This raven was once my companion while I visited the peak of Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks, a trip that proved to be a pivotal trip during a major transition in my life. This guy was huge — as big as a small dog — and seemed quite content hamming it up for my camera:
Of course, I was completely smitten by the this bird and in awe of its enormous presence. This raven had a sense of humor and was incredibly smart — I watched how it hunted, how it flew, how it gathered branches and twigs. I felt bizarrely connected to it by the time my visit was over. This raven had much to teach me. When I got home, I learned as much as I could about ravens.
Up close, these birds feel powerfully smart because they are. They can figure out puzzles, create useful tools, and even talk. Perhaps even more striking than a raven’s smarts is the aura of mystery that surrounds the bird. Some myths say crossing paths with a raven is like being under the power of a magical spell, leading to a change in consciousness. Ancient teachings caution that in this way, ravens can be tricky, and they can completely turn a person’s perception of reality upside down. There are warnings of dancing with darkness and battling the shadow-side. Ravens have been called shape-shifters, morphing through time and space to unify the dualities that exist simultaneously in multiple realities. Whether or not one believes there is any truth to these myths, I believe in the power of story, and these are the types of stories that have been told about ravens for thousands of years.
Looking into this raven’s eyes, I couldn’t help but ask myself where my focus was, and how that focus was my reality. Like I said, I encountered this raven during a major transition in my life, and I was allowing my self-doubt and fear to paint a rather bleak picture of where I was at. I began to understand that if I could change my focus, I could change my reality. It was as simple as that. It wasn’t about lying to myself or filling my head with any false sense of optimism. Instead, it became about focusing on integrating the duality of reality: that while life can be very painful, there is also plenty to be grateful for and plenty to move towards.
I also learned that if a raven appears with food in its mouth, it is a sign that all will be provided for. Thank goddess this fellow returned with some entrails hanging from its mouth:
And, yes, in case you are wondering, all was provided for in the coming months. I don’t think I was under the spell of raven magic, but I do believe that the course my life took (which was for the better) was the result of the lesson I learned from this bird: to be mindful of my focus because that focus will become my reality. Maybe ravens do bring magic, or maybe magic is really just a shift in our perception of reality.