Raven, Crow – Spirit Animal, Totem, Symbolism and Meaning

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Wings of darkness and death, that is a very common artistic description of dark feathered birds, such as ravens and crows.

These birds live close to humans; therefore, their symbolism is strong and present all over the world.

Symbolism of particular animals is a special channel for people better to understand and explain certain phenomena that take place in their own lives. Almost every single animal has some special spiritual characteristics ascribed by humans.

Moreover, people have always been trying to understand phenomena that seem strange or unusual by analyzing behavior of animals.

In old times, when scientific approaches still were not developed the way as they are now, people were finding answers to strange situations in their natural environment.

It was easier to explain that someone had bad luck in life because, for example, he or she have seen a raven behaving in particular way or if a black cat has crossed their path.

These interpretations soon turned to numerous superstitions that still live on, in modern times. However, there could be more to it, many spiritualists, esoteric, dream interpreters, authors and many others claim.

Certain answers could always be found in nature. If you believe nothing is a coincidence, you probably know a lot about animal symbolism.

In this article, we will talk more about symbolism and spiritual energy of crows and ravens.

These two birds are members of the Corvidae family. They are similar in appearance and behavior; the only true distinction is the size of their bodies.

Both crows and ravens carry strong symbolical importance for people; both of these are dark feathered birds of a somewhat scary and beautiful appearance, depending on your personal opinion of these two.

Raven and crow basic symbolical meanings

Both ravens and crows are believed to be magical animals. They are both considered intelligent species, but in symbolical sense, also associated with trickery and mischief.

Ravens and crows are also associated with wisdom, hidden lore, secrets, mystery, magic (preferably dark magic), deep insight, shape shifting and transformation, creativity and creation. In various cultures and societies around the world, these dark birds have always been considered heralds of night and darkness.

In many belief systems, ravens and crows are believed to bring bad luck and bad news. However, that is not always the case.

Apart from being associated with forces of dark, sorcery and witchcraft, in some societies, ravens and crows are admired and even worshiped.

They are believed to have magical powers and ability to communicate between realms of the Living and the Dead; they are also considered to be messengers of higher forces, spirit animals, totem animals, protectors and so on. It is also believed ravens and crows keep important knowledge and are also linked to ideas of higher perspective, wisdom and creation of life.

These two birds have similar symbolism, so we can analyze it together. Both of the birds are important members of spiritual realm, animals with many special meanings ascribed. They have dual symbolism, just like many other totem and spirit animals.

While, on one side, they are believed to be dark and misfortunate, on the other hand, they are wise guides and magical beings.

First of all, it is important to mention that birds’ symbolism and spiritual energy are particularly interesting to humans. Birds have wings and they fly, which is special ‘gift’ that makes us, humans, envious.

Crows and ravens not only fly, but also these birds are of dark color, which is often associated with mystery, darkness, but also with wisdom and knowledge. These birds are particularly intelligent animals; they are skilful, resourceful and capable of many things.

What does a crow symbolize?

Crows are believed to be both messengers of good news and bringers of bad luck. Crows are present in certain belief systems as protectors and guides. For example, there are Native American Crow clans. These people are proud to be guided by this amazing spirit animal.

Ravens are also associated with mystery, knowledge and guidance. Ravens are good spirit animals, associated with transformation and creation. It is interesting to note that these dark feathered birds are present in various stories and legend related to creation of the world.

These birds are believed to be connected with certain deities and, in some cases, they represent certain godlike traits.

In Nordic mythology, two ravens are faithful companions of one of the most powerful deities in the pantheon, Odin himself.

Raven and crow, spiritual meaning

These spirit birds have many spiritual meanings, which varies depending on part of the world you live in, a belief system you belong to and, of course, your own feelings about these interesting animals.

However, there are numerous similar interpretations found all over the planet. Here are some basic meanings.

These are basic meanings, which we will discuss with more details bellow: Creation, creativity, knowledge, wisdom, insight, skills, resourcefulness, mischief, bad luck, bad news, darkness, death.

What do crows represent? Crows represent many things, amongst which are life and life cycles. This dark feathered fellow is appreciated in Aboriginal culture; in their legendary tales, the Crow was the one who have shown the power of fire to the people.

Native Americans have also special interpretation of crows’ symbolism; for many tribes crows are associated with creation of life. That is the reason why they name their clans after this amazing birds; they believe the spirit of the Crow protects them and guides them.

Similarly, ravens are also believed to have the power of knowing things we people are unable to comprehend; it is even believed they know the true mystery of overall life. Raven is also a powerful totem animal, a wise teacher and a careful guide.

These birds are observant; they are commonly associated with patience and communication.

It is believed they see the world beyond our imagination, the world of supernatural forces. Ravens are, thus, associated with perfect intuition, deep insight and knowledge.

Ravens and crows are both associated with transformation and change. These birds were associated with sorcery, magic and alchemy.

During European medieval era, motifs of crows were commonly used as symbols of transmutation. In more personal sense, these birds represent personal transformation and it is usually a positive transformation; changes that help us grow and develop or adapt to certain circumstances in life.

These animals are commonly associated with destiny and thus believed to be powerful spiritual guides and totem animals, as we have already mentioned.

Both ravens and crows are scientifically proved to be amongst the most intelligent animal species. They are symbols of wisdom, insight and knowledge. It is also believed they hide truths and lore we people are unable to see.

In that sense, we could say their symbolism is mysterious, but positive. Crow and raven motifs offer us insight, the ability to gather knowledge, to learn things. These are some of their most valuable and appreciated spiritual powers.

Resourcefulness and flexibility are another important association. Ravens and crows are skilful and self-reliant creatures.

They are able to survive the most unwelcoming conditions and to adapt to circumstances that do not offer too much to get from. Ravens and crows easily deal with harsh living conditions and can endure times and places that are even considered deadly or sickening.

As spirit animals, they give us power to endure hard times and to overcome challenges and miseries that are sometimes inevitable and impossible to predict and avoid.

Crows and ravens are also associated with trickery and manipulation. In various traditions, these birds appear in legends and stories as tricksters and they are associated with deceit. It is a popular opinion that these birds are companions of people dealing with occultism, witchcraft and dark magic.

In addition, one of the most common associations to these birds are darkness and misfortune. However, it is important to mention that in overall beliefs about these two, crows are mostly seen rather positive beings, while ravens are mostly seen as negative ones.

Raven and crow, totem powers

It is believed that a person whose totem is one of these birds is capable of shape shifting. It could also be understood as an ability of adaptation and change. It means people born under these totems are skilful, clever, self-reliant, resourceful and adaptable.

One of the main traits of these individuals is that they are not people whom you can manipulate easily.

While seeing ravens and crows is commonly believed to be a bad omen, if one of these birds is your totem animal, you are lucky. In that case, these spirit guides offer you valuable lessons and life guidance.

These birds could come to your dreams or appear in your waking life. If they are your spirit animals, they are trying to tell you something important, which is not necessarily bad news.

Totem animals protect and guide us; ravens and crows pass to us their special magical powers, including great insight, intuition, cleverness and ability to transform, adapt and overcome difficulties in life.

For example, crows are one of the most favorite animals in shamanic cultures. Shamanic priests often use crow as their ‘other’ body, in order to see and comprehend things common people are not able to.

As totem and spirit animals, ravens and crow remind us of magic and mystical energies in this world. Particularly crows, which are considered more positive compared to ravens. Crow totem is common amongst Native American tribes, as we have seen.

However, ravens also remind us the world is to be carefully observed for we can learn so much if we only have enough patience and widen our perspectives. Just as crows, ravens are also common shamanic beings; they are also associated with shape shifting. Many people say ravens bring bad news on their black wings.

Nevertheless, these birds are also believed to give us strength and to nurture our intuition, if observed as totem guides. Ravens are also associated with healing, development and personal growth.

Raven and crow superstitions

Ravens and crows carry strong and rich symbolism, so superstitions about these birds are many. Since basic symbolic nature of ravens and crows is similar, thus are superstitions.

Beliefs vary throughout the world and depend on particular culture. However, there are several raven and crow beliefs that are dominant all over the world.

Let us find out what are some common superstitions about these birds.

Seeing crows and ravens

Are crows bad luck? Does seeing a raven means darkness is coming? Are these mysterious birds heralds of darkness or messengers of good fortune? Perhaps they are both; it mainly depends on what you believe.

However, you have to agree there is certain veil of mystery around these dark feathered creatures. We have already seen ravens and crows are often wrongly accused of bringing bad luck; in fact, it was just a natural presumption of our ancestors.

Since these birds are often seen flying over the battlefield, where many dead soldiers lie, hanging on sad, barren trees or graveyard stones, people ascribed to them dark and gloomy meanings.

Seeing crows and ravens could be interpreted as a bad omen, but also as a lucky sign. There are many variations. For example, the number of the birds you have seen matters a lot. Two crows meaning is something people often search for, as well as three crows meaning.

If you have seen two crows, it is a lucky sign. If you see three crows, the fortune is even greater.

Seeing this number of crows indicates you will gain more knowledge, improve your skills and develop your talents. This superstition favors crows. Seeing ravens, in general, is considered bad omen; these are more often associated with evil, misery and misfortune, compared to crows.

On a positive side, when talking about raven superstitions, there is another interpretation. Several mythology stories tell us about ravens’ incredible sight; actually, these birds are believed to be kind of all seeing creatures.

In Nordic mythology, two ravens, Hugin and Munin, are believed to be ears and eyes of the almighty Odin. They fly over the world, ruled by gods, and gather precious information for the Father of gods.

There is a Welsh superstition in which is said that being good towards ravens could heal a blind person.

Black crow meaning

Crow superstitions are abundant in symbolism. For example, they are closely related to meanings of black color. Seeing a black crow is considered a bad omen, similarly to seeing a raven, which is known for his shiny, midnight black coat.

Black crow and black crows’ feathers are associated with mysterious forces and the realm of dead.

This symbol brings bad fortune or predicts bad events. Seeing a black crow means you should be very cautious. Black crow also symbolizes our inner self, deep intuition and thoughts.

As a symbol, it calls us to explore our own mind and soul.

White raven meaning

White raven is something extraordinary to be seen, since they represent a rare natural phenomenon.

In symbolical sense, white ravens represent everything opposite to common black fellows.

They are symbols of purity, light, positive energy. If a person sees a white raven or, more likely, dream about it, it is an extremely good omen.

It indicates spiritual cleansing, discovering a new life path, being pure minded, good hearted and in harmony with the world. White ravens are considered a blessing.

Craw cawing meaning

Hearing a crow cawing is a call of guidance. If you have clearly heard it, it means you should listen to your inner voice and follow your spirit guidance.

Crows are considered magical beings and bringers of changes. Crow cowing means you are about to make some important decisions and changes in life.

If the Crow is your totem animal, this is a lucky omen; it means you are not alone and your spirit guide will help you by their own wisdom and knowledge.

Crow feather meaning

Crow feathers are always been special to Native American people. Feathers of such a mysterious and praised bird are also believed to be magical. Crow feather represents wisdom, higher perspective, intuition, resourcefulness and skillfulness.

On the other hand, seeing a crow feather could also mean something bad is about to happen.

The exact interpretation depends on particular circumstances in which an individual sees or handles crows’ feathers.

Dead crow or raven meaning

Dead crow meaning is dual, while dead raven meaning is usually only one. If you think of crows as messengers of darkness, then killing a crow or seeing a dead one is a positive sign.

It means you will overcome your troubles or that dark times are soon to be over. On the other hand, dead crow could also mean bad luck, if we think about these birds as keepers of great knowledge, beings associated with wisdom and higher perspective.

Seeing a dead raven or killing it is generally considered a good sign, because ravens are more likely to be seen as heralds of dark forces.