A few weeks ago hundreds of ravens landed in the trees around my house. They covered the bare limbs until it looked like black leaves rustling in the breeze. Their shrill cries and the whomp of the displaced air beat back by their flapping wings sent a shiver down my back. I am accustomed to seeing one or two at a time, but watching this enormous flock rustle and squawk brought to mind their historical role as harbingers of ill deeds, even death.
That day I wondered what in my life was going to pass, end, or move away from me. Ravens have a bad reputation across cultures, partly because we are taught that death is bad and that the only way to perceive something as dead is in a physical sense. If you ever throw tarot for someone, you know how often they get nervous when the death card shows up. However, we know that, in context, the death of something can often be a good outcome. The death of an abusive relationship, the death of an old, unhealthy pattern of living, the death of an addiction or obsession, the death of a habit or of pain and suffering. The demise of these things are reasons to celebrate.
So I wondered, what was going to die in my sphere and would it be of benefit to my spiritual well-being. I decided to embrace it as good. For most of the afternoon I watch the birds and thanked them for their diligence in removing the carrion from my life. I opened my heart to willingness for change and prepared myself to celebrate the removal of what no longer served my spirit to make more room for my truest self and authentic life to be lived,
I won’t pretend that there wasn’t pain involved in the ending that the ravens foretold. Pain is part of life, part of growth, part of the stretching required to make change. There is also joy and a new sense of being present in my life which didn’t exist before the death that occurred. Perhaps Norse mythology is right when it casts ravens as the eyes and ears of Odin, one his memory and the other his thought. They are sent out to see what is to come and then return to bring us the news. Messengers of change, for which we should be grateful.