And ALTERED STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
or, “I Owe My Raven Story to Edgar Allan Poe and Psychedelia”
As I mentioned, music has always played a major role in my life. Peer groups formed around music groups. Fashion and other lifestyle choices reflected our musical tastes. For some of us, music connected on a very deeply personal level (I think everyone has at least one song that affects them every time they hear it). As children and teenagers we were exposed to much less media than today’s generation. Radios became Home Stereos in with record players, then 8-tracks and cassettes) and car stereos !! (8-tracks then cassettes) SONG LYRICS said everything we wanted to say, and everything we were afraid to hear.
In 1977, The Alan Parsons Project released the album, ” TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION “. A FRIEND had an older brother who turned us on to Prog Rock, and my dad had a beautiful Olds Toronado with an 8-track player (built in!). We went to the Walmart (or whatever it was) to buy some 8Tracks for the trip (yes, Roger Miller was one of Dad’s choices) but he let me choose 4 or 5 tapes to listen to on the road to the Okanagan. That summer holiday (my fourteenth year) was when I first met The Raven.
I had heard of Edgar Allan Poe and his Tales of the macabre but hadn’t read any of his work and was inspired (by the album) to obtain a copy of his collected works. I wasn’t so keen on poetry as I was on song lyrics at the time. It was years later, after reading many poems and stories by Poe, that I was better able to appreciate how exquisitely he used language to describe a darker side of the “Human Condition”. In the shadows of the mind’s eye of the author, we see our own darkest emotions.
We explored HIGH CONCEPTS like” A DREAM WITHIN A DREAM ” with The Alan Parsons Project.
Songs like that (with excerpts of Poe’s original story read by the magnificent ORSON WELLES) sparked conversations that both asked and informed us about who we were as teenagers. In THE TELL TALE HEART, the author screams out his insane defense, a victim haunted by the horror of his own hands, hallucinating and venting a murderous FEAR AND LOATHING. Heady times…
I don’t remember when I realized the sorrow Poe was expressing in the original story about the Lost Lenore, but I know didn’t hit me until after I’d read it a few times. I believe it was due to the song having a very different tone (Not Blaming Alan. Still a favourite , none the less). “The Raven” was the first song where a Vocoder was used for the lead vocal track. It had a tone to it that seemed to be the Raven’s voice, haunting the author. But it was so cool…
But I don’t remember everything he said…
It was around that time I learned a little about “animal totems” and “spirit partners” and “Vision Quests” , studying Native Canadian cultures at school. I was also fascinated by Altered States of Consciousness (before I saw the movie), reading books by Carlos Castaneda and others. I learned what I could about how psychoactive agents like “magic” mushrooms and peyote were used to explore The Mind and The Spirit (not necessarily before I did a little personal exploration). I even read a little Buddha (*Present Tense) .
Growing up in Calgary, next to the Rocky Mountains, gave me the opportunity to escape civilization and experience and explore nature in all its wonder, and, most significantly, to look inward.
It’s fascinating to me how THE RAVEN has played very different symbolic roles in many cultures through the ages. My personal connection came from a teenage exploration of Native Canadian cultures and it was some time later when I learned how widely and how often it appears in human folklore, including my ancestor’s Scotland.
The Raven’s voice has been heard in countless languages. Below are a few more links to different examples of RAVEN STORIES from around the world.
Below are some links to sources that provide interesting descriptions and insight into the role of The Raven in many cultures.
- Cultural Depictions of Ravens
- Raven Tales
- The Magic of Crows and Ravens
- Mythology and Folklore of the Raven
- Raven Legends
- Ravens Celtic and Norse Mythology
- Viking Twin Ravens Symbol
- Ravens in Native American Culture
- Raven symbolism
- Spirit Totem Power animal meanings
- Cultural depictions of ravens
- Raven Tales – Wikipedia