Wednesday, May 18, 2011
The Raven. An Fiach Dubh. (including Crow).
Just for a bit of a change I am posting a series of animal posts.
The Raven. An Fiach Dubh.
In Irish folklore the Raven and the Crow was associated with the Triple Goddess the Morrigan and it was believed that the Raven/Crow that flew over the battlefield was the Morrigan. Some would consider her the protector; others looked upon her as the bringer of death. She was however the protector of warriors. Her message really should be that in war there can only be one winner and that is death. As a symbol of death the raven would be buried with its wings outstretched in order to symbolize the connection between this world and the otherworld and the raven as a messenger between the two.
Banshees could take the shape of ravens or crows as they cried above a roof, an omen of death in the household below.
"To have a raven's knowledge" is an Irish proverb meaning to have a seer's supernatural powers to see all, to know all and to hear all. Raven is considered one of the oldest and wisest of animals.
The raven was the favourite bird of the solar deity, Lugh. Lugh was said to have had two ravens that attended to all his needs.
Giving a child their first drink from the skull of a raven will give the child powers of prophecy and wisdom.
The raven, with its glistening purple-black plumage, large size and apparent intelligence has inspired man from ancient times. It is regarded as an omen of both good fortune and bad, carrying the medicine of magic. It is often associated with war, death and departed spirits. However, the raven has not always been associated with death, spirits and darkness. Quite the contrary, the raven was believed by some to be the bringer of light, truth and goodness.
A raven sits on the shoulder of Ulster hero, Cú Chulainn, to symbolise the passing of his spirit.
The Bible (Genesis, chapter 8: 6-13 of the Old Testament) tells how birds are sent by Noah to detect whether there is any dry land outside the ark that he had built to withstand the Flood:
At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made, and sent forth a raven; and it went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. This was the first recorded use of the Sat Rav (sorry, my sense of humour).
The druids would predict the future by studying the flight and the cries of the birds. The raven is believed to be an oracular bird, and a bearer of messages from the Otherworld. It is a symbol of the connection between this world and the next and it was said to represent the balance between life and death and the creation of the new.
Ravens are associated with knowledge, warning, procreation, healing, prophecy and are also a form favoured by shape shifters.
Finding a dead crow on the road is good luck.
Crows in a church yard are bad luck.
A single crow over a house meant bad news, and often foretold a death within. "A crow on the thatch, soon death lifts the latch."
When crows were quiet and subdued during their midsummer's molt, some European peasants believed that it was because they were preparing to go to the Devil to pay tribute with their black feathers.
Two crows would be released together during a wedding celebration. If the two flew away together, the couple could look forward to a long life together. If the pair separated, the couple might expect to be soon parted, too. (This practice was also performed using pairs of doves).
It has been said that a baby will die if a raven's eggs are stolen.
Ravens are considered royal birds. Legend has it King Arthur turned into one.
Crows feeding in village streets or close to nests in the morning means inclement weather is to come - usually storms or rain. Crows flying far from their nest means fair weather.
The Romans used the expression "To pierce a Crow's eye" in relation to something that was almost impossible to do.
An Irish expression, "You'll follow the Crows for it" meant that a person would miss something after it was gone.
The expression, "I have a bone to pick with you" used to be “I have a crow to pick with you".
A ritual for invisibility: Cut a raven’s heart into three, place beans inside each portion, and then bury them right away. When the bean sprouts, keep one and place it into the mouth. Invisibility occurs while the bean is inside the mouth.
Ravens facing the direction of a clouded sun foretell hot weather.
If you see a raven preening, rain is on the way.
Ravens flying towards each other signify an omen of war.
Seeing a raven tapping on a window foretold death.
If a raven is heard croaking near a house, there will be a death in it.
If a raven flies around the chimney of a sick person's house, they will die.
Many parts of Celtic Britain and Ireland view the raven as a good omen:
Shetland and Orkney - if a maiden sees a raven at Imbolc she can foretell the direction of her future husband's home by following the raven's path of flight.
Wales - if a raven perches on a roof, it means prosperity for the family.
Scotland - deerstalkers believed it bode well to hear a raven before setting out on a hunt.
Ireland - ravens with white feathers were believed a good omen, especially if they had white on the wings. Ravens flying on your right hand or croaking simultaneously were also considered good omens.
Raven is said to be the protector and teacher of seers and clairvoyants. In the past, witches were thought to turn themselves into ravens to escape pursuit.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more."
Extract from The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe