In books I read, there were some with ravens in them. When the author wanted to describe a girl's hair, he or she would say "raven black". When it's a thriller and the plots thickened, the author would insert raven in some of them. What stuck in my head was this book I read by Christopher Pike. It's about a dead girl finding out how she died and it turned out the killer was actually the girl that was switched at birth with the dead girl and guess what's the killer's name? Yes, it's Raven.
Raven, or in Latin it's called Corvus, is often associated with bad omens. In different mythology, ravens played different roles. Some good, some bad.
What I want to talk about is the Common Raven or Corvus Corax. It's the biggest of its species and the most intelligent. I won't bore you with all the scientific details but here's what I found interesting about this particular bird.
The Common Raven (Corvus corax), also known as the Northern Raven, is a large, all-black passerine bird. Some remarkable feats of problem-solving have been observed in the species, leading to the belief that it is highly intelligent. Over the centuries, it has been the subject of mythology, folklore, art, and literature. In many indigenous cultures, including those of Scandinavia, ancient Ireland and Wales, Bhutan, the northwest coast of North America, and Siberia and northeast Asia, the Common Raven has been revered as a spiritual figure or god.
Common Ravens usually travel in mated pairs, although young birds may form flocks. Relationships between Common Ravens are often quarrelsome, yet they demonstrate considerable devotion to their families.
The brains of Common Ravens count among the largest of any bird species. For a bird, they display ability in problem solving, as well as other cognitive processes such as imitation and insight.
One experiment designed to evaluate insight and problem-solving ability involved a piece of meat attached to a string hanging from a perch. To reach the food, the bird needed to stand on the perch, pull the string up a little at a time, and step on the loops to gradually shorten the string. Four of five Common Ravens eventually succeeded, and "the transition from no success (ignoring the food or merely yanking at the string) to constant reliable access (pulling up the meat) occurred with no demonstrable trial-and-error learning" This supports the hypothesis that Common Ravens are 'inventors'; that is, they have the ability to solve problems presented to them. Many of the Common Raven's problem-solving skills were formerly thought to be instinctive, but it is becoming clear that Common Ravens are actually quite intelligent.
Common Ravens have been observed to manipulate others into doing work for them, such as by calling wolves and coyotes to the site of dead animals. The canines open the carcass, making it more accessible to the birds.
Across its range in the northern hemisphere, and throughout human history, the Common Raven has been a powerful symbol and a popular subject of mythology and folklore.
In many post-conversion Western traditions, ravens have long been considered to be birds of ill omen, in part because of the negative symbolism of their all-black plumage and eating of carrion. n Sweden, ravens are known as the ghosts of murdered people, and in Germany as the souls of the damned. In Danish folklore, valravne that ate a king's heart gained human knowledge, could perform great malicious acts, could lead people astray, had superhuman powers, and were "terrible animals".
As in traditional mythology and folklore, the Common Raven features frequently in more modern writings such as the works of William Shakespeare, and, perhaps most famously, in the poem "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe. Ravens have appeared in the works of Charles Dickens, J. R. R. Tolkien, Stephen King, and Joan Aiken among others.
It continues to be used as a symbol in areas where it once had mythological status: as the National Bird of Bhutan, Official Bird of the Yukon territory, and on the Coat of Arms of the Isle of Man (once a Viking colony).
Many indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America and northeast Asia revered it as a god. In Tlingit and Haida cultures, Raven was both a Trickster and Creator god. Related beliefs are widespread among the peoples of Siberia and northeast Asia. The Kamchatka peninsula, for example, was supposed to have been created by the raven god Kutkh. There are several references to Common Ravens in the Old Testament of the Bible and it is an aspect of Mahakala in Bhutanese mythology.
The Norsemen believed that ravens Hugin and Munin sat on the god Odin's shoulders and saw and heard all, and a Raven banner standard was carried by such Viking figures as the Norse Jarls of Orkney, King Canute the Great of England, Norway and Denmark, and Harald Hardrada. In the British Isles, ravens also were symbolic to the Celts. In Irish mythology, the goddess Morrígan alighted on the hero Cú Chulainn's shoulder in the form of a raven after his death. In Welsh mythology they were associated with the Welsh god Bran the Blessed, whose name translates to "raven." According to the Mabinogion, Bran's head was buried in the White Hill of London as a talisman against invasion.
There are many stories written about raven from long ago and from different mythology, backgrounds and religious point of views.
To the Germanic peoples, Odin was often associated with ravens. Examples include depictions of figures often identified as Odin appear flanked with two birds on a 6th century bracteate and on a 7th century helmet plate from Vendel, Sweden. In later Norse mythology, Odin is described as having two ravens Huginn and Muninn serving as his eyes and ears - Huginn being referred to as thought and Muninn as memory. Every day the ravens fly out from Hliðskjálf and bring Odin news from Midgard.
In Irish mythology ravens are associated with warfare and the battleground in the figures of Badb and Morrígan. Welsh mythology features Bran the Blessed, whose name means "raven" or "crow". He is depicted as giant and the King of the Britons in tale known as the Second Branch of the Mabinogi. Several other characters in Welsh mythology share his name, and ravens figure prominently in the 12th or 13th century text The Dream of Rhonabwy, as the army of King Arthur's knight Owain.
There is a story that England will fall if ever the ravens abandon the Tower of London. Bran the Blessed is associated with the Tower of London in the Welsh Triads, which might be the origin of the story.
Islam, Christianity and Judaism
In the Talmud, the raven is described as having been only one of three beings on Noah's Ark that copulated during the flood and so was punished. The Rabbis believed that the Raven was forced to ejaculate its seed into the female raven's mouth as a means of reproduction. In I Kings 17:4-6, the prophet Elijah hides in the wilderness, where he is fed by ravens.
The Raven is also mentioned in The Quran but only once, describing the story of Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam. The Raven here teaches men how to bury dead bodies.
And yes, I got all these from Wikipedia :)
In conclusion, raven is depicted as intelligent, manipulative, skillful at problem solving and confusing as hell to different people. It depends on how you look at it : the good or the bad, for it represents both.
And now I hope this info answered those who ask why I'm so obsessed with this corvus corax and named my collections RAVEN.