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There have been countless depictions of ravens in literature, folklore, myths, and cultures.
As a result of their jet black plumage and harrowing calls, ravens are most commonly associated with death, and are often seen as an omen.
However, ravens aren’t always a sign of imminent death or suffering.
There are several symbolic meanings of ravens, depending on specific cultures and how many ravens you see at a time.
If you’ve recently encountered a raven or if they keep occurring in your dreams, then it might be worth looking into their symbolism.
Here are the spiritual meanings for what ravens symbolize, based on mythology, religion, cultures, and spirituality.
Ravens In Cultures, Mythology, And Religions
Ravens In Greek Mythology
Ravens first became synonymous with bad luck in Greek mythology.
According to mythology, the god Apollo would send a white raven down to earth to spy on his lover, Coronis, who had been unfaithful to Apollo.
Upon hearing this news, Apollo scorched the raven in his anger, turning the white raven pitch black (which is why ravens are black today).
As Apollo was the god of prophecy, it was then believed that the sight of a raven would prophesize bad luck.
Ravens In Judaism
Interestingly, the raven is the first bird species mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.
A raven is released by Noah in the Book of Genesis to test that the flood has reduced, and is then mentioned frequently throughout the bible.
If you were to associate ravens with Judaism, there would be several various meanings for ravens – but the vast majority of the symbolic meanings show that ravens are a sign of help.
Ravens In Hinduism
In Hinduism, the deity Shani is represented with a raven as his vahana – a vehicle of which Shani mounts.
As a result of this, ravens are seen as sacred birds in Hinduism, with offerings to the birds being an essential part of festivals.
When ravens are given offerings, Shani reduces the suffering of the offeree.
According to Hindu culture, ravens are associated with the loss of a loved one.
When a family member dies, families will prepare food (typically the favorite foods of the family member who has passed) and offer it to crows and ravens.
It is believed that when a raven touches or eats the food, it means the soul of their loved one is happy and at peace.
Ravens In Germanic Culture
According to ancient Germanic mythology, ravens were associated with Odin – a pagan god associated with death, wisdom, royalty, healing, knowledge, and war.
Ravens were commonly depicted in artwork of Odin, with two recurring ravens that were later defined in Norse mythology as Huginn and Muninn.
Huginn (meaning “thought”) and Muninn (meaning “memory”) were said to be Odin’s eyes and ears, serving as communicators and bringers of messages to Odin.
Ravens In Celtic Traditions
Similar to Germanic depictions of ravens, ravens were associated with the battleground and warfare in Irish mythology.
The same goes for Welsh traditions, wherein Welsh god Bran the Blessed’s head was used as a talisman against invasion in London.
As his name literally translated to raven, the birds were henceforth seen as an omen of death for anyone who dared to fight the Celts.
Ravens In Native American Cultures
As with other iconic animals (such as the buffalo, wolf, and eagle), the raven plays a huge role in Native American cultures.
Each tribe has their own variations of myths and traditions, but the general consensus is that the raven is symbolic of a trickster or creator of light, which are highly contrasting symbols.
As tricksters, ravens are commonly associated with the cause of mayhem and chaos.
As creators of light, ravens are associated with some of the earliest creators of the world before there was light, which is why their feathers are jet black.
Ravens are also often linked with shapeshifting, as a result of their iridescent feathers that change in shape and color.
This is said to encourage an individual to have the courage to change and shapeshift like the raven, but not to take the raven’s chaos and trickster behavior too literally.
Other tribes claim that ravens are associated with black magic and negative energies, which is likely linked to other previous depictions of ravens in mythologies about how the birds are a direct link with the dead and the “other side”.
However, ravens can also be associated with magic in general, and seen as a messenger from where everything on earth originated, and ultimately where everything will go.
This is why ravens are prevalent and sacred to a lot of ceremonies, as the bird was believed to transport the energy of messages to those who have passed.
Ravens In Christianity
Unlike the depiction of ravens in Judaism, ravens have a slightly more negative association in Christianity.
According to the story of Noah’s Ark, the ravens did not return to the ark after the flood, and instead fed on the corpses of the animals who were killed.
Its carrion appetite then led to the assumption that ravens are evil beasts distracted by their appetite.
Ravens are seen as a failure to Noah and God, with some Christians going as far as associating ravens with Satan.
However, there are several other symbolic depictions of ravens in the bible that contrast greatly to the idea that they are ferocious scavengers.
Ravens are actually depicted as messengers with God’s provision, as Elijah was fed by the ravens (sent by God) when he was a fugitive in the wilderness.
So, ravens are typically associated with finding a message from God during a time of need.
Ravens aren’t going to solve your problems, but they arrive to teach you a lesson or make you aware of a particular energy.
What Does It Mean When You See 1 Raven?
When you see a singular raven, this is believed to be the spirit of a loved one watching over you, ensuring that you are not alone in times of sadness and grief.
The symbolic meaning of this is believed to originate from religions and mythology that saw the raven as a communicator and messenger between our world and the other side.
So, if you come across 1 raven while you are lonely or frustrated, it is believed that this is the spirit or soul of a loved one who has passed visiting you.
What Does It Mean When You See 2 Ravens?
When you see 2 ravens, it doesn’t mean that 2 spirits of deceased loved ones are watching over you.
Instead, 2 ravens are symbolic of a presence and aura of magic around you. This is linked to ancient mythologies about how ravens had magical powers.
So, if you see 2 ravens, this could be a sign of new beginnings.
The magic energy that you exude will attract the magical birds, and will teach you that you have a lot of power in a new environment and to trust your energy.
The magic doesn’t have to come from you, either, as it may refer to the energy of someone else.
What Does It Mean When You See 3 Ravens?
When you see 3 ravens, it’s likely because you are carrying a lot of inner negative energy.
Ravens are intuitive and sensitive birds that can detect such negative energies, which is why they are often sent down in a group of 3 to make you aware of the negative energies you are carrying.
If you ever come across 3 ravens, then it might be worth aligning your chakras and working on grounding and meditation techniques to release your negative energies.
What Does It Mean When You See 4 Ravens?
It’s actually pretty rare to see 4 ravens, as ravens are fairly solitary birds (unless they are with their mate in the roosting season).
So, if you come across 4 ravens, this is a sign that you have good company around you.
You are surrounded by good friends and family, and the ravens are reminding you to be grateful for your true companions.
Spiritual Meanings For Ravens
Religious and mythological symbolism of ravens aside, ravens can actually be symbolic of something going on in your life.
So, if you encounter a raven either in real life or in a dream, then the bird is likely there to make you aware of something in your current life.
Here are some spiritual meanings for why you might see a raven.
You Are Emotionally Unstable
When you come across a raven, either in real life or a dream, it’s likely as a sign that you need to assess your emotional needs.
Gone are the days of associating a raven with a bad omen – sometimes, seeing those jet black feathers is just what you need to realize your emotional instability.
Whether you’re feeling anxious, lonely, frustrated, sad, or you’re missing someone, then seeing a raven will remind you to assess your emotions.
This might be a sign to commit to some well-needed meditation, chakra aligning, or even healing through Reiki (Check out The Best Reiki Tables Here).
You Need To Survive
Ravens are notorious survivors in the natural world, feeding off carrion and ensuring they can find food through scavenging to stay alive.
So, when you come across a raven, this could be a sign from the universe that you need to build tough skin for hard times that might appear soon.
As much as it’s important to remain in touch with your emotions, sometimes you need to develop a stiff upper lip and build a toughened skin to combat whatever will threaten your survival – whether it’s a rough week at work or dealing with a personal legal case.
Ravens are persistent survivors, so it’s now your time to take inspiration.
You Are Spiritually Intelligent
Ravens are believed to be messengers between our world and the spiritual world, so if you come across one, this could be symbolic of your spiritual intelligence.
When you see a raven, it’s time to reflect on your spiritual awareness and intelligence, because the raven might be a sign that you’re connected with the spiritual realm and yourself.
Some have come across ravens repetitively, such as in the form of recurring dreams, which has led them to look into using their spiritual intelligence to become psychic mediums.
Of course, you don’t have to use your skills for others, but maybe it’s time to hone in on your spiritual intelligence.
You Will Meet Your Soul Mate
Ravens are notoriously solitary birds that don’t typically flock in groups (known as a “conspiracy” or an “unkindness”).
However, they will often fly and hunt with a mate during the mating season.
So, if you see two ravens together, this might be a sign that you are close to meeting your soul mate – or at least someone who is about to make a romantic impact on your life.
Not only will ravens stick with their mate, but they also mate for life, which is another reason why ravens can be a sign that you are going to meet your soul mate soon.
You Are Near Danger
If you hear the call of a raven – whether in your dream or in the distance – this is a sign that danger is nearby.
Ravens are notoriously vocal birds that will use their calls to communicate with other ravens (specifically their mate) when a threat is nearby. So, use their call as a reason to be alert.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that the sound of a raven means you’re about to immediately get hit by a car.
Instead, it means you need to be more spiritually alert and aware of whatever steps you’re about to make in your life.
This could be referring to anything from signing an apartment lease to dealing with an argument in your relationship.
Transformation Is Near
In mythology and religion, ravens are often depicted as shapeshifters.
This is thanks to their jet black iridescent plumage, which provides flecks of different colors, such as blues and purples and greens, when the feathers hit light.
So, when you see a raven – particularly one that doesn’t look totally black – this is a sign that you’re about to enter a period of transformation.
Transformation, and being open to transformation, is a highly underrated and encouraged part of being a human.
Without transforming and changing, there is no growth.
So, whether you need to transform yourself after a breakup or you’re in need of a physical transformation, then seeing a raven is the best sign to do so.
Ravens As Spirit Animals
If you have a deep and inexplicable connection with ravens, this might mean that they are your spirit animal.
Spirit animals are known in cultures and traditions to guide a person on a journey through similar shared characteristics.
So, if you think ravens are your spirit animals, this might be an indication that you are close to achieving a goal you’ve wanted to achieve for a long time.
As your spirit animal, ravens will not be the sole reason you achieve such a goal – you need to draw your inspiration from the methodical intelligence, ambition, and cunning behavior of a raven to get what you want.
You can call upon your raven spirit animal when you need a question answered, trusting that your intuition will lead you to the right answer.
They will also help you to understand the language of animals, and therefore non-verbal communication between humans, thanks to their intricate calling system between birds.
So, if you’re particularly spiritual (whether you’re a practicing medium or Reiki healer), you will need to call upon your raven spirit animal to help you connect to the spiritual realm.
After all, ravens have been associated with all kinds of magic for centuries, so it only makes sense that your spirit animal is helping you become more in tune with your spiritual intelligence.
This is also a good way to connect with deceased loved ones and to learn how to not fear death, and instead embrace it as another step in our lifetimes.
Raven Tattoo Meaning
Interestingly, ravens aren’t actually a popular tattoo. Tattoo culture is riddled with traditions and myths about “unlucky” tattoos (such as an upside down horseshoe), and given the unfortunate association with bad luck with ravens, it’s not common to see a raven tattoo.
However, if you get a raven tattoo, it is not symbolic of bad luck! In Japanese tattooing traditions, ravens and crows don’t carry the negative connotations that the birds have in the West.
Also, in spirituality, ravens aren’t a sign of negative energies.
Instead, a raven tattoo can be symbolic of whatever you like.
They are typically associated with a connection to death, such as marking the loss of a loved one, and the acceptance of death as a part of life.
Raven tattoos can also be symbolic of transformation, intelligence, ambition, cunning, and a connection to the spiritual world.
So, there you have it! Ravens are a highly misunderstood bird that carry a range of spiritual meanings.
It’s clear that the idea of ravens being an omen of death and evil is a stereotype that doesn’t accurately represent most spiritual, religious, and mythological meanings about ravens.
It’s also clear why spiritual people will call upon ravens (whether as a spirit guide or in the form of a god or goddess) to give them some clarity for a certain situation.
Ravens provide spiritual intelligence and teach us a lot about transformation, death, loneliness, ambition, and survival.
Iesha Mulla underwent a spiritual transformation, shifting from a stressed and narrow-sighted individual to someone deeply connected with spirituality, numerology, and psychic guidance. Her website aims to help others connect with their inner selves and offers numerous spiritual tools, emphasizing continuous learning and community engagement.