maanantai 28. heinäkuuta 2014

Raven - Witchbird

That day I was out with our dogs early in the morning. We made a walk to the woods just next to us. The night had been relatively cold and the day really warm so all the bare twigs were wet. Luckily I figured that out and put rubber boots on. Pretty soon my dogs were soaking wet. At that time we had walked less than a kilometre, when I heard loud noises from the forrest. Ravens had lot of issues to talk about, so much yelling was in the air.

When we walked towards the noise I remembered a study of ravens voices. Scientists have found out that they have more than eighty different kinds of voices. Ravens use language and even tools to solve problems! Quite amazing creatures! They can also imitate   
almost every voice. One individual amused bird hospital personnel by coughing loud, gagging and hacking like a serious smoker. As soon as it had cleared its throat it flew down from its roost and made a loud spitting noise. This bird had been kept as a pet in a family where the husband used to visit veranda for a cigarette with the raven. Obviously they had had good times out there together.
When we approached the noisy ravens I recognised first birds in the treetops, far away from the site. Here and there were ravens watching and warning if somebody or something suspicious came too close. I with dogs stayed in the wood borderline on the other side of the meadow. With my binoculars I saw an animal carcass over there where each raven was trying to get his own bite of it.
I remember how I watched and wondered the really acrobatic flying and how beautifully the colour of the plumage varied between black, green and purple.

In the old days people had dark and suspicious beliefs of ravens which might have stemmed from their eating habits at carcasses and from their black colour. Ancient Finns considered raven as a bird of the devil with evil power and connection to the mythical underworld. People at that time thought ravens will live for hundreds of years and do all the bad and nasty jobs of the devil. Thats why people in the past thought that even seeing a raven was  an omen of unpleasant  and sad things.
In some myths raven is an ancestor of shamans. It was believed that raven was a spirit of shaman and could pass messages between this and spirit world. There were also stories of a magic stone of ravens. A little stone which raven kept in its nest or under its tongue. That stone gave its owner power to be invisible. Commonly in shamanistic cultures ravens had supernatural skills.

This shy and cautious bird is also related to some positive myths. Among North American indians raven´s status was honoured. Many tribes have raven figures in their totem poles. They also considered raven as a bird of light and understanding. They believed that ravens brought the light to mankind.

While remembering myths and stories time flew and I awakened to specially loud noises. Something had happened but the situation calmed down quickly and normal hustle and bustle went on. As I started my way back home I still had my thoughts on Edgar Allan Poe´s poem The Raven and I stumbled in rocky ground. I heard laugh of ravens behind me; Such a wise creature which spirit lives its own life in myths, stories and literature.


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