The Symbolic Meaning of the Ravens’ Win

The Symbolic Meaning of the Ravens’ Win

by Dr. Bob Hieronimus

See the edited version of this essay as printed in the Baltimore Sun on 2/8/13 here!

I’m sure all the players played their hardest during yesterday’s Super Bowl, but I don’t think there are many people who disagree that an awful lot of “luck” – if that’s what you want to call it -- was involved in the Ravens’ win. After the game we heard practically all of the coaches and players repeatedly giving thanks to their higher powers for helping them succeed.

What I didn’t hear mentioned was the mystical, Mercurial aspect of the symbolic Raven. And now that the game is over, we can see this magical totem was on our side, too. That’s the problem with the raven as a magical symbol. At heart, it’s a trickster, and you can never be entirely sure of its motives.

Many cultures (North American, Celtic) see the raven as a shapeshifter and link it to prophecy and the creation of the world. After the Super Bowl win, however, I’m more interested in the raven’s association with change. Whenever you notice ravens are reappearing in your life or in your dreams, according to the Jungian theory of synchronicity, you should expect transformational change. Carl Jung saw the raven as a symbol for the inner self, also known as the shadow self, something we all must eventually acknowledge and communicate with in order to be fully whole.

Many cultures (Egyptian, early Christian) linked the raven to death probably due to the bird’s nature of eating carrion (symbolically transforming death into life) and their dark color. But death itself is symbolic of great change, and thus the symbol of the raven is a harbinger of transformational change – something you can pull out of the depths of your own psyche and discover is your true purpose and follow it. Seeing raven symbols all over Baltimore could mean you are ready for an introduction to your inner world.

All humans fear change, but ravens foretell change that is deeply revelatory. If you have trouble figuring out what you need to change, the raven is telling you to look at yourself differently. As in the ancient science of alchemy, the goal is to turn blackness into gold. We learn from our mistakes, and give wing to new ideas that come from places inside ourselves we didn’t know existed.

The Baltimore Ravens’ win is a harbinger of great change for Baltimore. It has brought our town prestige and glory, and increased income will surely follow. It has brought our people together in joyful celebrations of happiness, and those happy chemicals being produced are good for our collective health.

Before I close, just a few words about the confident intelligence of Joe Flacco that earned him the MVP status in the game. Ravens are known as some of the smartest animals on the planet. They have learned to use tools and can be taught to speak. They observe, and wait, and work together as a team to accomplish their goal. Sounds like an elite quarterback to me.

Thanks team! You tricked everyone, and shapeshifted into superheroes. May this be an oracle for all Baltimoreans to come to terms with their inner selves and create a healthy balance! Go Ravens! Go Baltimore!