The raven – better known as the crow or Corvus Corax in Latin – is the largest songbird in the world and belongs to the family of ravens, which also includes magpies and jackdaws.
The ravens are jet-black, intelligent and legendary. Hardly any animal evokes such ambivalent feelings in man as the raven, loved or hated according to epoch and culture! The ravens have a blue-black plumage that has a metallic sheen on their feathers. And in comparison to the crows a big, strong beak. You can see them well in flight by their cruciform silhouette, by their long outstretched head and neck, and the long tail. In the air he is very flighty. They have a deep, sonorous reputation, like “Karronk”, “Klonk”, “Grok” or “Kroar”. They can be up to 64 cm long, and thus the raven reaches the size of a buzzard. Their wings span between 130 and 150 cm, they reach a weight of 900 to 1400 gr. Their habitat extends from the coast to the mountains over 3000 m altitude, it is found in Europe as well as in North America, Russia, Asia and North Africa , They lead permanent reindeer, but gather after the breeding season in larger groups.
The ravens and the meaning for humans
The raven has always been of great importance to humans. This is evident, for example, in the fact that he appears in many myths, religions and fairy tales, in addition to his relatives, the crows and magpies. Unforgettable is certainly the legend of Odin, which was accompanied by two wolves and two ravens, the ravens were called Huginn and Muninn. Every morning Odin sent them out, flying around the world, whispering in the evening after their return all the important news they had seen and heard in their ears. And to actually see and understand the one-eyed God. That is why Odin is also called Hrafnagud, the god of ravens. Hugin stands for the thought/thinking, Mugin for the memory/the memory translated, but in fact it means “wisdom” and omniscience “!
Also one of the most important Celtic gods, the sun god Lugh / Lugos, at the same time patron god of the magicians, warrior and poet, creator of the arts, is always accompanied by a raven. And he was also considered by the Celts to be the messenger of Anderselt as souls and oracles, from whose flight or appearance prophecies could be made in dreams! In the fairy tale “The 7 Ravens” of the Brothers Grimm the raven plays the main role. Since the Christianization, the raven no longer carries positive traits. As with bats and fruit bats, the raven is associated with the night perceived as a threat and evil sphere. As a black-feathered omnivore who does not disdain carrion or the corpses on the battlefields of past wars, he is regarded as a messenger of death and doom, and his appearance is interpreted as a bad omen. Again, he is a companion, but of witches and the devil.
Some myths and legends
From culture to culture, various qualities are assigned to him. In Western literature he stands for darkness, depression and death. In the middle of the ravens were symbolic of masculinity! In other cultures for a villainous spirit!
In general, however, the raven stands for rebirth, revival, renewal, recreation, and healing. According to legend, he collects the lost parts of the soul, in other mythologies the raven represents the soul of the dead who return!
In Indian myth, it was the raven that hung the sun and the stars in the sky, so it is often portrayed as it carries the sun in its beak. Here is the raven as a symbol of divine power and creativity! In many North American Indian tribes, the raven is one of the most important totem animals and is even considered the creator of the world.
The role of the raven as a creative mind and ancestor of human beings runs as a constant link through the myths of the Northwestern Indian tribes, the Inuit in Canada and Alaska to the cultures of Siberia and in a modified form to us to Europe.
According to legend, the raven flew over the big water, he had a bag around his neck and when he got tired, he took a stone out of the bag and threw it into the water, the first land was created and the raven could rest! He flew on and bit by bit he took things out of his bag and created the plants and the animals and everything that exists on the earth, finally he took the man out of the bag and put him on the ground, so that he was on everything Pay attention and keep it safe (something went wrong here.)
According to a Ukrainian legend, all the ravens in paradise were once colorful and could sing beautifully, but after the fall they became black and their song became a hoarse crow chzen. Other legends say that they were caught eating carrion and that after this misdeed they had to exchange their beautiful, silver or white plumage for a black one! In spite of everything, the Council of the Ravens was considered wise and that, even though they were regarded as a sinner and as a symbol of suffering and distress! Especially in the Middle Ages, at the time of the witch hunt, it was clear that if a raven got too close to a woman on the field at work, she could only be a witch! Another raven bird is the magpie, it was assigned to the Nordic goddess of death Hel.
In ancient Rome, the crows were under the jurisdiction of the goddess Iuno, the protector of marriage, and thus belonged to the highest gods as a symbol of loyalty! In Bohemia it is believed that the screaming of crows in the woods, thieves or other scum in the woods reveals! In Iceland, the raven is almost always associated with death, mostly as a death messenger! An old saying says at the same time, if you feed a raven, he will pay you, so he can not only have been considered negative. There are different wisdoms in Iceland, it is said eg. When a raven sits on the roof of a sick man and bats his beak on the roof, the patient will die. It is also called when a raven turns on the back during the flight, so that his belly points up, this raven then swallows air spirits!
Characteristics of the raven
Already the functions that ravens take over in the pre-Christian myths and non-Christian religions and the deities that are assigned to them, it can be seen that the raven is considered a resourceful and “intelligent” bird. Other characteristics that are observed on ravens are curiosity, a high level of learning and adaptability and a pronounced social behavior. Unlike the vernacular and partly in human society, ravens are by no means “raven fathers” or “raven mothers“. Also as a “biological weapon” against pigeon plagues, the raven in the form of Rabenplastik Dummy has proven to be useful for plagued cities and city dwellers, because pigeons take off at the sight of ravens.
In Central Europe, the raven was pursued for centuries so vehemently with kills, traps and poison, that he was exterminated in large parts of Central Europe already in the mid to late 19th century. In addition to the demonization by the Christian religion, many prejudices also played a role. So one still suspects the raven of the Nestraubs, which leads to the extermination of the other songbirds and on pastures he would rip newborn calves and lambs, although scientific investigations have proven long the opposite. It seems that the raven has other causes such. For example, extensive farming and pollution or misinterpreted observations by “eyewitnesses” may be blamed.
Even the “equipment” of the Rabens, with its large but blunt beak and the non-existent gripping claws, shows that the raven is not a predatory or predatory bird that could feed itself like a bird of prey. In addition, there is the confusion with crows and magpies, which may be hunted as ravens in some states and Swiss cantons unfortunately and may threaten in some time the same risk of extinction as the raven. For several years now, the ravens in Germany and Switzerland have been increased by bird protection campaigns, so that the ravens can also be found in other areas.
Raven, Crow Tattoo – Design and Ideas
You like dark mythology, want to underline your mysterious side and get a raven tattoo or a crow tattoo? We tell you what ambivalent meaning the intelligent black-feathered birds have, whose image has changed a lot over time.
Tris, the main character in the dystopian film series “Divergent“, wears three little ravens on his collarbone.
Ravens and crows fascinate and astonish people since time immemorial. Especially in autumn and winter you can often see large swarms of Corvidae (Latin for ravens) in the cities and in the fields. Most of the urban ravens, of which there are more than 42 species, are crows, who find a rich supply of food here. The largest representatives of their kind can grow up to 70 cm and reach a weight of 1.5 KG.
Especially the stately raven makes a lot with his plumage and the big black beak. Therefore, the raven is popular both in art and as a tattoo motif in all those who are interested in mystery. Because ravens also belong to the scavengers, they were found on the battlefields in the Middle Ages and early modern times. Their mysterious, magical image, which is both positive and negative, they got over time through the mythology. Find out more here.
The raven does not stand for a definite positive or negative quality. Therefore, this motif is so exciting. The following meanings can be had by a raven:
- view in the future
- Connection to the hereafter
A raven is quite ambivalent in its symbolism: He is considered wise and omniscient, and yet he always has something magical and ominous about him. Anyone wearing a raven or crow tattoo usually knows this mythology, appreciates the raven as a powerful symbolic animal and may also believe in a magical meaning. If you are interested in the magical, the dark and the mysterious, a raven can be a very special tattoo for you. Often it is also combined with Nordic elements and runes or worn in conjunction with a wolf.
There are many ways to make your raven tattoo. Depending on which part of the body it is supposed to decorate, a raven can look just as pretty as a large-scale motif with shiny feathers as well as a small outline drawing. Here are some variations to your inspiration.
This raven does not look so scary at all. Here, the tattoo artist has rather brought to bear the positive, playful vein of the raven bird:
The tattoos most likely tell stories, as do the jet-black and intelligent ravens in a raven tattoo. Through his long life, the raven is perceived as a symbol of wisdom and loneliness. Hardly any animal evokes feelings as mixed as the raven in man. Thus, raven tattoo is very obese.
The raven appears in many myths, fairy tales and religions and has its meaning for humans. In the Christian religion, the raven is an evil devilish bird, but on the contrary, the raven is a symbol of power and tenacity for the ancient Chinese. In Iceland, the raven is considered the messenger of death. A Chinese legend tells of a sacred raven that lives on the sun and thus the raven is connected to the sun. So you can often find the sun on a raven tattoo.
In Africa, the raven is a symbol of unity and in Japan’s family love. The raven is very common in Norse mythology and is a popular tattoo motif. The Raven plays the main role in Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale “The Seven Ravens”. In the mythology of the Indians, the raven hung the sun and the stars on the sky. The raven is also a totem animal and is considered the creator of the world. It was believed that ravens and wolves were companions of the gods of the underworld. Therefore, a raven tattoo can also be interpreted as a symbol of sadness and pain of loss.
According to legend, the raven collects the lost parts of the soul or represents the soul of the dead, the recurrence. The raven on a raven tattoo is chosen as a symbol of rebirth, revival and healing.
An important figure of the Teutonic gods and the Norse mythology is the godfather Odin. He distinguished himself by his wisdom and his thirst for knowledge. Two ravens sit on his shoulders and tell him about everything they have learned on their flights. The two ravens Huginn and Muninn are his two daughters and their names translate as “thought” and “remembrance”.
That’s why the most important god of the Vikings is also called Rabengott and depicted on many Viking tattoo. Out of love for wisdom, Odin has sacrificed one of his eyes: he went to the guardian of a primeval source of wisdom and asked for a sip of the well whose magical water gives knowledge and knowledge. He provided one of his eyes as a gift for the Erlangen. As a result, Odin is called “the one-eyed” and presented as such. Odin’s companions include two wolves – Geri i Freki, whose names translate to “greedy” and “voracious”. They accompany Odin on the hunt and are often depicted on both sides.