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I was going to look at both Raven and Crow, but Raven is so rich in lore and meaning that I’m going to focus on that for now. Raven has long had many negative connotations; however, many believe this is simply because of their nature as carrion birds. They’ve also been associated with most religions, and the gods of those religions.
Ravens are associated with Greek, Roman, Norse, Celtic, Native American gods and spirits, and even Christianity considered them a messenger from their god.
However, the first known association was with the Welsh god Bran the Blessed whose name means ‘raven’ in Welsh. He was believed to have all the ancestral memories and legendary wisdom, so when Bran went to war to avenge his sister’s mistreatment, he lost his head, and his men took it back to the tower and buried it there so Bran’s wisdom would remain in the kingdom.
The ravens are Bran’s bird, and legend has it that if the birds leave the tower, Bran’s wisdom will be lost, and the kingdom will fall. All but one of the ravens was lost in the Blitz, and Winston Churchill replaced them. Since then, the Crown has always kept 6-8 Ravens in the Tower of London.
This is just one of the many tales of ravens and their association with the gods, but they’re associated with many more gods. I’m sure this list is incomplete, but these are the main ones people are familiar with.
Many associate ravens with ill omen, bad news, and even coming death; however, there are many more positive meanings which are in the table below. One thing all interpretations include is change. Raven is a harbinger of change. Some Native American legends see raven and coyote as having similar characteristics, and one of those is the trickster nature. Raven gives you a heads up that change is coming, so you can prepare, but it's best to beware of the trickster possibilties as well.
What the raven will mean to you at any given time depends on where you are in life and what ravens represent to you personally, either in combination with one of the meanings listed below, or alone. Again, I’m sure there are more meanings out there, but these are the main ones I have found.
Here are a few common meanings for this power animal.
Rebirth and Renewal
Ability to destroy and rebuild
Ability to find light in darkness
Connecting with the Crone
Honor of ancestors
I hope this helps you as you begin your journey with ravens. They're a fascinating bird, and the lore about them is rich. It was tough to choose only one story to include.
See you next time. Enjoy!