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The Tasmanian Pagan Alliance’s newsletter, The Ravens’ Call, began in 1997, making it the longest running printed bulletin of esoteric interests in Australia. The Ravens’ Call is produced four times per year, with editions released seasonally at solstices and equinoxes.
At first, the newsletter circulated to the members was nameless. Then inspiration struck Allannah Turner (the original State Coordinator) and Jo Grant (the longest running graphic designer). It was Jo Grant who, at the time, had rescued a wild raven. This fascinating journey let her to delve into raven folklore. Allannah also had a special connection with the raven due to working with a Nordic Tarot Deck. One of the cards pictured the Norse god Odin, with two ravens perched upon his shoulders.
Odin has two ravens, Huginn and Muninn, whose names’ mean thought and memory respectively. These two are the messengers that go out into the world each day and bring back news to Odin informing him of everything that goes on in Midgard, the word of humans. For this reason Odin is also known as Rafnagud (Raven God). In the Prose Edda, probably the greatest work of Old Norse literature, it is written that Odin says of the ravens;
Huginn and Muninn
Over the great Earth
I fear for Huginn
That he may not return
Yet more am I anxious for Muninn
In this passage Odin expresses some deep philosophical thoughts. He is pondering the importance of his cognitive abilities, musing on how important it is that he has a mind and can use it to think about the worlds. But then he goes on to say how much more important it is to be able to remember things past. In this he is expressing the value of experience. Experience is at the core of what it is to be a pagan. As Lynne Hume put it in her book Witchcraft and Paganism in Australia, “doing is knowing”. Paganism is low on dogma and high on ritual. We do things to see what happens. Ritual is experimental religion. In this, magic is much more akin to science than how it is usually, erroneously, portrayed, which is as an opposite to science.
In 2016 we produced our seventieth issue – a massive milestone for pagans in Tasmania.
Each editor and graphic designer of the newsletter has brought their own unique flavour to the mix. This has caused The Ravens’ Call evolve to where it is now, an important part of our pagan community.