bird is associated with bad news. If you hear it squawking warns of approaching death, if a house fly, this will have bad luck. The peasants who saw a crow fly over his flock know that one of the animals perish soon.

- In the fable of King Arthur, reported that he did not die and magically transformed into a raven. According to legend, if ever all ravens of the Tower of London disappeared, the British Empire would fall away in the absence of their guardians. This myth was born in the nineteenth century, a period in which the ravens of the tower is fed from the eyes of the criminals executed by the Empire. - In the Hebrew stories there is a strange connection between the raven and dove, birds important to the image of God, the crow guides man in the darkness, is the sentinel of the Moon. While the pigeon goes to the man in the light, the sun and life. Noah sent two birds in search of dry land. The raven did not return to find abundant food, while the dove brought hope. This fable shows the raven and the dove as wisdom and knowledge. - In Buddhism Dharma protector Mahakal is represented by a crow, because of its association with soil and worms. Figure in the first reincarnated Dalai Lama, who according to legend, during his birth home was attacked by thieves, forcing parents to flee. Fearing the worst when they returned they were surprised to see the Dalai Lama lives, surrounded by crows. Since then, the Dalai Lama are protected by crows, and birds are mentioned in Tibetan Buddhism and disciplines. Occult circles talk about the participation of the crow as a guide the souls of the dead to the underworld. However, there are occasions where the deceased died unjustly or was not his time to die. In these rare cases, Native American legends, in which the soul can not rest and must return to repair the damage suffered. The author James OBarr wrote the popular comic The Crow, the Crow in 1989, it was to be able to cope with the loss of his fiancee at the hands of a drunk driver. Later in 1994 the story was made into a movie where Brandon Lee immortalized Eric Draven, a young musician who returns from the dead to quench their thirst for revenge. The raven is the source of power and gives invunerabilidad, strength and vision of all you can see the black bird. Sagas of the film later overshadowed a classic film which unfortunately Brandon Lee was killed in an unfortunate accident. The most intelligent bird Crows have shown high levels of recursion and memory. Being the most intelligent birds, they can learn words and short sentences even better than a parrot, its ability to mimic is truly amazing. Talking crow.

Can count on a different scale, ie if three humans enter a room with crows, and leave two visitors, the birds know that there is still a person. They have also shown some attraction to small, bright objects, which they steal and conceal. Cuervo using a wire as a hook to get food. Show planning and communication skills with individuals, some species such as Corvus moneduloides learn to use tools to get your food. It is well known for crows have learned to use the vehicle traffic on a road to crack open nuts, nuts open using car Ravens on the road. Surprisingly these birds respect their elders, who bring food, according to research that shows that the species are familiar with the concept of respecting their elders. Despite having much intelligence crows are not good pets, as well the saying goes Raise ravens and they will peck out your eyes.
Running With Wolves

Some believe that wolves use Raven as an aerial spotter for possible food sources. The raven has a connection to the moose in Eskimo lore, and since Moose can be a prey of wolves, raven is linked to them as well. Ravens will often follow wolves. They will fly ahead, land in a tree and wait for the wolves to pass, and then fly on again. A playful behavior is sometimes displayed between wolves and ravens

The Morrigan

A Goddess of natural cycle. With the natural cycles of the land so threatened and damaged the battle aspect cannot be ignored.

All that is perverse and horrible among the supernatural powers, A Goddess of battles who appears in the form of a scavenging scald-crow or a ragged winged raven, glorying in death and battle. This is the commonly held image of the Morrigan in folklore and story telling and in this form she plays a significant part in both the mythological story cycle, and the Heroic cycle. Before the Battle of Magh Tuireadh, she promises Lugh that she will pursue any who seek to flee from battle. She draws the blood of his heart from the Formoire leader Innneach stealing his power, and offers two handfuls of this blood to his foes at the Ford of Destruction. She also prophecies the Tain and seems to be there at significant points, disturbing and troubling its unfolding. In her first meeting with Cuchulain she is revengeful when her advances are rebuffed and she is there at his death. She is, indeed, portrayed as wild and war loving. One late text describes her as shrieking triumphantly over fighting soldiers.a lean hag, speedily leaping over the points of their weapons and shields. So she comes down into our time as a figure presiding over death and destruction or dwindled into dark and fearful figure, leading spirits out of the Otherworld cave entrance of Cruachain at Samhain and the dark enemy of childrens stories. But it is not just as a wild haired grey and nimble hag, pouring curses, hailstones and fiery showers on the assembled enemies of her people that she enters into the old stories. She may equally appear as a strong and beautiful woman as when she meets and mates with the Dagda before the battle against the Formoire.

A crimson robed, flame-headed warrior , she appears coming out of the Sid of Cruachain bringing a red eared white heifer to the brown Bull of Cuailnge. ..a chariot harnessed with a chestnut horse. The horse had but one leg and the pole of its chariot passed through its body,..Within the chariot was a woman, her eyebrows red and a crimson mantle round her. Her mantle fell behind her between the wheels of the chariot so that it swept along the ground.. She appears to Cuchulain in similar form calling herself the King of Buans daughter and offering him her treasure and herself . She is also a powerful shape-shifter appearing as a white heifer, an eel, a wolf, an otter as well as the more usual crow, black bird or raven. It is generally accepted that Morrigan (Mor Rioghan, Morrigu) has the meaning of Great Queen or possibly Phantom, i.e. Otherworld Queen. It is certainly a title rather than a name. In the glossary to the Battle of Magh Tureadh her names are given as Danu and Ana, (Anu). Now Ana is one of the oldest names of the Great Mother Goddess and in that or similar forms the name appears in mythologies from all over the world. She was Anna-Nin, Lady of Heaven in Sumeria, Anat in Canaan, Anatha in Syria, Nanna in the Norse lands, Hannah, Di-ana, Inanna, Anna Perena, Grandmother time; the list is endless. She is the Great-mother, the Grand-mother and it is hardly surprising that She is remembered in Christian mythology as the Grandmother of Christ. In Celtic mythology she is remembered as Anu, Danu, Mother of Her people, the Tuatha De Danaan. Her name is commemorated in the landscape, as in the Paps of Anu in Killarney, and elsewhere. (There are small hills known as The Paps of the Morrigan in Co. Meat). Anu, Danu, is the giver of Gifts, of inspiration of brightness. but she is also the bring of sleep and darkness. Danus children revered the night and gave darkness precedence over day. And in folklore she becomes both the bright fairy woman, Erin and the black witch Anis . As Great-Mother she encompasses both light and dark, both giving and receiving back. If She is the Great Queen of Ireland then the stories will show evidence of her sovereignty. There are many stories of a prospective king who is met and tested by a woman who changes from old to young, from hideous to beautiful These encounters often take place near water so that it is not unexpected to find that the Dagda mates with the Morrigan as she stand bathing with one foot on each bank of the river.

It is interesting that when she offers herself to Cuchulain he refuses her queenship. Is the story seeing Cuchulain as a solar hero, a patriarchal warrior type who no longer seeks the mating with the Goddess of the land? Perhaps, although other aspects of his myth do not wholly bear this out. Even so the Cuchulain story belongs to the heroic rather than the mythological cycle. These great Goddesses are always triple and the Morrigan is no exception. She is usually viewed as one of a triad of sisters, including Badhbh, and Macha. Macha is also a Goddess of the Land. Besides the well known story of her race with the kings horses and her birthing curse on the warriors of Ulster there is also the story of how she laid out the boundaries of Emain Macha with her broach pin. She is the horse Goddess and protector of her people. Nemain is another known war Goddess as is Fea. At the battle of Magh Tuireadh they are all mentioned as wives of Nuada so perhaps they are all aspects of the Goddess of the land evoked for protection. And why have they remained, remembered only as Goddesses of war and battle? The Goddesses of the Sacred Land, and all land is sacred, are givers of prosperity and fertility. Their chosen ones were pledged to uphold and cherish the gifts of the Goddess. Maybe there are clues in the stories. Machas secrets are raped and her gifts abused through pride and jealousy. When she is forced to race against her own natural cycles and to give birth before her time her blessing becomes a curse. When Cuchulain refuses the Morrigans gifts he begins a cycle of competition rather than co-operation. Is it any wonder that she is perceived as angry? He wounds her in her shape shifted forms and is only healed when he consents to drink from the teats of her cow and offers a blessing. He accepts her nourishment and healing takes place. It is clear that in the stories, conquest of the land becomes paramount. and therefore conquest of the Goddess by whatever name she is known. How can it be otherwise when She is the land. Where we seek to abuse, there we also fear. She has become the recipient of our fearful projections and so becomes fearful herself. So why Morrigan healing? If we regard her as dark and fearful then we will treat the Sacred land in the same way. If we see her as guide and

protectress then she will grant us the clear vision of her ravens. Her healing will be cleansing, not easy maybe, because as the earth rots away and transforms all that is dead, or as fire consumes and transmutes static energies, or as the scavengers pick clean, so her cleansing is to the bone. Not easy, but what she transforms is cleansed to health. Remember that after the Tain, the cattle raid, it is she who tells the trees and the rivers the outcome. It is she, who after the battle of Magh Tuireadh, sings the song of blessing and regeneration. Peace up to the skies;The skies down to the earth;The earth under the skies;Strength to everyone. A Goddess of natural cycle then, And with the natural cycles of the land so threatened and damaged the battle aspect cannot be ignored. But if we are cooperating with her and not in competition then any conflict will become part of the healing process, not an end in itself. The Morrigan; Goddess of no pain, no gain.

FOLKLORE They slept until the black raven, the blithe hearted proclaimed the joy of heaven Beowulf Native American According to Jamie Sams and David Carson, in their excellent book Medicine Cards (which accompanies a beautiful deck of animal cards), Raven's medicine is magic. She is the Great Mystery of the Void. Black, to Native Americans, is a color of magical power, and only to be feared if misused. Raven symbolizes the void - the mystery of that which is not yet formed. Ravens are symbolic of the Black Hole in Space, which draws in all energy toward itself and releases it in new forms. The iridescent blue and green that can be seen in the glossy black feathers of the raven represents the constant change of forms and shapes that emerge from the vast blackness of the void. In Native American tradition, Raven is the guardian of both ceremonial magic and healing circles. She is also the patron of smoke signals.

Raven's element is air, and she is a messenger spirit, which Native American shamans use to project their magic over great distances. In many northwestern American Indian traditions, Raven is the Trickster, much like the Norse Loki. Observing ravens in nature, we find that they often steal food from under the noses of other animals, often working in pairs to distract the unfortunate beasts. Anne Cameron has written several northwestern Indian tales (Raven and Snipe, Raven Goes Berrypicking, Raven Returns the Water, and others) with the Raven as Trickster theme. China Ravens are considered a solar symbol in Chinese mythology. The three legged raven lives in the sun, representing the sun's three phases - rising, noon and setting. When the sunlight hits their glossy black feathers just right, they seem to turn to silver. Japan The Shinto Goddess, Amaterasu is sometimes represented as a giant raven, Yata-Garasu. India Brahma appears as a raven in one of his incarnations. Ravens are also sacred to Shiva and Kali. Australia In Aborigine mythology, Raven tried to steal fire from seven sisters (the Pleides), and was charred black in the unsuccessful attempt. Middle East To Egyptians, ravens represented destruction and malevolence. However, Arabs call raven Abu Aajir - the Father of Omens. Hebrew/Christian In the Hebrew/Christian tradition ravens were considered unclean, representing impurity, mortification, destruction, deceit, and desolation. Ravens were cursed by Noah for not returning to the ark with news of the receding the flood.

Yet, conversely, the Bible also says that ravens were the protectors of the prophets; they fed Elijah and Paul the Hermit in the wilderness. Also, ravens helped St. Cuthbert and St. Bernard. In contradictory Christian traditions, ravens represent the solitude of the holy hermits, yet also the souls of wicked priests and witches. European Since ravens can be taught to speak, and have such a complex vocabulary of their own, they are connected symbolically to both wisdom and prophecy. But in Europe, at least from Christian times, ravens have several strikes against them: black is considered a negative color; ravens are carrion eaters; and they have a symbiotic relationship with man's oldest enemy, the wolf. In many western traditions raven represents darkness, destructiveness and evil. They are sometimes associated with deities of evil and of death. Both witches and the Devil were said to be able to take the shape of a raven. Greece Raven is the messenger of the Sun Gods, both Helios and Apollo. She is also associated with Athene, Hera, Cronos and Aesculapius. Northern Europe The pagan Danes and Vikings used the raven banner on their ships, in Odin's honor. These flags, usually sewn by the daughters of great warriors and kings, were tokens of luck on their voyages. Houses where ravens nested were also thought to be lucky. Odin had two ravens - Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory) who flew about the world, delivering messages, gathering knowledge and reporting back to him. one of Odin's many titles is Hrafna-Gud, the God of the Ravens. Odin's daughters, the warlike Valkyres, were sometimes said to take the shape of ravens. In the Elder Edda's cryptic poem, the Grimnismal, a verse refers to Odin's ravens:

Huginn and Muninn, every day They fly over earthground. I fear for Huginn, that he may not return. But even more, I fear for the loss of Muninn. In the Norse shamanic tradition, Odin's ravens represent the powers of necromancy, clairvoyance and telepathy, and they were guides for the dead. This poem expresses a shaman's fear of his loss of magical powers. (Source: The Well of Remembrance by Ralph Metzner, Shambala, Boston, 1994 Central Europe on Walpurgisnacht, April 30th, German witches fly to Brocken Mountain in the Harz Mountains for the great witches' Sabbath in the shape of their familiars ravens and crows. Western Europe In Beowulf, an Anglo Saxon poem, is written " . . . craving for carrion, the dark raven shall have its say, and tell the eagle how it fared at the feast, when, competing with the wolf, it laid bare the bones of corpses." In Shakespeare's Macbeth, Lady Macbeth sees the raven as a herald of misfortune as it "croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan." In England, tombstones are sometimes called "ravenstones". Among the Irish Celts, Raven was associated with the Triple Goddess, the Morrigan, who took the shape of Raven over battlefields as Chooser of the Slain. She was a protector of warriors, such as Chuhulian and Fionn MacCual. Raven is also the totem of the pan-Celtic Sorceress/Goddess Morgan le Fay, who was also called the Queen of Faeries. In some tales, she is Queen of the Dubh Sidhe, or Dark Faeries, who were a race of tricksters who often took the form of ravens.

Irish and Scots Bean Sidhes (Banshees) could take the shape of ravens as they cried above a roof, an omen of death in the household below. Tha gliocas an ceann an fhitich or Fice ceann na fhitich are Scots Gaelic proverbs meaning "There is wisdom in a raven's head." "To have a raven's knowledge" is an Irish proverb meaning to have a seer's supernatural powers. Raven is considered one of the oldest and wisest of animals. Also a bird of wisdom and prophecy, Raven was the totem of the Welsh God, Bran the Blessed, the giant protector of the Britain, the Isle of the Mighty. After the battle with Ireland, Bran was decapitated, and his head became an oracle. Eventually Bran asked to have his head buried in what is now Tower Hill in London to protect Britain from invasion. Bran's Ravens are kept there to this day, as protection against invasion. During World War II, Tower Hill was bombed, and the ravens were lost. Winston Churchill, knowing full well the ancient legends, ordered the immediate replacement of ravens, and they were brought to Tower Hill from Celtic lands - the Welsh hills and Scottish Highlands. Raven was the favorite bird of the solar deity, Lugh (Irish/Scots), or Lludd (Welsh) the Celtic God of Arts and Crafts. Lugh was said to have two ravens to attend on all the His needs (similar to Odin and his ravens). Many Celtic tribes and clans descend from animals. An ancient clan called the Brannovices, the Raven Folk, once existed in Britain. To this day, the Glengarry MacDonalds of Scotland have a raven on their heraldic arms, and their war cry is Creagan-an Fhithich - Raven's Rock, a landmark on their ancestral lands. The Scottish Goddess of winter, The Cailleach, sometimes appears as a raven. A touch from her brings death.

Giving a child his first drink from the skull of a raven will give the child powers of prophecy and wisdom in the Hebrides. Scottish Highlanders associate ravens with the second sight. An excellent book on the subject is Ravens and Black Rain: The Story of Highland Second Sight by Elizabeth Sutherland (Corgi Books, Great Britain, 1985) In Cornwall, as in England, King Arthur is said to live on in the form of a raven, and it is unlucky to shoot one. "Have not your worships read the annals and histories of England, in which are recorded the famous deeds of King Arthur, whom we in our popular Castilian invariably call King Artus, with regard to whom it is an ancient tradition, and commonly received all over that kingdom of Great Britain, that this king did not die, but was changed by magic art into a raven, and that in process of time he is to return to reign and recover his kingdom and scepter; for which reason it cannot be proved that from that time to this any Englishman ever killed a raven?" Don Quixote by Cervantes The Welsh Owein had a magical army of ravens. In Welsh folklore, the raven is also an omen of death. If the raven makes a choking sound, it is a portent of the death rattle. A crying raven on a church steeple will "overlook" the next house where death will occur. A raven could smell death and would hover over the area where the next victim dwelt, including animals. Ravens were heard to "laugh" when someone was about to die. Welsh witches, and the Devil, would transform themselves into ravens.

PART THREE - RAVEN MAGIC Swift, swift, you dragons of the night, that dawning May bear the raven's eye Cymberline, by William Shakespeare

Symbolism Raven is a contrary spirit. on the negative side, Raven represents the profane, the devil, evil spirits, the trickster and thief, war and destruction, death and doom, the void. Yet in many cultures Raven also represents deep magic, the mystery of the unknown, death and transformation, creation, healing, wisdom, protection, and prophecy. Raven is both the symbol of the sun, and the symbol of a moonless night. She is the birth giving light in the center of our galaxy, and the black hole in the center of the universe, to which we are all traveling to our eventual extinction. Raven is the fatal touch of the Calleach in winter, the wisdom of Odin, the vessel of prophecy given to a seer, the mighty protector of the Western Isles, and the healing message of an Indian shaman. Raven is a complex bird, both in nature and in mythology.

Naming You might want to choose a Ravenish magical name. There are many names associated with Raven from the differing traditions. Below is a list of European names:

Tokens and Artwork When choosing a totem, find a symbol to represent that totem and keep it on you, or in a sacred place in your home. (For instance, I always wear a silver raven ring). This token will help you to communicate with your totem, and it will protect and guide you both in magical and mundane affairs. It is illegal to hunt and kill ravens and crows in the United States, under the Endangered Species Act. Keeping ravens and crows as pets are also illegal.

Raven artwork is all around us. In the northwest Indian and Alaskan cultures, Raven is the Creator Deity. Native American artists have created artifacts, Tshirts, emblems, and all sorts of sacred raven art. Raven and Crow are favorite subjects in traditional Chinese and Japanese art. I have found raven paintings by local Japanese and Chinese artists in San Francisco. Raven art is catching on in Western Culture, especially among Celtic and Norse style artists. I now find ravens in jewelry, decals, T-shirts, and altar cloths, available from vendors in local craft fairs, Scottish and Celtic Games, Scandanavian festivals, Renaissance fairs and other historical re-enactment fairs. You'd be surprised where you can find ravens. I have found wooden and metal ravens in antique stores. Halloween is an especially good season to find raven designs sold as decorations. Many artists and craftspeople are open to suggestion, and available for commissions. The more people that ask for raven designs, the more they will show up in the marketplace! If you have a favorite local artist - commission him/her to do a raven design! Raven art can also be found in several tarot card decks - including The Medicine Cards and The Druid Animal Oracle. Pull these cards out and use them in meditation, trance work, spirit guide work. Sacred Times Raven represents winter, because of their ability to endure the cold. My husband, who was stationed in Greenland with the Army in the 1960's, saw only two animals the year he was there - arctic foxes and ravens! Raven also represents night, their ebony plumage reminding us of the Dark Moon. Raven magic is very potent at this time of month when the majesty of the starry universe unfolds above us. Raven is an ideal guide on the path of the deepest mysteries. And in Eastern traditions, Raven represents the sun - rising, noon and setting.

The intelligence and adaptability of Raven really makes Her an appropriate totem for any time or season. Astral Travel There are many chants and songs that can be used to invoke Raven. A traditional Scottish chant to shapeshift into a crow (for astral traveling), while holding a crow or raven's feather: (From the witch trial of Isobel Gowdie) I shall go into a crow with sorrow and such and a black thraw And I shall to in the Devil's name Until I come home again! To change back: Crow, crow, crow God, Send Thee a black thraw I was a crow just now But I shall be in a woman's likeness even now Crow, crow, crow God, Send Thee a black thraw! Prophecy and Divination I have fled in the shape of a raven of prophetic speech. Taliesin To invoke Raven as bird of prophecy, you can use the old English rhyme used to interpret omens by the number of ravens, crows, or rooks seen in a flock: One for bad news, Two for mirth. Three is a wedding, Four is a birth. Five is for riches, Six is a thief. Seven, a journey,

Eight is for grief. Nine is a secret, Ten is for sorrow. Eleven is for love, Twelve - joy for tomorrow. Keep a raven feather or artifact with your divination tools. Ravens especially preside over dark tools such as dark mirrors and onyx scrying balls, but can be used with any tool. Dreamwork Raven is an excellent dream guide. Most Native American craft stores will sell dream wheels (or you can make your own). Attach a raven feather or artifact to the wheel and hang it over your bed. Powerful and prophetic dreams will come your way. Magic Circles When drawing a circle using Raven imagery, clothe yourself in dark flowing robes. In the Morganian tradition of Wicca, the Raven priestess circles the perimeter nine times in honor of the nine priestesses of Avalon. Adding raven feathers to your tools (for instance attaching the black feathers to your wand, staff, athame, shield, drum, pentacle) or crafting your tools in the shape of ravens is a powerful way to use Raven Magic. I have also worn a raven mask when drawing down the Raven Goddess, Morgan. Trance Use Raven to guide you into trance. There are many poems and songs dedicated to Raven that you can use to guide you. Invocation of Raven by Susa Morgan Black Morgana of the Dark Moon Night Onyx bird, bold in flight Raven, come to us now!

Keeper of the sacred well Where the faerie spirits dwell Raven, come to us now! Guardian of the Blackthorn Tree Home of the feared Banshee Raven, come to us now! Teacher of warriors, and of sex, spells that heal and spells that hex Raven, come to us now! Bean Sidhe by the river bed Washing shrouds of the newly dead Raven, come to us now! Twin birds of memory and thought Who brought the knowledge Odin sought Raven, come to us now! Raven with his bag of tricks Always getting in a fix Raven, come to us now! Stalwart guardian of the Land The sacred bird of mighty Bran Raven, come to us now! Wise one of the Second Sight Who foretells our human plight Raven, come to us now! Raven, Oldest of us All Watch over us and hear our call Raven, come to us now!

Healing Bird whose magic is revealing The hallowed mystery of healing Susa Morgan Black Both Celtic and Druid Slnaighear (Healer) and Native American shamans use Raven's spirit for healing, especially long distance healing. When doing a healing circle for an absent friend, the energy can be sent in the form of a raven. If you are working directly with someone who is ill, you can use raven feathers to stroke their body, collecting and drawing out the negative energy, to be shaken out and cleansed later. Raven is powerful medicine. Protection The dead are lying in the field, Oh, hear Her Kraaak and cry! The gaping wounds, a raven's yield, She comes hungry from the sky. The Morrigan by Susa Morgan Black In nature, Ravens will mob their enemies if they come too near their nest. Ward your home or business against malefactors with the spirits of warrior ravens, like Owein's Raven Army, the Morrigan, or the Valkyres. When you invoke their fearless spirits, nothing can prevail against you.

PART FOUR - BIRD OF SMOKE, BIRD OF FIRE Who reveals to us our Deep Desire Susa Morgan Black Annotated Bibliography I have an ever growing Corvid library. Here are some of my favorites!

American Crow and Common Raven by Lawrence Kilham, Texas A and M University Press, 1989 A very good book, going into great detail about every aspect of crows and ravens in the wild. Very thorough. Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies and Jays, by Candace Savage, Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, 1995 An excellent, informative, coffee-table book with some of the best photos of the Corvidae family I've seen in print. An absolute MUST for raven lovers. Crows and Jays: A Guide to the Crows, Jays and Magpies of the World, by Steve Madge and Hilary Burn, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1994 An encyclopedia of Corvidae with over one hundred entries, color drawings, details of their identification, habitats, voice, breeding, diet, distinctive habits, etc. This book is for the serious corvidologist. Crows: An Old Rhyme, by Heidi Holder, Farrar-Straus-Giroux, New York, 1987 A well illustrated version of a traditional English folk rhyme. A wonderful gift for a child. Jackdaw and the Witch, A True Fable, by Sybil Leek, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1966 A wonderful tale by a famous British Witch about their family's pet jackdaw. Mind of the Raven, Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds, by Bernd Heinrich, Cliff Street Books, New York, 1999 Incredible book by world's foremost authority on ravens. The sequel to Ravens in Winter. Rainbow Crow, by Nancy Van Laan, Dragonfly Books, New York, 1989 A nicely illustrated and colorful children's story about a young crow who wanted to be different.

Raven and Snipe, by Anne Cameron, Harbor Publishing Co., B.C., Canada, 1991 Part of a series of traditional Native American folk tales about Raven. Raven Goes Berrypicking, by Anne Cameron, Harbor Publishing Co., B.C., Canada, 1991 Part of a series of traditional Native American folk tales about Raven. Raven Returns the Water, by Anne Cameron, Harbor Publishing Co., B.C., Canada, 1987 Part of a series of traditional Native American folk tales about Raven. Ravens in Winter by Bernd Heinrich, Summit Books, New York, 1989 Ornithologist Heinrich spent four winters in the Northeastern woodlands in an intense study of raven behavior. Very thorough and readable. Raven Tales, Traditional Stories of Native Peoples, edited by Peter Goodchild, Chicago Review Press, 1991 A very good collection of Native American tales. Ravensong, A Natural and Fabulous History of Ravens and Crows, by Catherine Feher, Northland Publishing, Arizona, 1991 An excellent collection of raven myths from around the world. I also recommend the following books that have useful sections about ravens. The Druid Animal Oracle, Working with the Sacred Animals of the Druid Tradition, by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, Fireside Books, Simon and Schuster, Inc., New York, 1994 An interesting books on the Celtic/Druid traditions regarding sacred animal totems. Symbolic and Mythological Animals, by J. C. Cooper, Aquarian/Thorsons, Harper Collins Publishing, London, 1992 A sourcebook of animal mythologies from around the world.

Animal Speak, The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small, by Ted Andrews, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1994 A manual on how to work with animal totems and spirits. Medicine Cards, The Discovery of Power through the Ways of Animals, by Jamie Sams and David Carson, Bear & Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1988 An excellent deck and accompanying book on the Native American tradition. Folklore of the Scottish Highland, by Anne Ross, Batsford Ltd., London, 1976 Wonderful book of Highland traditional folklore with many references to ravens and crows.

Clues to the meaning of this celestial feature

Apollo gave a feast to Jupiter and requiring water sent the raven with a cup (Crater) to fetch some. On his way the raven noticed a fig tree, and, resting there until the figs became ripe, feasted himself upon them until, remembering his errand and fearing the anger of Apollo, he picked up a snake (Hydra) and on his return gave as an excuse that the hydra had prevented him from filling the cup by having kept the spring from flowing, this being the cause of the delay. The god was not deceived by the lie and ordained in punishment that the raven should never drink so long as figs were not ripe. Apollo placed the raven (Corvus), cup (Crater) and snake (Hydra) in the heavens as a memorial, where the Water-snake guards the water from the everlastingly thirsty Raven. Corvus now sits within sight of the Cup of water, but he can never drink.

"Oppian gives another explanation--that it likes living in stony, waterless regions; and it requires little sagacity to perceive that such a mode of life proves, not that it is always thirsty, but that it is never thirsty." [Birds and Beasts] Another myth tells us that Corvus, the raven, was given a task by Apollo of keeping a watchful eye on Apollos pregnant lover Coronis (her name might relate to crow or crown, one of the Hyades in Taurus is named Coronis). The raven reported back to Apollo the unwelcome news that she was having an affair with someone else. Apollo in anger cursed the raven, and its color changed from its former silver hue to the present black. Corona was killed by Apollo's sister Artemis. The unborn child of Coronis and Apollo was rescued and raised as Asclepius who is identified with Ophiuchus. Folklore involving ravens and crows has intermingled over time. The word 'crow' might relate to a different constellation. Corvus is from Latin corvus, Greek korax, related to Swedish korp, Old High German hraban, Old Norsehrafn. The words Corvus and Raven comes from the Indo-European root *ker2 'Echoic root, base of various derivatives indicating loud noises or birds'. Derivatives: ring2 (from Old English hringan, to resound, clink), retch (from Old English hraecan, to clear the throat, relating to the deep guttural croak of the raven),raven1 (from Old English hraefn, raven, from Germanic *hrabnaz, raven), corbel, corbina, cormorant(literally, raven of the sea), corvine, Corvus, coracoid (korakias, chough), screech (from Old Norseskraekja, to shreik, from Germanic *skrekjan). [Pokorny 1. ker- 567. Watkins] The names Ingram (from Teutonic angil, 'angel', and hram, hramn, is a collateral form of hraban, 'raven'), Bertram (from beraht,'bright', and hram, hramn, raven). Klein supplies the Indian word kos, 'the distance within which a man's shout can be heard'. A corbel is a likely place for a crow to perch, a bracket projecting from the face of a wall and generally used to support a cornice or arch. Ravens are found at the top of the highest peaks. In Norse mythology, the omniscient god Odin had a pair of ravens, Hugin (mind) and Munin (memory). They flew around the world

every day to learn of the day's news and then returned to Odin . They sat on each of the god Odin's shoulders (maybe on the coracoid bones), and informed him of everything that happens in the world. There are examples from Germany, India, Siberia, Iceland, and elsewhere where people are advantaged by speaking with these birds or eavesdropping on the conversation of ravens . These characteristics imply that these birds have something to do with; news, journalism, information, gossip. "The raven gets its name, corvus or corax, from the sound it makes in its throat, because it utters a croak" The word raven is related to retch, from Old English hraecan, to clear the throat. Polish kruk, 'raven',krakac, 'croak (like a raven)', English croak . The onomatopoeic deep, guttural croak of the raven. The myth above tells how Apollo sends the Raven to fetch water (Hydra) in the god's cup (Crater). The procrastinating Raven got back late because he waited for some figs to ripen before returning. Ravens, crows, and rooks, go 'kraa kraa'. The call of the crow is a nasal caw compared to the deep, guttural croak of the raven, although both species have extensive and varied vocal repertoires . The cawing of the ravens or crows was heard as "Cras! Cras!" by Latin speakers, and was thought to mean "Tomorrow!Tomorrow!" We get the word procrastination, "postpone until the morrow", from Latin cras. When Typhon came rushing toward Olympus, the gods fled in terror to Egypt where they disguised themselves as animals; Apollo (Phoebus) became a raven. "Corvinus, winner of spoils and a name, aided in combat by a bird which hides beneath a bird's exterior the godhead of Phoebus" [Astronomica, Manilius, 1st century AD, p.67.] The Corvinus Manilius refers to is Valerius Corvinus, a Roman politician. The story goes that he got the name 'Corvinus' when under attack by an enemy, a raven flew down from nowhere, perched upon Valerius's helmet, and began to attack his foe. A title, referring to this incident, for Corvus, was "Pomptina, from the victory

of Valerius when aided by a raven on the Pontine Marsh" [Allen, Star Names], the word 'marsh' is related to 'maar', a crater lake. There are a number of stories from different cultures about how ravens "aid in combat" with gods. There are scientific studies on ravens and wolves associating in foraging strategy . In the book Mind of the Raven, biologist Bernd Heinrich says ravens and wolves (Lupus) work in tandem: they rely on wolves to kill, and to open carcasses (which might be one of the reasons why wolves are described as ravenous?). Ravens have been reported to alert wolves to potential food sources and to danger. The Inuit believe ravens help them hunt caribou, polar bears and seals by dipping their wings in the right direction. The name Bran, from Welsh Brn, from brn, raven, refers to gigantic Celtic god and ruler of Britain. After he was mortally wounded in battle his head was buried in London where it served as a protection against invaders [AHD]. Some believe the still-current practice of keeping ravens at the Tower of London is associated with this story of Bran . Bran is an archetypal British Celtic hero, and it has been surmised that he is the root of the character known as the Fisher King from Arthurian romance ; Bron or Bran the Blessed. The raven brought the cup (Crater, also representing the Holy Grail) to Apollo. "Boron also says that it was the Rich Fisher, named Bron, who was the brother-in-law of Joseph of Arimathea, and that it was he who brought the Grail to Britain". Hebrew Corban means a gift or votive offering for the god, also the name given to the Treasury of the Temple at Jerusalem Corbenic (also Carbonek and Corbin) is the name of the castle of the Holy Grail in the Lancelot-Grail cycle and Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. It is the domain of the Fisher King and the birth-place of Sir Galahad.

Facts About Ravens

Ravens and crows are both members of the family of birds called corvids. The corvid family also includes common birds like jays, magpies, and some varieties of nutcracker. Corvids are very intelligent birds and have been on earth for millions of years.

Ravens are much larger than crows, about the size of a red-tailed hawk, with a wingspan of over 3 feet, and they are solitary birds that prefer wild places. Although ravens will sometimes work together in pairs, they do not congregate in large numbers the way crows do. Their range is very broad; they can be found in deserts, mountainous regions, woodlands, seaside areas, and prairies. Ravens eat almost anything, including nuts, seeds, insects, fruit, garbage, carrion, and small mammals. They often follow wolf packs so they can share the carcasses of a wolf kill. Ravens have been seen pranking wolves by pulling their tales or playing with their pups, and they can use other animals to find food for them. If a raven spies a good wolf kill, it will make sounds that attract the wolves so the animal can be opened and the flesh exposed for the raven. Ravens can be distinguished from crows by their long straight beaks, their very large size, and the shaggy ruff on their throats. When ravens are in flight, their wings are more transparent and detailed than a crows wings. Ravens can caw like crows, but more commonly they make a very deep gronk-gronk kind of sound, and they also make sounds that are very strange. A common saying has it that if you hear a sound in the woods that you cant identify, it is probably a raven. Some people claim that both ravens and crows can be taught to speak human words, (magpies can do this), but keeping either in captivity is highly illegal. Ravens can solve complex problems on first try. Many ornithologists believe them to be more intelligent than chimpanzees, although these kinds of comparisons strike me as wrongheaded. All animals are smart in their own way. Humans rank animal intelligence on human scales, but how useful is that, really? Ravens can live to 40 years in the wild or 70 in captivity.

Facts About Crows

Crows are highly social birds that live in large, complex societies. They roost in large numbers at night, probably to protect themselves from their archenemy, the great horned owl, although the exact reason for their roosting behavior is unknown. Roosts of as many as one million birds are not unheard of. Male and female crows mate for life, and family groups stay together over many years. Crows have only one brood of chicks per year and they lose about half the fledgling birds the first year, but the new crows who survive will stay and help the parents until they themselves are old enough to mate, much as humans do. Female crows mate for the first time after their third year, males around their fifth year. If a crow survives long enough to mate, it will generally live to be between 17 and 21 years old. The oldest crow on record lived to be 29.5 years old. Crows have a reputation for stealing shiny objects and hiding them, but in reality adults do not do this. Young crows will pick up anything and hide it however, as a form of play, so if shiny objects are available they will take those. Young crows have even been seen pulling the windshield wipers off of cars. Adult crows hide food, covering it with leaves on the ground, storing it in tree hollows and the crooks of branches, or even leaving small carcasses in shallow water or birdbaths. They will eat almost anything, including other birds, but the notion that crows are a danger to songbirds is a popular misconception. Even when crow populations are removed, the population of songbirds stays fairly stable, so crows are not taking any more songbirds than would be taken no matter what. Birds of all kinds (including crows) have high mortality rates their first year.

Crows talk to each other and will talk to people as well, but few people can distinguish their caws and trills or understand their complex language. In recent years crows have moved into cities, where the night lighting and large trees helps to protect them from predators.

Raven Wisdom, Crow Wisdom

Ravens and crows are both are keenly intelligent and are believed to inhabit a realm beyond time. They have sharp eyesight and can 'see' the past, the present, and the future all at once. Both birds have a complex language of calls and caws and shrieks that most human beings don't take time to understand. The major difference between ravens and crows is that crows are very social birds and live in large groups, whereas ravens are solitary birds and are most often found in wild, lonely places. This difference impacts the wisdom carried by the two animals. Crows are associated with divine law or tribal law, with social connection and proper conduct within the community. Both birds are associated with secrecy and both warn against spilling your energy and wasting it by talking too soon, too much. Crows routinely warn each other and other animals, so if a crow speaks to you (and they do!) it is often a warning--either from the crow (to move along) or from the crow for you in your own life (that there is something threatening you that you need to get a clue about). Crows are very, very smart and see things we don't all the time. Some people use crows for prophecy and advice--you can ask a crow a question and wait for the answer, and it will usually be an insightful, correct answer, but naturally, this method takes some practice, some intuition, and the consent of the crow. Ravens are strongly associated with magic and healing, and with the realm of the dead. They are much larger than crows, and will sometimes 'play' with wind currents by rising high in the air and then letting

themselves dive and whirl before pulling out of the fall, somewhat like a kite. If a raven appears in your life, you might have a calling, or you may be getting advice to tune in to your own power, your own wildness. Ravens are strongly associated with shamanism and healing. Shamans connect with ravens for their amazing sight and perspective. In the popular series of books by Carols Castaneda, the shaman Don Juan routinely took the form of a raven to see what others were doing and to understand their motives. In general crows are more about developing wisdom and power within the group, ravens with solitary introspection and personal magic and power. Both herald change, often transformative deep change, and both sometimes warn of the closeness of death or the presence of the dead.

Encounters With Ravens & Crows

Many people choose the raven or crow as their spirit animal, and it isnt surprising once you realize how intelligent they are and how much like people they are. Crows are often the first wild animal to get in your face, so to speak, and their motives areas complex as they arethey can be up to almost anything, literally. Personally I find it difficult not to adore them, but many people find them ominous, scary, or annoying. Crows are legally protected from hunters, but people can still get special permits to take them if they declare them to be nuisance. Contrary to the old saying about eating crow as a form of penance or humiliation, crows dont taste bad at all. They have a gamey flavor and dark flesh, somewhat like duck and were once hunting widely. With no evidence whatsoever to back this up, I personally think the expression to eat crow comes from the fact that they were at one time a poor mans food source. The following nursery rhyme would seem to confirm this: Sing a song of sixpence, pocket full of rye,

Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie, When the pie was opened the birds began to sing! Wasnt that a dainty dish to set before the king? I can just picture a medieval housewife waiting outside with a pocketful of rye kernels to bait and catch some crows for that evenings dinnera dinner you really wouldnt serve a king unless you were intentionally disrespecting him. I have had many interesting experiences with crows, none with ravens, and I once worked for a business that kept a magpie in a cage, which always struck me as mean. The magpie did talk, but not often and never to me. I will leave this group of corvids to the readers imagination and experience for mow, since lore and legend can scarcely top the everyday reality of their amazing lives. What's more, so many legends and stories have been told about ravens and crows that covering them all would take a book, or at the very least another hub or two. Many, many native American tribes hold the crow or raven sacred--a topic for another book or hub. What I can say for certain in this short space is this: When you form a bond with the crow or raven, like the bird itself you will cherish that bond for life.

Crows, ravens, jays and magpies Corvids

Crows, ravens, jays and magpies are all corvids, and are some of the most intelligent of birds. Farmers know that crows can count to four or five: the birds are wary of people and if three hunters enter a blind to shoot at them, the crows won't come near. Even if one or two hunters come out again, they aren't fooled. Not until five people go into the blind and four come out will the crows think it's safe to return. There are documented cases of crows assisting injured members of the flock by distracting predators, and of crows using tools like twigs. They know how to drop clam shells from a height to break them and get at the meat inside. Crows are social birds that congregate in huge flocks. While the flock grazes in a field, lookouts will be posted to watch for approaching danger. They'll raise the

alarm if humans approach. During the day crows fly around alone or in small groups. You'll often see a solitary crow on a pole and hear its "caw! caw!" that seems to mean "Where's everybody? Come fly with me!". Often another crow will answer, and the two will fly off together. At night, crows return to a common roost where thousands of birds gather, sometimes flying as many as 80 miles back home. Again, sentries watch for their main enemy (besides humans): owls. Crows are most vulnerable at night, gathered in a large group, and an owl can do a lot of damage. If crows happen upon an owl during the day they'll mob it and drive it out of the area. Speaking of humans, they used to take advantage of crows roosting habits by dynamiting them at night. Some states paid bounties for the dead crows. Although crows do damage crops, they don't deserve their bad reputation and are now protected as wild animals Crows form strong pair bonds, and both parents help raise their young, called simps. The young bird will stay with its parents for a couple of years, and help feed the next nest of simps. Ravens tend to be more solitary, but they're usually seen in pairs and they mate for life. They have also been observed playing, by sliding down icy rocks. Their acrobatics in flight seem to be part of courtship rituals, but may be a playful activity for them.

Mythology and Folklore of the Raven:

A distinct black shape, tumbling in the updrafts of a mountain crag - a raven at play. The 'gronking' call of a raven is one of the most evocative sounds of Britain's uplands. The raven is probably the world's most intelligent and playful bird. In the world of myth, it is a bird of paradox, and something of a dark clown. Its association with playful intelligence is perhaps exceeded by its image as a bird of death. Its harsh call, and its presence in remote wild places and at scenes of death, has earned it a reputation as a bird of ill-omen. After all, the old collective noun for a group of ravens is an 'unkindness'. Yet there is so much more to the raven.

An old Scottish name for the raven is 'corbie', which is thought to have been derived from the Latin 'corvus'. One Scottish legend reflects the dark beliefs about this bird. It tells of an evil hag called Cailleach who appeared in the form of a number of birds, including the raven, and feasted on men's bodies. This large crow appears again and again in Celtic lore. In Welsh folklore, Bran the Blessed (Bran is Welsh for raven) is a kind of primordial deity and guardian of Britain whose totem is a raven. Bran ordered for his own head to be cut off, after which it could still speak words of prophecy. Eventually it was said to have been buried beneath Tower Hill, at the Tower of London. The presence of ravens at the Tower is an echo of this legend and the prophecy says that if the ravens ever leave the tower, Britain will fall (hence their wings are clipped, just in case!). Interestingly this Welsh word appears in Scotland, and Strath Bran, in the north of the Trees for Life Target Area translates as 'Strath' or Valley of the Raven. They are still present there today. Arthur, another legendary guardian of Britain, is also associated with ravens. In Cornwall, which is also steeped in Celtic lore, it was believed that Arthur didn't really die, but was magically transformed into this bird. The Celts were a warlike people, and the presence of ravens on the battlefield would have been very familiar to them. The Irish goddess, Morrighan, had a number of different guises. In her aspect as bloodthirsty goddess of war, she was thought to be present on the battlefield in the form of a raven. Odin, the chief of the Norse gods, was accompanied by a pair of ravens, Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory), who would fly far and wide to bring news to Odin. One of Odin's names, Hrafnagud, means the 'Raven God'. In the Old Testament, the raven is the first bird Noah sent to look for land, and Elijah is described as being provided for by ravens. They are used as a symbol of God's providence in both the New Testament and in Christian art. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have observed the keen intelligence of this bird. It has a well-documented habit of deliberately revealing the whereabouts of deer, so that wolves can find their quarry, and leave

spoils, which the ravens could eat. Even some modern deer-stalkers report that ravens will help them to locate deer, as the birds know that they will receive the 'gralloch' or guts after the deer is killed. However, there was apparently a belief among some stalkers that three ravens was a bad omen. The indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest of North America were well aware of the raven's multifaceted nature, and Raven was revered as a major deity and something of a trickster. He features frequently in the distinctive artwork of these people. There is probably more folklore concerning the raven than any other bird in Britain. While some of this is somewhat sinister, the more we get to know this playful and intelligent bird, the more respect we might realise it deserves.


The Raven's keynote is that of magic, shapeshifting, and creation. While its

cycle of power is that of winter solstice. The raven is one of those birds that contradictory. It is a bird of birth and death, and it is a bird of mysticism and magic.

has a tremendous amount of lore and mythology surrounding it, and it is often

In the near East, the raven was considered unclean because it is a scavenger. It is one of the foods listed as forbidden in the Bible. The raven is one of the birds that Noah sent out after the floods, but it did not return to the ark. On Elijah when hiding from King Ahab.

the other hand, also in Biblical lore is the tale of how a raven fed the prophet

In Scandinavian lore, the raven played a significant role. The Norse god Odin had a pair of ravens who were his messengers. Their names were Hugin (thought)

and Munin (memory). Odin was known to shapeshift as a raven himself. This reflects the idea of raven being a messenger of the great spiritual realm.

In the Middle Ages the croak of the raven was believed to foretell a death or the outcome of a battle. It was even taught to the common folk in Christian some communities that wicked priests became ravens when they died. Even today, old timers tell how you can expect hot weather when a raven is seen facing a clouded sun.

The raven is a member of the corvids family, to which belong crows and magpies and other such birds. In truth, the only really significant difference between the crow and the raven is in size, the raven being much larger. It would be a beneficial to study the information on the crow for anyone who has a raven as totem. Much of the same information that applies to one, also applies to the other. It is simply a matter of degree. Rather than repeat that information the crow itself. here, I would like to give you some information not generally associated with

The raven has a wealth of myth and lore surrounding it. In many ways it is

comparable to the coyote tales of the plains Indians, the Bushmen tales of the confusing role. The coyote was both trickster and wise being-fool and wise one. This was true of the mantis in the tales of the Kalahari Bushmen.

mantis and other societies in which an animal plays both a significant and yet

In the Pacific Northwest the raven has this same aura about him. In the Pacific Northwest, raven brought forth life and order Raven stole the sunlight from one who would keep the world in darkness. Nothing could exist without raven. Raven is honored in art and on totem poles, reflecting the tales and mysticism that have developed around it.

With raven, human and animal spirits intermingle and become as one. This is reflected in its deep, rich shiny black. In blackness, everything mingles until your life or your being. Raven has the knowledge of how to become other animals and how to speak their languages. Ravens are great at vocalizations, and they can be taught to speak. They drawn forth, out into the light. Because of this, raven can help you shapeshift

incorporate and mimic the calls of other species. In the Northwest are tales of that when they grew up, they would understand their cries. Raven can teach you to understand the language of animals. Ravens are playful, and they are excellent tool users. They will use stones and

the Kwakiutl Indians who offered the afterbirth of male newborns to Raven so

anything else that is available to help them crack nuts and such. They are birds not intimidated by others, and they are very fast and wary Because of this, they are not easy prey for other animals or birds. This implies the ability to teach

you how to stir the magic of life without fear They are also known for their access.

amorous behavior, reflecting the strong creative life force to which they have

This creative life force can be used to work the magic of spiritual laws upon the physical plane. It can be used to go into the void and stir the energies to manifest that which you most need. All this and more is what raven teaches. If raven has come into your life, expect magic. Somewhere in your life, magic is at play Raven activates the energy of magic, linking it with your will and intention.

Raven speaks of the opportunity to become the magician and/or enchantress of your life. Each of us has a magician within, and it is Raven which can show us how to bring that part of us out of the dark into the light. Raven speaks of

messages from the spirit realm that can shapeshift your life dramatically Raven teaches how to take that which is unformed and give it the form you desire.

The winter solstice and winter season is the time of greatest power for those shines the least on this day, thus it is the darkest. From that day forth, the

with the raven as a totem. The solstice is the shortest day of the year The sun light shines a little more each day This is symbolic of the influence of raven. we develop the ability to bring more light out. This is creation. CHANT

It teaches how to go into the dark and bring forth the light. With each trip in,

Wing so black it shines like Moon at midnight, O Raven, strong, hear my cry! O Raven, eloquent and wise. Teach me old magick, powerful, bold,

Ravens, Crows, Magpies Beloved Corvids.

Weve all seen them Crows, Magpies, Ravens, Rooks Sometimes minding their own affairs, but more often than not they are into mischief or a part of our daily lives. Crows and Ravens are the creatures of the otherworld, and are also portents of omens, magic, war, death, regeneration, and prophecy. And in truth, anything black was considered a creature of the devil, such as black dogs (the howling of a dog was the announcement of death, and dogs have had a long deep association with death and the otherworld), black cats (up until the 19th century crows or ravens were seen as witches in disguise, a bad omen as ill-wished as the crow in seeing or crossing paths with like a black cat; and as well as up to 1922 in Somerset the black cat was considered to be a creature of the devil, but to own one was to have its owner looked upon as having a lucky talisman showing the duality of the folklore), black horses, and also black birds of most types, such as magpies. Two crows seen was called a corbie coupling,; from the latin word for crow (coracicus, corvinus). Its powers of omens stopped inaugurations of Archbishops (Such as with Adamson of St. Andrews in 1586 by a man named David Ferguson saying the crow was cawing Corrupt! in portent to the intended Archbishop) to battles, to births, peace, etc. And later on, it is still linked to agriculture, as we have the scarecrows, and the folk art of the crow always with the harvest, and even in modern France there is a festival dedicated to this bird in the light of agriculture. And anyone who has lived with crows, knows them as more than mere birds, some call them feathered humans; in their ability to speak, and bond with humans. Travelers would look to see a raven to foretell a fruitful journey, or one of illluck or death. In 40 B.C. Virgil writes in his Eclogue IX If a timely raven on

my left hand had not warned me at all costs to cut short this last dispute, neither your friend Moeris nor Menacles would be alive today. As well as folkloric sayings of As a crow flies in relation to describing distance and time relations. Using the birds gifts of omens and prophecy was against church law in the middle ages. The 12th century Bartholomew of Exeters Penitential, writes, He who believes that anything comes out favorably or unfavorably because of the croaking of a young crow or raven shall do penance for seven days. And in 1748 Smollett wrote in Roderick Random, As this creature is reckoned in our country a common vehicle for the devil and witches to play their pranks in, I verily believed we were haunted, and, in a violent fright, shrunk under the bed-clothes. And dont think the Church condemned the bird in the beginning St. Paul the hermit was fed by a crow himself. And Noah let forth a raven first, before a dove to see if the water was receeding. In 1652 Gaules Mag-astro-mances writes, To bode good or bad luck from a crow lighting from the right hand, or the left. And let us not forget the very old rhyme: One crow for news, two for mirth, three crows a wedding, four a birth And sometimes it is interchanged with magpies as well. These creatures were looked at as omens for many generations, for one reason or another. And interestingly enough, Celtic coins from the Roman period depict a crow riding on the back of horses, and thus linking such deities as Macha, Epona, Nantosuelta, Rhiannon, Morrigan, and others together. What that link is I think is best left to your own interpretations. And in America, to eat crow comes from the war of 1812, from an altercation between the British and Americans, with the trespassing American shot a crow, and the British officer forced the trespasser to eat the bird he shot, and after the gun was returned, the American forced the British officer to eat part of the bird himself. It is a phrase referring to humiliation, as well as eating your own words.

Corvids are monogamous creatures, whom are very social and loyal to their flocks. They mate for life, and in such cases as Rooks they stay with their flock all year round. Ravens are the largest of this family of birds, and their intelligence and adaptability has been noted for generations, although, they tend to be solitary creatures, unlike crows and magpies. And modern scientists are realizing the immense intelligence of this bird, as it has been seen to have the intellectual capacities of a three year old child, in its ability to reason, comprehend, and even communicate indicating a vocabulary that would make any African-Grey parrot envious. And there are many humans who have bonded with these birds, some sit on their shoulders, others venture into their houses, and share lives as members of the family. There are other aspects to this bird, such as its funeral, when one of the murder or unkindness dies. I myself had the honor of seeing this humbling and solemn event, and this is how it went: The entire flock (or murder, unkindness, etc.) gather, and caw very loudly in a chaotic mass of noise. Then suddenly silence, and the mate of the crow (Or so it seems, anyway it is only a guess from my observations) caws alone, and there is a thunderous moment of silence, the one I witnessed lasting fifteen minutes. Then suddenly they just fly away, leaving the corpse to the elements, and I did not see them return to the body ever again it was a very emotional experience that certainly opened my eyes to these complex birds. Many have noticed the community feeling with crows and ravens, and have witnessed crows in the garbage cans or dumpsters, with one or two as look-outs, as they rummage. One even watched a crow figure out how to carry four cranberries in its beak at once, which amazed the woman at its impromptu thinking skills. My own bird-bath has been soiled by the food of crows, as they dampen the food to bring nourishment and water to the nest, in one trip. And of course, where there is food, there are crows. There are many gods, and goddesses associated with this supernatural bird. Such deities as Eriu have connections to the raven, as does Odin (with Huginn meaning memory, and Muninn meaning thought on his shoulders

which apart from telling Odin of the happenings of the world, some say they represent the constructive principles of thought and memory itself), Sucellos (Great-Striker) , Lugh, Badb (Raven), Nantosuelta (She of the sun-warmed valley), Morrigan (Great Queen), Macha, Anu and even the Cailleach Bheure to name but a small few. Throughout mythology the Raven is the great shape-shifter, the bearer of prophecy, and metamorphosis. It knows the laws of magic, the boundaries of the otherworld, and heralds when a spirit has left its body (such as when one perched on Cuchulainns shoulder, to herald his death was complete, as being seen on the battlefields, heralded the deaths of the fallen, as well as eating the flesh on the battlefield) as well as in the Mabinogion, the raven is associated with Bran the Blessed. And being able to find nourishment from even the most fowl of carcasses was an act of the supernatural in itself turning death into life, linking it to regeneration. The Raven is not only the totem of the warrior purely- but of the supernatural itself as well. Many who have been in battles would tell that it can be supernatural in themselves. Turning death into life, and can take you to meet the dead in the Otherworld, their sighting on the battlefield (along with wolves, wild dogs, buzzards, eagles and other carrion creatures) is in a Scottish folkloric maxim of Going up the Crow Road, and that implies the act of dying. The goddess Morrigan summoned the birds to feast on the fallen dead after a battle. So it is natural to be seen on a battlefield, with death, omens, and prophecies being heralded by the cawing of a Raven or Crow, as well as their associations in other mythologies such as the Native American mythology. In Native American Mythology, the Raven is Tulugaq, and in his own myths he brings the alternating periods of day and night, after hunting down a whale-like beast that lived in the dark primeval waters off the coast of Alaska. The Raven in many Northwestern coast tribes was the trickster hero, using magic to win the day through cunning, and guile. And also in Native myths, the Raven brought fire to man, and thus was the savior of

mankind by pecking the leather bag of which daylight was kept, being stolen by the guile of the Raven. Raven also stole water and created rivers and lakes on his flight away from the situation in Haida myths. In other myths around the world also, Greece gave the crow as the animal symbol of Apollo and Athene, as well as Romes belief that the crow was cawing Cras which means tomorrow, and was a prophecy. And also here Crow tells her story to Raven right before Aesculapius is born. Being the Kings daughter won the love of Poseidon (and in Roman myths it was Neptune). When Poseidon intended to take her forcefully, Aesculapius called to the gods, and Athene heard, and turned her into a crow to escape his wiles. And thus she became her attendant (and in Roman myth, it was Minerva). In China it is shown on the solar disc with three legs, as an imperial symbol. It was said to be black because of its close relation to the sun, and even the rising and fall of the sun was said to be where a crow was. And in both China and Japan, the raven was a possible symbol of family unity and love. Shinto has the crow, with its role as the messenger and oracle. Africa has the raven, as a guide, who warns of dangers to people and their tribes. All too often many carrion birds get a bad rap, because of their diet. Such birds as the Vulture, Starling, Raven, Crow, Falcons, Hawks, Kites, Eagles, Condors, Magpies and others are said in phrases such as They shouldnt be here or Evil, because they are resourceful enough to find nourishment from even human corpses, to animal corpses and even rotten food. The ancient peoples considered this an immense power, whereas many other animals cannot eat this flesh, these birds are not only able, but are rejuvenated by the meal. The Raven was the symbol of prophesy, and was the messenger of the Gods in Irish and Welsh mythology. And in the Welsh mythology Afagddu who was the son of Cerridwen was also known as Sea Raven, or Raven of the Sea; and it was intended from his mother the gift of inspiration. Crows and Ravens are the masters of magic, life and of course, death. And

not to be lastly mentioned, they are linked with sovereignty as with the Tower of London, if the ravens fly away, England will fall; so their wings are clipped to prevent this from happening. Dearg Corra, a figure from the Fenian Cycle of Irish literature has a blackbird sitting on his shoulder, many have speculated to be a crow or raven. In the lore it tells of Dearg being found by Finn after being banished from the camp through Finns jealousy. Dearg was sitting on top of a tree, with the bird on his right shoulder, a bronze vessel in his left hand, eating nuts and giving half of it to the blackbird, and ate the remaining half himself. At the base of the tree was a stag, who shared an apple with Dearg Corra, and the stag had the remaining half. Then lastly the stag, blackbird, and Dearg drank together from the bronze vessel. Crows and ravens have a complex folklore, but too many only focus on one or another aspect of them when it is a supernatural creature, which can encompass and possess many talents and gifts, thus many gods and goddesses were partial to them. They are no more evil than black dogs, black cats, owls (also a portent of evil, death, and conflict in folklore), or black horses. They are no more one thing than another, and it is in this light that many are missing the big picture the crow or raven is a fascinating and multi-talented creature, capable of being taught or its talents called upon to do just about anything, from talk, to unlocking puzzles (and in the country, doors and windows too!) to cawing and alerting its unkindness members of danger, to many other things. Out in the rural areas of Colorado, into the corn-field seas of agrarian landscapes and you will see crows sitting on telephone wires, or fences, or in the local towns, rummaging in the dumpster. They are extremely adaptable, social (even with humans and other animals), and badly misunderstood. So the next time you see a crow or raven, a local superstition from my small town that has crows hanging on the telephone wires, making them sag, say: To give them a bit to eat, and the act will bring good luck.

Ravens and Crows

Common Raven (Corvus corax) Chihuahuan Raven (Corvus cryptoleucus) American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
by Jay Sharp

One of the fabled ravens at the Tower of London. I made the picture about 20 years ago.

For some strange reason, ravens and crows have long played a prominent role across the landscape of the human imagination. Its hard to understand why. Unlike the bald eagle, which soars elegantly above our heads, ravens and crows often fly acrobatically, much like many teenagers driving the family car. Unlike the American goldfinch, the Bullocks oriole or the vermilion flycatcher, which sport exciting splashy colors and patterns, ravens and crows come in one basic colorsolid ebony, morbidly black. Unlike the mockingbird or the curve-billed thrasher, which perform a wide repertoire of cheerful songs, ravens and crows usually just offer variations on a single coarse note: caw, caw, caw, caw. Unlike the whitewinged dove or the Gambels quail, which feed primly on seeds and fruit, ravens and crows often feed greedily on carrion left beside a roadway or on food scraps scavenged from human trash. In spite of their loopy flight, gloomy color, raspy voices and gross feeding habits, ravens and crows often star in folk tales, old beliefs and literature.

Raven and Crow Tales

For centuries, said Samantha Fleming in White Dragon, ravens and crows have had a special place in the mythology of various cultures. Puebloan peoples, as Charles F. Lummis said in his Pueblo Indian FolkStories, tell the story of crows dancing and singing: Alas, Mama! You are shaking, you are shaking! while they trick an ancient enemy, the coyote, into ending the life of his own mama. The English long believed that if the fabled ravens of the Tower of London should depart, the Crown will fall and Britain with it. The English now sniff that they are above such a silly superstition, but in addition to the wild population at the Tower, they have kept a captive cadre of ravens since the 17th century. Just in case. American poet Edgar Allen Poe, mourning for his lost love, spoke of a raven a grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore, that flew into his chambers, lit on a pallid bust, and cast its bleak shadow on the floor. Given the symbolism of the raven, Poe gave up hope that he would somehow ever recover his soul. Nevermore, he said mournfully and famously. Another poet, whose nationality, state, city, address and name Ive sworn to keep secret, penned the following: There was an old crow that so constantly squabbled His friends all thought that he should be throttled. They met here of late, Decided his fate, And thats how in bond he came to be bottled. (Poets, of course, always pen their works, they never just write them.)
Distinguishing Features

In the Southwest, we have two species of ravensthe common raven (Corvus corax)and the Chihuahuan raven (Corvus cryptoleucus); and we have one species of crowthe American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos).

A pair of Chihuahuan ravens beside an icy puddle in a shopping center parking lot.

All three birds, relatively large, have iridescent black plumage, black legs and feet, and black bills. The differences between them become most apparent when they are compared side by side. The typical adult common raven, the largest of the three, measures about two feet from the tip of its bill to the tip of its tail; the adult Chihuahuan raven, a little over a foot and a half; and the adult American crow, almost a foot and a half. The ravens have somewhat lankier bodies than the crow; they have heavier, slightly hooked upper bills, more developed throat hackles and wedgeshaped tails. The Chihuahuan raven has neck feathers with white bases, which sometimes may be seen if it fluffs its feathers or a wind lifts its feathers. The crow has a smaller bill, smoother throat hackles and a more rounded-off tail; it also has proportionally broader wings.
Range and Habitat

The common raven, said W. I. Boarman and B. Heinrich, Birds of North America Online, is geographically and ecologically one of the most widespread naturally occurring birds in the world. It is distributed throughout major portions of North America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and in all terrestrial biomes except tropical rain forests. The Chihuahuan raven, according to the eBird internet site, ranges across most of northern Mexico up through southern and eastern New Mexico, southwestern Arizona, western Texas, western Oklahoma, southwestern Kansas and eastern Colorado. The American crow, say N. A. Verbeek and C. Caffrey, Birds of North America Online,occurs across most of the United States (excepting the desert regions), from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and across the southern half of Canada.

In New Mexico, said Stan Tekiela, Birds of New Mexico Field Guide, the common raven occurs throughout the state, typically preferring the higher, contoured elevations with scattered woodlands and human structures. The Chihuahuan raven holds residence primarily in the southern and eastern parts of the state, favoring the lower grass- and shrublands and cityscapes (especially the local landfills). The American crow has made its home in the more northern part of the state, where it frequents open, broken habitats with scattered trees as well as open fields and cityscapes.
Behavior and Life Cycle

Highly gregarious, adaptable and resourceful, the ravens and the crow typically roost and feed in scattered flocks, sometimes numbering hundreds or thousands. Typically, they migrate only short distances with a change of seasons or variability of food sources. They may welcome newcomers to a flock, leading them to food windfalls. They may attack, or mob, in large numbers, a would-be predator to protect the flock or nestlings or fledglings. The young birds may play games such as tug-ofwar and king-of-the-hill. Apparently just for fun, they may drop and catch objects in midflight or snitch and cache shiny and inedible objects in secret places. (Many years ago, my grandmothers pet American crow stole her car keys, which she found days later in the downspout of her house gutter.) The birds may attack intruders of the same species, with fights sometimes becoming vicious, even deadly. A common raven may yank the tail of a predator, perhaps just for the fun of watching it react. The bird has been known to peck at the tail of a dog, and if gets away with that, it will peck at the nose of the pooch.

A single Chihuahuan raven in a shopping center parking lot.

Opportunistic and omnivorous, the ravens and crows feed primarily on the most abundant food source available at the season and place. This could include a broad range of insects, arachnids (e.g. spiders, scorpions), reptiles, small birds, small mammals, pilfered eggs, grains and fruits as well as carrion and human refuse. They have been known to peck at the eyes and noses of newborn calves and lambs, taking advantage of the softer tissues. The birds may team up to attack prey, trail large predators to scavenge leftovers, search highways to find roadkill, or follow farm machinery to catch flushed rodents. In one instance, said Boarman and Heinrich, two common ravens jumped a cat that had just captured a mouse. One of the ravens attacked the cat, causing it to drop its prey. The other raven snatched up the mouse and flew away. Crows, say Verbeek and Caffrey, pluck ticks while walking over the bodies of feral hogs and domestic cattle. When times are lean and competition high, the birds may cache food for later consumption.

A Chihuahuan raven cawing from the top of a light pole.

Throughout the year, the bird spends substantial time resting, preening, sunning and just plain loafing. It may bathe in shallow waters, sprinklers and even fluffy snows, preening extensively after its bath. It may post itself near an ant bed, allowing the insects to crawl through its feathers, leaving a blanket of formic acida natural pesticide that eliminates parasites. After some moments, the bird shakes and picks the ants off, casting the insects aside. In the spring, when breeding season arrives, raven and crow pairs mate and bond for the year and perhaps for life. During courtship, the birds may preen each others head feathers and gently clasp each others bills. The ravens may engage in acrobatic flight, showing off, trying to impress a prospective partner. The male and female may spread their wings and tails and fluff their feathers. In the common ravens version of a lovers serenade, the two partners make gurgling, choking and knocking sounds. After mating, a pair turns to homemaking, which often becomes a family affair, with two or three helpers often progeny from the previous seasons hatch contributing to the raising of the young.

Typically, the birds build their nest on a solid platform such as the fork of a tree, the cross arms of a power pole or, sometimes, in the case of the common raven, on a ledge or crack in a cliff face. It appears that the male hauls most of the construction material to the nest site, and the female builds the nest, which she will make sturdy because she may use it again in coming years. First, she braids small branches and twigs and sometimes even bone or wire into a rough bowl shape spanning a foot and a half to several feet in diameter. Then, she lines her nest with whatever softer materials may be availablegrasses, shredded bark, leaves, moss, animal fur, sheep wool, mud and maybe even rags or paper. The Chihuahuan raven female, said J. C. Bednarz and R. J. Raitt, Birds of North America Online, molds a deep cup with her breast by pushing, prodding, and pounding movements The lined cup may span a foot in diameter and measure a few inches in depth. Within a few days after she finishes her nest, the female lays five or six generally oval-shaped greenish-colored eggs over a period of several days. This will likely be her only brood of the year. While the female takes the primary responsibility of incubating her eggs, the male guards the nest from predators, feeds the female on her nest, and may even incubate the eggs for brief periods. After about three weeks, the eggs begin to hatch, probably in the sequence in which they were laid, over a period of a few days. New hatchlings are born blind and helpless, covered with a slight down. While the female carries most responsibility for brooding the newborn, the male and, now the helpers as well, fetch food, typically insects, grains, carrion and food scraps for the female and the new arrivals. Sometimes, the male and the helpers dip the food in water to make it softer and easier for the nestlings to swallow. Within a couple of weeks, the young have opened their eyes and begun sprouting feathers, looking, suggested one author, much like miniature gargoyles. Within four or five weeks, they have feathered fully, and they have become active, moving around the nest, stretching their wings. Soon, they begin short flights, but they remain near the nest for several more days as they perfect their skills. Over several weeks, as they develop the ability to take care of themselves, they stay in the vicinity of the nest still begging their parents and the helpers for food. After a couple of months, they may leave to join a flock, but some may return the following year to serve their turn as helpers in raising their parents next brood. The raven or crow reaches sexual maturity at about three years of age. With good luck, the bird may live in the wild for four to six years, according to the Critter Control Internet site. In one instance, a banded wild crow reportedly lived for 29 years.

A pair of Chihuahuan ravens scavenging in the garbage at a shopping center.

Lifes Perils

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources rates the survival of all three of the species to be of Least Concern. The IUCN points out that the three all occupy an extremely large range; their populations range from very large to extremely large; and generally, their population trends vary from stable to increasing. Still, in some parts of their range, according to Boarman and Heinrich, the birds have been eradicated to a large extent because they have been considered pests, and, in some instances, reintroduction programs have been implemented. The birds especially their eggs, nestlings and fledglings can also fall to a number of predators such as coyotes, raccoons, hawks, owls and snakes.

Ravens and crows, naturalists believe, belong at the top of any ranking of the most intelligent birds. Relative to their size, they have the largest brains of any of the birds. A study in 2004, said James Owen, reporting for National Geographic News, suggests their cognitive abilities are a match for primates such as chimpanzees and gorillas.

According to the NATURE internet site, ravens achieve mastery and possess manipulative powers over other creatures in their domain, often letting others do work for them. For example, ravens will call wolves and coyotes to prospective meals so they can expose the carcass and make the meat accessible to the birds. In addition, ravens will show their true scavenger colors by waiting for other birds with specialized foraging skills to make a catch and then cunningly seize the defeated prey for themselves. The American crow has been known to manufacture and use toolsa capability once attributed only to man and other primates. One wild crow, said Verbeek and Caffrey, modified a piece of wood by pecking at it and then used it to probe a hole in a fence post

A winter flock of American crows (along with a few sandhill cranes and other birds) in a field near the Bosque del Apache, in central New Mexico.

Raven & Crow Facts

According to Boarman and Heinrich, the common raven engages in aerobatics, perhaps to declare dominance or impress a mate. In mid-flight, it may make a half roll or a full roll or even, occasionally, two rolls. It has even been observed flying upside down for more than half a mile. Given a transitory food supply and significant competition, an experienced common raven, said Boarman and Heinrich, may carry meat several miles to a location where it will cache and hide its booty. In selected areas within their range, Chihuahuan ravens may gather in flocks numbering as many as 50,000 birds during the winter. City-bred American crows, according to the National Geographic News, may scatter hard-shelled nuts on a street, waiting for automobiles to run over them and crack them, allowing access to the nut meat. They do this at traffic

light crossings, waiting patiently with human pedestrians for a red light before retrieving their prize.

The crows may also kill prey or crack open nuts by dropping them from a height onto a hard surface, said Verbeek and Caffrey. Where food is exceptionally abundant for instance, in some places in the southern plains American crows may gather in roosts of more than 2,000,000 birds, according to Verbeek and Caffrey. The birds may use roosts year after year. At one site in the northeast, they have roosted at the same site for more than a century.

Crow, Raven & Wolf Totems.

This is the meaning and definition of a crow totem or animal guide. Crow: Justice, shape shifting, change, creativity, spiritual strength, energy, community sharing, and balance. Raven: Introspection, courage, self-knowledge, magic.

Wolf: Loyalty, perseverance, success, intuition, and spirit.

The Crow Crows are very vocal birds. They are sly and often deceptive in their actions. Crows have been known to build false nests high in treetops to confuse predators. The height of their nests give them the opportunity to watch

everything that is going on around them. Many cultures think of crow as the keeper of knowledge for nothing escapes their keen sight. Crows travel in groups and make mischief in teams. As one crow explores something new, others will watch closely to see what happens and then learn from it. In this way they seem to always be in council with each other. They often raise a ruckus when hunters are around, warning deer and other birds. Crows recognize possible danger and always post lookouts when feeding--thier most vulnerable time. Their language is complex and they have a remarkable voice range. Each caw has its own meaning. Sometimes crow warns of impending danger. Other times it signals a time to join in council and make decisions. Listening to crow can teach those with this medicine how to hear the truth of what is being said. The striking black color of crow represents the color of creation. It is the womb out of which the new is born. Black the color of night gives birth to the light of a new day. Crow is a daytime bird reminding us that magic and creation are present in both. Their ability to shift between the known and unknown world indicates new journeys. Because crow is adaptable to all environments and will eat almost anything they can survive in almost any situation. Crow is associated with magic, unseen forces and spiritual strength. If crow flies into your life, get out of your familiar nest, look beyond your present range of vision, listen to its caw and act accordingly.

The Raven Ravens have a long history of myth and lore associated with them. In some native tribes they are known as the "keeper of secrets." They hold the teachings of mysticism and magic. Ravens are linked to the void, where universal secrets are stored. Their inky black color is the color associated with darkness. The darkness is a place where unconscious fears live. Raven, a master magician, embodies the energy of transformation and shows us how to eliminate our inner demons. Ravens are the largest songbirds in North America. They are extremely intelligent and are clever mimics. They incorporate and mimic calls of other species and can teach us how to understand the language of animals. They have also been known to learn some human words. The raven knows the mystery of life. They have an intimate association with death and rebirth. Because raven would feed on the corpses of the dead hanging on the gallons, early European settlers feared this bird and considered it to be an ill omen. In truth, however, raven should be respected not feared. There are many stories in native cultures about this illusive black bird. Shamans know the power of an unexpected piercing sound in altering consciousness. Ravens exercise this power, emitting a variety of sounds and can aid us in shifting our consciousness into various dimensional realms. This is one reason why the raven is known as a shape shifter with magical powers. Anyone with raven as a totem can expect continual changes and spiritual awakenings throughout their life.

Raven picks its students according to their accumulated wisdom. It flies into a persons life carrying the energy of magic and healing. If it decides to settle in and take up residence, it will stay as long as necessary to aid you in transmuting your karma then return you to the light. It will push, prod, and lead you into the discovery of your multidimensional self and reunite you with the secrets of the multidimensional universe. Those with this totem should remember to meet raven, not with fear, but rather with an appreciation for the teachings that it holds.

The Wolf When a lone wolf is spotted in the wilderness it embodies the energy of freedom. When seen in a pack it embodies a sense of community. If wolf appears to you alone or in a pack it is asking you to acquire the same within your own life. In spite of their negative press wolves are actually friendly, social and highly intelligent. The wolf's senses are highly developed. Their intelligence is marked with excellent hearing, sense of smell and strong feeling. They are determined as well as cunning and use these skills for the benefit of the pack. The howl of the

wolf is primal and penetrating. They howl to find other pack members or to let wolves from outside of the pack know their territory boundaries. If you hear a wolf howl it might be telling you to stand your ground and defend your boundaries. Wolf teaches you to have a balance between the needs your family has of you and the needs you have for yourself. They are totally loyal to the pack but do not give up their identity to the pack. If wolf appears in your life you are being asked to look at where you are being too dependent and where you may be too independent. In both family and community there needs to be a balance. Wolves convey much with their bodies. If they are angry, they may stick their ears straight up and bare their teeth. A wolf who is suspicious pulls its ears back and squints. Fear is often shown by flattening the ears against the head. A wolf who wants to play dances and bows playfully. Their body language is symbolic for those with this medicine. Man also uses body language to convey messages. The study of this art can increase perception in those with this totem. Wolves hunt in packs, relying on endurance to run down weak and older animals. They have been known to run 35 miles a day in pursuit. They are the epitome of stamina and strength. With an extremely well developed societal organization, they act together to hunt and raise their young. They do not fight unnecessarily and often go out of their way to avoid fighting. Sometimes a growl, a glance, a posture is all that is necessary to determine dominance. Wolf teaches those with this medicine to know who you are and to develop strength and confidence in what you do.

crows and ravens.

These birds have a natural ominous vibration surrounding them probably because of their deep black color and the color black was always considered to be dark, mystical and foreboding. Crow or Magpie Divination: If you see... One crow sorrow Two crows joy

Three crows a letter Four crows a boy Five crows silver Six crows gold Seven crows secrets that have never been told

Crows and Ravens are from the same family and many times considered to be the same bird, however the Raven has a shorter neck.

RAVEN DIVINATION AND LORE collected by Andraste from: Anne Ross, Pagan Celtic Britain Bran and Lugus are associated with ravens in Celtic lore. London (Lugdunum), Carlisle (Lugovalium), and Lyon (Gaulish Lugdunum) were named after Lugos, who is usually pictured with a raven flying over him, and often accompanied by a goose. Ravens were always birds of omen and unusual intelligence; they were also associated with the field of battle. In the Dream of Rhonaby, Owein ap Urien has an army of ravens, which rally at the raising of a standard. The Danes had a raven banner, Hraefn, which had magic powers. The Irish Badb, the Washer at the Ford, and the Morrighan all have ravens, or appear as ravens. Odhinn has two ravens, Huginn and Muininn, or Thought and Memory, who fly over the world each day to report to Him. In Irish tales ravens of ill omen fly out of the depths of the ocean, often at Samhain, bringing harm and destruction; in two stories they are driven back by Caoilte, Fer Maise, and Cas Corach; in another by Cu Chulainn. Ravens with white feathers were good omens. A Middle Irish manuscript relates a system of raven divination.If the raven calls: from above an enclosed bed indoors- --distinguished guest or cleric will visit: if a lay visitor the raven says: " bacach", if in orders it says "gradh gradh" and call twice, if warriors or satirists are coming it says "gracc gracc" or " grob grob"-the first call if the warriors are oppressed. from the quarter behind you-it is from there the guests are coming. long calls-women are coming from the NE end of the house-robbers will steal the horses from the house door- strangers or soldiers are coming from above the door- satirists or guests from a king's retinue are coming from above a man's bed before a journey- he will not come back safe from the pillow-a woman is about to die

from the foot of a man's bed-his son, brother or brother- in-law are coming from the storehouse- increase from the quarter from which it calls from between the storehouse and the fire-agreeable guests from near the woman's seat-guests are hers, a son-in- law or friend from S of the storehouse-fosterage or guests from afar are coming. if it speaks with a small voice (" ur ur" or " err err") sickness will fall on someone in the house, or on the cattle; if the sheep will be attacked by wolves, " carna carna" (flesh flesh),grob grob, coin coin (wolves). from the rooftree of the house at a feast- throw away that food from a high tree- death of a young lord from a stone-death of an aithech from the top of a tree-death of a king or one of noble lineage if the raven goes with you on a journey or in front of you, and it is joyful, your journey will prosper and fresh meat will be given to you If you approach from the left, and it call before you-you or some of your company are doomed or wounded. If it be before you on your way to an assembly, there will be an uprising, and someone will be slain if the raven came from the left. If it call from where the horses are, robbers will attack the horses; if it turn on its back and say " grob grob" some of the horses will be stolen and will not be recovered. There were similarly omens in Ireland associated with the flight and calls of wrens, swans, and eagles.

Omen In most parts of the world the raven is considered a prophet and a bad omen. The Arabs call it Abu Zajir which means "Father of Omens." In Ireland it was once domesticated for use in divination practices and the term " Raven's Knowledge" meant second sight. In many areas of the ancient world, the sight of a raven flying to the right was a good omen, whilst a raven flying to the left was an evil one. Ravens deserting their nests were very bad omens and popular superstition declared that if the ravens ever fled the Tower of London, the monarchy would fall. Like the crow and the raven, the blackbird is considered a bad omen. However, the sight of two blackbirds sitting together is a symbol of peace and a good omen. According to shamanic conceptions, the croaking of a raven is not merely a sign of getting news of someone's death, but represents actually the speech of the deceased. In this case, it would be the soul of the dead speaking from the other world. Symbol

In spite of its dark appearance, the raven is often a solar symbol. In Greece he was sacred to Apollo, the god of light. In China, a three-legged raven lives in the sun. His legs symbolize dawn, noon, and dusk. There used to be ten sun-ravens but they gave off such intense light and heat that an archer had to shoot nine of them in order to preserve life on earth. A red raven is the emblem of the Chinese Chow dynasty. Ravens were a symbol of sin especially the sins of gluttony, stealing, and false teaching. They were nicknamed "thieving birds" and Icelandic children were taught that drinking from raven quill straws would cause them to become thieves. Evil priests were said to turn into ravens when they died. To European Christians, this creature is the antithesis of the innocent white dove. But in some African and Native American traditions, he is a beneficent guide whose keen sight allows him to issue warnings to the living and to lead the dead on their final journey. For latins, the raven's cry means "Tomorrow! Tomorrow!". Some interpret it as a symbol of the foolish sinner who puts off conversion while for others it is the hope of a new and better day. To North American Eskimos, the raven's cry sounded like "Kak, kak, kak!" which means "a deer- skin blanket." According to their legends, the raven's cries warned people not to forget their blankets when they moved. The raven is a symbol for solitude and an attribute of several saints whom ravens fed in the wilderness, including St. Anthony Abbot, St. Paul the Hermit, and St. Benedict. The raven has long been a symbol of divine providence. [Psa 147:9; Job 38:41] Many remember the Lord's command to consider the sparrow and the lilies, but the words, " Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them, " are seldom brought to mind. [Lk 12:24] The raven symbolizes filial gratitude and affection, wisdom, hope, longevity, death, and fertility. In alchemy, it represents change and the advanced soul dying to this world. It remains a frequently used symbol in modern magic, witchcraft, and mystery. In the telling of myths and legends, the crow frequently took the place of the raven. This is the case in most of the Northwest Pacific myths recorded above and in the story of Apollo and Coronis. The Irish war-goddess, Badb, often took on the shape of a crow. In classical mythology, this bird is an attribute of Cronus or Saturn and Athena, the goddess of wisdom, victory, and the arts. Like the larger raven, the symbolic crow is associated with the sun,

longevity, beginnings, death, change, bad luck, prophecy, and Christian solitude. It, too, is considered a messenger of the gods. Among ancient Greeks and Romans there were some who considered the crow a bad omen and the raven a good one. The crow is associated with motherly love and spiritual strength. It was believed that fairies turned into crows in order to cause trouble. In heraldry, a crow was used to indicate a dark person such as a Moor or a Saracen. In Egypt, two crows, like two doves, were an emblem of monogamy. Death Eaters of carrion, ravens were messengers of death, pestilence, and battle. It was believed that these flesh-hungry birds could smell the scent of death upon a person before they died - even through the walls of a house. In paintings, the raven may be seen flying over battlefields, eager to feast on the dead. After the Battle of Armageddon, ravens will descend upon the lands of the wicked. [Isa 34:11]. Morrigane, the celtic goddess, is accompanied by three ravens: Babd, Acha and Neman, the three goddess of war. These birds were thought to have a special taste for the bodies of hanged criminals and to enjoy plucking out the eyes of sinners. Christians thought they carried off the souls of the damned and associated this bird with Satan. Painted black When the rain stopped, Noah first sent a white raven to explore the sea. Instead of returning to the Ark, this bird "kept going to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth." [Gen 8:7]. After the raven's failure, Noah sent a hite dove. The raven was forced to ciomer back to the Arch where he was blackened and condemned to eat carrion. According to Ukrainian legend, ravens used to have many beautifully colored feathers and a lovely song but after the Fall they started eating carrion. This habit destroyed their voices and blackened their plumage. Their former loveliness is expected to be returned to them when Paradise is restored. In the Pacific Northwest, the raven's feathers were blackened when his brother-in-law smoked him over a fire as a punishment for his trickery. White or albino crows were so prized that fowlers tried to change the color of their baby crows by soaking them in various deadly formulas. Among the Celts, the white crow was the emblem of the heroine, Branwen. Her heroic brother, Bran, was pictured as a raven. In North America, the Kiowas taught that the white crow turned black from eating snake eyes.

The spy Greeks believed that Apollo turned the raven black when the bird informed him of the unfaithfulness of his lover, Coronis. This episode gave the raven a reputation as a tattler, a spy, and a divulger of secrets. In Norse mythology the omniscient god Odin had a pair of ravens called Hugin (thought) and Munin (remembrance) living upon his shoulders or throne. Each morning they flew around the earth observing everything and questioning everyone, even the dead. During the night they returned to their master and whispered all that they had seen and heard. Sometimes Odin turned himself into a raven. Familiars A familiar, or an imp, is an attendant subordinate demon in the form of an animal. Familiars behaved in ways that no natural pet was believed to. They ran errands, brought messages, and aided in devil worship. Ravens are known around the world as shapeshifters and humans are often changed into ravens by an enemy's curse. They are prophets, spell-casters, and messengers of the gods. Gods and goddesses of war and thunder such as Badb have ravens as their attributes. They are early emblems of the Danes and the Vikings. The beautiful song of the blackbird makes it a symbol of temptations, especially sexual ones. The devil once took on the shape of a blackbird and flew into St. Benedict's face, thereby causing the saint to be troubled by an intense desire for a beautiful girl he had once seen. In order to save himself, St. Benedict tore off his clothes and jumped into a thorn bush. This painful act is said to have freed him from sexual temptations for the rest of his life. A trickster Among the natives of the North American Pacific Coast, Raven is a hero, messenger, creator of the world, thief, and trickster. He taught the first humans how to care for themselves and make clothes, canoes, and houses. His position in Native American folklore is similar to that of the wily coyote. Some say he was born of the primordial darkness; others that he was born in the coffin of his dead mother and nourished on her entrails. He was a provident creator who brought sunlight, vegetation, animals, and the tides into the world for the benefit of humankind. He took the animals two by two onto a raft, after the manner of Noah, in order to save them from a great flood. After all the good he had done for humankind, Raven wished to marry a woman but the men refused to allow this. In revenge, Raven created mosquitoes from crushed leaves to pester them for all time. When Raven brought light to mankind, they were so frightened by it that they scattered to all corners of the world.

Mythical Creatures Series While many European legends and mythologies portray the crow as harbingers of doom or death, perhaps because they eat carrion, have unnerving calls, are black as night and seen as omens, some Asian cultures see them as guides who represent the sun. So depending on what legend you read up on, you might be surprised to find them more helpful than ominous.

What is it? A creature which is commonly found in various mythologies, the threelegged crow is said to inhabit and represent the sun. Ability / Power This seems to vary depending on what cultural mythology you read. Some of the more common ones include: Chinese Mythology The crow is called Sanzuwu or sun crow, and usually depicted as red rather than black. It is responsible for the suns passage across the sky. There are many legends of this bird, and one that I liked is as follows: The Chinese sun goddess was the mother to ten child-suns. Every day one of the children would be carried to the top of a mulberry tree on the back

of a crow, and then fly into the sky to be the sun for each day. Each child took turns each day so there was light during the days. It is said that one day, all ten child-suns ascended to the sky on the same day and scorched Earth to drought. The emperor, who also happened to be their father, tried to convince the child-suns to ascend one at a time, but after they did not listen, he ordered an archer to shoot them down. It just happened that one of the child-suns was visiting the underworld that day and hence was not killed. Folklore says this three-legged crow now lives inside the sun. Japanese Mythology The Yatagarasu was specifically a three-legged crow which translates to large crow or perhaps a raven. It is said to be evidence of the will of Heaven or divine intervention in human affairs, since legend says this bird was sent from heaven to as a guide to the Emperor Jimmu on his first journey to Yamato. Koren Mythology Known as a Samjok-o, the three-legged black crow is regarded as a symbol of power thought superior to both the dragon and the Korean phoenix. Physical Appearance Put simply, a crow with 3 legs! Appearances In Culture

In the Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game, there is a well-known card called Yata-Garasu, which is banned in the advanced format of the game. Another card, Legacy of Yata-Garasu, is named after the famous card and features it in its artwork.

There is a Touhou Project character; a hell-raven named Utsuho Reiuji, who devoured the corpse of the Yatagarasu, who is referred to as a sun god in the series. As she was not born a yatagarasu, she does not have three legs, instead sporting a cannon-like device on her arm that is referred to as a third leg, in reference to the three-legged crow. She has a special attack called Ten Evil Suns, which is a reference to Houyis aforementioned exploits.

In the Digimon series, there is a digimon called Yatagaramon (a.k.a. Crowmon), which resembles a giant crow with three legs.

Yatagarasu is the name of a child in the My-HiME anime, belonging to Shiho Munakata. In the Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, Yatagarasu is the great thief who steals to reveal the dirty secrets and seek justice. The title is given due to thiefs habit of leaving the Yatagarasu symbol printed card with the notice of thiefs next target.

In contemporary Korean dramas set in Goguryeo, like Jumong (TV series) or Kingdom of the Winds, the Samjoko is a symbol of power. Yatagarasu is a persona summon in the Persona video game series that looks like a black crow with three legs. In Persona 3 and Persona 4 it is of the Sun Arcana.

In the game Genji: Dawn of the Samurai, one of the bosses is a giant, fire-wielding three-legged bird. a Did you know? Both the Japan Football Association and subsequently its administered teams such as the Japan national football team use the symbol of Yatagarasu (Three-legged crow) in their emblems and badges.

The Raven in languages

Breton-Celtic Bran Danish/Norwegian Ravn Dutch Raaf English Raven Old English Hraefn Finnish Korppi French Corbeau German Rabe Hungarian Holl Icelandic Hrafn Italian Corvo imperiale

Latin Corvus corax (scientific name) Sami Gaarenasse/Garangjas (south and north). Slovak/Czech Krkavec Spanish Cuervo Swedish Korp Old Swedish Ramn

The names Hugin and Munin (Norse Mythology) come from the words for thought (hug)and memory 'Thoughtful' or 'Bold' and 'Mindful' or 'Desirous'. The raven is associated with bad luck. But there are examples of the opposite(see the section about folklore). In Swedish "Steal like a raven" is an expression. Maybe ravens are more thievish than other birds, hard to tell.

Raven facts
The raven is the king of the Corvidae birds, weight 3 pounds. It is black and has a strong beak, wing span 4 feet, length 2 feet plus, The raven can reach an age of 30-50 years. The oldest only in captivity. The raven is omnivore. The nest is built in trees, on cliffs and on power-line poles usually 15 - 30 m above the ground. They use twigs and sticks, the lining is made of animal hairs -especially from elk (moose)- Juniper bast and grass. The eggs are 4 -8 light blue and spotted. Both parents feed the nestlings who stay in the nest until they are almost full fledged when they start to walk around in the tree top. Pairs live in lifelong "marriages" and annually return to the same nests. The raven can be found in Europe, Asia and Northern America where it is common. The ravens don't move south in the vinter, they move around in wide areas to find food. The raven is a very skilful flyer, diving, flying upside down, turns

somersaults and other tricks. Imitating other animal sounds, the sound of the wind and human speech are other skils. The raven is believed to be intelligent and regarded as the king of Corvidae family.

True crows are large passerine birds in the genus Corvus. All temperate continents (except South America) and several offshore and oceanic islands (including Hawaii) have 40 or so members of this genus. Size: Crows range in size from the relatively small pigeon-sized jackdaws (Eurasian and Daurian) to the Common Raven of the Palearctic region and Thick-billed Raven of the highlands of Ethiopia. Lurking in the Shadows: Many crow species are all black. Most of their natural enemies, the raptors or "falconiformes," soar high above the trees, and hunt primarily on bright, sunny days when contrast between light and shadow is greatest. Crows take advantage of this by maneuvering themselves through the dappled shades of the trees, where their black color renders them effectively invisible to their enemies above, in order to set up complex ambush attacks. Thus, their black coloring is of great strategic importance to their societies. It is perhaps here where we find the greatest difference between ravens and crows; ravens tend to soar high in the air as raptors do, and like raptors, are usually the target of ambushes by crows. Crows do not appear to perceive ravens as their own kind, but instead treat them as raptors. Not a Bird Brain: As a group, the crows show remarkable examples of intelligence. They top the avian IQ scale. Crows and ravens often score very highly on intelligence tests. Crows in the northwestern U.S. (a blend of Corvus brachyrhynchos and Corvus caurinus) show modest linguistic capabilities and the ability to relay information over great distances, live in complex, hierarchic societies involving hundreds of individuals with various "occupations," and have an intense rivalry with the area's less socially advanced ravens. One species, the New Caledonian Crow, has recently been intensively studied because of its ability to manufacture and use its own tools in the day-to-day search for food. Wild hooded crows in Israel have learned to use bread crumbs for bait-fishing. Crows will engage in a kind of air-jousting, or air-chicken to establish pecking order. Crow Calls: Crows make a wide variety of calls or vocalizations. Whether the crows' system of communication constitutes a language is a topic of debate and study. Crows have also been observed to respond to calls of other species; this behaviour is presumably learned because it varies regionally. Crows' vocalizations are

complex and poorly understood. One of the many vocalizations that crows make is a "caw," sound, usually echoed back and forth between birds. They also utter a series of "caws" in discrete units, counting out numbers, a long caw followed by a series of short caws (usually made when a bird takes off from a perch), an echolike "eh-aw" sound, and more. These vocalizations vary regionally. The pattern and number of the numerical vocalizations have been observed to change in response to events in the surroundings (i.e. arrival or departure of crows). Crows can hear sound frequencies lower than those that humans can hear, which complicates the study of their vocalizations. In literary and fanciful usage, the collective noun for a group of crows is a murder. However, in practice most people, and especially scientists, use the more generic term flock. Mythology and folklore: Crows, and especially ravens, often feature in legends or mythology as portents or harbingers of doom or death, because of their dark plumage, unnerving calls, and tendency to eat carrion. They are commonly thought to circle above scenes of death such as battles. Their depiction of evil has also led to some exaggeration of their appetite. In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Exorcist: The Beginning, crows are shown tearing out people's eyes while they are still alive. This, of course, does not happen as crows can distinguish between carrion and living people. In Native American folklore, Crow is often seen as a similar trickster to Coyote. However, Crow's tricks tend to be more out of malice and they rarely (if ever) are portrayed as a hero. One possible explanation for this is that crows are often considered a pest to crops, which the tribes who came up with the stories featuring Crow needed to survive. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Chaldean myth, the character Utnapishtim releases a dove and a raven to find land, similar to what Noah does in the book of Genesis. However, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the dove merely circles and returns. Only then does Utnapishtim send forth the raven, who does not return. Utnapishtim extrapolates from this that the raven has found land, which is why it hasn't returned. This would seem to indicate some acknowledgement of crow intelligence, which may have been apparent even in ancient times, and to some might imply that the higher intelligence of crows, when compared to other birds, is striking enough that it was known even then. Amongst Neopagans, crows are often thought to be highly psychic and are associated with the element of ether or spirit, rather than the element of air as with most other birds. This may in part be due to the long-standing occult tradition of associating the color black with "the abyss" of infinite knowledge (see akasha), or perhaps also to the more modern occult belief that wearing the "color" black aids in psychic ability, as it absorbs more electromagnetic energy, since surfaces appear black by absorbing all frequencies in the visible spectrum, reflecting no color. In contrast with their association with death, in the 2004 computer game Half-Life 2, ravens represent hope amidst destruction, because the Combine Empire's takeover - and fascistic rule - of the Earth has caused so much destruction it's a wonder any of the Earth's native wildlife survived at all. Gods and goddesses: A very incomplete list includes the eponymous Pacific Northwest Native figures Raven and Crow, the ravens Hugin and Munin, who accompany the Norse god Odin, the Celtic

goddesses the Mrrgan and/or the Badb (sometimes considered separate from Mrrgan), and Shani, a Hindu god who travels astride a crow.

The Raven
Basic Info: Ravens are the largest songbirds in North America. Their

bodies are covered in rich black plumage, which shines with an iridescent bluish color. Though often mistaken with crows, ravens are much larger and their croak is more raucous. Ravens are intelligent masters of mimicking the calls of other animals and have also been known to mimic some human words. They are good at finding food and communicating with other ravens where food is located. It is their natural talent of recycling, which has gained these birds a bad rap. They do a good job cleaning up nature by eating dead animals. Ravens further recycle by using the same nests year after year, and bringing in new materials for repairs if necessary. These birds build their nest in large trees or the sides of cliffs where they usually lay 4-5 eggs. They dont wander far from where they were raised and will only get a new mate if one of the pair dies.
Totem Meaning: Ravens are known as the keeper of secrets" in

several native tribes, and are the teachers of mysticism. They have

been wrapped in a wealth of myth and lore throughout many cultures and ages. Their black color and diet of dead animals associates them with the vast void of darkness, which is representative of the unconscious. Raven flies to us with heightened awareness and greater understanding of our consciousness. It is with this new perception that we begin seeing into the hearts of others and experience their feelings. Raven asks us to experience the transformation it brings within our multidimensional self, and be reunited with the mysteries of the universe so we can expel our inner demons. Magic, Healing, Creation. If a Raven totem has come to your life, magic as at play. Raven activates the energy of magic and links it to your will and intention. With this totem, we can make great changes in your life; the ability to take the unformed thought and make it reality. The Raven shows us how to go into the dark of your inner self and bring out the light of your true self; resolving inner conflicts which have long been buried. This is the deepest power of healing we can posses.
Mythology: In Norse mythology, Huginn ("thought") and Muninn

("memory" or mind") are a pair of Ravens that fly all over the world, Midgard, and bring the God Odin information.

You reached, dear reader, the end of this collection of information about both ravens and crows. I thank you all for reading it and I apologize for the poor quality document ! thanks again and keep on seeking and looking for knowledge and may the blessing and wisdom of ravens and crows spirit be with you !