Crow Symbolism: Definitive Guide

Crows are one of the most common and recognizable birds due to their distinctive black plumage and raucous calls.

But did you know that they are part of a much larger group of birds known as the corvids? The corvid family includes crows, ravens, jackdaws, jays, magpies, rooks, treepies, choughs, and nutcrackers.

Other than their coloration – many of these birds share glossy black feathers for which these birds are also called crows.

The elusive yet captivating crow and raven have always been integral to our collective human mythology. For many civilizations throughout human history, crows and ravens have been symbols of illusion as well as themes intertwining death, magic, and mystery. 

Though both these bird species come from the Corvus family genus, they differ entirely.

Crows astound us with their intelligence; they have been studied for centuries to try and understand how and why they possess such unique problem-solving capabilities.

Recent research has shown that these birds are capable of complex abstract thought, just like humans. This adds a mystique to their already fascinating nature and leads to the belief that there is much more going on in their brains than we ever imagined.

Crows challenge our understanding of animal cognition, demanding further investigation into what sets them apart from other intelligent animals.

This article talks about Crow Symbolism :

What do Crows symbolize?

Seen by some cultures as harbingers of death and darkness, crows have long been considered feared or even evil creatures in modern western culture.

But it is much more complex than that; crow symbolism can represent both positive and negative omens – from wisdom and intelligence to fortune and transformation – depending on the culture’s interpretation. 

It seems that crows, such as ravens, have deep and rich meanings embedded in practically every culture and society.

From Ancient Mesopotamian to Mesoamerican, from Norse to Celtic, and from Pacific to modern Western cultures, crows clearly have an undeniable symbol of power.

These birds of prey often symbolize death and destruction but also intelligence and wisdom. In certain cultures, they are even seen as messengers between realms or beings held sacred.

The French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss postulated that ravens, who scavenge scraps of dead animals, have become iconic and mythical due to their close proximity to death.

Though they occupy an uneasy relationship with mortality, these scavengers are also viewed as a rather intelligent species, and this dichotomy intrigues the human psyche. 


Death is a subject that has intimidated and captivated people since antiquity, and more than a few minutes spent Googling it can bring up hundreds of different beliefs and associations with it.

Corvids like crows and ravens often come up in these discussions; their proximity to death makes them one of the most enduring symbols of mortality.

Such birds are known for their scavenging abilities, almost finding dead animals ‘instinctively’ or seeking them out for sustenance as part of their life cycle. Due to this, corvids have become synonymous with death itself.

For Serbians and other old European cultures, the crow as a symbol of death was far more than an animal – it served as an embodiment of their deepest fears of mortality.

Associated within folklore, ravens are viewed as trapped souls condemned to wander the earth without rest: in Swedish tradition, they’re the unsatisfied spirits of those murdered without rituals or ceremony; in German mythos, they’re damned phantoms from Hell.

Ravens and crows have always been associated with a mysterious presence in Celtic folklore and mythology; these birds are often associated with the old goddess Morrigan, who was often linked with death, war, and guardianship of nature.

In Welsh mythology, ravens and crows are especially revered due to their association with Brân the Blessed – a slayer of giants and a warrior god whose name translates to “crow” or “raven.”

For many cultures in this region, including ancient Celts, the raven has played an important role as both a harbinger of doom and an envoy between worlds.

It is believed they were able to carry messages between here and heaven and may also be viewed as sources of wisdom that can bridge our understanding of both past and present.

In Central Asian folklore, ravens are viewed as menacing and malevolent spirits of war, death, and violence. According to Yakut mythology from Turkey, it is believed that these birds carry with them an ominous presence; one of destruction and misery.

After battle, crows arrive in their scores to feed upon the corpses of the slain. This belief is reinforced by the idea that where death goes, crows follow.

It is clear why such a creature has come to be seen in such a negative light in Central Asia folklore – there have been generations that have linked these sinister creatures with death.

Prescience, fortune telling, and as messengers

Ravens and crows have long been seen as creatures with special knowledge about the future. This perception is evident in numerous mythologies and folklore throughout many cultures.

In Norse mythology, the God Odin relied on two ravens – Huginn and Muninn – for sight after sacrificing an eye for wisdom. His two ‘eyes’ flew across the world and reported back to him, their names translating to ‘thought’ and ‘memory.’

These magical birds not only allowed him to know what was happening across the world but provided timely warnings about potential risks or dangers. 

Ravens have long been symbols of wisdom and dark secrets, but their connection to the Greek god Apollo runs much deeper.

Although often associated with death, ravens may also represent communication, as evidenced by the story of Apollo and his lover Coronis.

As a sign of trust, Apollo sent one of the birds to keep an eye on Coronis while she was with her new lover. Unfortunately, it reported back that she had strayed from Apollo’s affections – an unforgivable betrayal in his immortal eyes.

In retribution for the deception, he scorched the raven’s feathers black and made it a symbol of doom forevermore.

Ravens have long played a role in native and indigenous American and Canadian mythology, primarily appearing in the form of divination rituals among tribes such as the Kwakiutl or Kwakwaka’wakw of British Columbia.

In these beliefs, ravens were considered a messenger between humans, gods, and spirits, representing strength and resourcefulness.

Raven symbolism is prominent throughout the Bible and has long been historically associated with messages – even before the time of Noah. In ancient Greek mythology, ravens were messengers of Ares, the god of war, and in Norse mythology, two white ravens named Hjalmar and Huarwar were thought to be sent by Odin to bring news from all around the world.

It’s no surprise then that in the Bible, ravens are depicted as godly messengers fulfilling divine tasks such as feeding Elijah or guiding Noah during the great flood. The Book of Genesis 8:6-7 reads “after forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth”.

Additionally, in Judaism crows and ravens have a complicated relationship due to the species’ proximity to death, signified by their “uncleanliness”. The Bible also refers to crows as symbols of resilience and strength. This can be seen through examples such as the stories of Elijah and Job, in which these characters faced suffering and hardship yet persevered.

Crow intelligence

Aesop saw the intelligence of crows more than 2500 years ago, and we can only imagine what other ancient peoples intuited about these striking black birds. So it is no surprise that Ravens and crows have since been associated with wisdom in a variety of myths and folklore around the world and shining through literature with the notorious Raven of Edgar Allen Poe.

Aesop’s “The Crow & the Pitcher” is an interesting short story that highlights the cognitive capabilities of a crow. Despite having neither opposable thumbs nor sophisticated tools to work with, this clever bird was able to deduce a solution to its thirst – dropping stones into the pitcher in order to raise the level of water. This speaks volumes about crow intelligence and shows how animals can find creative ways to solve problems.

Ravens and crows have a deep connection to wisdom and intelligence in Native American and Indian folklore. In Indian mythology, there is a story about Kakabhusandi, an all-knowing crow who perches atop the branches of Kalpataru, the wish-fulfilling tree. Similarly, in Hinduism, Lord Rama bestows the gift of foresight upon another crow—a symbol of his divine power.

Crows, also hold an interesting place in the realm of spirituality, specifically in both Tibetan Buddhism and its use of the Dakini. The Dakini is a goddess who is linked to the Dharmapala, Menla or Mahakala, who can take the form of a crow. The Dakini crow works as a protector of the Dharma, allowing for a connection with spiritual energies and forces that are unseen by others. 

Ravens in English folklore

The legend surrounding the Tower of London’s ravens has been part of English folklore for hundreds of years. It’s said that if their six ravens were to ever die or are removed from the Tower, then the English kingdom would come to an end — a belief that dates back to the time when Charles II was on the throne. Perhaps it is fitting, then, that it was the demands of Charles II’s Astronomer Royal, John Flamsteed, which reportedly led to the removal of the birds in 1665. Of course, Charles lived another thirty-five years beyond this incident and there have been ravens in residence at the Tower ever since – so thankfully it doesn’t appear as though any omens came true!

During WW2, the iconic and legendary ravens of the Tower of London suffered from tragedy, when it was reported that most of them died through shock. Out of all the Ravens living at The Tower, only a mated pair named Mabel and Grip remained – but not for long. It was said that as Mabel flew away, her mate Grip stayed behind in sadness and eventually flew away himself too. This news soon spread around all major newspapers and any stories that had previously been told about the origins and significance of these birds have potentially been dispelled with their disappearance from the Tower.

The year 1946 was an important one for the Tower of London. After centuries of being the seat of power and authority within the British Empire, it quickly became clear that its place in the world had changed. That same year, new ravens were brought in and cared for by a Ravenmaster – their activities giving impetus to the legend surrounding them.

Crow spiritual meaning

Crows and ravens are two birds that share many similar characteristics. They have been seen as important symbols in modern spiritualism. In this vein, the birds are believed to represent transformational change, a heightened state of awareness, possibly indicating instincts of predestination, insight, and understanding.

Unflinching courage even in the face of danger and peril, the secrecy that surrounds the unknown or undiscovered realms of life experience, resourcefulness in tackling all kinds of problems with versatile solutions, analyzing situations from every angle while remaining unyielding – as well as associated with some less desirable qualities such as trickery and guile, omens of bad luck that come out of nowhere and even willful mischievousness for its own sake.

Similarly, crows and ravens have long been known as totem animals, symbolic of intelligence and resilience. Seen as harbingers of magic, they represent not just the strength to persevere through difficult times but also the energy of cunning problem-solving. It is no wonder that so many cultures throughout history have attributed an esteemed magical power to ravens and crows.

Crows have a long-standing reputation as symbols of death and doom. It is said that seeing a flock of crows near your home or in the sky can signify impending misfortune or even death. However, in modern spiritualism, crows are seen in a much more positive light.

Seeing a Crow and a black cat together

Black cats and crows have a long history of being viewed as omens; they have been symbols of witches, death, and the supernatural. While many myths surround these animals, it’s clear why they are often associated with dark symbolism. For instance, when seen together, black cats and crows can be a magical sight to behold as they represent mortality, ancestry, and the future. Unfortunately, superstitions about them still exist and some people fear them for their alleged bad luck or deathly implications.

Seeing a Crow and a Magpie together

Crows and magpies may look similar, as they are both parts of the corvid family and share many traits, but their symbolic context in Chinese culture could not be any more different. Though it’s often a common sight to see these two birds together, scavenging through our yards, forests or fields, crows and magpies carry vastly different meanings in Eastern tradition. While the magpie is deemed lucky and brings news of celebration, the crow symbolizes bad fortune and deceit and is seen as a bird of ill omen.

Ancient Chinese proverbs were seen as wise words of advice that contained profound truths, and this proverb is one such gem. It suggests that even though magpies are traditionally associated with good luck, honesty is still more beneficial. This message is relevant today because although magpies may bring you success, it’s never at the expense of your integrity.

What does it mean when a Crow crosses your path?

No matter where you look around the world, you will likely find crows. And with their presence comes a spiritual reminder that change is nigh.

Whether for good or for bad, these encounters ought to be taken seriously. What may appear as an ordinary animal sighting could entirely shape and transform your life.

After all, it could bring about experiences and revelations of great significance. It could even lead you to finally unlocking your true destiny. However, one must also prepare for more undesirable prospects like poor luck or loss.

If you find a Crow feather meaning?

If you find a crow feather, it might be a reminder of the mystical power their presence brings. Crows in many cultures are symbols of things from intelligence and creativity to death.

If a Crow appears in your dream?

Dreams carry a lot of significance for many, and the presence of crows can signal a range of messages. Crows may represent forthcoming change or be seen as symbols of accepting one’s current path in life.

On the one hand, they often illustrate intelligence, wisdom and adaptability while on the other they may symbolize the outlook that is less focused on light and more associated with feelings like shame, guilt and self-loathing.

The dreamer must ensure, to be honest when attempting to decipher such visions in order to gain insight into their own lives, constructive in assessing hidden behaviors or traits they possess while also being able to embrace joyfully any potential changes ahead.

Crows as spirit animals

Crows, as totem animals, symbolize the power of radical change and the ability to transition over your fears and doubts.

They signify an individual with ongoing ambition; someone with the strength, intelligence, wisdom, and foresight to act upon their inner fire with clarity—and take action towards manifesting their destiny.

Crows are keenly tuned into the energy of what lies ahead on our path, while also understanding that we have the power to shape our own future.

With them as a spirit guide, you become attuned to your personal journey and discover new ways to achieve your dreams—fulfilling your own sense of purpose along the way.

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My self Mark. I have been birding for the last 10 years. Birdwatching is and will be my favorite hobby.

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