Saturday, March 10, 2007

Raven Legend Day, March 10th

Raven Legend Day

Today is the day the we remember ravens and their importance to the monarchy of England. Charles the Second was told that as long as ravens occupy the Tower of London, the monarchy will remain strong. Now, ravens are kept at the Tower of London with their wings clipped. Kinda makes me think that they don't trust the ravens to be good subjects and stay for the good of the monarchy.

Poor ravens. Even with such a major responsibility on their shoulders they are one of the world's most unappreciated birds. It seems that all the world suffers from corvophobia, and not just because Edgar Allen Poe told us we should. But, we shouldn't be afraid of ravens, they are good birds, they feed people who are lost in the wilderness.

In many cultures ravens are the antithesis of the supposedly innocent white dove. They have are a symbol of the sins of gluttony and thievery. In early Christianity, evil priests were believed to turn into ravens when they died. Being meat eaters, ravens became messengers of death to many cultures. Some cultures believe that ravens can smell the scent of death on a person before they die.

Readers of Greek mythology will remember the story that Apollo turned the raven black when the bird informed him of the unfaithfulness of Coronis.

Aseop wrote about the raven in his fables.

A Raven saw a Swan and desired to secure for himself the same beautiful plumage. Supposing that the Swan's splendid white color arose from his washing in the water in which he swam, the Raven left the altars in the neighborhood where he picked up his living, and took up residence in the lakes and pools. But cleansing his feathers as often as he would, he could not change their color, while through want of food he perished. Change of habit cannot alter Nature. (fairytalescollection.com)


In Norse mythology, Odin carries the title Hrafna-Gud, the God of the Ravens because he can turn himself into a raven. Odin also has two ravens pets named Hugin and Muninn (thought and memory) and the Valkyres sometimes take the shape of ravens.

Native American folklore sets the raven as a trickster figure who created mosquitoes to forever bother mankind when he wasn't allowed to marry a woman.

And in some early Brittish legends the story is told that King Arthur turned into a raven to keep from dying.

Ravens aren't always bad. In fact, according to Welsh mythology, it is better to see them in groups.

One for bad news,
Two for mirth.
Three is a wedding,
Four is a birth.
Five is for riches,
Six is a thief.
Seven, a journey,
Eight is for grief.
Nine is a secret,
Ten is for sorrow.
Eleven is for love,
Twelve - joy for tomorrow.


And, if you think seeing twelve ravens for joy tomorrow is unlikely, and you still would like some raven-related joy, watch this.

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