Though there's a huge revival of the old Nordic/Germanic paganism (dubbed Heathenism by some these days to distinguish themselves from other polytheistic traditions), there are only a few scraps of information of any focus on the old Nordic/Germanic mythology that preceded Christianity's. Odin's ravens which perch upon his shoulders are dubbed Hugin and Munin, or Thought and Desire. That he is their master depicts the fact that Odin has an unusual level of understanding of thought and desire. The fact that these two aspects of human experience are depicted by ravens is poetry which informs us that 1. desire and thought are experiences for mortals only (Raven is symbol of mortality since death is always pointing to that) and 2. they can be useful in the development of wisdom, as portrayed in Odin's life story, for he sacrificed his eye to the well of wisdom and hung for nine days from the sacred tree if life in his desire to awaken from identification with the body.
Hugin and Munin
Fly every day
Over all the world;
I worry for Hugin
That he might not return,
But I worry more for Munin.
So the All-Father's traits of desire and thought are intrinsic qualities of the world- for humans, anyway. They are fleeting (flying), though; realizing that truth is part of their mastery. In fact, they are so fleeting they are perhaps never to return, as described in the poem. Contemporary America's in sore need of Odin's wisdom of the raven, since we identify strongly with the intellectual mind and the information it constantly generates (and then often repudiates) as well as objects of desire- "things" and famous folks and status, etc. However on another level, we are the ravens, our thoughts and desires taking us far from our true selves. Riding on the wings of thought and desire, will we ever return to ourselves? Or just flit along from one thought to another, one desire to another?
Well I'm trying to post some relatively short symbolic pieces before I get into anything long again like Narcissus, the last series of posts. I'll point out that the film Black Swan which I review in my book (here) has much of the same transformational symbolism. And now how about some music? Here's one I found perusing the YouTube videos of pagan metal and folk. It's a song about a raven in the winter, that time of death in the northern climes, when those furred and feathered (perhaps even clothed!) who do not survive its rigors may become the raven's sustenance. Here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan it's the roadkill that keeps them going...
A raven slept in a rock-rift! A cold winter night/ makes him feel sorry./(makes him feel sorry.)
Before the beautiful day went away,/he, with his frozen nose, moved
underneath a large stone./(underneath a large stone.)
Everything outside is frozen;there is nothing on the shore anymore.
Hunger is in my stomach./(Hunger is in my stomach.)
When I go to the houses,boldly, a dog forbids me
to pick something from the garbage./(to pick something from the garbage.)
Everything on the earth is covered in ice,/nothing on the hill-table
that the birds are able to see./(that the birds are able to see)
And even if I go looking outside in the heath
for riches, it doesn’t appear anywhere in the tufts of grass.
What shall a raven eat?/(What shall a raven eat?)
I'm willing to bet that song's pretty old. It invites us to imagine the experience of the raven in the tale, as all stories invite us into experience. Since Raven is the protagonist of the story, then such an experience is his/her provenance. What is the "large stone? A gravestone? Is it a cave, like St. Anthony's? Anthony's years of hermitage certainly involved facing such a bleak inner state as described here. Here is the thwarting of desire in its stripped down state, the fear of death, for desire, hunger, is born of the need to survive; it's a part of our mortality. What are the "riches" referred to in the song? What sort of food does the seeker like Anthony or the follower of Apollo desire? Raven's bread? The conversation between the divinely inspired human and Raven is depicted in this feeding; Raven feeding Anthony, Apollo feeding Raven.
And here's some by a guy who produces lots of what I assume is electronic compositions, a very mild example of pagan metal. It's more like a soundtrack for a video game or a fantasy film.