Raven symbolism

Raven Symbolism in in Culture, Religion & Dream [+Spirit, Totem, Omen]

You must have heard about the most popular show of the last decade, Game of Thrones. Now, if you have seen Game of Thrones, you must have noticed the ravens’ significance in the show’s story plot. Being a history buff and mythologist expert himself, the writer of the show George RR martin did not just randomly choose ravens to be associated with omens, messengers, and the symbolic porter of the greenseer (A greenseer is someone who has the magical ability to perceive the past, present, and future through visions.) Ravens are commonly thought of as a carrier of mystical energies and prophetic divine knowledge.

In many cultures and mythology, it is believed that ravens are infused with significant powers and abilities. For centuries, Ravens have been associated with different meanings and symbols.  In this article, you will get a complete guide on the raven’s meaning and symbolism from the perspective of different cultures, mythology, interpretation of dreams, and spiritual guidance. 

A Glance At The Meaning And Symbolism of Ravens:

AspectsRavens Meaning
Native American Culturebearer of light to the darkness
trickster god
Chinese Mythologyrepresents the three phases of the sun: rise, noon, and setting
Japanese mythology Guidance from heaven
Greek MythologyMessengers of the god Apollo
Bearer of bad luck
Norse MythologySymbolizes thoughts and memory
Celtic MythologyDeath, loss, and darkness 
Symbolizes the death of warriors in battle
ChristianityVice and darkness
Buddhism Guidance and wisdom 
HinduismMessengers between the living world and the spiritual world. 
Ravens as Totem AnimalSymbolizes protection, intelligence, transformation, and fearlessness. 
Ravens as a spiritual animalRepresent rebirth and healing

Raven’s Spiritual Meaning and Symbolism:

Ravens have complicated symbolism that includes both negative and positive perspectives. The spiritual meaning of raven is associated with wisdom, mystery, shape-shifting, transformation, and creativity. Because of its black appearance and scavenging of dead bodies, it is widely considered a symbol of death or darkness. But the symbolism of the raven is quite complex. Apart from being associated with forces of darkness, in some cultures ravens are admired. Raven also signifies prophecy and wisdom.

Raven’s Symbolism in Cultures & Mythology:

Native American Culture:

Numerous tales and legends are deeply ingrained in Native American culture. Each tribe in North America has its own belief and unique stories behind the creation of every element and its existence. But they all share the same value regarding the reverence of nature and animals. Specially ravens have various significant roles in each mythology of the Pacific Northwest Coast Culture, including the Tlingit, Haida, Heiltsuk, and Inuit tribes. In some native American cultures, ravens represent wisdom, knowledge, and transformations, in other tribes ravens are associated with creation as well as shapeshifter.

In Tlingit culture, the Raven is thought of as the bearer of light to the darkness.   it is believed that ravens are the ones that bring the sun, moon, and stars into the world and thus the first-day beings. The raven symbolizes light and hope for the indigenous people of Tlingit culture. 

In Haida mythology, Ravens are described as the trickster god. Tricksters are mythic creatures that are sophisticated supernatural beings who take the form of animals such as the coyote or raven to transit effortlessly between our world and the spirit world.

Asian Culture:

In Chinese mythology, ravens are believed in three-legged shapes called sanzuwu. The three-legged raven represents the three phases of the sun; rise, noon, and setting. 

Ravens are sacred birds to Hindu culture’s gods (Shiva and Kali). Crows and ravens are considered ancestors in Hinduism and it is still customary to feed them at the Radha festival (pinda).

Ravens are called Yatagarasu in Japanese mythology which symbolizes guidance from heaven. In Japan, the symbol of Yatagarasu is still used widely. The flag and badges of the Japan national football team both feature the Yatagarasu symbol.

Greek Mythology:

Ravens symbolize bad luck in greek mythology. In accordance with greek mythology, ravens are the messengers of the god Apollo. An interesting story is practiced about ravens’ symbolism. It is said that ravens were white in color. When a raven brought the message of the unfaithful behavior of Cornosis (Apollo’s lover) to Apollo. Being furious Apollo turns the raven’s feathers black and since then all ravens’ appearances have been black. That’s why in greek mythology ravens are considered the bearer of bad luck.

Norse Mythology:

Norse culture refers to the present days Scandinavian country’s medieval time culture. According to an old Norse poem collection from the earlier 13th century, the Norse god Odin is also known as the raven god. It is said that Odin had two ravens named Huginn and Muninn perched on his shoulders. The two ravens Huginn and Muninn symbolize ‘thought’ and ‘memory’. Odin used these two birds to obtain information from the mortal world. 

Celtic Mythology:

Celtic culture began to emerge near 1200 B.C. Then the Celts people spread throughout western Europe. Ravens are associated with death, loss, and darkness in Celtic mythology.  Ravens play a significant role in the Celtic culture and tradition, especially on the battlefield. It is believed that Celtic war goddesses take the appearance of a raven and flit over the battlefield. According to Celtic culture, ravens flying over a battlefield indicate the deaths of warriors. 

Raven’s Meaning and Symbolism in Different Religions:


According to the interpretation of Philo of Alexandria, Biblically raven represents evil while the dove represents virtue based on the story of ‘Noah’s Ark.’ In Noah’s Ark story, at first Prophet Noah sent a raven to observe whether the water has receded or not after the flood of months. The raven did not return to the ark and survived by devouring the dead bodies that were drowned in the flood. That’s why biblically raven symbolizes vice and darkness. 

Then Noah sent off a dove which returned carrying a branch that assure the prophet of the earth’s prevailing condition for the human habitat.


Ravens signify guidance and wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. According to the story of Ngawang Drakpa, it is said that a raven grabbed monk Ngawang Drakpa’s scarf and guide him to the perfect place where he built his monastery.


In Hindu culture, ravens are thought of as connectors and messengers between the living world and the spiritual world. 

In Hinduism, a ceremony is performed in honor of a dead ancestor which is called Shradh. Believers fed ravens and crows in Shradh believing that ravens will bring food to their ancestors. 

Raven as a Totem Animal:

A totem is a spirit being that serves as an emblem of an individual, family, or clan. Ravens are widely viewed as intelligent corvid and considered a very powerful totem animal. A Raven totem symbolizes protection, intelligence, transformation, and fearlessness. 

If a raven is your totem animal, that indicates you are brave and innovative and you have the strength to overcome and balance all the transformations of your life. If the raven is your totem you should identify and embrace all your inner strengths and weakness which will allow you to align with your physical, emotional, and spiritual self.

Raven as a Spirit Animal:

A person’s animal equivalent is their spirit animal. It is the animal whose vibration is closest to a person’s unique and authentic essence. According to Native American traditions, one does not have control over choosing their spirit animal. Instead, spirit animal appears in one’s life to guide in their soul’s journey.

Despite the raven’s dark symbolism in various cultures, the spiritual raven represents rebirth and healing. Raven is considered a spirit animal that casts light into the darkness and opens doors to the deepest source of healing. 

If the raven is your spirit animal, you should not try to go through dark times by yourself. You should seek enlightenment, support, and guidance. 

Is Raven a Bad Omen?

Mostly ravens are associated with bad luck or a bad omen. But different cultures and religions have different symbolism and belief about ravens. In some cultures, ravens are thought of as links to communicate with the spiritual world while in other cultures it symbolizes death, darkness, and loss. In some religious practices, ravens signify wisdom and intelligence while another religion symbolizes ravens as vice. 

Symbolism is the most complex and diverse set of acts. Raven is not universally considered a bad omen. From some cultural, mythological, and religious perspectives, ravens may be believed as a bad omen whether in some other cultures it is also considered good luck and a symbol of intelligence. 

Seeing Ravens in the Dream:

If your see ravens in your dream, it is important to acknowledge the meaning of your dream. Seeing ravens in your dreams can have different interpretations depending on the circumstances of your life. 

  1. A dead Raven: If you saw a dead raven in your dream, you don’t need to be worried. It’s a good sign. Seeing a dead raven in the dream signifies that a long-time hassle is on the verge of ending. It indicates that all your long-term obstacles will be removed and a positive change is awaiting you.
  2. Flocks of Raven: Dreaming about a flock of ravens is a good sign for your career. It symbolizes positive changes, prosperity, and success. You might go ahead to the path of success faster than you assumed. 
  3. An injured raven: An injured raven conveys the message of danger. If you see an injured raven in your dream, you should probably be aware of the surroundings and people around you. Sometimes danger comes from where we expected the less. You should be conscious of your emotions and acts.
  4. A Raven Caws: Dreaming of a raven’s caw is a reminder to remain strong. You may find yourself in a tough situation in the near future but being confident and strongly facing it is the key to out of the situation. 

Key Takeaways:

The symbolism and meaning of ravens vary from culture to religion to tradition. Whether ravens are your spirit animal or you are seeing ravens in your dreams, keep the following meanings in your mind:

  • Ravens are a symbol of protection
  • Ravens bring courage to face obstacles.
  • Seeing ravens are a reminder to stay focused and strong.
  • Ravens symbolize healing and light from the darkness. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

What does the feather of a raven symbolize?

The Raven’s feather symbolizes changes. A Raven’s feather changes its color in the shed of sunlight which implies the changes in events in life. 

What does a raven tattoo mean?

In many cultures, it is believed that their deceased loved ones are appearing in a disguise as ravens. Some people get a tattoo of the raven as a symbol of their lost love. 
Ravens totem animal symbolizes protection. A Raven tattoo can also mean the protection of the tattoo bearer from evil things. 
Literature admired people often get a raven tattoo in the honor of Edgar Allen Poe’s mastery work “The Raven”. 

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