Ravens In Celtic Mythology.

topic posted Mon, December 5, 2005 - 12:49 PM by  Eric
Along with wolves, salmons, stags and bears, ravens seem to be highly charged with mythic energy to the Celts.

In the telling of the War of the Bull, the adventures of Finn and elsewhere, ravens appear as messengers, shapeshifted gods - especially the Morrighan herself - and as symbols of darkness and mystery.
posted by:
  • Re: Ravens In Celtic Mythology.

    Fri, March 3, 2006 - 8:27 AM
    in celtic and native american myths, raven is the carrier of souls between the spirit world and the earth plane. i believe too this is associated with the word "carrion" they eat what's dead, they take spirits home"in the belly of a black-winged bird". also they bring souls from the spirit realm to earth, to be born. i had a raven that stayed with me for a full month before flying away. as soon as he left i found out i was pregnant. i named my son fenn morrigan.
  • Re: Ravens In Celtic Mythology.

    Fri, April 28, 2006 - 10:24 PM
    Are the Morrigan's birds ravens or crows? I had thought they were the carrion crows...
    • Re: Ravens In Celtic Mythology.

      Mon, May 8, 2006 - 1:52 PM
      they're ravens...morrigan herself is a raven.
      • Re: Ravens In Celtic Mythology.

        Mon, May 8, 2006 - 4:48 PM
        Thanks for clarifying that! I knew about Odin's ravens, but had thought the Morrigan was instead related to crows. Let's see, crows are also sacred to Apollo. Here in the USA where I live, we have both crows and ravens in the area, but I tend to like the ravens better.
      • Re: Ravens In Celtic Mythology.

        Sat, October 7, 2006 - 5:49 PM
        Actually The Morrigan is often in the form of a crow. She is a Triple Goddess, although her three aspects can vary depending on the text you are reading, often the three aspects are Badh, Nemain and Macha, and the three together are called the Morrigan. At other times the Morrigan is one of the aspects, as well as the name for all three. But I digress, but she is most certainly associated with crows, not just ravens:

        "Across the battlefield, the Morrigan, Great Queen of Battles, with her sisters, Badh the Crow, Nemain the Venomous, and Fea the hateful, rushed hither, and thither with their wailing cries which drove the mortals to despair and death" from the myth The Ever Living Ones, in Celtic Myths and Legends by Peter Berresford Ellis

        ""Then came the Grey of Macha to protect him, scattering his foes with biting and kicking. And then came a crow and settled on his shoulder." from the Death of Cuchualin, Celtic Myths and Legends by T.W. Rolleston

        "Morrigan (Phantom Queen) belongs to the group of Celtic War Goddesses, others include Nemhain, the Badbh and Macha. they all share the characteristics of occuring in either single or triple form and in combining a sexual and a war role...To an extent, the different goddesses in the group are interchangeable. For example, both Badbh and the Morrigan shape-change to Ravens or Crows in the field of battle" From the Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend by Miranda Green
    • Re: Ravens In Celtic Mythology.

      Sat, May 27, 2006 - 5:05 PM
      The Morrigan is traditionally associated with the Hooded Crow and Carrion Crow(common in Europe) and the Raven. She had the ability to shapeshift into any of these forms.

      One of her aspects, Badb, can be literally translated into "Crow" (also as Badb Catha which means "Battle Raven" or "Scald Crow").
      • Re: Ravens In Celtic Mythology.

        Sun, August 20, 2006 - 12:39 PM
        I've been working closely with the Morrigan for a painting i'm doing of her and it occured to me that , although ravens are the animal with which she has the most association, she is more than Raven alone. For instance, i find her in the company of predatory cats which mirror those aspects of herself that appear paradoxical. She is portrayed as a lean hag at times (as she shrieks in battle) and then as a beautiful dark haired lady (as she cavorts with the Dagda), as a battle goddess , though also a Matriarch. Predatory cats embody these same attributes, and of course, so do the corvids with which she is famously associated.
        I find there are subtleties of association with most dieties. Depending on which qualities you are looking at you'll find various animals that embody them. So , i dont' think the Morrigan is limited in any way to one form or another, though she may choose certain ones with greater frequency , depending on what aspect you're working with.
        Likewise, the Morrigan is not the only Celtic Diety to lay claim to the Raven. One example that comes immediately to mind is Bran the Blessed whose head is said to be interred beneath the Towe of London. The Famous Ravens who dwell in that tower (who, tragically, have their wing clipped!! so i am told...)are Bran's Symbol. In fact the word 'Bran' means 'Raven' in the old Irish.
        So, the animals are not limited to single dieties, and the dieties are not limited to single animals :) which is as it should be. They, as we, are so much more multifaceted than that.

        Brightest blessings

        • Re: Ravens In Celtic Mythology.

          Mon, August 21, 2006 - 8:13 PM
          very true sylver, i however experience morrigan as a raven trinity....there are so many who have met her and everyone sees the faerie realm through their own personal spirit glass, you might say....
          • Re: Ravens In Celtic Mythology.

            Mon, August 21, 2006 - 8:46 PM
            Really, when you get right down to it, nearly every animal can be used as symbology for almost any diety depending on how creative you want to be with matching them up :). Though i think each diety has specific totem animals that are always there and are essential to their being. All totems carry a bevy of messages (and for Ravens this is particularly true!) which speak to each of our subconsciousnesses in varying degrees. I'm just now noticing that there are 3 ravens in the painting i just did of her... in addition to the winged Lynx. So she seems to be insisting on that Raven symbology for sure, everything else is secondary (though still there ;)
            brightest blessings my Corvid sister :)

        • Re: Ravens In Celtic Mythology.

          Fri, October 13, 2006 - 4:31 PM
          I've never heard of Morrigan as a Matriarch - do you have any source or stories about that? She (according to the myths) also has red hair. I associate Her with the Crow and see the Raven as energetically in the same realm as Crow. I was thinking of getting a tattoo to represent my work with Her and got an image of a circle with cats in it - much to my surprise as I wouldn't associate it with her at all. But then her entrance to the Underworld is Oweynagat/Uaimh na gcat/Cave of the Cats...

Recent topics in "Raven"