BY ANUSHA FATIMA
It's no shock to us by now that, Ravens have proven to be one of the most riveting and unpredictable species of birds, demonstrating their abilities. Not only have there been studies done by researchers observing and learning the capabilities of the Ravens, but in actuality Raven's have been observed by many religions. Stories, myths, traditions and beliefs have been made about Ravens and followed by many different kinds of religions. In my creative piece, I have focused on drawing one of the Native American's story and I have also searched the roles of Raven's in other religions and folklore. There are three major regions that have made the most influences of Ravens in their religions, and those nations are North America, Europe, and Native Americans.
|Bill Reid illustration (image source: http://theravenscall.ca/en/who)|
Ravens are conceivably, the most common bird symbol used in the mythologies and religions of ancient cultures. As most of us know and have heard of, Ravens are symbolized as death and misfortune. However, in North European culture and religions, Ravens are also believed to appear in the form of goddesses, gathering over the battlefields, feeding on the flesh of the fallen warriors. Whereas in Great Britain, spotting a Raven before proceeding into a battle gave a sign of suspicion, and meant that the army would be defeated. (Sax 2009). In North America I have learned that the Ravens are actually the creators of the world. I also learned that Raven was given the role of Noah from the biblical story of Great Flood, and how the Raven took animals on to the big raft in order to save all the animals. Following that story I also learned that because the Raven did so much for the humans, and in return the Raven was refused by humans to marry a woman he loved, so as a revenge the myth states that the Raven created mosquitos to torment humans forever (Tucker 2014). I also found a very engaging story called “Raven steals the light”. Although I thought the story was only based on the Athabascan Tribe, however, as I researched more about the story I found out that many of the Native tribes, portrayed the Raven as a trickster, and so the idea of the story is the same, but there are certain variations with different tribes. The moral of the story was that there was no light, because the Chief of the tribe kept it in a box, and the people lived in total darkness, and the Raven did not like that. So the raven tricks Chief’s daughter, enters her body, and she gives birth to the Raven as an infant. The Raven then grew in the house as an infant and asked the Chief for the box with the light, and as soon as he got the box, the Raven changed into his bird shape, and carried the box to the sky, and that's how the Raven stole the light. (Reid 1996).
After conveying the Raven's role in religion in North America, the European religious traditions and beliefs, and with the native tribal myths, the themes of the Raven reoccurs of death, wisdom, and trickery. Which is why I believe that the Raven has an important role in many religions. My focus on the creative piece, is drawing the story of “The Raven steals the light”, while explaining it in the paper how Raven played an important role in traditional stories and in religions. For my creative piece I have been inspired by the image produced and drawn by Bill Reid from the book “The Raven Steals the Light” which is shown above.
Reid, Bill, and Robert Bringhurst 1996. The Raven Steals the Light: Native American Tales. Boston: Shambhala.
Sax, Boria. 2009. "The Tower Ravens as Mascots of Britain in World War II."Tiere Im Krieg. By Ferdinand Scöningh. Zurich: n.p., 2009. 199-213.
Tucker, Suzetta. 2014. "ChristStory Raven, Crow, Blackbird Page."ChristStory Christian Bestiary. 1998. Web source.