Releasing the Raven
Updated: Jul 7, 2020
A group of at least six captive ravens are resident at the Tower of London. Their presence is traditionally believed to protect The Crown and the Tower; a superstition holds that "if the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it."
There are many different stories and legends surrounding avian beings from Indigenous cultures worldwide. In the Mohawk creation story, the narrator describes Skywoman (as she is historically referenced to) observing a giant ball that grew as she approached. When she became closer, geese rose to catch her with their wings and bring her down to the back of a giant turtle. Fast-forward a few thousand years and our avian friends are still influencing us with words from the stars with their songs and keeping watch over our safety atop the Tree of Peace.
The strength in the symbolism for ‘birds of a feather flock together’ is not only a neat proverb, it provides truth when times call for smudging and communicating; essential in every Indigenous culture worldwide are avian protectors such as a the Eagle, Condor, Thunderbird, Carrier Pigeon, and Raven which they themselves also have prophetic roots in peace and resilience in the care taking of Mother Earth in unity.
The people of Turtle Island are Indigenous to the land, but they are older than this term itself as many people are Indigenous to many places. The truth remains the same with plants, animals, foods, and birds. The Raven is significant to the people Indigenous to England as they have a strong connection with the British Monarchy, as there are to this day Yeoman Warders (Beef-eaters) carrying the title Raven-master, to ensure the Crown never falls. This concept shows that no matter where we are we can always find connection somewhere within history and identity.
"These ravens must go!" he said. "But, Sire, it is very unlucky to kill a raven," replied Flamstead, "If you do that the Tower will fall and you will lose your kingdom, having only just got it back!" Charles, being a pragmatist, thought for a moment and said: "The Observatory must go to Greenwich and the ravens can stay in the Tower." (King Charles II; 29 May 1630 – 6 February 1685 to Astronomer John Flamsteed; 19 August 1646 – 31 December 1719)
The names of the current Tower ravens are Jubilee, Harris, Gripp, Rocky, Erin, Poppy and Merlina. Ravens are intelligent birds and each of has its own personality; they can mimic sounds, play games and solve problems. See if you can spot some of their fascinating behaviour on your visit.
The legend of the Tower ravens
It is said that the kingdom and the Tower of London will fall if the six resident ravens ever leave the fortress. There are seven ravens at the Tower today — the required six, plus one spare!
Charles II is thought to have been the first to insist that the ravens of the Tower be protected after he was warned that the crown and the Tower itself would fall if they left.
The King's order was given against the wishes of his astronomer, John Flamsteed, who complained the ravens impeded the business of his observatory in the White Tower.
See the ravens at the Tower of London
The ravens are free to roam the Tower precincts during the day and preside over four different territories within the Tower's walls.
You might even be lucky enough to witness the ravens snacking — but please be careful and do not feed the ravens yourself, as they can bite if they feel their territory is being threatened.
These magnificent birds respond only to the Ravenmaster and should not be approached too closely by anyone else.
Legend has it that if the Tower of London ravens fly away the monarchy will fall, and Britain with it.
Now it is time to Release The Ravens and restore Good over Evil
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