What’s Up With All the Ravens?

Picture of Meredith Wilson Parfet

Meredith Wilson Parfet

Founder & Managing Principal

In this article..

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”


For thousands of years cultures around the world have portrayed ravens as mystical beings. They are best known as harbingers of ill luck and death, but they are also symbols of communication, rebirth, and transformation. The Greeks believed ravens were servants of Apollo, the god of prophecy. The Norse depict the god Odin with two ravens on his shoulders, Huginn being referred to as thought and Muninn as memory. In Irish mythology ravens are associated with warfare and the battleground.

Sometimes ravens are portrayed as traveling between worlds, or between light and dark. In some Native American traditions, they are said to have the ability to encourage the soul to embrace new perspectives and change.

In the animal world, ravens are equally adaptive, able to thrive in varied environments and utilize tools they find to forage and survive. Ravens are vocal communicators and are among the most intelligent birds – demonstrating craftiness and cunning.

Thus, ravens are a good metaphor for crisis. Profound suffering, whether it be personal or professional, can translate to a type of death – death of a loved one, death of a dream, death of a business, or the death of our identity. The world-walking quality of the raven is like the multilayered experience of trauma, where one travels between hope and despair, between the demands of the temporal world and the pain of the spiritual. Like the raven, suffering, if we choose it, can afford an opportunity for transformation and rebirth.

I know firsthand the struggle of profound crises, trauma and loss. During one such time, I sat staring out the window recovering from a near death scare. I was lost, traumatized, and bitterly lonely. Into the front yard settled a group of ravens. They stayed for hours. The next day they arrived again. For weeks as I convalesced, the ravens would settle in the yard and keep me company. They were guides as I pondered my near death and they were witnesses as I contemplated a new way of living.

It’s easy to dismiss myth, like that of the raven, as a quaint way of thinking. However, as Joseph Campbell wrote “Mythology is not a lie, mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical…. mythology is the penultimate truth–penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words.” At Ravenyard our goal is twofold. First, like the raven, we act as guides for others in crisis. We’re not afraid to walk into the darkness with our clients, to provide a beacon as they travel through suffering, and to help them transform as a new life emerges. Second, we are adept communicators, able to fuse the power of storytelling with the complex facts of crises. We want to help you communicate in crisis and we want to help you survive the crisis.

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