Relaxing with the others after zazen one evening,
Owl asked, ”What is the spirit of Zen practice?”
Raven said ”Inquiry”.
Owl cocked his head and asked ”What do I inquire about?”
Raven said ”Good start!”
~ ZenMaster Raven by Robert Aitken.
‘Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’
And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;’‘
~ Edgar Allen Poe
Here the raven is unrelenting in reminding the poet about Impermance ”Nevermore…nevermore”, in spite of the poets anger at what he perceives as this bleak fact.
I hesitated to do this post. Don’t know why. Ravens can seem a bit ominous, no? Like messengers from another world or plane.
Ancestors. Shapeshifters. Oracles.
Associated with many archetypal Gods and Goddesses in many tribes.
Ravens here have been long associated with the Morrigán, the fearsome Goddess of Battle and death, and indeed ravens are long associated with being scavengers and harbingers on the Battlefield. The Raven also accompanies the old hag goddess, Dhumavati, who appears so unpleasant to many. But they are both in truth merciful archetypes.
”Dhumavati is said to manifest herself at the time of cosmic dissolution and is “the Void” that exists before creation and after dissolution. While Dhumavati is generally associated with only inauspicious qualities, her thousand-name hymn relates her positive aspects as well as her negative ones. She is often called tender-hearted and a bestower of boons. Dhumavati is described as a great teacher, one who reveals ultimate knowledge of the universe, which is beyond the illusory divisions, like auspicious and inauspicious. ” (Wikipedia)
I had a friend a long time ago who is a witch ( I still have her as a friend held safe in my heart, it’s just she lives far away and time and space has come between us). She once found a Raven standing on a post in her garden and she went into a trance watching it. After sometime she found she and the raven had swapped consciousness and she described seeing the glassy fractal world reflected from beyond the Raven’s eyes.
I once had a very powerful encounter with a Raven myself. I was teaching a Yoga class in an attic room to a film crew in a local town and the class was almost over. Everyone was lying down, eyes closed and I was talking them through a relaxation. Suddenly a huge Raven landed onto the inner ledge of the open attic window beside me. He was not arm’s length away from me and he stared at me silently. Huge, glossy, black. I became aware of the urgent need to pray for my oldest child. I did so and the Raven immediately flew away. When I arrived home I found my son wrapped in blankets, being cared for on the couch. He told me he had been drowning and was ready to go, when a white hand had appeared down through the lake waters and pulled him back up.
Raven had come into my sphere of attention again because a friend brought up Ravens and I said my married name means Servant of the Raven. But still I found myself hesitating to research it as it was very hot and I felt lazy. Then the same day I got this …
IF THE RAVEN-SPIRIT HAS FLAPPED INTO NEARNESS TO YOU, IT IS TELLING YOU CAN EXPECT MAGIC IN YOUR LIFE. MAGIC IS ALL AROUND YOU, AND THERE IS A MAGICIAN WHO LIVES WITHIN YOU. RAVEN IS TELLING YOU THAT THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION CAN BE FOUND ONLY IN YOUR OWN INNER WORLD, THE VOID. YOU MUST RELEASE THE MAGICIAN WITHIN YOU AND SEE THINGS WITH RAVEN’S EYES.
So what do they say Raven means…?
Introspection, courage, self-knowledge, magic. Keepers of secrets. Change. Transformation. Supernatural wisdom.
Raven, the cleverest of all birds, is there in so many mythologies. For the Tibetan Buddhists, raven is a protector of the teachings (Mahakala ~ Great Black One, or, as I understand it, Great Time). There is an old tradition in Tibet of divination based on the cries of Ravens and Crows. The creature that can see beyond the veils.
Noah sent out a Raven from the Ark to see if dry land could be found after the Deluge. But it did not come back. It went about its own business, unconcerned about Noah’s curses. Echoes of the Void here. The vast impersonal.
The shinto Goddess Amaterasu is associated with the Raven.
Kaka Bhusundi was the Hindu sage who incarnated as a crow. When asked how he felt about being cursed to be born in such a body he replied (yeah, yeah, I know, talking bird!) “I love this body only because it was in this form that uninterrupted devotion to Sri Rama sprang up in my heart.”
In Greek mythology they were considered good luck, being messengers of Apollo.
Odin’s raven familiars are Huginn (thought) and Muninn(memory), who he sends out every morning to bring him news of the world.
(Just occurs to me the similiarity between the word Hugginn and the Gaelic Tuigim (I understand) which is pronounced ‘Hug ihm’, and the word Muininn and Gaelic word Smaoineamh or Is Maoin liom ( I remember) which is pronounced ‘Meeen’. But anyways.)
For the Native Americans the raven was the symbol of the Creator of the World. Often a trickster. Wise but driven by appetite.
RAVEN AS YOUR TOTEM
If Raven is your Totem animal you are very playful and creative. You have no fear of the dark, or the underworld and understand that there is a divine balance between the light and the dark. You find comfort in solitude and enjoy your own company. Raven seeks stillness and quiet, and prefer it to the constant onslaught of chatter and noise in our daily lives. You are wise and often are used as a messenger for others. The spirit world uses you as a bridge to the physical world to bring forth its messages.
‘Raven people’ can expect continual changes and spiritual awakenings throughout their lifetime.
Some native tribes refer to them as the ‘keeper of secrets’. They are linked to the void, where universal secrets are kept.
The Raven is one of the very few natural powers and supernatural aids that can go over into the land of the deceased, into the spirit world, and bring a person’s soul back to the physical world, hence bringing that person out of a coma or back to life.
Raven is a contrary spirit. on the negative side, Raven represents the profane, the devil, evil spirits, the trickster and thief, war and destruction, death and doom, the void. Yet in many cultures Raven also represents deep magic, the mystery of the unknown, death and transformation, creation, healing, wisdom, protection, and prophecy. Raven is both the symbol of the sun, and the symbol of a moonless night. She is the birth giving light in the center of our galaxy, and the black hole in the center of the universe, to which we are all traveling to our eventual extinction. Raven is the fatal touch of the Calleach in winter, the wisdom of Odin, the vessel of prophecy given to a seer, the mighty protector of the Western Isles, and the healing message of an Indian shaman. Raven is a complex bird, both in nature and in mythology.