Corvus Corax... you are a mystery to me

05 Mar
I have never really been involved with totems or spirit animals and the like. The closest animal to match my general spirit would probably be the Pink Fairy Armadillo. Bit rough on the outside but soft and fluffy underneath the shell.

Recently, however, I have - subconsciously - picked up random items of drift, for example shells and pebbles (having said that I have always done that), but even sheep wool that got caught on bushes or thistles, and even more recently feathers. Who knows me, knows that for many years I had a big issue with feathers, or birds in general. Despite being almost 40 years old, my father's warning "do never touch any feathers that you find, they will make you sick" has never left me. Of course I know that feathers lost by birds do not necessarily mean that the bird was sick and that losing part of their molting process, but I suppose subconsciously I could never shake that fear of touching feathers that I found along my way. I couldn't even buy them from the shop, and it went so far that if a chicken egg had a random feather still stuck to it, I would not buy the whole box. I think having a bird now myself did help me a lot in that respect, although I still can't shake the urge to wash my hands twice after handling feathers. Maybe one day, I get over this irrational fear.

Anyway, getting back to where I wanted to go in the first place. Recently I have noticed that raven, crow, rook and jackdaw feathers are literally paving my way. And not only that, I have been given them, too, by people who thought I'd like them. Just randomly, like "here I found this crow feather, I thought you'd like it". Why thanks! Now, I am not one of those people who reads signs into everything. Absolutely not, I am actually rather critical and certainly don't see a meaning behind every dark cloud or ripple on the water surface. But the corvus feathers do keep me thinking and wondering. First of all.. why corvus... and secondly.. why feathers? Feathers..of all things?! So I did have a snoop around online to find out the meaning behind members of the corvus family - just to see what they have in common, if anything at all. Interestingly, when you try and find a common ground of the birds of the corvus family, they eventually all fall back onto the raven and most symbolisms seems to apply to all corvus birds.

The first thing that popped up, which I had completely forgotten about, is the reference to Huginn and Munnin. Odin's ravens - the power of thought (Huginn) and the power of mind, i.e. intuition (Muninn) who gathered knowledge and delivered messages. Ravens honor Odin who is also known as Hrafna-Gud, the God of Ravens and his daughters, the Valkyres, are accompanied by ravens, and are said to sometimes even take the shape of ravens.

Corvus are considered the keeper of secrets, the messenger between the heavens and the earth. Throughout the world the Corvus represents the mystery, omens, wisdom and prophecy. Two Scottish proverbs ("Tha gliocas an ceann an fhitich" and "Fice ceann na fhitich") translate as "There is wisdom in a raven's head". Quite nice isn't? And if you are Irish then the Irish's luck really is with you if you have a raven's knowledge. Unfortunately ravens, or the whole corvus family really, are often considered negative, too and associated with destruction, evil, desolation and are generally considered the heralds of misfortune. Interestingly though, it is the Abrahamic religions that see the corvus family as negative. But that's another story completely.

Now what else are corvus associated with apart from secrets, messages, mystery, omens, wisdom and prophecy? Talking about prophecy, very interestingly, very similar to the rhyme for magpies, there is a prophecy rhyme for ravens, crows and rooks:

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.

They are furthermore associated with winter, night, the dark moon. Although not everywhere. In Eastern religions, the raven represents the sun and daylight. They are also associated with healing, and shamans throughout the world use raven feathers to draw out negative energy. And finally they are considered protectors and represent protection as they defend their flock against enemies.

Still.. apart from corvus being considered the familiars of witches and sometimes the devil himself, where is the connection between me and those feathers that seem to find me?

Honestly? I have no idea...yet.
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