16 June 2011

Dark and Noble Ravens

Dark and Noble Ravens

....while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more."

Our friend, the Raven

For centuries mankind has been intrigued by the raven. Immortalized in legend and myth, praised in poetry, feared as a harbinger of death, these stunning and intelligent birds have always been where mankind has gone.

They haunt our dreams. They touch our collective soul. Even our language has has evolved to include such commonplace phrases as "a raven haired beauty".

The first bird released by Noah from the ark was a raven, only followed by a dove when the raven decided not to come back.


"Death makes angels of us all and gives us wings where we had shoulders smooth as ravens claws"
-Jim Morrison

The Genus Corvus

Ravens are a member of the Corvus genus of birds. The Common Raven, Corus corax, has held a fascination for humanity since time immemorial. The genus also includes Jackdaws, Crows, and Rooks. Corvus species are scavengers and carrion eaters of uncanny intelligence. They often follow predators or human hunters in hopes of finding leftovers and species in Australia are one of the only animals who have been observed eating the poisonous Cane Toad. They will get the toad onto its back where they can dine on the soft underbelly flesh which lacks the glands which produce toxins.


"The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it." ----Ephesians 6:18

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Elijah And The Ravens

From 1st Kings 12:16 to 1st Kings 17:

God was angry both with Ahab and his people for their idolatry and persecution of his priests, who were put to death in great numbers. As a punishment for these sins, He sent Elijah to tell Ahab that for three and a half years no dew or rain would fall in the land of Israel.

As soon as Elijah had foretold this God told him to hide himself from the rage of Ahab in a certain place near where He had commanded the ravens to feed him.

Elijah went and dwelt by the brook, which had water for him to drink while the ravens as God had said, brought him food in the morning and evening.


Haunting and Mysterious

In Norse mythology, Odin had a raven servant who flew around the world to keep the god informed of the events of man. The Vikings used a raven on the banners of their ships to honor the god.

Today, ravens are symbolic of magic, power, and the afterlife.

“Censure acquits the raven, but pursues the dove.

Rooks of The White Tower

Ravens in Celtic Mythology


Prophesy states that as long as Ravens live at the Tower of London, the kingdom is safe.

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

Bendigeidfran ("Bran the Blessed")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.

Today, ravens are still kept at the Tower of London. Their wings are clipped so they cannot fly away. The ravens have their own Yeoman Warder (the familiar Beefeater symbol of England) 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 ravens, and they were brought to Tower Hill from Celtic lands - 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.

The raven is also intimately associated with Morgan le Fay.

Irish and Scots Bean Sidhes (Banshees) can take the form of ravens. Their calls from over the roof of a dwelling was considered to be an omen of death for the occupants.

"There is wisdom in a raven's head." - Gaelic Proverb

"To have a raven's knowledge" is an Irish proverb meaning to have a seer's supernatural powers. The raven is considered to be one of the oldest and wisest of all animals.

Ravens were the favorite bird of the god Lludd, the Celtic god of artists and artisans. He was said to have two ravens to attend to all of his needs (similar to Odin and his ravens).

The Scottish Goddess of winter, The Cailleach, sometimes appears as a raven. A touch from her is said to bring death.

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Folklore of the Hebrides tells that giving a newborn his first drink from the skull of a raven will give the child wisdom and the power of prophesy.

Because King Arthur lived on in the form of a raven, in Corwall it is considered very unlucky to kill one.


Native American Legends

The Raven as a Trickster god

Raven is a Native American god called by many different names by many different tribes. Raven was first and foremost a Creator and Trickster God - especially of the Haida tribe, who claim he discovered the first humans hiding in a clam shell and brought them berries and salmon.

In Raven stories told by the Tlingit and other tribes along the Pacific coast and Canada, Raven likes to cause trouble for humankind, but his actions often end up benefiting us.

In the story "How Raven Gave Light to the World", Raven wants to steal the boxes that hold the stars, Moon, and Sun for himself but the people ultimately benefit from his trick when the light is mistakenly released into the sky.


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The Greatest American Poem

THE RAVEN by Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Read On Here


Gustave DorĂ© Illustration for Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven 1832-1883  

“That Raven on yon left-hand oak (Curse on his ill-betiding croak) Bodes me no good. ---John Gay”

Turning Evil......

Since ravens can be taught to speak, they are connected symbolically to both wisdom and prophecy. From early Christian times in Europe, ravens have reflected a more ominous aura. Black is culturally a negative color, they are carrion eaters, and they have a symbiotic relationship with the wolves, an ancient enemy of man. Both witches and the Devil were said to be able to take the shape of a raven.

April 30th is Walpurgisnacht in Germany. On this night, witches fly to a peak in the Harz Mountains for the great Sabbath in the shape of ravens and crows.

Literary Flights

In Beowulf, ravens are used as a dark element, " . . . 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."

Quoth the CROW?

What's the difference anyway?


A raven weighs about four times that of a crow.

The wingspan of a crow is ~2.5 ft., ravens about 3.5-4 ft.

Ravens have pointed wings, while crows have a more blunt wing tip.

Crows have a fan-shaped tail (squared-off), raven's are long and wedge-shaped.

A raven's bill is curved with a tuft of hairs on top, while a crow has a more-or-less flat, tuftless, bill and ravens have fuller neck feathers

“They slept until the black raven,the blithe hearted proclaimed the joy of heaven - Beowulf”

The Raven According To Wikipedia

Raven is the common name given to several larger-bodied members of the genus Corvus—but in Europe and North America the Common Raven is normally implied.
Species include:
* Corvus albicollis - White-necked Raven
* Corvus corax - Common Raven
* Corvus coronoides - Australian Raven
* Corvus crassirostris - Thick-billed Raven
* Corvus edithae - Dwarf Raven
* Corvus cryptoleucus - Chihuahuan Raven
* Corvus mellori - Little Raven
* Corvus rhipidurus - Fan-tailed Raven
* Corvus ruficollis - Brown-necked Raven
* Corvus tasmanicus - Forest Raven
* ?Corvus moriorum - Chatham Islands Raven
* ?Corvus antipodum - New Zealand Raven
Category: File - :Un nid de corbeau.JPG|thumb|Nest of raven in tree
Category: File - :Ravens-tower-of-london.JPG|thumb|Ravens at the Tower of London.
Smaller-bodied species in the genus Corvus include the crows, jackdaws and the rook.
In some cases the diet of the raven is similar. Most ravens eat some sort of fruit, such as dates, or berries. Most are omnivorous. The ravens look similar to another common bird, the crow, being related.

For as long as man has roamed the earth, the raven has watched.......

PhotobucketRaven Myth Around The WorldPhotobucket

In Chinese mythology, ravens are considered a solar symbol. The three legged raven lives in the sun, representing the sun's three phases - rising, noon and setting.

In Japan, the Shinto Goddess, Amaterasu, is sometimes represented as a giant raven, Yata-Garasu.

Hindu tradition holds that Brahma can appear as a raven in one of his incarnations. Ravens are also sacred to both Kali and Shiva.

Austalian Aboriginals tell ancient stories about how the raven came to be black. He tried to steal fire from seven sisters (the Pleides), and was charred black in the unsuccessful attempt. The constellation Corvus, named for this myth, is a group of stars best visible in May in the southern hemisphere.

To the ancient Egyptians, ravens represented destruction and malevolence.

Arab peoples call raven Abu Aajir, Father of Omens.

In Greek mythology, ravens serve as messengers for Helios and Apollo.

Viking Design

Ravens of Today

They're alive and well in our art, fiction, entertainment, and more...


Baby Ravens

For Your Baby Ravens

Online Flights For Your Delight

The Tower of London
Take a virtual tour of Her Majesty's Tower of London.
PBS' award winning series, Nature, takes a look at the noble raven.
Crows and Ravens
A fact sheet from the Australia Museum Online.
The Common Raven
Read about ravens on this page from the Alaska Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The lore of ravens in celtic lands.
A page devoted to the astronomical constellation, Corvus
Stations of the Raven
Evon Zerbetz's intriguing art.

Explore the Dark on Squidoo

"He that visits the sick in hopes of a legacy, but is never so friendly in all other cases, I look upon him as being no better than a raven that watches a weak sheep only to peck out its eyes." -----Seneca


Links for you to ponder.......




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