Gifts: Transformation. Communication. Learning from the Shadow and from death. Introspection. Resourcefulness. Intelligence. Trickster. Mimicry. Teller of Secrets.
Challenges: Losing yourself in the mimicry. Talking but not listening. Impatience to transform. Blurting out the secrets. Getting stuck in the Shadow.
Raven is another Trickster, along with Coyote, Fox, Raccoon, and Snake.
Raven rides the ragged edge between life and death—as if there were a clearly defined line dividing the two. Raven flies over, along, under, and through the divide to show you the illusion of here vs there, this vs that, life vs death, self vs other. That illusion may be a necessary construct for navigating ordinary reality. But Raven dares you to follow it into non-ordinary reality, where Truth is easier to discern.
Raven symbolizes the exploration of the shadow side of life. Raven has been called a bad omen throughout history because of its feeding off of human corpses. This makes many people resistant to having Raven as a spirit animal. Raven is for darkness, forwitches, for death. Raven will lead you astray. What is this idea of “astray” that worries you so? When you are stuck in the conformity of the ordinary, you should be longing to be led astray.
Ah, but we changed the story of Persephone to say that she was kidnapped and raped, to deny the longing in her, to pretend that she was a “good girl” who would naturally choose mom and home over a man and “hell.” She was led astray, and look what happened! What happened indeed. She became Queen of the Underworld, Guide for Lost Souls, powerful ruler of her realm. That’s what scares us. That’s what makes us change the story.
The power here comes from Raven’s willingness, like Persephone, to take from and learn from death—to thrive from what you gain when you look death in the face. The gift to you is healing. Not the trite “love and light” type of healing where you have to get rid of the shadows. This is deeper soul healing that comes from embracing your fear, embracing change, and embracing the reality of death and shadows.
Raven holds—and shares—many secrets. One of them has to do with the beauty and power that come from horror and destruction. Borrow courage from Raven when you are tempted to look away. Truth never comes from denial.
Raven is a powerful communicator who can mimic the calls and cries of other animals and some human vocalizations, as well. Thus, Poe’s Raven quoth “nevermore.”
Raven offers the integrated gifts of wisdom, thinking, and intuition. Relying on only one at the expense of the others diminishes your power.
A challenge of working with Raven is the temptation to stay in the shadows. Raven can be very dismissive of superficial “love and light” attitudes. You may think that the earthy horrors of hell are better than pretty, plastic emotions. The problem is when you goso far as to push away true love and pure light. Remember, Raven is actually scoffing at superficiality, not at love or at light. Raven weaves together dualities and dimensions—including light and love.