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
has a tremendous amount of lore and mythology surrounding it, and it is often
contradictory. It is a bird of birth and death, and it is a bird of mysticism
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
the other hand, also in Biblical lore is the tale of how a raven fed the prophet
Elijah when hiding from King Ahab.
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
communities that wicked priests became ravens when they died. Even today, some
old timers tell how you can expect hot weather when a raven is seen facing a
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
beneficial to study the information on the crow for anyone who has a raven as a
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
here, I would like to give you some information not generally associated with
the crow itself.
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
mantis and other societies in which an animal plays both a significant and yet
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.
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
drawn forth, out into the light. Because of this, raven can help you shapeshift
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
incorporate and mimic the calls of other species. In the Northwest are tales of
the Kwakiutl Indians who offered the afterbirth of male newborns to Raven so
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
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
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
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
with the raven as a totem. The solstice is the shortest day of the year The sun
shines the least on this day, thus it is the darkest. From that day forth, the
light shines a little more each day This is symbolic of the influence of raven.
It teaches how to go into the dark and bring forth the light. With each trip in,
we develop the ability to bring more light out. This is creation.
Wing so black it shines like Moon at midnight,
O Raven, strong, hear my cry!
Teach me old magick, powerful, bold,
O Raven, eloquent and wise.
© Ted Andrews – Animal Speak