Meet the Raven—A harbinger of things to come.

Lindsey Kustusch. Raven. 2015, oil on panel. American.

The Raven, in his sleek, black glory, is a prophetic symbol and the holder of all ancestral memories. He can never be silenced, not by man and not by the gods. If we have anything to learn from the great uncertainties of the past, the Raven can surely teach us. History’s stark truths are poignant and often terrifying, illuminating the undeniable shadows that live within us all. What has occurred before our time is real—it has power and influence—and the Raven delivers its harrowing message with fearless intention. Whether or not we choose to learn something is entirely up to us.

Although these stories are factual, they are also a work of literary nonfiction. They depict real people and real events, seen through the eyes of a dark romantic. As a movement, this 19th-century philosophy captures the delicious notion of romanticism but with a decidedly darker tone. While the literary Transcendentalists like Emerson and Thoreau were busy noting the idealistic and divine qualities of human existence, the dark romantics were modifying their work to reflect the visible realities of decay, sorrow, and human imperfection. All of these tenets are not only visible throughout history, they are the binding fiber of the past.

Although both schools of thought viewed nature as a deeply spiritual force, capable of evoking pure rapture through its expressions, the dark romantics focused more on the somber and mysterious elements of places like the deep woods, the roiling ocean, and the jagged mountain peaks—all of which shared revelations of dangerous and terrifying truths. The dark romantics knew, unlike most people alive then or now, that the human condition is innately flawed, marked by evil, and invariably destined for failure. And through this belief, the Raven alights upon dark moments in history to illustrate this undying certainty.

Eric Lacombe. Raven. 21st century, acrylic on canvas. French.

While these stories do not intentionally stray beyond historical parameters, some creative license has been taken with images and context. That said, these renderings strive for accuracy and a fair depiction of the events, people, and places being described. If you feel I have researched or recorded something in error, taken a noticeably limited perspective, or offered an inadequate representation of a historical element, please feel free to contact me privately with the specifics. I will certainly take your thoughts into consideration—it keeps me honest and helps me learn. But please remember, this blog is a labor of love intended to promote the joy of learning, the dark romantic agenda, and the inherent value of admitting our shortcomings. The Raven does not take money from vendors or advertisers. I am the sole writer, editor, and financial supporter, who often works late into the night with children asleep by my side. So, if you see an error or a typo or a shortcoming of any kind, try not to be surprised—it happens.

This writing comes from a benevolent and curious place where suggestions are welcome but insults are not tolerated. History, with all of its significance, can be an emotionally-charged topic, especially because most interested people consider it to be theirs in some capacity and representative of what they were taught or have grown to believe. While this can bring up feelings of anger or confusion in readers who don’t agree with my rendering, it’s important to remember history is both an academic and personal pursuit, always demanding some degree of individual perspective and interpretation. The Raven Report is my love and my creation, so take it for what it is. If you have greater expectations for the depiction of history, I suggest you start a blog of your own. And for those of you with no complaints, I like your style!

Thank you for reading and being engaged. Let’s make history.

—Jenn Jeffers

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