Friday, 14 October 2016

Ravens in Mythology

In response to last week's post on Edgar Allan Poe and his famous Raven, Dezzy of Hollywood Spy sent a link to this funny meme as another contribution to the post.


I love the long-suffering look of annoyance on that cat's face, LOL!

Anyway, this meme reminded me of two wonderful myths where ravens play important roles of spiritual significance:

First, the story of Raven the Lightbringer, which is an ancient myth of the Haida First Nation on Canada's west coast --


["Raven bringing light to the world"
found here]

When the world was new, humans and all other creatures lived in utter darkness. Then one day Raven discovered that a selfish old man was keeping all the light in the universe hidden away in his house. The man had boxed up the sun so only he and his own family could benefit from it.

Through a series of clever shapeshifting manoeuvres, Raven took human form as the man's grandson. The boy, of course, wanted to play with the beautiful ball of light. Like any indulgent grandparent would do, the old man took the sun out of its box and tossed it to the child.

Immediately the boy shapeshifted back to Raven form, caught the sun in its beak and flew up, up and away through the dwelling's smoke hole. Raven placed the sun in the sky so that all peoples and creatures of the earth would benefit from its life-giving light and heat.


Thanks, Ron Burgundy, for bringing us to the second myth:

In Norse mythology, Odin the Allfather actually had two ravens who served him -- Hugin ("thought") and Munin ("memory/mind").


[by kojotei]

Hugin and Munin were Odin's messengers and information gatherers. As suggested by the marvelous artwork above, they acted as Odin's eyes and ears throughout the Nine Realms. Scholars interpret these ravens as spiritual symbols of Odin's shapeshifting powers and his essentially shamanic nature.


[created by Jivotica,
found here]

Do you know of any other myths about ravens and their spiritual significance?

46 comments:

anne marie in philly said...

LOVE that first pix! quoth the raven, "nevermore".

The Blog Fodder said...

This is great stuff which I never knew. The only raven story I know is that the Tower of London must always have ravens. I think there are five in residence, free to leave but well fed and cared for so they do not.

mshatch said...

Thanks to my son the birder I find birds ever more fascinating and ravens and crows are among favorite birds. They are amazingly clever.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ The Blog Fodder -- Oh yes! I forgot about that particular bit of mythology! So long as the ravens live at the Tower, Britain will never fall to invasion. During WW2, Churchill secretly had their wings clipped so they couldn't fly away.

Mark said...

Given my love of mythology (especially Norse mythology) I am digging this post. I don't really know of any raven myths myself though.

Marie Smith said...

Clever creatures. Love the myths!

Magaly Guerrero said...

The first meme made me laugh aloud, especially the expression on the cat's face. Love the first myth. And the second one left me with a strong urge to reread Neil Gaiman's American Gods!

Cheryl said...

The look on the cat's face in the first picture is priceless. Too funny!

I don't know a single myth about ravens. In fact, I wasn't aware of the two that you told us about. Clearly, I am raven clueless.

Debi said...

Passing down these wonderful stories , thank you! Like the black cat, I find Ravens wonderfully mysterious, half in half out, it's nice not to know why, just because!
Love the story of the Ravens who guard the Tower of London! Who are they really on guard for?

Miss Val's Creations said...

Myths are so interesting. They make us look at things in another light!

Susan said...

I imagine the cat is trying to sort out whether it's worth eating something as large as yourself. I love ravens and crows - and their place in mythology. Love the story of Raven the Lightbringer. Thank you for continuing to enlighten us!

Bob Slatten said...

I feel the cat's pain!

Linda Wildenstein said...

You've done it again....taught this olde broad something new. I love factoids like this. I'll annoy the grands with this info as we decorate our front porch this afternoon with our crows and such. xoxo Oma Linda

bj said...

I love the first story....

brewella deville said...

It's not mythology as such, but ravens play a part throughout Tom Waits' album The Black Rider. When that came out I listened to nothing else for weeks, over and over again. Now if I'm out in the world and hear a raven it evokes such strong memories of the world that music created in my head. Do you know that album?

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ brewella deville -- No, I don't know that album but I do like Tom Waits and his gravelly voice, so I will make a point of picking up a copy! Thanks for the tip!

MrsDuncanMahogany said...

Let's talk the Morrigan! She's my Goddess....I love her so much I have her tattooed on my person ;)

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ MrsDuncanMahogany -- Oh, you're right! HOW could I miss the Morrigan on my list! My brain is just mush these days.

DEZMOND said...

That kitteh truly is channelling our Lord and Saviour Poe! :)
Hugin and Munin, what delightful names for pets!

lady M said...

Our Lord and Savior - too funny!

Rosemary said...

Our most notorious ravens are those at the Tower of London - the legend goes that if the Tower ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it. They are still there so all is not lost just yet!!!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Rosemary -- Yes, that is a wonderful legend! I wish I had remembered it so I could have included it in this post! When we were at the Tower of London a few years ago, we saw the famous ravens being cared for. Looked like they have a pretty sweet life!

Birdie said...

There is a Facebook group for crow lovers. It's called Crow and Crow Followers. Lots of cool stuff posted!

Guillaume said...

I knew about Odin's ravens.

Adam said...

All this raven/odin pagan talk is really offensive to the one true god, the Flying Spaghetti Monster

HBF said...

That GIF! Ha!

I appreciated the myths, I didn't know about Odin's two ravens, very cool. Thanks :o)

Magic Love Crow said...

Great post Debra! You've taught me some new myths! Thank you for sharing the art pieces! They are gorgeous!

Magic Love Crow said...

I forgot to say, love the cat's face with the raven! LOL!

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

I love these stories. And I also love ravens. I don't remember the entire story (I have to look it up) but I think the Greek God, Apollo, was associated with a raven that he used as a messenger. The raven was white originally but its feathers were charred into blackness by Apollo in a jealous fit of rage when the mortal princess, Coronis, that he loved cheated on him with a mortal man while she was pregnant with their son.

I've always been fascinated by Greek mythology. So many captivating stories!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Plowing Through Life (Martha) -- Oooooo, I love Greek myths but I don't know this one! Thanks for the tip -- I will look it up!

Insomniac's Attic said...

Great. Now I got another really expensive thing hearted on Etsy. Thanksalot, Debra. ;)

Missy George said...

My SIL is a Crow fan..I know of no other myths other than the one about the Tower of London..I feel for the kitty!!Enjoy your weekend.

Jim said...

Being very fond of ravens/crows I am now more knowledgeable of the mythology they have. What an interesting post, Debra, Thank you.
The only 'crow legend' I am aware of is the local one:
One crow sorrow
Two crows joy
Three crows a letter
Four crows a boy
......

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Jim -- Thanks! I did not know that little ditty/superstition about crows!

AntiquityTravelers said...

The NW designs are some of my favorite - we always called this story 'Raven catching the sun' and I have several drawings up around my house with this. I also have a beautiful bentwood box made with cedar (smells amazing) with these same sketches on it. I love the raven folklore .... there are a few great ones in Game of Thrones :)

AntiquityTravelers said...

Oh I forgot to post the Raven Totem - which is the birth totem from this time of year https://www.pinterest.com/pin/187180928240866975/ My totem is the wolf

Linda @ Life and Linda said...

Great legend. Always fun to learn more about myths. Perfect post for this time of year.

Guillaume said...

Oh and about ravens and crows as symbols: they are like many symbols ambiguous. They can be a sign of fertility, but also have of theft and even invasion: when they showed up in agrarian cultures, it meant that it was harvest time... but the crows and ravens stole harvest directly from the fields. As corvids are also scavengers, and black ones at that, they are of course associated with death.

John M said...

I never knew these legends.

Neesie said...

What an interesting post because I haven't heard either of these myths.
I had to laugh at that cat's face though because I feel that my face is probably like that about the crows that visit my garden and incessantly tap on a mirror. It was worse before we put the garden mirror out, because they tapped and pecked at the patio windows!

Ramzu Zahini said...

I've read that ravens are actually quite intelligent and can remember faces. Can they be kept as pets?

baili said...

that is what some wicked minds are doing even today with the whole world trying to make all existed in this world to use just for their own benefit .

wonderful sharing dear

CraveCute said...

Great post Debra! Enjoyed the photos and the mythology, very interesting stuff. Our crows holler at us in the morning to come fill the bird feeder!

The Happy Whisk said...

I didn't know about the raven but I enjoyed the post and that last picture is pretty cool.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

I'll have to perfect that cat's brush off ... annihilation !

Fearsome Beard said...

I love that they are responsible for the sun. Now just tell me how I can get them to stop living in my palm trees and destroying my hummingbird fountain.