the dictionary of norse mythology

RAVEN


RAVEN A large, black bird, Corvus corax, a mem-ber of the crow family. The raven is commonly found in northern Europe, North America, and northern Asia. The raven was a symbol of odin, chief god among the aesir gods. Odin kept two ravens, hugin Thought and munin Mind. Odin sent these ravens out into the world each daybreak, and they returned by breakfast time to tell Odin of what they had seen and learned. In an early norse poem, hrafnagaldur odins Odins Raven Chant, Odin sends the ravens to the underworld to investigate the disap-pearance of the goddess idunn.The raven was a common symbol in many mythologies, sometimes as a sign of evil owing to its habits as a scavenger and sometimes as a sign of good. In Norse mythology, ravens played both roles. As rep-resentatives of Odin's mind and thoughts, ravens symbolized his power to see into the future. As sym-bols of the battlefield, they represented Odin's wel-coming to his palace valhalla the spirits of slain human heroes who died in battle. Viking war flags carried symbols of ravens, as Odin's servants.

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