29 May 2004

(45) Ravens, crows and Darkness

What is the connection and why is there a connection between ravens/crows and darkness? What makes especially them birds of omen over the entire globe? Why are they in many cultures, past and present, associated with the 'unknown'?
After a search in my library I found a book I hadn't touched for a long time: "The Secret Doctrine" by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1888, Theosophical University Press). Never read it in its entirety, I only leafed through it. So I turned up the index (in volume II) and looked for 'raven'.

This is what I found:

From: The Secret Doctrine by H.P. Blavatsky, 1888.
[Vol. 1, Page 443,444]


The Esoteric doctrine of the East having thus furnished and struck the key-note -- which is as scientific as it is philosophical and poetical, as may be seen, under its allegorical garb -- every nation has followed its lead. It is from the exoteric religions that we have to dig out the root-idea before we turn to esoteric truths, lest the latter should be rejected. Furthermore, every symbol -- in every national religion -- may be read esoterically, and the proof furnished for its being correctly read by transliterating it into its corresponding numerals and geometrical forms -- by the extraordinary agreement of all -- however much the glyphs and symbols may vary among themselves. For in the origin those symbols were all identical. Take, for instance, the opening sentences in various cosmogonies: in every case it is either a circle, an egg, or a head. DARKNESS is always associated with this first symbol and surrounds it, -- as shown in the Hindu, the Egyptian, the Chaldeo-Hebrew and even the Scandinavian systems -- hence black ravens, black doves, black waters and even black flames; the seventh tongue of Agni, the fire-god being called "Kali," "the black," as it was a black flickering flame. Two black doves flew from Egypt and settling on the oaks of Dodona, gave their names to the Grecian gods. Noah lets out a black raven after the deluge, which is a symbol for the Cosmic pralaya, after which began the real creation or evolution of our earth and humanity. Odin's black ravens fluttered around the Goddess Saga and "whispered to her of the past and of the future." What is the real meaning of all those black birds? They are all connected with the primeval wisdom, which flows out of the pre-cosmic Source of all, symbolised by the Head, the Circle, the Egg; and they all have an identical meaning and relate to the primordial Archetypal man (Adam Kadmon) the creative origin of all things, which is composed of the Host of Cosmic Powers -- the Creative Dhyan-Chohans, beyond which all is darkness.

Let us inquire of the wisdom of the Kabala -- even veiled and distorted as it now is, -- to explain in its numerical language an approximate meaning, at least of the word "raven." This is its number value as given in the "Source of Measures."

"The term Raven is used but once, and taken as eth-h'orebv = 678, or 113 x 6; while the Dove is mentioned five times. Its value is 71, and 71 x 5 = 355. Six diameters, or the raven, crossing, would divide the circumference of a circle of 355 into 12 parts or compartments; and 355 subdivided for each unit by 6, would equal 213-0, or the head ("beginning") in the first verse of Genesis. This divided or subdivided, after the same fashion, by 2, or the 355 by 12, would give 213-2, or the word B'rash, or the first word of Genesis, with its prepositional prefix, signifying the same concreted general form astronomically, with the one here intended." Now the secret reading of the first verse of Genesis being: "In Rash (B'rash) or head, developed gods, the Heavens and the Earth" -- it is easy to comprehend the esoteric meaning of the raven, once that the like meaning of the Flood (or Noah's Deluge) is ascertained. Whatever the many other meanings of this emblematical allegory may be, its chief meaning is that of a new cycle and a new Round (our Fourth Round.)* The "Raven," or the Eth-H'Orebv, yields the same numerical value as the "Head," and returned not to the ark, while the dove returned, carrying the olive-branch, when Noah, the new man of the new Race (whose prototype is Vaivasvata Manu), prepared to leave the ark, the womb (or Argha) of terrestrial nature, is the symbol of the purely spiritual, sexless and androgyne man of the first three Races, who vanished from earth for ever. Numerically Jehovah, Adam, Noah, are one in the Kabala: at best, then, it is Deity descending on to Ararat (later on Sinai), to incarnate in man his image, through the physiological rather than anthropomorphic. natural process, henceforth: the mother's womb, whose symbols are the ark, the mount (Sinai), etc., in Genesis. The Jewish allegory is at once astronomical, and purely physiological rather than anthropological.

[Vol.I, page 70]


According to the Rosecrucian tenets, as handed and explained by the profane for once correctly, if only partially so, "Light and Darkness are identical in themselves, being only divisible in the human mind"; and according to Robert Fludd, "Darkness adopted illumination in order to make itself visible" ('On Rosenkranz'). According to the tenets of Eastern Occultism, DARKNESS is the one true actuality, the basis and the root of light, without which the latter could never manifest itself, nor even exist. Light is matter, and DARKNESS pure Spirit. Darkness in its radical, metaphysical basis, is subjective and absolute light; while the latter in all its seeming effulgence and glory, is merely a mass of shadows, as it can never be eternal, and is simply an illusion, or Maya.<<<