A Seer’s Raven

raven-flying-3Ravens are mystical creatures which play a pivotal role in the second book (not yet published) of the Urweltchronicles book series. The Lioness and the Faery Enchantment introduces you to Corvidia, the Royal Faery Seer’s raven.  Corvidia assists Phineas Treadworthy in divining the future of the Faery Realm of Urwelt. I’ve really enjoyed learning more about ravens and placing one as a character in the center of the action in my second book.

raven-feathersCalled the black-winged messengers of gods, ravens have been venerated by many civilizations and myths, from Native American to Egyptian, as well as, the Celtic lands of England and Wales where they figure prominently in the Arthurian legends.  Ravens are not only one of the most intelligent creatures on earth but have many similarities in social structure with humankind.  Due to their high emotional intelligence, they have come to symbolize a depth and intensity of feeling, especially around death. They mate for life and ritually mourn the loss of one another. They would rather die alone that mate again.

They live in close family groups and can be jealous and aggressive when protecting human-touchtheir own.  In short order, they can pick the latch of their cages and often play hide and seek with bright shiny objects.  They are able to interact with humans in a give and take manner and attach themselves to one person, so if you have an opportunity care for a raven, it is a lifelong commitment. As a result, ravens are highly conscious and thus capable of individual decisions requiring respect for themselves and their actions. In a nutshell, they are highly evolved beings ensouled in black plumage cloaks.

The Raven in Celtic Lore

raven-skull2The Celtic people have long attributed mystical qualities to domestic and wild animals alike.  The Raven is no exception.  Ravens brought good fortune while others served as supernatural agents of tests posed by god and goddesses and the faery people of the Otherworld. Due to its dark black color and carrion habits, ravens were often linked with mystical shapeshifting and death, especially death on the battlefield where they behaved as scavengers after a bloody fray.                   horseback-raven

Celtic goddesses are often associated with sexual potency and the Land but also war and death representing the darker side of the mother goddess.  Morrigan decided the fate of warriors on the battlefield decreeing who would die in battle.  She was said to metamorphose into a raven to hover over the battlefield as a harbinger of death.  The raven was emblematic of Morgan in King Arthur’s legends and served as her totemic beast and was also a frequent symbol of “Dark Women of Knowledge” or otherworldly priestesses.

priestess-raven

Celtic legendary seers used observations from nature to divine the future and the affairs of humankind.  Augury by means of birdsong or flight patterns figured largely in Celtic divination., especially among the Druids of Celtic lore. The croaking sounds of ravens were another means by which divination was accomplished.  Different kinds of croaks (from bacach, bacach or gradh, gradh to grob, grob) meant various types of visitors would be coming.  The croaking of ravens was also viewed as a bad omen of things to come.

raven-shieldThe world of Faery, called the Green World or Otherworld, is inhabited by birds and animals which are part of the human world as well. Therefore, they often perform the function of linking the two worlds.  A raven is one such creature that indicates an opening between the two worlds.  Those who are aware of that connection will know that the veil is about to be lifted to allow the seeker to pass into the Otherworld.

Bran the Blessed, a giant of superhuman strength figures in the second branch of the Mabinogion, the earliest prose literature of Celtic legends and mythology of Wales complied from earlier oral traditions.  Bran, meaning “raven” in Welsh, was beheaded and possiblytower-raven buried under the Tower of London where it acts as a protective symbol of Britain.  This legend serves as the root of the tradition in Great Britain that for as long as the ravens are kept in the Tower, the kingdom will be safe.

Ravens figure prominently in the story of The Dream of Rhonabuwy, one of the last links to the Celtic bardic tradition, while anticipating the Arthurian romance legends to come.  Arthur is portrayed as preparing for the battle with the raven-flying-3Anglo-Saxons with much infighting among the Celts beforehand.  Amidst this infighting, Arthur and Owein played a board game similar to chess. While Owein’s army, consisting of three hundred ravens, grew restless, Arthur and Owein played on. Arthur’s men were soon harassed by ravens, who then began to massacre the birds. raven-on-limb Owein gave permission to counterattack and so many men were killed by the ravens that Arthur would have been hard pressed to defend his land. Owein finally relented when Arthur insisted he call off his birds. Cornish folklore also speaks of Arthur becoming a raven upon death, perhaps to watch over the ghosts of warrior knights slain on his battlefields.

The Rod of Power and the Magical Battle of Britain

Merlin Sitting Rod

I would like to add the Rod (also called a staff or scepter), which symbolizes the knowledge that directs invisible spiritual forces applied to governance, to the Arthurian symbolism of the sword and scabbard (the Cup or Grail Cup).  The Rod of Power and its use belongs to the Arthurian Magus, Merlin, who wields it by means of a trained mind in esoteric spiritual knowledge.  In short, the Rod of Power represents “…Secret Wisdom employed to guide the affairs of nations” (Fortune, 1993, p. 43).  Dion Fortune writes specifically about its use in her letters (seventeen to twenty-two) to other initiates and adepts during World War II contained in The Magical Battle of Britain (edited by Gareth Knight).   “…and the Cup and the Sword and Sceptre make a wonderful symbol of balanced and functional force” (Fortune, 1993, p. 36).

This triune of symbols, or triple-rayed triangle referred to by Fortune, brings to mind the three-legged stool upon which balance is achieved.  Fortune describes the thought form of the triple-rayed triangle as consisting of three definite rays (red for Sword, blue for Scabbard/Cup and purple for Rod/Sceptre) forming the three angles of a triangle through which the white light of Spirit poured.  This symbol was built up on the Inner Plane and evoked in 1940 during WWII by the members of the Society of Inner Light trained in occult methods of meditation.  The triple-rayed triangle not only represents spiritual forces expressing inner realities but mythical archetypal forces by which national identities are formed, fed and preserved.

Tree of Life

For those of you versed in the Qabalistic correspondences, Fortune assigns the Sword and Red Ray of the destructive dynamic of Mars to the Sephirah Geburah on the Pillar of Severity and the Rod of Power and the Blue Ray of organizing civilizing forces of Jupiter to the Sephirah Chesed on the Pillar of Mercy.  The Scabbard/Cup of the Purple Ray is assigned to the Christ Center of the Tree, the Sephirah Tiphareth, where forces are brought into equilibrium.  The sword is the dynamic force that destroys evil and also the Sword of Chivalry and protection; the Scabbard/Cup is the receptacle of spiritual influences, the container of force and its potentiality; and the Rod of Power rules and directs Invisible Forces from Inner Planes of existence into the material world.  Continue reading “The Rod of Power and the Magical Battle of Britain”

Building a Bridge Between Human and Faerie: The Purpose of the Marriage of King Arthur and Queen Gwenevere?

 

Queen Gwenevere, the Faerie Bride
Queen Gwenevere, the Faerie Bride

Is it true?  Was Queen Gwenevere Faerie?  Was her marriage to King Arthur more than a marriage to unite the divided territories of Great Britain around the Roundtable and ensure future progeny?  What was Merlin’s grand design to bring about the conception of Arthur by magical workings of visionary forces and then foster him out to an ordinary common folk family until he was ready for his kingship to commence?  Why did Merlin play an integral role at the dawn of Arthur’s kingship only to see him lose direction and fade away dying an ignominious death at the hands of his bastard son, Mordred?  What failed to be achieved that did not play out on the grand stage that once was Camelot?

The Faerie Queen
The Faerie Queen

Gwenevere appears as a rather lack luster figure in Arthurian legend, neither powerful, having the authority of a Queen or any linkage to a historically recorded figure.  In addition, she did not come into the marriage from among the various families of nobility as a political power alliance with a well-endowed dowry of land.  Her ancestry also seems tenuous at best and of little help to Arthur who unlike other royalty did not inherit his throne but had to fight for it.  Queen Gwenevere is chiefly known for her affair with her husband’s best knight and friend, Lancelot.  Also notable is her childlessness and the constant attempted abductions involving her retrieval back to Camelot by various knights and King Arthur himself.  So what gives? Continue reading “Building a Bridge Between Human and Faerie: The Purpose of the Marriage of King Arthur and Queen Gwenevere?”