Shamanism: The spirit of the Raven

Corvus_corax_(NPS)Yes, the ravens are speaking to me as of late, a lot. It feels like I have one raven sitting on each shoulder at all times. So, what are the qualities of the raven as a spirit animal? Every culture and tradition has its own views on what a spirit animal means, does and what powers it possesses. Some cultures view the raven as a bad omen, an omen of death, while others as wisdom, cunning and intelligence. What is real then? Let us take a quick look into some qualities of the raven.

The raven is the largest bird in the family Corvidae. The common raven named Corvus coral, but there are many species of ravens. The raven is mainly a carrion eater and hence the many references to death and battles, that and its black colour. Their diet is not limited to carrion, as they will eat anything they come upon, from plants, insects and small animals they catch. Ravens often life their whole life as a couple, like so many other birds, but they can also congregate in larger groups if there is enough food to support them. The raven, as many of the crows, is a highly intelligent bird, with an astounding good memory.

  • In the norse mythology the ravens are companions of Odin and observes the world of man for him. It is also an omen that can tell how a battle will end.
  • As with many other carrion eaters, like the fox and the hyena, the raven is often seen as a trickster.
  • In hindu mythology the raven and crow is a messenger from the Pitrs, the ancestors.
  • Among many mythologies of the far North American tribes the Raven is seen as the creator of the world or as an important part of the creation of man.

All in all there is no doubt that the raven has many qualities, a bird that can be both a good and bad omen, that brings messages and is tightly connected to gods, humans and ancestors. But what has the raven to say about this?

I am the messenger from the other side, there is no limit to the messages I bring. My omens are good or bad, all depending on your mind. I know the powers of all creatures, ask me and I will tell their tales. My feathers seem black, but to the sharp eye and mind they hold the colours of the rainbow. Judge me not for what I eat, nor for the stores that man tells of me, for I am so much more…


What have the ravens seen and heard today?

Harald_Haarfagres_saga_-_vignett_3_-_G._MuntheThis is a form of meditation or rather a form of seeing, that I use. In our norse mythology the One Eyed God sits in his high seat, Lidskjalv, and there he calls his two ravens, Huginn and Muninn, memory and thought. Every morning at sunrise the ravens fly off. They flies above the world and sees everything with their sharp eyes, by the power of their minds they understand it all and with their keen memory they remember, so when the Grey Bearded One calls them back in the evening they can tell the stories of what they have seen and heard.

This meditation is in two parts, one to be done as you wake in the morning and one before bedtime in the evening. The first part is a visualisation of sending two ravens off to scout the world, the last part is when they come back and tell you what they have seen.

Sending the ravens

Relax and focus in whatever way you find best, then start this visualisation: Two large, black ravens are sitting on your shoulders, one on each. You pet them and feed them, before you tell them: “Fly now, above the world, my dear raven brothers. Fly over mountains, fly over forests, along rivers and roads, over towns and cities, and see what you see, hear what you hear. In the evening return to me.” The two ravens flies off into the distance, try to follow their path for a while.

Listening to the ravens

raven-allfather-memeRelax and focus in whatever way you find best, then start this visualisation: Two large black ravens are flying over huge mountains. Their feathers are dark, but gleams with many colours. Their eyes black and shiny. They fly over a mountaintop, bare and desolate, then follows the mountainside downwards into a valley below. There they follow a river, taking them ever downwards towards the lowland. They see a road and start to follow it, and along the road they see houses. As they follow the road more and more houses appear. The ravens can see through the roofs and walls, seeing every human being, and they understand what they are up to, what they do and say. The ravens flies onwards, now above a city, and still they see them all. The ravens turns in the air begins their flight towards you. First they land in the nearest tree, cleaning and ruffling their feathers, then they lift off again and lands, one on each of your shoulders. Study the ravens for a bit, their feathers and eyes, and aks them: “What have you seen today my raven brother and sister?” The first thoughts that crosses your mind will be your answer. The first few times the answers will be vague and short, but after doing this for a while the answers becomes longer and more accurate. I also find it helpful to ask additional and more direct questions, like: “Tell me dear raven brother and sister, how has … been faring this day?”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.