The Autumn season is upon is in the North and what better harbinger of change and darkness could there be than Raven?
Revered in indigenous cultures across the globe for her trickery and wicked intelligence, Raven is an ally that can take us places no other animal can; if we are willing.
- The common raven (Corvus corax) is the most widely distributed member of the crow family, spread out across the Northern Hemisphere. Other members in the Corvid family are crows, jackdaws, magpies, jays, rooks, and nutcrackers.
- A raven's diet is extremely varied, lending to the success of the species: ravens will eat small animals (such as lizard and mice) if they can get them, eggs, insects, carrion, human-produced food waste, berries and grains, and a host of other available treats.
- In several indigenous tribes, including those on the Northwest coast of North America, Scandinavia and other parts of Northern Europe, and parts of Asia, ravens were regarded as tricksters, deities, assistants to deities, or messengers/representations from the afterlife.
- Ravens are outrageously intelligent: they have one of the largest brains in the bird kingdom, have been observed faking their own deaths, have been observed calling wolves to the site of carrion so that they can feast on the leftovers (if their beaks aren't strong enough to open the hide), are known to manipulate tools, and will watch where other ravens stash extra food so that they can steal it when no one's looking.
Ravens can move across the veil between worlds
In the Haida, Tlingit, Inuit, and Salish tribes of the Pacific Northwest of North America, the raven was a Creator being and a trickster (an entity that both creates and destroys, loves and is selfish, a spirit of paradox), who could move between the realms of life and death freely. In Norse mythology, the all-father-god Odin had two raven companions that moved between the world of spirits and world of humans to bring him messages. In Celtic lore, ravens are associated with the battlefield, a place where life and death meet. And still more stories of ravens persist in other locations, including Russia, Germany, India, and other parts of Asia.
To move across the veil between life and death is also to move across the veil between the conscious and the unconscious aspects of our awareness. So raven is not only a guide to the afterlife, but she's a guide into the "void," the "darkness," the "mystery" of what lies beneath our waking awareness. The void is where our fears and the roots of our life patterns live, and to be willing to face those requires a powerful ally, bold and fearless.
Ravens are playful and highly social
We know that for human children, play is an excellent way to explore boundaries and learn new things. The same is true for ravens. Juveniles are especially playful and curious, stealing shiny objects and interesting tidbits and caching them places. As adults they will cache food, so this habit is a healthy one to learn, but it is known among animal lovers that a raven will steal your precious goods if given the chance. As adults, they perform fantastic acrobatic displays in the skies, including barrel rolls and flying in loops.
Ravens are adaptable and clever
The most adaptable species become the most successful. The most intelligent species are the most adaptable, and thus the raven is an excellent example of combining curiosity and intelligence to thrive in many conditions. She seeks solutions and solves problems without judgment and as such, achieves great success.
To summarize, ravens teach us about:
- mischief and play
- facing the roots of our fears, habits, and patterns by facing our own voids
- using curiosity to test boundaries for new solutions
- getting in touch with the mythologies of our own lives, our family, and our cultures
Many people hold fear with ravens and I believe part of this is because they are so bold. Their dark color, their intelligence, their learning, thinking eyes, and their absolute boldness are enough to put many people off. But this is exactly what makes them perfect allies for pushing our own boundaries to expand, both internally and externally in the world.
I offer up these thoughts to the sacred raven spirits in an honorable way and thank the clever veil-walkers for their teachings. It is good!
Thanks for reading and please share if you feel called to - everyone could use a little more raven in their lives. Did you learn something new today? Tell me in the comments!