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Thread: Ravenclaw

  1. #1
    Lovemagic
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    Ravenclaw

    Hi guys!!

    I had some questions on ravens. Yup...

    Don't ravens symbolize death? Or was it another bird that did? What are some other things that symbolize death? Any examples, please.

    So if I'm correct, and ravens do symbolize death, does this have anything to do with the House of Ravenclaw or Rowena herself? What about the other Houses and their founders? Would badgers symbolize anything, lions, snakes, and wildhogs, was it, for Hogwarts?

    Hehe, we were just doing a unit on symbols and similies for Walk Two Moons and in the novel there is a lot of symbolism and meaning so that got me thinking, such and such stand for their own Houses, so does that mean anything?

    Any enlightening would be appreciated! Ciao!
    Hayden

  2. #2
    the_weird_one
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    Well, first off, the Ravenclaw symbol is an eagle, so yeah.

    However, if you are talking about ravens, I do remember reading in a magazine article somewhere that it was a common rumor for when you see a raven, it means you're going to die, so yes, it does symbolize death. The logic behind this is that ravens are attracted to shiny things, which can often be with death somehow (IDK... someone look this up? Not really sure...) I'm supposing this relates to hearses, which can have metal on it... LOL.

    Since the raven has nothing to do with the Ravenclaw house (that just happened to be her name... which I can see how it somehow relates to death because her daughter, now the Grey Lady, killed herself) it has nothing to do with Ravenclaw itself. However, the eagle is supposed to be a keen bird of prey, having excellent eyesight (I'm assuming this can be interpreted poetically, and have it refer to Ravenclaws tendency to see things clearer than others. As for the Lion of Gryffindor, lions are in prides (geddit? Prides... Gryffs have a lot of pride... yeah.) and are known as the king of the jungle. I'm not too sure about badgers, or about snakes either. Yesss.

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  3. #3
    Dorkalecki Ravenclaw
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    Quote Originally Posted by Addy
    Well, first off, the Ravenclaw symbol is an eagle, so yeah.
    Right you are!

    Since the raven has nothing to do with the Ravenclaw house (that just happened to be her name... which I can see how it somehow relates to death because her daughter, now the Grey Lady, killed herself) it has nothing to do with Ravenclaw itself.
    Actually, the Grey Lady didn't kill herself. She was killed by the Bloody Baron (which is why he's the Bloody Baron) because of a combination of the fact that he was in love with her and she had spurned him and also because her mother was on her deathbed, and she wanted to see her daughter before she died (DH 21:616).

    However, the eagle is supposed to be a keen bird of prey, having excellent eyesight (I'm assuming this can be interpreted poetically, and have it refer to Ravenclaws tendency to see things clearer than others. As for the Lion of Gryffindor, lions are in prides (geddit? Prides... Gryffs have a lot of pride... yeah.) and are known as the king of the jungle. I'm not too sure about badgers, or about snakes either. Yesss.
    The eagle analogy is pretty much the same as the rest I've seen. The Gryff thing makes sense, and I'd imagine the snakes were a testament to Slytherin's ability to speak Parseltongue. And the badger thing...I don't get it, either. If I wasn't up to my eyeballs in writing two things at once, I would look it up.



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  4. #4
    Seventh Year Hufflepuff
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    Badgers are some of the baddest animals around. And I'm not just saying that because I'm a Puff.

    I don't know about "loyalty" considering badgers are pretty solitary animals, but they are outrageously tough. I like watching nature shows and in one of them this badger was attacking a hive to get at the honey. It got stung all over its face but it kept coming back. By the end, it had completely destroyed the hive.

    It's a pity that the badger house isn't chosen by toughness, since that's the main quality I associate with badgers.


    As for snakes... Western culture has a pretty low opinion of snakes. Garden of Eden? God takes away the snake's legs so they have to creep along on their bellies which... has something to do with them not being trustworthy, I think.

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  5. #5
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
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    Another bird associated with death is the crow, as in the carrion crows. After battles and places where there were bodies, they used to come and feed on the carcasses. I think it's acutually more the crow that's symbolises death than the raven, as the raven symbolises other things as well, but for the crow, it's just death. Ravens and crows are the favoured form of shapeshifters, such as Morgan le Fay.

    In Irish mythology, there is the Morrígan, a goddess in the early texts. She is associated with war and death on the battlefield, among other things, and also takes the form of a crow, so there is strong symbolism with death there.

    The raven is the bird associated with Bran the Blessed (whose name means 'raven' or 'crow'), similar to the Fisher King in the Holy Grail stories. He has a mortal wound in his foot, and to cut a long story short, he dies and has his head cut off, which is buried in the Tower of London to act as protection against invasion. It's traditional, even now, for there to be a flock of ravens in the Tower of London (with their wings clipped) as a sign of protection, so the raven could also symbolise that.

    One reason why the word 'raven' is in Ravenclaw's name could because of Odin's ravens (Hugin [Thought] and Munin [Memory]). Odin, the Zeus of Norse mythology, had an endless thirst for knowledge, so the raven could have been included in Ravenclaw's name because of that.

    As for other animals, there is the owl in Asian stories, the back widow spider and several types of moths, the Manx cat in Egyptian mythology, and deers/elk, and wolves. I've taken all that from Yahoo answers, so I have no idea if it's true or not. This could be something to research. The blackbird is another one I found, though this has slightly nicer connotations with death. In Celtic mythology, the blackbird sings while leading people to the Otherworld when they die.

    I have no idea why the badger is the symbol of Hufflepuff. In my book of celtic mythology, it says it's a rather 'unyielding' animal. Aren't badger heads used on sporrans, as well? I can't really see anything there that represents Hufflepuff. Anything I could find said that badgers were primarily a sign of agression, but one site did say that the badger is also about healing and will persevere in finding a cure. That's the only thing I could find that put it in with Hufflepuffs. I think that here, the symbolism might reflect personal feelings of JKR rather than other sources.

    Sarah x


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  6. #6
    psijupiter
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    Quote Originally Posted by AidaLuthien
    As for snakes... Western culture has a pretty low opinion of snakes. Garden of Eden? God takes away the snake's legs so they have to creep along on their bellies which... has something to do with them not being trustworthy, I think.
    The snake used to have legs in the Garden of Eden, and after he tempted Eve and God found out, he cursed the snake to spend the rest of his days creeping along on his bellies. And erm, something about being untrusted and killed by mankind?

    *googles*

    And the LORD God said unto the serpent,

    Because thou hast done this,
    thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field;
    upon thy belly shalt thou go,
    and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
    and I will put enmity between thee and the woman,
    and between thy seed and her seed;
    it shall bruise thy head,
    and thou shalt bruise his heel.
    Genesis 3:14-15, KJV

  7. #7
    First Year Hufflepuff
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    Quote Originally Posted by AidaLuthien
    As for snakes... Western culture has a pretty low opinion of snakes. Garden of Eden? God takes away the snake's legs so they have to creep along on their bellies which... has something to do with them not being trustworthy, I think.
    I totally agree with the fact that snakes have a bad name in western culture. As well as the Biblical reference, snakes are thought to be slippery and slimy, much like the portrayal of Slytherins in HP.

    Snakes are also commonly feared, some of them are huge and crush people to death, and some are very poisonous. They are predators, and a lot of people are wary of them.

    Snakes are also coldblooded. This fits well with what we are told about the stereotypical Slytherin character; cunning, ruthless and ambitious.

    Snakes are often misunderstood; people think that they are slimy to touch, and will attack people in the wild, but they are more sacred of people than people are of them.

    Just some thoughts about the characteristics of the animal, I don't have mythological references off the top of my head!

    ~Hannah~

  8. #8
    Wizengamot Ravenclaw
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fainting Fancies
    I totally agree with the fact that snakes have a bad name in western culture. As well as the Biblical reference, snakes are thought to be slippery and slimy, much like the portrayal of Slytherins in HP.
    I actually remember reading a paper by an anthropologist who did this who study of how different cultures perceive snakes. What he found was that in cultures where snakes were either venomous or any sort of threat to man's well-being, they had a negative connotation in the culture. But, in cultures where snakes fed mainly on pests and left humans completely alone, they were seen as sacred beings. He quoted a few different Native American beliefs, as well as how in pagan Celtic cultures, snakes were seen as sacred, but after the Christian missionaries came, they gained the well-know reputation they have today.

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  9. #9
    Fifth Year Ravenclaw
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    The heraldic interpretation of the Slytherin blazon is rather surprising:

    The Vert (green) background is a sign of hope, joy, and (apparently) loyalty in love
    The serpent indicates wisdom, its colour, Argent (Silver or White) indicates peace and sincerity.

    I really should research the others, too. Perhaps later, if anyone is interested.

    From memory I know that the "lion rampant" (as on the Gryffindor blazon) and the "eagle displayed" (Ravenclaw) are very common.

    The Gryffindor lion is displayed in the same colours as the British Royal Standard (the Flag of the Monarch), though the three royal lions are passant guardant (one foreleg raised, face turned outwards – the default for beasts is profile). However the Gryffindor Lion faces to the right, not the left, which is the more common in heraldry. This facing is referred to as contourné, or sinister. Is this important?

    The badger is a very rare symbol, I can’t remember ever seeing it.

    Although heraldry was in its infancy 1000 years ago, I think more research is definitely needed.

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  10. #10
    the_weird_one
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    Oh! Northumbrian's post inspiried me to add in something about aura colors! (which I have done a little research on )

    According to auras, red symbolizes
    lifeforce, survival, raw passion, anger, frustration, determination, sense of importance, feeling overwhelmed by change
    which are all pretty Gryffindoric traits. However, yellow means
    mental alertness, analytical thought, happiness, optimism, child-like, ego driven, thinking at expense of feeling
    Which are still pretty Gryffindorish, but more leaning toward the Hufflepuff side, still. (Since it is also Hufflepuff's color.) But black means,
    issues relating to death, hatred, lack of forgiveness, unresolved karma, dark intentions, shadow games, needing compassion for self
    Which is pretty funny, because those are all opposite Puffs traits! (Except maybe the last one, IDK.)

    I highly suggest going over to Remus's Reflections board, they have a ton of information on houses from the sorting discussion we did a while ago. I think I posted the same thing in the Gryffindor thread, so yeah. I hope that's okay for now!
    -Addy

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