The Way of Raven was pondered and explored this weekend at ISA. On Saturday we gathered for RAVEN SHADOWS, a shamanic circle focused on connecting with, and learning from, our old friend Raven. Wikipedia says many things about the ‘Common Raven’, including-
The Common Raven evolved in the Old World and crossed the Bering land bridge into North America. Recent genetic studies, which examined the DNA of Common Ravens from across the world, have determined that the birds fall into at least two clades: a California clade, found only in the southwestern United States, and a Holarctic clade, found across the rest of the northern hemisphere. Birds from both clades look alike, but the groups are genetically distinct and began to diverge about two million years ago.
The findings indicate that based on mitochondrial DNA, Common Ravens from the rest of the United States are more closely related to those in Europe and Asia than to those in the California clade, and that Common Ravens in the California clade are more closely related to the Chihuahuan Raven(C. cryptoleucus) than to those in the Holarctic clade. Ravens in the Holarctic clade are more closely related to the Pied Crow(C. albus) than they are to the California clade. Thus, the Common Raven species as traditionally delimited is considered to be paraphyletic.
One explanation for these surprising genetic findings is that Common Ravens settled in California at least two million years ago and became separated from their relatives in Europe and Asia during an ice age. One million years ago, a group from the California clade evolved into a new species, the Chihuahuan Raven. Other members of the Holarctic clade arrived later in a separate migration from Asia, perhaps at the same time as humans.
A recent study of raven mitochondrial DNA showed that the isolated population from the Canary Islands is distinct from other populations. The study did not include any individuals from the North African population, and its position is therefore unclear, though its morphology is very close to the population of the Canaries (to the extent that the two are often considered part of a single subspecies).
Human history is long with Raven, and for those of us in the southwest United States, we have a unique family line of Raven, different than in the northland, as well as across oceans. We are unique it seems. After meeting with other Arizona Raven people, I must say I am not suprised. We touched Raven wings, we learned tasty details about Raven, as well as their similarities with we Humans, we journeyed within to Raven Up and ask for Raven Blessings. Many of us even dressed in black. We cackled, we joked, we were serious as a tasty corpse (sorry). We listened to an audio track of a few of the many vocalizations of our Raven friends to get us in the mood.
On Sunday, for our weekly shamanic journey circle, I asked Raven what it wanted for this new group of people. Raven said “Divination!”. In the Medicine Card divination deck by Jamie Sams and David Carson, Raven is MAGIC. It’s description says “If you have chosen Raven, magic is in the air. Do not try to figure it out; you cannot. It is the power of the unknown at work, and something special is about to happen.” (page 102) Ok! We did divination for our circle.
Upon arrival I (Quynn) pulled a card from the Medicine Card deck to give me guidance for our session to come. I picked Antelope, which is ACTION. Antelope says “Atelope arms you wil the Bow of Authority, and forces you to act on behalf of self, family, clan, nation, and finally Mother Earth. Antelope says “Do it now. Don’t wait any longer.” Antelope knows the way, and so do you. (page 186) So, action it is!
We set up many divination decks of different styles in the center of the circle. After opening our circle, we pulled cards from any deck we were drawn to , asking questions and setting intentions for our lives and our personal issues. We journeyed for guidance about many issues regarding our sacred life. Raven was still present, as we Ravened Up and took magical action to help us understand ourselves in the context of our Sacred Now. Thank you Raven!