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Published by Yuna Raven

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Yuna Raven on Jul 24, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Ravens in Mythology
Ravens are scavengers. They follow wolves, coyotes and polar bears in order to garner from the remains of their kills. It is highly likely that they had a similar relationship with prehistoric man. It would seem reasonable to assume that by the time written recordscould be left behind, that mankind and
knew each other well. Birds which look to be Ravens or Crows occur among the cave paintings of Lascaux (France) and areamong the 12 bird species depicted in Neolithic cave paintings in the Tajo Segura Cavein Spain.The Raven is a bird to be noticed and as such it gets mentioned in the Bible - Elijah is fed by them and Noah sends them out to find dry land (and they don't return). Shakespeareincludes mention of them in about half of his plays, Edgar Allen Poe wrote one of themost famous poems in the English with a Raven as one of its major characters andDickens included them in Barnaby Rudge. Few other birds have such a literary claim tofame. They are, apparently, named in the Koran as well.To the ancient Romans the Raven was the most important bird for omens, and Ravenswere kept as pets by legionnaires. To the Norsemen the Raven was the sacred bird of their religion - Odin was apparently accompanied by two Ravens, Hugin and Munin(Thought and Memory). Each day they flew across the world, returning in the evenings toOdin's shoulders to report to him what they had seen. Odin is/was the Raven God and thewar banner of the Norsemen was fashioned in the form of a Raven. Across the whole of the northern hemisphere the Raven is regarded as a bird of omen, a messenger for theGods and a harbinger of death. This is probably as a result of its taste for feeding oncarcasses, human as well as any other.Before the Middle Ages the Raven was looked upon kindly in the UK where it washonored for its role as a scavenger helping to keep the cities clean. Up to the late 1400s itwas protected by law in many cities. Ravens still live in London, nesting in the Tower of London. Mythology claims the tower will crumble and collapse and the Monarchy be indanger if less than 6 Ravens live there. In the countryside they were not so appreciatedand were blamed for many dead lambs. This would have been as the result of their habitof feeding on the afterbirth of sheep as well as on stillborn and recently dead lambs.To many North American Indians the Raven was a bird of extraordinary knowledge and power. It was honored as being unearthly and it is a frequent totem animal in North
American culture. The Inuits have a myth telling how the Raven invented light bythrowing chips of mica into the air.By the 1500s the Raven had lost its protected status in the UK where it was then persecuted as it was in much of the rest of Western Europe. Bounties were paid for it upuntil the 1800s.During the 20th century however Ravens have gradually come to be respected in much of Europe though they are still often blamed by farmers for the deaths of lambs.Ravens in particular, but also all the other members of the Genus
are wonderfulintelligent, playful birds.
It was a raven who was the first bird released from Noah's ark in the flood. TheRaven abandoned Noah, preferring to fly above the waters alone rather than go back to the ark. In the myths of the Norsemen, Odin kept two oracular ravensnamed Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Memory) who kept him informed of all thatwent on in the world with their whispers. The Muslims call the raven Abu Zajir,which means the Father of Omens. The Elizabethan writer, Christopher Marlow,wrote in his play, The Jew of Malta, this passage describing a raven:"Like the sad-presaging raven that tolls the sick man's passport in her hollow beak. Andin the shadow of the silent night Doth shake contagion from her sable wing."The raven is known throughout history as both portent and prophet. Among the Irish the"Raven's Knowledge" is used when describing seers. These people with extra senses andoften some ability to prophesy are compared to this bird which man has attributedsupernatural abilities.A group of crows is known as a "murder" of crows. A "murder" of crows is based on the persistent but fallacious folk tale that crows form tribunals to judge and punish the bad behavior of a member of the flock. If the verdict goes against the defendant, that bird iskilled (murdered) by the flock. The basis in fact is probably that occasionally crows willkill a dying crow that doesn't belong in their territory or much more commonly feed oncarcasses of dead crows. Also, both crows and ravens are associated with battlefields,medieval hospitals, execution sites and cemeteries (because they scavenged on humanremains). In England, a tombstone is sometimes called a ravenstone.which I found on the Internet written by Carl Cook:"The sound of many crows calling at once filled the air. I peeked out the window, andeverywhere I could see, crows, maybe a couple hundred of them. They were on thesidewalk. They were on the power lines. They were on the logs that served as stops for  parked cars, and they were in the trees. Almost hidden against one of the logs, I saw adead crow. There were a few crows standing near the body. The noise continued for about a minute or so, when suddenly, an unseen conductor waved his baton, and thecawing stopped. The silence was equally as loud.There was a pause.Then, the invisible conductor again waved his baton, and there was a great and noisyflurry of feathers, as the crows took off and flew in all directions. Soon they were gone,leaving their lifeless kin to the elements. I continued my watch in silent awe, feeling thatI had just witnessed something few have seen. In the various articles and books I haveread about the corvids and their behavior, the authors cannot agree as to whether theCrow Funeral is fact or legend. Based on what I observed, and barring evidence to thecontrary, I believe that I indeed observed the crow's version of what we would call, afuneral.Here is a report of a crow funeral

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