Naomie Christensen: Clarity through Raven Eyes

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Clarity through Raven Eyes


The Raven is a symbolic deity in Native American culture. Expanding my metaphoric religious musings, the Raven came to mind immediately. After the Crow movies, a new series portrayed the Raven as a woman.

The traditional story of the Raven begins when the Raven places a seed in a stream. After a tribal princess drank the seed she becomes pregnant. Their heir grows and tricks people out of their greatest possession, the Sun. The Crow is a hero who brings the Sun back to the world. In Norse tradition, the Raven assists Odin by traveling between the worlds of living and dead.

Cross-cultural and comic book interpretations made the Raven take on new forms and meanings. Nighttime, in Greeks terms, is when we sleep and dream. Dreams were considered human interactions with Gods, ergo, experiencing death while dreaming. This is compounded with a biblical interpretation from the New Testament, in which Jesus foretells his own death and informs the apostles he will sleep soon.

A broader interpretation of the poem revolves around confusion towards death, accepting the passing of loved ones or living with regrets, while recognizing new life continues to grow and flourish. Mourning is difficult. Sometimes we wish to follow them into the afterlife and pray for days we will be reunited. Sorrow can become consuming, so we no longer appreciate our friends and family still struggling with life. Seeing the sapling, loved ones still here, helps rejuvenate and balance the spirit with purpose. Clarity through raven eyes is gained through acceptance of a loss.

Unfortunately, in the world of animation ravens are portrayed as women, while crows are portrayed as men. The Crow recaptured the Sun so daylight would return. Though modern culture equalizes the tradition by making the Raven similar to the Crow they can be equally portrayed by both genders.

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