Raven symbolism represents bad luck, destruction, and death. This bird has appeared in art, folklore, and literature all over the world for millennia.

Ravens in Mythology and Cultures

Celtic Culture

Celtics believed that ravens symbolized battle. Ravens symbolize battle because they are scavengers that eat just about anything on the battlefield.

Native American

In Native American culture, if you encounter a raven, it means a change is coming. This change is generally positive. 

Norse Culture 

There is a principal pagan god, Odin, who’s the god of war, poetry, and wisdom in Norse mythology. According to the legend in Norse mythology, Odin has two ravens on his shoulders that serve as his advisors and spies. Ravens symbolize wisdom, prophecy, and cunning. These two ravens follow him as his shadow.


Ravens are an important part of Japanese Mythology, as the bird is in numerous folktales.  The legend of Yatagarasu says that the bird was sent from heaven to serve as a guide to Emperor Jimmu. Emperor Jimmu was embarking on a journey from the region of Kumano to Yamato. The raven was thought to symbolize a divine intervention in human affairs. 

Ancient Greeks

In Greek mythology, ravens are associated with the god of prophecy, or Apollo. Ravens are considered a sign of bad luck and were considered a messenger to those in the mortal world. 

Raven Symbolism and Spiritual Meanings

Intelligence and Cunning

Ravens are considered to be one of the most intelligent birds. Biologists have found that ravens can communicate about objects and events. For example, if a raven leaves its nest and finds another food source, the raven will return to the nest and tell its mate so that it can return to the food source.

Ravens can also be clever tricksters. If they find another raven’s stash of food, they may steal it for themselves. Because other ravens are aware of this, some will pretend to bury their food in one place just to go and bury it somewhere else.

Survival and Adaptability

Ravens show that they can adapt and survive in a range of conditions. This bird is a powerful totem for dealing with challenging environments.  Ravens symbolize having an open mind and embracing new experiences you come across, as easy experiences can be learning opportunities.

Partnerships and Guidance

Ravens don’t tend to stick together in large groups but rather have a mate or a partner they spend their time with. The pair will work together when putting together a nest, for example. 

Ravens will also help other species. For example, if a raven sees the carcass of another dead animal, the bird might alert a pack of wolves or coyotes.  Because of how ravens work together, ravens symbolize partnership and seeking out someone who compliments you. 

Transformation and Opportunity

Throughout cultures, ravens are viewed as a symbol of change and opportunity. While ravens symbolize death or bad luck for some, on a spiritual level, death is a transformation to a different state of existence and consciousness.

If you encounter a raven, it can mean that you need to consider if there is something in your life that you want to transform and improve. Ravens can symbolize positive change. 

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