The Ravens


An Allelujia Chorus is a chorus comprising of one or two who think that the gifts at the famed Soul Food Cafe are pan de cielo, bread of heaven.

Everyone at Soul Food came, humbly, hoping to find a warm spot where their creativity would flourish. Riversleigh Manor is just one place where everyone is valued for their gift.

Long standing members of Soul Food, those who have walked the corridors and found the inner sanctum, become Ravens.

Click each bird and meet the women who make up a group of 'Ravens', who reside in the Soul Food Cafe Rookery.


R is for Ravens and the Soul Food Rookery.

by Monika Roleff

“I pray to the birds.
I pray to the birds because I believe they will carry the messages of my heart upwards
I pray to them because I believe in their existence, the way their songs begin and end each day -the invocations and benedictions of earth
I pray to the birds because they remind me of what I love rather than what I fear
And at the end of my prayers they teach me how to listen.”

These words of Terry Tempest Williams help to identify the relationship that I, as a writer, have with birds. Williams verse speaks to me of companionship, circles of motion, sacred wings, freedom. Somehow the notion of soaring with an eagle has always appealed to me and I often find that birds appear in my guided imageries.

I write so that messages from my heart will soar upwards, out along the wires of cyber space, to my readership. Just as the birds begin each day with a song I am called to write on a daily basis.

At LaTrobe Secondary College. where I worked as an English teacher, I was aware that there was a colony of crows, or Ravens as they are sometimes called. These glorious black creatures soar down to the gum trees, watching, waiting for leftovers. Some folk believe that they are menacing but I have always been fascinated by them and always stop to acknowledge their presence.

At one stage I had my students observing them and using their observations as a prompt for writing. One Year 10 student undertook extensive research and found out about their prevalence in literature. He demonstrated that literature testifies that we were not the first to have looked to the heavens to watch the splendid Raven.

Many consider the Raven to be evil and sinister in character and there are numerous superstitions concerning them. Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven’describes the black bird as being grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, ominous, a tempter, evil, lonely, ancient and demon-like. However there are numerous instances where the Crow acted as a messenger and a guide. Ravens led the Boeotians to a place where they founded a new city; guided Alexander to the shrine of Jupiter Ammon in Egypt and later foretold his death;guided people from the island of Thera when they emigrated to Libya; a golden raven guided the Emperor Jimmu of Japan, in the 7th century A.D, as he marched to war; were, according to Aelian, a messenger of King Marres of Eygpt.

In ‘The Bible’ there are a number of references to the raven. In Luke 12V 22-24 it says Then Jesus said to his disciples “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about you body, what you will wear. Life is more important than food, and the body more important than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them.” ‘In Genesis viii. 6-7 we hear that after forty days “Noah…sent out the raven which went forth and did not return until the waters dried up above the earth….”

The beautiful Raven guides my writing. It has become my totem, a symbol to express who I am and how I want to live. I like to believe that like the Raven I am a guide, a messenger, who leads others to find their unique voice.

I believe that the Raven carries the messages of my heart out into cyber space. Her blackness represents the notion of beginning, just as the symbols of the maternal night and primeval darkness represent beginning. For me the Raven represents creative power and spiritual strength.

When I sat by my husbands bedside at the Epworth hospital here in Melbourne, after he had been operated on for bowel cancer, I noted the black crow that came to sit on the spire outside our window. She bought with her the collective energy of my patrons, people from all around the world who had stopped to think of us and pray for our well-being.

A solitary figure, the crow reminded me to look for strength from within, that out of darkness comes light and fresh beginning. Her iridescence spoke of magic and awakening.

Today I give thanks to that Raven and formally acknowledge her as my guide.

Written by Heather Blakey 2000