01 January 2011


  • The raven is the national bird of Bhutan. It represents one of the most powerful deities of the country, Jarog Dongchen. Raven is thus known in the local language as ‘Jarog’.  Jarog Dongchen along with Yeshey Gonpo (Mahakala) and Palden Lhamo (Mahakali) form the Divine Trinity, who protects the King and the people of Bhutan from harm and safeguard their well being. At one time, it was a capital crime to kill a Raven in Bhutan.
  • The raven is the official bird of the Yukon and of the city of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
© Government of Yukon 2011

  • King Harald Hardrada also had a raven banner, called Landeythan (land-waster).
  • The raven was a common device used by the VikingsRagnar Lodbrok had a raven banner called Reafan, embroidered with the device of a raven. It was said that if this banner fluttered, Lodbrok would carry the day, but if it hung lifeless the battle would be lost. 

Isle of Man Coat of Arms

The raven also appears in the folklore of the Isle of Man, a former Viking colony, and it is used as a symbol on their coat of armsThe raven is a very common bird on the island and played a major role in the Norse mythology. The island was ruled by Norse (Viking) Kings for many centuries and the raven, representing the God Odin, was chosen as a symbol thereof.

Isle of Man coat of arms

The Raven Banner

The raven flag was a symbol of Odin, who was often depicted accompanied by two ravens named Huginn and Muninn (thought and memory or mind respectively). 

Odin and his Ravens

The raven banner (in Old Norse: Hrafnsmerki; in Old English: Hravenlandeye) was a flag, possibly totemic in nature, flown by various Viking chieftains and other Scandinavian rulers during the ninth, tenth and eleventh centuries CE. 

The first mention of a Viking force carrying a raven banner is in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. For the year 878, the Chronicle relates:

And in the winter of this same year the brother of Ivar and Halfdan landed in Wessex, in Devonshire, with 23 ships, and there was he slain, and 800 men with him, and 40 of his army. There also was taken the war-flag (guðfani), which they called "Raven".

The Uí Ímair (Uí Ímhair), or House of Ivar, was an enormous royal and imperial Norse dynasty who ruled Northern England, the Irish Sea region and Kingdom of Dublin, and the western coast of Scotland, including the Hebrides, from the mid 9th century. 

House of Ivar banner

    Ravens are the largest songbird in North America.  Raven are often referred to by some indigenous tribes as the 'secret keepers' and are the subject of many stories.  Their ebony black color is sometimes associated with darkness.  Ravens are very intelligent and are able mimic the sounds other birds and can squawk out some human words.  Ravens are found in many different regions and climates.

    • The raven spirit guide is not chosen by those who seek its wisdom.  The raven only comes to those to whom it may speak in private and share its secrets with the knowledge its mysteries will be well guarded by one who already possesses wisdom.
    • The raven is known as the 'Secret Keeper by some native tribes because of their way of silently perching near people and 'listening' to conversations then flying away in a flutter shrieking an eerie sound or mimicking a human word.   Because of their inky black color they are linked to a place where fear and secrets are kept.   
    • When sun shines on the ravens shiny body it sometimes reflects many colors is therefore sometimes said it has the ability to transform itself, especially when it makes the call of another species.  If the raven is seen in dreams or visions it may mean significant changes are about to take place.
    • Ravens are intelligent and can be seen in the wild 'instructing' other birds and animals.  From the raven we may learn ways to become better teachers and understand the languages of many.
    • Regardless of common European belief, the raven is not an omen of death and should never be feared as its messages are those that can benefit the listener.  The Creator did not make any evil creatures on Mother Earth.  
    • Because of ravens ability to make a variety of sounds and high pitched vibrations are known to alter consciousness, the raven is sometimes credited with the ability to transform, move into other dimensions or to shape shift.  We may expect frequent changes if the raven is perched on your shoulder. 
    Source: www.manataka.org

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