Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Mythology, Superstitions and Ravens

I read an article not too long ago about a crow, which at the time I thought was the same as a raven. The story went that a young girl would dispose of her left over snacks every day in the same place when she returned home from school. A crow began showing up day after day to feast on her left-over snacks. Before long the crow began to bring her presents. Shiny glass, broken jewelry, bright buttons, etc. and leaving them for her where she cleaned out her car. They say it isn't uncommon for crows to bring presents to someone who has befriended them with food. I shared the story with one of my children and now they are on a mission to befriend one of our resident crows. Today I was asked to pick up unshelled, unsalted peanuts, a favorite treat for crows, in hopes of befriending one. As I looked into crows, I discovered ravens and crows are different species of birds. Writing in the medieval time period, I often stumble upon ravens in history.

picture taken by Fernando Losada Rodriguez

Medieval people were superstitious people. Ravens are often found lurking in the strange beliefs of the medieval people.

Ravens played a large part in history from the beginning of time. There were many superstitions about these intelligent, jet-black birds. Here are some fun and interesting facts, fiction, myths, and superstitions about the raven.


Ravens were the first bird mentioned in history. Genesis 8:6 reads, Then He sent out a raven, which kept going to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth.

picture by Copetersen

Another book in the bible you'll find ravens in is I Kings 17 it tells that God told Elijah to leave and travel eastward and to hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. God then directed the ravens to supply Elijah with food. And they did. The bible tells us the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening.

In the New Testament God tells us not to worry in Luke 12. "Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn' and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?


(6th century) Saint Benedict of Nursia would have been murdered by a group of jealous monks had the ravens not saved his life by taking away a loaf of poisoned bread before he could eat it.

(4th century) Ravins came and protected the corpse of Saint Vincent after his execution. They were said to have protected his body from wild animals while the birds awaited the return of his followers to retrieve his body. He was taken to southern Portugal and buried where flocks of ravens continued to watch over him.

           By Arthur Rackham - Rackham, Arthur: “Some British Ballads” (1919), Public Domain,


For the Vikings, a raven symbolized wisdom, prophecy, protection, as well as all-knowing and a helper. The raven became an important symbol to the Norsemen and the bird was depicted on many of their flags. It was highly revered and considered good luck. Earlier poems, compiled in the 13th century, tell of two
ravens, Huginn and Muninn, who fly around the world gathering information to
impart to Odin. The two birds are known to perch on his shoulders. There are many Viking writings that include the raven. But not only in poems and stories, the raven is depicted on their longships, armor, shields, helmets, and flags. They were seen as a creature of strength and cunning.

Odin, Huginn and Muninn picture By Carl Emil Doepler (1824-1905) - Wägner, Wilhelm. 1882. Nordisch-germanische Götter und Helden. Otto Spamer, Leipzig & Berlin. Page 7., Public Domain,


picture by Tadeusz Gajl
Some people believed the ravens to be bad omens and many stories about ravens are somehow tied to death. In England, it is told that six ravens lived in the Tower of London because they had their wings clipped. It was believed that if the group of birds flew away, the Crown would fall and Britain with it. Ravens actually did make the tower their home for hundreds of years. The blood from the executed, drawing them.

The Danish believed when a chieftain lost his life in battle and ravens feasted on his corpse, the birds became a valravne. The valravne that was lucky enough to eat the heart of the chieftain would gain human knowledge, as well as the ability to lead people astray.

A haunting belief is that the ravens are really ghosts of murdered people and they host the souls of the damned.

These are a handful of the bizarre beliefs about ravens from ancient civilizations. If only they had known the truth of these intelligent birds that have received a bad rap from history.

Picture taken by Sarov702


1) There are white ravens. The lack of black feathers is caused from a rare genetic gene.

2) Ravens don't like cheating birds. If two pieces of food are put down between two ravens and one snatches both pieces before the other can react, that bird will have nothing to do with the cheating bird. Ravens work together so all have equal amounts of food and if another bird is gathering more food than the rest, he is considered a cheater and ostracized.

3) Ravens use hand gestures, or perhaps I should say beak gestures, they use their beaks to point to things. They also hold things up to try to gain another's attention.

4) Ravens are able to think ahead, to prepare for the future. 

5) Ravens show empathy for each other, they mourn their dead and they also hold grudges!

6) They love to play.

7) They imitate human voices. 

8) Ravens can mimic animal sounds and have been known to call wolves to a dead animal so they will open the carcass, allowing the raven easier access to the meat.

9) Ravens are said to have the intelligence of a seven-year-old.

Ravens mourning. picture taken by Bengt Nyman

Did you learn anything new about ravens or perhaps have a different opinion of them now?


Debbie Lynne Costello is the author of Sword of Forgiveness, Amazon's #1 seller for Historical Christian Romance. She has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She writes in the medieval/renaissance period as well as 19th century. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina with their 3 dogs, 4 horses, miniature donkey, and 8 ducks. Life is good!

Deirdre Mackenzie has spent her life hiding from her father and hating the English. However, when she is caught stealing from an English laird, his unexpected kindness begins to melt away her hatred and strums lonely heartstrings longing for love. Bryce Warwick discovers the “boy” caught with his livestock is actually a young woman. After several attempts to lure the truth from her, he determines she is as deceitful as his late fiancée who nearly cost him his life. But the woman is the least of his worries with the turbulence brought on by threats of another border war and by King Richard's distrust of the nobles.

With old wounds in need of healing and adversaries who would ruin their chances at true love, both must learn to trust in a way they never knew possible.

The stakes are high, secrets prevail, and treason is just a kiss away.


  1. A very interesting post. I didn't know that ravens were the first bird to be mentioned in the Bible. Ravens still live in the Tower of England, and there is a ravenmaster charged with their care.

    1. That’s interesting. Sounds like the Ravens are living the life!

  2. Thank you for posting today! This was very informative, and slightly spooky, lol! I don't know that I want a bird watching me who is as intelligent as a 7 year old!! We have a group of large black birds that visits daily, and we don't know whether they are crows or ravens despite looking at the identification markers every time. Did you know that a group of ravens is called an "unkindness" I didn't take the time to read why that was so. So we don't know if we have an "unkindness" of ravens or a "murder" of crows!!!!

    1. I did read that about a group being called an “unkindness”. I didn’t see a reason for it either in all my research. And I wondered why it was called that. They did say they hang out in teenage gangs as well. Maybe that’s why. Lol. The tail feathers of a Raven go down in a V formation where the Crow is straight across. Also, you can go online and listen to audio of both. I was able to tell mine are crows here.

  3. Very interesting post, Debbie Lynne. I learned a lot about the birds. And we all know that Edgar Allen Poe featured the bird in his eerie poem "The Raven," which would "quoth, 'Nevermore!'" Apparently, he thought ravens were spooky too.