18 April 2004

(25) Raven Augury, Celtic style

From chapter six in “Pagan Celtic Britain” by Anne Ross (1974, CARDINAL edition, London – page 327/328 - // Best, R.I., 1916, Prognostications from the Raven and the Wren, Eriu VIII: 120 ff) :

"One charming and unique example of Raven lore is preserved in a Middle Irish codex and it seems clear that the Raven, as well as other birds, was "domesticated" for purposes of divination. It is sufficiently rare and amusing to merit reproduction ... in full:

IF the Raven call from above an enclosed bed in the midst of the house, it is a distinguished grey-haired guest or clerics that are coming to you, but there is a difference between them.

If it be a lay cleric the Raven says "bacach"; if it be a man of orders it says "gradh gradh" and twice in the day it calls.

If it be warrior guests or satirists that are coming, it is "gracc gracc" it calls, or "grob grob," and it calls in the quarter behind you, it is from there the guests are coming.

If it calls "gracc gracc" the warriors to whom it calls are oppressed.

If women are coming it calls long.

If it calls from the north-east end of the house, robbers are about to steal the horses.

If it calls from the house door, strangers or soldiers are coming.

If it calls from above the door, satirists or guests from a king’s retinue are coming.

If it call from above the goodman’s bed, the place where his weapon will be, and he going on a journey, he will not come back safe, but if not, he will come back sound.

If it the woman who is about to die, it is from the pillow it calls.

If it call from the foot of the man’s bed his son or his brother or his son-in-law will come to the house.

If it call from the edge of the storehouse where the food is kept, there will be increase of food from the quarter it calls, that is flesh-meat or first milking of kine.

If its face be between the storehouse and the fire, agreeable guests are coming to the house.

If it be near to the woman of the house, where her seat is, the guests are for her, namely, a son-in-law or a friend.

If it call from the south of the storehouse, fosterage or guests from afar are coming to the house.

If it speak with a small voice, that is "err err" or "ur ur," sickness will fall on someone in the house, or on some of the cattle.

If wolves are coming amongst the sheep, it is "carna, carna" ("flesh, flesh"), "grob, grob," "coin, coin" (wolves, wolves).

If it calls from the rooftree of the house where people are eating, they throw away that food.

If it call from a high tree, then it is death-tidings of a young lord. If it calls from a stone it is death tidings of an aithech.

If from the top of a tree, death-tidings of a king or youth of noble lineage.

If it go with thee on a journey or in front of you, and if it be joyful, your journey will prosper and fresh meat will be given to you.

If you come left-hand wise and it calls before you, he is a doomed man on whom it calls thus, or it is the wounding of someone of the company.

If it be before you when going to assembly, there will be an uprising therein.

If it be left-hand-wise it has come, someone is slain in that uprising.

If it call from the corner where the horses are, robbers are about to attack them.

If it then turn on its back and says "grob, grob," some of the horses will be stolen and they will not be recovered. "