Raven Meaning, Symbols, Spirit and Totem

Written by : Posted on April 7, 2012 : 17 Comments


Raven Spirit Symbols:

Introspection, Self-knowledge, Courage, Magic, Mysteries, Shape-shifting, Creation, Divination, Wisdom, Truth, Answers, Secrets, Messages, Instruction, Change


Many birds are seen as messengers between heaven and earth, and the raven totem no exception. In addition to carrying messages back and forth from a higher plane, raven spirits also bring meaning from a darker place, within. If a raven guide has appeared in your life and spoken to you, turn your focus inward, it is time for a change. Though as people, we often fear change, the changes raven totems bring are often meaningful and revelatory. The message of change is often difficult, but it is through overcoming obstacles and difficulties that we grow the most. Instead of becoming fearful or uncomfortable when confronted with the challenge, instead anticipate the end result. Ravens are incredibly perceptive; meaning, that if you’ve fallen under the scrutiny of this bird, that which needs to be changed should be revealed. If you’re having difficulty realizing what should change, then change the way you’re looking at yourself or a problem.

Ravens are also considered powerful teachers of the mysteries, or magic. Consider the truth and inner wisdom we each hold within. Just as a raven spirit can mimic the calls of many birds and animals so can you learn to understand the meaning buried in the symbols and messages that surround us. Raven totems teach magic, or reveals the magic within, not hocus pocus magic, but how the energy of your will can be used to shape and create the environment around you. This ties into the message of change, not only can you change internally, but you can change the external. Again, people often dread the raven guide and his message because developing strong willpower, changing, or exercising your intention, takes dedication and persistence.


Raven Considerations:

While many people say that no evil or malevolent creatures were created, the raven spirit has accumulated a wealth of different meanings, many of them not so good. They are commonly associated with bringing bad omens, tidings of death, sorrow, and destruction. A great deal of ancient symbolism associated with this bird is positive, but it is still important to consider that the collective thoughts or feelings of a person or society do create some truth or meaning. So if everyone believes that the Raven totem is a bad omen, in some sense it transforms into one. It is up to you when seeing or encountering a raven spirit, to perceive the feeling and circumstance of the experience.

Raven guide flies to us with the message of heightened perception and greater awareness of our conscious and subconscious minds. Just as a raven is often a silent observer, you may wish to observe your environment, the people in it, and your own behavior. Your behavior is motivated by a deep and complex tapestry woven over the expanse of your entire lifetime. The Raven totem is a gatekeeper of knowledge, a keeper of secrets, and a protector of truth. An interesting note about this protection is that the raven guide often protects us from difficult truths, or inner demons. When the Raven totem is faced with a challenge it will persist, it will approach the problem from many angles, it will use tools, all just to get to that juicy morsel at the center of the problem. Don’t expect change to come overnight, face your own inner challenges, it takes time to untangle the knots you’ve spent years making. The knots are like blocks, untangle them, follow the threads, and great inner truths will be revealed.

Consider the raven spirit’s consumption of carrion, or dead animals, this is a message that within death is life. When changing, do not simply cast off your old self, but consume and incorporate those parts which give you strength. Learn from your mistakes, and the mistakes of others, and give new wings to thoughts and behaviors that were previously stopped from taking flight.

Ravens are not easily intimidated by other birds, they are persistent, monogamous, intelligent, foresighted (they store or cache food for the future), problem solvers, tool users, and opportunistic.


Raven in Dreams:

If you’ve had a dream about a raven spirit its meaning is likely that big changes are coming your way or it may symbolize an end to a phase or habit in your life.

As ravens eat carrion, or will steal food from others, seeing one in a dream may symbolize or mean that someone is taking advantage of your misfortune.

Raven totem is a guardian or keeper of our fears, to see one in a dream can be seen as a message to examine these fears. Raven will guide you in revealing these inner secrets and to see your demons for what they are.

Raven Cultural Symbolism:

Middle Eastern– The raven is often considered an unclean animal, this is due to its consumption of carrion.

Biblical– Similar to the above, ravens are forbidden food in bible. Ravens are shamed when Noah sends one to search for land and it fails to return. A positive note for ravens in the bible, comes when a raven feeds the prophet Elijah when he is in hiding from King Ahab.

Nordic– The one eyed god Odin had two ravens as messengers, they were named thought and memory.

Native American– Many Native American tribes honor the raven for bringing light to mankind, there are also many stories of them being tricksters, and seekers of truth.

Chinese– In Chinese myth ravens represented the sun and its cycles.

Egyptians– Ravens were seen as harbingers of destruction and battle.

Greek- The god Apollo had a raven as a messenger

Celtic– Ravens were symbols of battle and destruction, but also of difficult change.


This article is currently a stub, it will be expanded to a full length article in the future.



  1. This article is brilliant, thank you for writing it. I am currently working on a story that is of a darker genre than what I would usually write, and am looking to incorporate one or a few Ravens within the storyline. This has given me further knowledge on what these beautiful birds actually represent, despite all of the negativeness. Thank you again.

  2. Beautiful and informative article. I really liked it. A raven has followed me many times no matter which place I had been to. I have communicated with them lovingly at times. lot of raven feathers were dropped on my belongings such as my car and other places and things too.
    I like the Raven.
    thannks a lot for the lovely article and its beautiful contents in it.

  3. Thanks so much! This is well done with a good and helpfull mix of different cultures views and interpretations on the subject. My interest in the subject began when I watched the Wes Anderson film, Moonrise Kingdome. I now feel that I have a much better understanding of the film regarding character development as well as its primary theme. Again thanks so much, this really helped me. Quote from Moonrise Kingdome that sparked my interest:

    Sam: [In the women’s dressing room] What kind of bird are you?
    Sparrow: [Starting to point to the other actresses] I’m a sparrow, she’s a dove…
    Sam: [Cutting her off] No. I said…
    [Points to Suzy]
    Sam: What kind of bird are YOU?
    Suzy: I’m a raven.

  4. I am almost convinced ravens are born 70 years old. During 9 years in Inuvik I had ample opportunities to observe their cunning and show of ‘smarts’ in more ways than one. Try putting a few bags of groceries in the back of your pick-up, and you’ll know what I mean! When you put the bags down, there isn’t a bird in sight but by the time you come back in less than five minutes, there’s at least one of them checking out the load! Stay away for another five minutes and the bacon is devoured, there’s Corn Flakes all over the place and the toilet paper is shredded. I the late 80’s I witnessed a piece of fabulous interaction between one of my dogs and 3 4 ravens. This was in the latter parts of winter and the dog was given his bowl of food outside the house. He was tethered on a good-sized length of chain and was just going for his food when a raven cawed behind him. As the birds were a constant cause for irritation, he abandoned his food to chase the raven – who was immediately accompanied by two or three of his brethren. They began an almost ritualistic dance back and forth in front of his eyes, meanwhile taking turns sneaking up to the bowl to feed. Within in 15 minutes all of them had enjoyed a part of his food and then they flew off. The dog returned to his bowl, thinking he had valiantly defended his dinner – only to find it all gone. He looked into the bowl, then around and then again into the bowl, totally at a loss as to what had happened. I took pity on him and gave him another feeding, but I so wish I would’ve had a video camera to capture this! Despite the lack of such evidence, I hope you’ll believe my story.One hot day in July of 1983, I witnessed how three ravens tried to lift up a cardboard box from a dumpster behind The Eskimo Inn. I was on my way over the steps crossing the utilidor behind the hotel, when I was startled by the ruckus they created while trying to get this container of goodies out from the dumpster. One of them was the obvious boss – he was the loudest – the two others were just trying to do their best. I stood there, watching them for quite some time, but eventually I had to keep moving since the mosquitoes were absolutely relentless. I never found out if the ravens succeeded – but I sure rooted for them!

  5. A raven has flown overhead for 3 days straight, and this morning woke up to its cawing, went outside and this giant raven flew into the backyard and landed upon the apple tree. Stayed for a minute or so then flew off. So went looking for Raven symbolism, and found this wonderful article and its comments. Fits very well with what I am doing in the esoteric arts. Thank you for taking the time to write this.

  6. Sandesh s on said:

    This article was very interesting,and it also changes my concepts n imaginations about ravens.now i am grt raven lover. Thankz alot.

  7. Theresa Viljoen on said:

    My spirit voel is wonderlik is alltyt by my en een oggend was ek so kwaad all om my ek het gevra wat doen jy ek cool jou af met n feer ek het daar na net gelag en beter gevoel t

  8. i needed to know stuff bout ravens, kuz im thinkn bout naming my first daughter Raven Beauty
    i love ravens & she’s goin to be my first beauty ever


  9. ravenlover on said:

    my school mascot is the raven and i plan on writing a speech about it. This article has shown me a great meaning towards it’s history and symbolism. I knew they were intelligent creatures but I never completely knew about them. It is breath-taking. You see ravens in books and tv shows shown as messenger’s or spirits of the evil but nothing was ever explained this thoroughly. My teacher told us a story once where he was home and he heard knocking at the door when he was cooking in the kitchen with his wife. He went to go open the door but low and behold no one was there. Again he heard knocking and when he opened it there was a raven pecking on the door. Poor little guy, he was frozen from the winter chill. He had a broken wing and he was also hungry so my teacher guessed it was the food’s aroma that brought him to their door. They brought the raven in, fed him and they let the wing heal overtime. They brought him to one of those wild animal clinics and then set him free. I’ll be sure to think twice the next time I see a raven.

  10. Deborah McLaughlin on said:

    Note to author – I would LOVE to hear more of what you have to say about RAVENS. I am a novelist and my current project is titled “Raven” — my protagonist’s name.

  11. This is a very good article, and great read. I’ve been studying pagan/wicca for a few years and am now reaching this point in my path, and must say this was very helpful, pretty much nailed right on the head for what’s happening in life right now. Thank you so much.

  12. edwin molina on said:

    This article has brought understanding if the weird shit that has been happening to me this week.

  13. Just Jodi on said:

    Not sure why you state Ravens are shamed in the bible in conjunction with the reference to Genesis 8 v7 and sent out a Raven and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. NIV That is exactly how you defined Ravens in your article, smart with perseverance, not shunned. I named my daughter Raven because the Raven was first and persistant.

  14. I love the article! The raven comes everytime I’m out singing mantra, especially on the beach. I will open my eyes and the raven is watching sometimes two or three of them. They don’t fly away but hope out of distance. I thought, these birds are trying to show me something. They are even on my car when I leave to go places. The article was beyond helpful. I can totally relate it confirms what I already knew but was afraid to do. Sat Nam