Raven Symbolism and Meaning (Totem, Spirit and Omens)

Raven Symbolism

The Native American culture is symbolically linked to many different animals. Each of these animals had spiritual meaning and totem characteristics relating to their figures in the physical world as well. Among birds, the Ravens are known to be the most powerful spirit and, thus, possess a unique symbolism.

Although ravens are not very inclined to inhabit regions heavily populated with humans, their rare sightings hold a lot of meaning for us. There is a lot of mystery surrounding these birds, and therefore, in this article, we will attempt to throw light on their symbolism and spiritual meaning.

As their color might suggest, the ravens are symbolic of darkness, and along with it, everything that is negative and mysterious: death, wars, despair, loneliness, and so on. However, they also have a positive side to them and can represent protection, intellect, resourcefulness, dignity, confidentiality, and respect.

Hooded crow or jackdaw, the raven is a bird of major significance; it bears importance in the collective unconscious of various cultures and its symbolism bears importance as well. The raven’s image in mythology, folklore, history, religion, and poetry inform us of its corresponding importance throughout time and geographical origins.

The Native American Indians referred to the Raven as the Creator, or rather the creatrix – like a goddess; an imprintable mark in their creation story that still holds weight within their spiritual beliefs.

Does dreaming of the ravens have a unique, underlying meaning? What do these animals represent in different cultures and traditions of the world? Keep reading, you will receive answers to all of your questions.


Raven symbolism

It is not entirely wrong to associate ravens with death and darkness. However, these birds have many other traits and symbolism as well that we have no idea about. Let’s learn about all of them:

Loss and death

The ravens have a shiny, pitch-black body with glossy, black feathers. Their overall black color is probably one of the most prominent reasons behind their symbolism of loss, death, and darkness. Since many cultures associate black with evil and darkness, it makes sense that these birds are considered unholy and ominous. In many communities, the sight of a raven is considered to bring the news of someone’s death.

Intellect and wisdom

Did you know that ravens can imitate the calls of other birds and animals, even human speech? These birds possess quite a sharp mind that enables them to grab and learn any sound quickly and brilliantly. This is why they’re symbolic of wisdom and intellect.


In many ancient cultures, the ravens have been declared to the messengers of gods that can travel in every realm. They are also associated with shamanism, which is how they came to be known for their ability to protect us from the unseen, unknown enemy.


What does it mean to see a Raven?

Did you spot a raven on your way to work today? It is normal to wonder what a raven sighting could mean for you, and that’s what we are going to tell you here.

A raven sighting indicates that you might be in need of some kind of guidance in your life. However, these birds do not pay a visit to everyone. They’re attracted to the mystical aura of a chosen few. If you’ve seen ravens lately, it means that they have chosen to help you. The following are the things that their spirit can help you with:

  • When you’re responsible for justice, but your emotions blur the line between right and wrong, the ravens will teach you how to detach yourself from the conflict to do the right for everyone.
  • When you’ve gone through a terrible experience that you can’t get out of your head, the raven spirit will help you pull through the darkness and get back in the light of the present.


Raven symbolism in Native America

In the Native American culture, ravens have a mixed symbolism. Some tribes used to worship ravens as a deity and believed them to be the creator of everything in the world.

In other tribes, seeing a raven was considered a good omen and meant the death or defeat of their ill-thinkers and enemies. To some of these communities, they were symbolic of a trickster, a harbinger of mayhem and mischief. Lastly, many tribes thought of the raven as a teacher, a protector, and a keeper of their secrets.

The ravens are also a part of the Native American Zodiac. The people born between September 23rd- October 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere and between March 21st- April 19th in the Southern Hemisphere are said to have their zodiac sign. Those who have their zodiac are powerful, intuitive, and have an innate urge to help others.


Raven symbolism in the Far Eastern culture

In the ancient Japanese religion of Shinto, the ravens were believed to be the messenger of Gods. Amaterasu-Omikami, the Sun Goddess in Japanese mythology, was believed to transform into ravens.

In the Chinese tradition, the crows are believed to be symbolic of the Sun, while the ravens rule it. The people who live in the Philippines consider raven sightings to be ominous, for these birds represent death to them.

According to them, if a raven is croaking in front of someone’s house, someone in that family might die soon.
Ravens are the national bird of Bhutan, where killing them is regarded as a crime against the nation.


Raven symbolism in the Celtic tradition

In the Celtic tradition, the ravens have been known to play messengers between this realm and the other realms.
These birds are associated with Morrigan, the goddess of war.

In many stories and lores, it’s believed that Morrigan could transform into a raven, in which form she was referred to as “Badb”. On the battlefield, whichever side Morrigan would favor was destined to win. Therefore, ravens are symbolic of war and protection.


Raven symbolism in Norse, Greek, and Roman Mythologies

Ravens had an important role to play in the mythology of the Vikings. Odin, who was one of the most revered and powerful gods in Norse mythology, was believed to be accompanied by a pair of ravens called Hugin and Munin.

These ravens flew all over the world and brought back the information of everything they saw to their master. In the Old Norse language, Hugin meant “thought” and Munin meant “memory”.

In both Roman and Greek legends, the ravens were often associated with the Sun and were, thus, mentioned in the stories of Athena, the goddess of war, and Apollo, the God of Sun, light, poetry, and music. In one of these tales, it is said that the ravens were originally white in color.

However, they managed to upset Apollo by spilling one of his secrets in order to save their own lives. Furious at being betrayed, Apollo turned them black as a punishment for their sins. And all ravens have been black ever since.


Raven totem

The raven totems have been blessed by a psychic vision that can easily see a person for who they really are. These totems will enter your life if you’re no good at reading people and it has led to your downfall.

Not only will these totems pull you out of your well of self-pity, but they will also show you how to judge a person’s character. With them, you’ll learn that not everybody is what they appear to be. They will also teach you that is okay to face failure as long as you’re prepared to come back in the game stronger than before.


Dreaming of ravens

Many people easily confuse between crows and ravens in their dreams. Here’s how you can identify if the bird in your dream is a raven and not a crow: ravens are much larger and bulkier than crows, almost as big as hawks, and they have glossy black feathers, unlike the dull feathers of the crows.

So, was that a raven you encountered in your dream? If yes, does it have a hidden meaning for you? Most dreams do have a deeper meaning. Following are some of the common raven dreams, along with their interpretation.

A flock of ravens

If you dream of a flock of ravens, it is a good sign. Such a dream is indicative of the next step of your career. You’re about to be appreciated at your workplace for your exemplary work. Perhaps a promotion or a salary hike is in the cards as well.

An injured raven

Dreaming of an injured raven is not a good sign. Such a dream indicates that your naivety and artlessness will get you into some serious trouble shortly. Someone will sweet-talk you into doing something that is against everything you believe in. This dream is a warning that if you think something like that is happening with you, you must listen to your gut feeling and back down before it’s too late.

A dead raven

While a dead raven draws a morbid image in your head, dreaming of it can be lucky for you. Such a dream signifies that very soon, you will get rid of the obstacle that you’ve been trying to overcome for a long time.

A raven flying over your head

A dream in which a raven is flying right over your head has a message for you. It is telling you that you’ve been invested in your work for far too long and deserve a break. Your dream is urging you to indulge in things that make you happy.

A three-eyed raven

One rarely dreams of a three-eyed raven. Dreaming of them reflects your lack of experience and inability to decide for yourself. You’re perhaps about to make an essential decision of your life but are confused by the choices in front of you. In these circumstances, your best alternative is to consult someone older for their advice.

Killing a raven

If you see yourself killing a raven in your dream, it has a negative interpretation. Such a dream is indicative of some of the other bad habits that you have. Although you are not willing to let go of it, you must know that it can have severe repercussions on your health, either physical or mental.

Raven feathers

If you see raven feathers in your dream but can’t see any raven, it is a bad sign. Such a dream indicates that someone who you trust might try to betray you soon. Consider the dream as a warning and try to be careful about trusting others.


Raven spirit animal

If you are someone who is good at keeping secrets, the spirits of the raven could be guiding you. Taking after their spirit animals, these people take confidentiality very seriously and are admired for it. Most of the people in their family and friend circle entrust them with their secrets.

Not only are these people good at secret-keeping, but they’re also crafty and resourceful, which makes them a reliable advisor. They always have the best solutions to everyone’s problems. That, along with their innate desire to help others, makes them loved wherever they go.

These people also have a lot of dignity. Although they’re used to winning, they always play fair. And when they’ve met their match and lose, they do it respectfully as well. They admire talent, both their own as well as someone else’s.

It is difficult to win their respect, but once they start respecting you, they’ll develop a close bond with you.
As a life partner, these people can be unpredictable and exciting. But for them to truly love you, you must prove yourself to be worthy of their love. They take their own time in trusting people enough to let them in.

Once they’ve decided that you can be trusted, they will show you their true self, and love you as you have never been loved before.

In their professional life, these people are smart and calculating. They’re one of those employees who never get in trouble for anything and are most preferred by the boss. They have a stellar reputation, and promotions and salary hikes are frequent in their life. It is understandable why their co-workers would be envious of them.

There is one downside to the personality of these people; they don’t forgive easily. If you manage to get on their bad side, it is practically impossible for you to redeem yourself in their eyes. Out of all the bird spirits, the ravens can hold a grudge for the longest.


Raven symbolism in the Bible

The ravens have a negative symbolism in the Bible and are said to be symbolic of evil and bad fortune. Just like in the Greek and Roman mythologies, these birds were once believed to be white in color as well.

There is a lore in the Book of Genesis which describes how they turned black. In the lore, Noah had assigned a raven to bring back the news of the floodwaters. However, the raven took too long to return and, thus, incurred God’s wrath, who turned all his feathers to black forever.


Getting a Raven tattoo

Just like the ravens have diverse symbolism in different parts of the world, getting them tattooed on your body could mean any number of things. Given below are some of the most common raven tattoo symbolism.

Many people believe the ravens to be symbolic of the afterlife. Therefore, if they’ve lost someone they loved dearly, they get a raven inked on their skin as a token of their lost love. This tattoo can also be used for overcoming the grief of losing someone close to you.

In some parts of the world, ravens are considered to be mystical beings that possess supernatural powers. Therefore, their tattoos are believed to be a protective symbol, meant to protect the tattoo-bearer from all evil spirits.

Many literature students and scholars who are deeply influenced by Edgar Allen Poe’s writings often get a raven tattoo the honor his most prize literary work, “The Raven”, published in 1845.

Those who associate ravens with darkness and can relate with them are also seen getting raven tattoos.

Like many ancient mythologies, mention ravens to have white feathers and associate them with the Sun, the white raven tattoos as a symbol of the Sun’s energy are also popular among people.


Conclusion: Raven Symbolism and Spiritual Meaning

The ravens have been associated with darkness, black magic, and mystery for as long as we can remember. But in some of the ancient cultures, including Christianity, it is mentioned that there was a time when these birds had a glowing, white body and were symbolic of the Sun and its energy.

The traits and qualities that these brilliant birds are symbolic of are: death, transformation, and rebirth, afterlife, foresight, confidentiality, intellect, wisdom, and trustworthiness. As your spirit animals and totems, these birds will always lift you up and teach you to be righteous and helpful.


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