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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 37 The Raven from My Shaman Grandmother’s Perspective.

The Raven from My Shaman Grandmother’s Perspective.
In my Shaman Grandmother’s tradition the Raven was not a welcome being. The raven was a carrier of death and bad news, a feeder on carrion and feces and so weak that even a mouse coud defeat it. My ancestors felt it was brought here by Creator to be a disrupter, a bringer of chaos, to keep us on our toes and to teach us awareness and make us take our guard. In Siberia there is a place where it is said that the Great Raven, his wife Miti and his family lived and you can see black rocks on the cliffs called the house and pots and pans.
If you think about the raven in the forests of Siberia, my people would take the reindeer into the forests in the winter time to stay out of the cold winds and to hide the reindeer from predators like wolves and hunters. But those pesky ravens might come and alert the wolves to the presence of the reindeer and the  people in the forest. It is not a far leap to then understand why the ancient peoples felt the raven was not a friendly thing. In my grandmothers traditions everything is sentient, living, thinking, feeling and not necessarily only what it looks like on the outside. So every time a raven appeared by the herd of reindeer, so too did the wolf show up and the hunters showed up and all hell broke loose. There was a saying that if a raven flew into your yurt, you might as well just slaughter your whole herd! 
My point is that when we look at ancient legends or superstitions or beliefs we have to try to place our feet into their circumstances, into their way of life and see why they might have believed that to be true. I think if you had grown up as a reindeer herder and spent the winter huddled in a Siberian forest with reindeer as your only means of warmth or food or clothing you might not like the raven so much either! 
The Shaman would sometimes go far away from the tribe and leave prayers and offerings of grain after building a wooden kind of scarecrow man hoping to relegate the raven to that area away from the tribe. So actions were taken by the Shaman to keep the raven from visiting the tribe. I wonder if that is where we got the idea of a scarecrow for keeping the birds away from our fields!
Shaman Elder Maggie
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