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
- Ability to find light in darkness
- Courage of self-reflection
- Comfort with self
- Honouring ancestors
- Connection to the Crone
- Change in consciousness
- New occurrences
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.