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Observations placeholder

Totem group – Picts – Sign of Zodiac - Raven or Crow



Type of Spiritual Experience


This is what a raven looks like close up

A description of the experience

The symbolism for both the Raven and Crow are described in the entry in the symbol section found by using the link. 

We had great difficulty with this symbol as it appeared to be important enough to be a Totem group, but it was unclear whether the group was representing an element [in which case it might have been the Air] or a Sign of the Zodiac. 

Pictish stones on which it is found

Pictish stones were used as signposts.  They described in pictures the sacred site to which the pilgrim was being directed, they gave directions in which it was to be found and they gave the constellations that could be used for navigation by the stars.  Every constellation has a symbol and each picture of the symbol then maps onto the constellation.  

Knowe of Burrian













The symbols here are as they appear on the Pictish stone from the Knowe o' Burrian in Harray, which is now on display at the Orkney Museum in Kirkwall.

Nigg stone


The Nigg Stone is an incomplete Class II Pictish cross-slab, perhaps dating to the end of the 8th century.  The stone was originally located at the gateway to the grounds of the parish church of Nigg, Easter Ross. It is one of the finest surviving Pictish carved stones, and one of the most elaborate carved stones surviving from early medieval Europe. It is now displayed, restored to its original proportions, in a room inside the parish church (open in summer; key kept locally). It bears an elaborately decorated cross in high relief on the 'front' and a figural scene on the reverse. This scene is extremely complicated and made more difficult to interpret by deliberate defacement. Among the depictions are: an eagle above a Pictish Beast, a sheep, the oldest evidence of a European triangular harp, and ‘hunting scenes’.

Possible constellation

Corvus is a small constellation in the Southern Celestial Hemisphere. Its name means "raven" in Latin. One of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy, it depicts a raven, a bird associated with stories about the god Apollo, perched on the back of Hydra the water snake. The four brightest stars, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, and Beta Corvi, form a distinctive quadrilateral in the night sky.

With an apparent magnitude of 2.59, Gamma Corvi—also known as Gienah—is the brightest star in the constellation. It is an aging blue giant around four times as massive as the Sun. The young star Eta Corvi has been found to have two debris disks. Three star systems have exoplanets, and a fourth planetary system is unconfirmed. TV Corvi is a dwarf nova—a white dwarf and brown dwarf in very close orbit.

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps