Monday, February 21, 2011

Odin's Ravens, Magical Myth and Fact!

Norse myth tells us that the god Odin has two ravens perched on his shoulders. Their names are Huginn (meaning thought) and Muninn (meaning memory). These ravens, are more than Odin's pets, they are his informants and messengers. He sends them out everyday  into the world, upon their return they relate to Odin everything that they have seen and heard.

But what do we really know about "ravens" in general? I thought it would be interesting to explore this subject.   Ravens, are in a family of birds called corvids, and are powerfully associated with witchcraft and magic. 

Ravens are in the same family of birds as crows. But ravens hunt more than crows, who are mainly scavengers. When mythology distinguishes between the two, ravens are usually associated with transformative  magic while crows are identified with healing. Both are teachers and sponsors of magic and shamanism. 


Ravens are characterized by their shiny black color and their raucous, loud voices. Daytime birds they noisily greet the sun. As a result they are identified with solar power and may be understood to venerate the Sun themselves. 


Ravens, are in many worldwide myths, and are generally considered to be "trickster" heroes. This includes Celtic, Greek, Hungarian, Japanese, Native American, Scandinavian, Vietnamese, but most especially in the indigenous traditions of Siberia and North America's Pacific Northwest. 

Ravens are assertive and unafraid of people; and willing to play a joke on a person, as well as a dog, cat or on each other. Shiny things attract them and they have been known to steal them. 


The associations of Ravens with witchcraft and shamanism pre-date  Christianity. After Christianity took hold the perceptions of Ravens changed. Rather than positive associations with wise-women, shaman, and seers Ravens were now associated with diabolism and sin. 

In the eyes of the Christian Church this probably had a lot to do with their color, black, their sharp harsh voices, intelligence and assertive nature. Shades of the wicked queen's ravens in Walt Disney's version of,"Snow White"?

Because Ravens are black birds and daily herald the light, the church identified them with Satan in his guise as Lucifer, the fallen angel and light bringer. 


Brightest of Blessings,
Lory

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