Make Prayers to the Raven.
Raven that is,
Raven that was,
Raven that always will be.
Make prayers to the Raven.
Raven, bring us luck.
–from the Koyukon
I am the Voice of the Raven Upon the Wind.
My harsh cry echoes long upon the Earth and Air: Nothing is forever. Not life, not love, not death, nor loss. The only change is eternal, and only in destruction can the seed of creation form.
My wings bear me between Darkness and Light, Land and Sky, the Garden and the Wildwood. I perch upon the Threshold of the Worlds, both flesh and spirit, gifting the Brave Seeker with the Visions and Magic of the Otherworld.
To face me is to face your greatest terror, the Shadow of yourself, the unknown and dangerous. In chancing destruction, your fear loses its power to destroy. For only in acceptance of mortality will you learn the Secrets of Immortality as I, the Raven, possess?
Throughout time, Raven has carried the medicine of magic. This has been true in many cultures across the planet. It is sacred, in the medicine ways, to honor Raven as the bringer of magick. If the magick is bad medicine, the carrier may be honored out of fear rather than respect. Those who fear Raven may do so because they have been dabbling in areas which they had no knowledge and a spell may have backfired on them. Rather than analyzing the dark side of sorcery, realize that you will fear Raven only if you need to learn about your inner fears or self-created demons.
Raven magick is a powerful medicine that can give you the courage to enter the darkness of the void, which is the home of all that is not yet in form. The void is called the Great Mystery. Great Mystery existed before all things came into being. Great Spirit lives inside the void and emerged from the Great Mystery. Raven is a messenger of the void.
If Raven appears in your life, you are about to experience a change in consciousness. This may involve walking inside the Great Mystery on another path at the edge of time. It would portend a signal brought by Raven that says “You have earned the right to see and experience a little more of life’s magick.” Raven’s color is the color of the void, the black hole in space that holds all the energy of the creative force.
In Native teachings, the color black means many things, but it does not mean evil. Black can mean the seeking of answers, the void, or the road of the spiritual or nonphysical. The blue-black Raven contains an iridescence that speaks of the magick of darkness, and a changeability of form and shape that brings an awakening in the process.
Raven is the guardian of ceremonial magick and in absentia healing. In any healing circle, Raven is present. Raven guides the magick of healing and the change in consciousness that will bring about a new state of wellness from the Void of Great Mystery and the field of plenty.
Raven is the messenger that carries all energy flows of ceremonial magick between the ceremony itself and the intended destination. For instance, if a ceremony is being performed to send energy to a disaster area where people need courage and strength, Raven would be the courier for that energy flow. The intention could be to allow the people of the devastated area to feel the concern and support of the participants of the ceremony.
If you have chosen Raven, magick is in the air. Do not try to figure it out; you cannot. It is the power of the unknown at work, and something special is about to happen. The deeper the mystery, however, is how you will respond to the sparkling synchronicity of this alchemical moment. Will you recognize it and use it to further enhance your growth? Can you accept is as a gift from the Great Spirit? Or will you limit the power of the Great Mystery by explaining it away?
It may be time to call Raven as a courier to carry an intention, some healing energy, a thought or a message. Raven is the patron of smoke signals or spirit messages represented by smoke. So if you want to send a message to the Blue Road of Spirit, or in order to contact the Ancients, call Raven. Or, who knows, the Ancients may be calling to you.
Remember, this magick moment came from the void of darkness, and the challenge is to bring it to light. In doing so, you will have honored the magician within.
Ravens are powerful spirit-beings, who excel in astral travel, uncovering truths, shape-shifting and trickery, working magic, and the mysteries of death. They are the familiars of witches and shamans, for ravens are the teachers of magic, spirit travel, and healing. In many mythologies of the world, these magnificent sable birds play the role of the Creator of the World, the Trickster, and the Messenger of Death. In all three of these guises, the Raven has much to teach the vitki (magician). As the Creator, Raven is master of all the Elements, and as such is a symbol of the power of Mind when yoked with a deep understanding of the essentials of Spirit. As Trickster, Raven’s cunning deceits lead invariably to wisdom: for the mind must sometimes be tricked out of its rigid presumptions in order to get a truer view. As the Messenger of Death, Raven acts as Psychopomp, the Guide of Souls, through the vast expanses of the Other World. Therefore, Raven bears the knowledge of the Dead, and may be tempted into revealing this information to those who honor and befriend this Black Bird of Death. The Norse God Odin has two ravens, Huginn, and Muninn, Thought and Memory. At dawn, He sends them out to all the nine worlds to gather information. They are able to fly everywhere, and there is no place so remote or so hidden that it eludes their peering eyes. They return to Asgard at dusk and perch on Odin’s shoulders, croaking into the ears of the High One their tidings from the wide worlds. Odin is the Raven God. He is a shape-shifter and Master Shaman. He is the God of Wisdom, Intellect, and Knowledge. He is also the God of Battle and Death, and the Guide of Souls, and yet more: Odin is the God of Skalds, and of the frenzy of poetic inspiration. Galdor magic, the craft of song spells that tap the essence of the power of sound, are His specialty. He is Breath, Wind, Word, and primal Spirit. Odin breathed the first breath of life into human- kind, for He is the great Creator-God. The ravens share all these symbolic associations with their Patron, Hrafntyr (Raven-God). Ravens are known as shape-shifters, travelers, and Creators. They are the very symbols of intellect, cunning, and wisdom. Haunters of battlefields, ravens are inevitably linked to death, the battle-slain, and the other world. Thus, they are creatures of mystery and the hidden realms. As the most vocal and cunning of birds, with their aerobatic abilities, ravens mirror the knowledge of sound mysteries and the ecstasy of poets and shamans. They ride the storm-winds and are the Lords of the Air. Birds are ever messengers from the spirit realm–the abode of the Gods. Ravens are the highest form of avian evolution on Earth; they have been proven to possess reasoning abilities. The large brain of this King of the Corvidae allows them to learn to speak over a hundred words and, at least, half that many individual phrases. Although they are one of nature’s greatest mimics, ravens do not stop at imitation but create unique sentences of their own. They will mutter, grumble, and whistle, utilizing sounds they have picked up from humans or elsewhere in the environment. Their croaking sound unearthly, and sometimes amazingly human. Their “speech”, both chortling and guttural, melodious and harsh, is so evocative of spiritual powers that the early Rune magicians copied the Ravens’ croaking in their “galdor”, or runic songs. Ravens dearly love good music, and indeed, their ancestors may have taught humans to speak and to sing. Ravens are physically suited to almost every ecosystem on Earth, thriving from the Arctic to the equatorial deserts and jungles. This adaptability makes the raven as wide-spread geographically as Homo Sapiens. These large corvids are omnivorous birds, feasting equally on vegetable matter and meat. Hunters as well as scavengers, ravens can kill an animal as large as a rabbit or weasel. They kill with their beak, unlike raptors, who kill with their talons. Swooping down, a raven can dispatch a small mammal with one sharp blow to the skull. Ravens have extremely keen eyesight and have a lightning swift response to visual stimuli. Although the sharp-eyed soarer becomes fairly blind at night, it is a rare predator that is swift or stealthy enough to sneak up on one. Ravens roost in very high, inaccessible places, and they are geniuses at choosing their nesting site. Usually, only owls can reach these aeries, and sometimes successfully prey upon the nestlings. Ravens’ senses of hearing and smell and taste are also acute. Ravens really savor their food. They consume a variety of delicacies with great relish, including tomatoes, potato chips, cheese, dog food kibble, and alcoholic beverages. Rebounding from great losses to their numbers earlier in this century, the ravens of the Pacific coast recently have multiplied. Ravens may be observed feasting upon the dumpster-hoard of many of Hollywood’s finest restaurants. Corvus Corax is extremely territorial, and the birds mate for life. A mated pair will banish hawks, owls, and even eagles from their area. They are tenacious as well: ravens have been known to reach up to seventy-five years of age in captivity. A Great-Grandmother of wild ravens might reach 45-50. Only if a raven survives its first year will it have much of a chance at such longevity: the at least 3/4 of the fledglings die before they are a year old. The young ravens were called “simps” in past times in England because of their fearlessness and gullibility. They were caught by the dozens and killed by shepherds who believed that ravens killed lambs by pecking out their eyes, which was a sad misunderstanding. Ravens eat the afterbirth of the lamb and only eat still-born animals. This helps prevent the spread of disease, helping the sheep. At any rate, if a raven survives long enough to learn how to take care of itself, avoiding all 19-century shepherds, it has a very good chance of living a long life. Ravens are so cunning that you never see one hit by a car, or caught in a trap. Even when scientists try to catch them for banding, ravens prove to be the most elusive of prey. To capture them the biologists have had to resort to nets fired out of guns. Ravens are not easily poisoned either, because their nostrils connect directly to their mouth, and they can smell the poison before they swallow it. In Canada ravens have been seen to spit out poisoned meat. In many ways these cunning corvids are like human beings… although very few humans are clever enough to be termed “Ravens”.Their Black Majesties are much more complex than mere scavengers: like a King in disguise, their nobility is hidden by their plain garments. Corvus Corax builds large, disorderly looking nests in inaccessible places. 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. Both the male and female raven help to build the nest. The outer structure of the nest is made of sticks of all sizes, some of them fairly large. The inside of the nest is very neat, however, and is lined with soft down, grasses, fur, moss, and in civilized areas, cloth and lint. There three to seven greenish blue, brown-flecked eggs are laid in the late winter or early spring, depending on the locale. The male raven hunts all day and feeds his mate while she sits on the nest. Twenty days later the eggs hatch, and naked, featherless young open their wide red mouths for food. This red inner beak, as well as the nestlings’ cries, stimulate the parents to begin searching for food. They provide for their brood very well, bring all kinds of tasty food for them. It is a malignant myth that ravens are poor parents. On the contrary, they are very conscientious and put up with a lot from their insistent and greedy young. Now pin feathers are peeking through the pink skin of the nestlings. They are grotesque little gargoyles, hardly recognizable as ravens. They do nothing but eat and eliminate, which they do daintily by scooting their bottoms up to the edge of the nest so that their droppings fall out of it. They are clean by nature and even when barely able to move about start trying to preen themselves. Within a couple of weeks, the rapidly growing young are trying to explore the nest and may be able to perch. Their lives center around eating because they are growing at such a rapid pace their systems require constant feeding. They look all stomach and mouth at this phase. As the nestlings rapidly grow large, the parent birds may have to perch on near branches at night to sleep, as all the room in the nest is being taken up by their young. Soon the nestlings reach the fledgling phase and begin to perch on the edge of the nest, vigorously exercising their wings. They explore the tree or cliff they are on and soon make short hops or flights. After their first flight, they might stay in lower branches or bushes the first few nights, as they are not strong enough or accurate enough to fly back up to their high nest. This is when the youngest ravens are killed by predators, or die from accidents. Corvus Corax is a very imitative species. The fledglings are still fed by their parents, but now that they can fly, the parents start teaching them how to find food and water. The fledglings do not cease their begging for food from the parents, however, for up to a year. They stay with the parents at least that long, learning how to survive. When a young corvids’ parents are killed before it reaches a year or so of age, it might not have much of a chance of survival. Like any intelligent species, the must learn survival skills. Not all their behavior is instinctual. Sometimes wildlife rescuers raise young birds whose parents have been shot. Care must be taken that the nestlings or fledglings do not “imprint” on their human foster parents. After reaching the fledgling stage of development, they are kept in outside cages and fed there. Then they are slowly introduced to the wild so that they become unaccustomed to the human presence again. Since the resurgence of the raven, and their nesting in cities, it seems they have come to think of humans much, in the same way, they think of wolves. In the wild ravens follow wolves’ howls, because they know they will benefit from the hunt. Ravens have been observed leading wolves to prey, hoping to share in the feast. Wolves and ravens seem to ignore each other while feeding together. Perhaps this is why Odin has both wolves and ravens as familiars. Both species are highly intelligent and capable of cooperation and communication.