13 April 2004

(16) Some Folklore

In folklore it is a bad omen if you hear a
raven croak from the left, especially early in the morning.
(but read also the earlier posts on Tibetan, Indian and Old Roman Augury).

Ravens could also bring luck:

Make Prayers to the Raven.
Raven that is,
Raven that was,
Raven that always will be.
Make prayers to the Raven.
Raven, bring us luck.

From the Koyukon



If you killed magpies, crows or ravens you would get into trouble. All corvids had somewhat to do with the devil. If you shot one of these birds, there were always consequences. The hunter's cattle would die, he would become wounded or ill,
and his gun would be corrupted.


The raven's feather

(The Sami People, Scandinavia)

The raven has a [feather called] lævedolge by means of which it finds meat and knows where the wolf goes at night. The raven sleeps at night, indeed; but when he gets up early in the morning he knows where the wolf has been in the night; and then they go there all of them [i. e. the whole flock of ravens], that feather leads them thither [i. e. to the carcass]. - And that feather is under the wing, and he who gets it can find anything he wishes. He finds reindeer [who have gotten away from the herd] or reindeer-carcasses [the Lapps keep track of the carcasses in order to know what reindeer have been killed] or wolf's cubs [in order to kill them].

But it [i e. the feather] is not easy to find. There certainly is an account [of how to get possession of the feather]: he who can get a raven half-dead must catch it; and if there happens to be [in the neighborhood] water that flows slowly, such as is called a tranquil stream, then you must pluck the feathers [of the raven which is still alive] therein, and see if there is a feather that goes against the stream; then you must take it and place it under the arm, in the hairs there, and bind firmly around, so that it can stay there for three days and nights. Then it is not dangerous any more [i. e. it will not be able to get away]. Then it must be placed in the other armpit and be kept there for three days and nights. And then it is placed in the lowermost hairs and kept there two days and nights - and one day and night in the hairs of the head. And then you must let it go in strong wind and say: "Come and be my guide when I need it!" And then that person finds anything. - But if the raven reaches death [before you have got it plucked and have thrown the feathers into the stream], then the feather flies away, and then you will not get it.

From Lappish Texts by Johan Turi and Per Turi (Copenhagen 1920)



There are nights when the moon shines so brightly
and everything is ever so quiet.
Then Odin rides through the forest.
These are the raven nights.
When all the ravens are white and can speak,
and everyone can understand them

From Sweden