In the Company of Ravens ~ totem of rebirth and magic

the Company of Ravens ~ totem of rebirth and magic

Crows and ravens inspire very mixed feelings among people. Their black  colour alone seems to mark them out for dislike. Yet both these  members of the corvid family are exceptionally intelligent and  adaptable birds. Spiritual traditions tend to lump them together, but their habits and their attributes do diverge. For example crows are birds that are intensely social, and live often in large flocks, while ravens live in small family groups and often pair for life.
Ravens are a threatened species in Britain and are now protected by law. It’s quite rare to see them unless you live in remote areas.

On Saturday I accompanied a group of students to the Tower of London. As I am sure most people probably know, the Tower of London has a resident group of ravens, in the capable hands(and sometimes broom or mop) of the Raven Master. Legend says that England will fall if the ravens desert the Tower; as a pragmatic step to prevent this, their wing feathers are clipped while they live there. The ravens are part of a breeding programme based in Windsor, and they do a stint at the Tower before returning to their base, to make more ravens.

Of course, I knew I’d see ravens at the Tower. But I was not prepared for quite how much of an impact they would make on me. I’d forgotten how big they are, a good third bigger than a big crow. Or how deeply black. Or how noisy.

Or how spookily compelling.

I was utterly mesmerised. I watched and listened and was caught in their spell. Ravens are birds of mystery and magic and their black feathers are luminously iridescent, filled with colours and dark light. Their eyes look back at you fiercely and with a challenge; they seem more intelligent than many people, in all honesty.

They are also mischievious

But back home I’ve begun to wonder what Merlin and her fellows was telling me. Yes, I know full well that I was inevitably going to see ravens that day, but that encounter went deeper than the tourist moment. I’ve been going through some deep stuff, emotional and spiritual and I’ve had encounters with beasts of varying sort that all seem to point to massive change and upheaval. My snake dream indicates transmutation. And now this  meeting with Raven.

This is what Animal Spirit says about Raven:

     Rebirth without fear

  • Ability to tear down what needs to be rebuilt
  • Renewal
  • Ability to find light in darkness
  • Courage of self-reflection
  • Introspection
  • Comfort with self
  • Honouring ancestors
  • Connection to the Crone
  • Divination
  • Change in consciousness
  • New occurrences
  • Eloquence

It seems that a new element is being added to the mix. Reading more about Raven in many traditions, it seems that Raven is a totem or guide for people who go deep into the darkness, who seek healing for self and for others, and whose personal wings are filled with all the colours inherent in the light and yet who appear dark.

I’ve been considering a journey into the darkness of my own shadow; perhaps my guide for this has alighted now nearby and is about to steal my notes. Because the journey into the dark has no map, no tour notes, no travel book.

All you have is the iridescent wings of a Raven.

12 thoughts on “In the Company of Ravens ~ totem of rebirth and magic

  1. Ravens are indeed mystical birds, and I always think of Edgar Allan Poe…have you read his work, ‘The Raven’? I wish you well on your jouney into the shadow – in fact, we are all on the journey, just some of us are in the dark!!
    I am also wondering about the synchronicity of you posting your tale of the raven at the Tower of London and another friend literally just posting the Tower scene of Anne Boleyn’s execution from ‘Anne of the Thousand Days’ (my most favourite film from junior high school, which I haven’t seen since then, and don’t remember much about – but wrote an award-winning poem way back then about the film which I don’t remember or have.)…what is the significance of the Tower of London, I wonder, other than the obvious………………?! xx


    • The raven who stole my notes did so on the very spot where Anne was beheaded….so possibly yes, indeed, synchronicity again.
      When it comes to the Tower, maybe the Tower in tarot?


  2. The raven is associated with the Macbeths, Lady Macbeth in particular, which makes what you write interesting in that light [among other lights] Macbeth is one of my favourite S plays and I would have loved to have had this post when I was teaching the play.


    • Macbeth is my favourite Shakespeare play too. I’ve always wanted to play Lady Macbeth too, not a clue why when I am no actress but somehow the role is very compelling. The descent into madness after overeaching yourself?
      Nice to see you here Margo.


  3. I see them nearly every day. They’re nesting nextdoor, and always seem to be around. Follow me to town somedays. Such nice comparions, even at the distance they keep. Being flightless I miss out on a lot of their fun.
    They always seem to be sure an encourage me when I need it.


  4. Ah, Cumbria’s dark-age heroes were collectively known as ‘ravens’. Urien, Owain and co – transmuted by Geoffrey of Monmouth into Arthurian heroes Uriens of Gore and Yvain! Not sure the imagery fits, though!


  5. I’m so happy to see others sharing in the magic of ravens-there is no doubt they are something special. I always know my day is good when one flies past me-I’m fortunate to live in a place where we see them all the time, they never get less mesmerizing to me.


  6. My most interesting dream over a decade ago now was of a large talking Raven – he was telling me the story of the history of time – which I promptly forgot when I awoke. But not before he had directed me to retrieve some gold that had been taken…

    I have always felt a deep connection to Raven’s and their magic – there is also a huge link here to Odin and his companions who were Ravens as well.

    Now I see them every day flying overhead to their homes… beautiful!

    Love your post, I have been thinking about Raven energy these past few weeks as well and how it has impacted upon my life in a magical way.


    • Thank you.
      Ravens are uncommon in Britain; you have to go to mountains or to the tower of London. But they are lodged deep in our unconscious, and are greatly powerful allies.
      I have a set of Hannah Willow’s Raven Oracle which appears not to be available any more; it’s complex to use but effective.
      Nice to have you visit, thank you.


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