When people think of the raven, it is not hard to conjure up imagery that defines the creature. A misty November morning on a hill just beyond a forest, the trees are barely visible through the fog and even the wind fails to displace the opaque overlay that has descended upon the world.
Yet, through this blanketed world, you hear a lone caw and see a black shadow swoop over the land. Growing up in the rural countryside, that is how I see ravens and for those who have lived in the city all their lives, I bet there is a similar mysterious setting that they imagine when they think of these strange black birds.
They have long fascinated our societies, and their bold nature means we are in constant contact with them, no matter how far we go.
Their appearance is seen by many as an omen, but whether that be for good or bad is hard to tell, however, their importance to our culture’s and spiritual selves is not in question, it is just whether their mocking laughter that haunts the woodlands at night is with us or directed at our misfortune.
Raven: Symbolism and Meaning
Ravens have a long history with humanity and are deeply tied to many symbols and beliefs that we have in our world.
They are seen through a spectrum of different meanings, ranging from benevolent teacher to malicious trickster and anything in between.
There are some of the most important figures in mythology and lore, however, the most prominent meanings behind their appearances are intellect and wisdom, protection – both spiritual and physical –, and death, loss, and rebirth.
Their close association to many taboo subjects may be why they can be considered negatively, especially death, yet it is precisely this association that can cause positive outcomes.
First, intellect and wisdom. It has been known for a long time that ravens are smart, they have proven time and again that they have a deep and intimate knowledge of the world.
Their keen minds can pick up sounds and copy them easily, while their observant nature can pick up on the actions of others and learn what they are doing and how they are doing it.
This intelligence has even been associated with the realms beyond our own, with many believing that ravens slip through the spiritual veil of their own choosing, an ability even the gods cannot ignore.
The raven is also seen as a spirit of protection. In the wild, the raven will willingly form quick alliances with different creatures, and it has been observed to regularly uphold its end of the bargain.
They have been known to not forget their friends, and they are seen as guardians of those they select, in both the spirit and physical realms.
This is particularly useful when there are unseen dangers, as these do not go unnoticed by the raven, its keen mind and swift body acting accordingly when it realizes what is happening.
Finally, ravens have long been associated with death. By nature, they are opportunists and will eat the carrion of the dead, if it is presented to them.
Yet, this should be seen as a cleansing action, as they are performing a vital service that will allow for new life to take its place and the rebirth of the land around the body.
Raven: Spirit Animal
You should feel lucky if a raven appears before you as a spirit animal, as they only seek out those who are worthy.
Secrets, promises, knowledge, and the mystic arts are its domain and, despite its jovial nature, it takes them very seriously.
If you are guided by a raven spirit, it is unwise to give secrets away or talk openly about the information given to you in trust, it will not be pleased by these decisions.
The raven is a clever and observant animal that lives its life honestly, despite its air of mystery we know how ravens will act, and they do not necessarily try to hide their actions.
As such, it will detect dishonesty as soon as it comes across it, despising those who are such and instead seeking out those that are honorable.
This may seem contradictory considering its role as a trickster, but it is also kind and protective of those deserving of protection.
Thanks to its knowledge and abilities, the raven is a great spirit animal for those exploring the realms beyond the physical and is the consummate guide for those learning the mystic arts, however, its warnings should always be heeded as they may save your life.
Raven: Totem Animal
Those born under the totem of the raven are unafraid of the dark places, and in fact, revel in the still night air.
They are people who are inventive and bring about change, while being cautious of what that change brings, people who are mischievous fools who are far, far wiser than those around them.
The duality of a raven person is integrally tied to their position in this world, as they exist in the physical realm while simultaneously treading on the boundary of the spirit realm, occasionally stepping inside for a peek.
Those of the raven totem are information providers to those who need it and guides for those lost, in this world or the others.
Many ravens find themselves as healers, guardians of knowledge, or performing sacred duties in search of lost knowledge, their intuition showing them the consequences of actions easily and their empathy making them seek to stop negative consequences before they come about.
Due to this, raven people may walk a difficult path before changing or succeeding in a meaningful way.
Raven: Power Animal
The raven is a power animal for those that seek to learn and those that strategize. Its natural ability to copy sounds, learn by observing others’ behaviors, and read nature’s signs can be fantastic for those seeking to unlock their karmic memories and commune with the world around them.
The raven is not an animal that responds to or appreciates fear tactics but will respond well to humility and given respect.
The raven is a creature that knows nature is, in essence, bound by change and so anticipates change and transformations easily, it can guide you in transforming yourself into a healthier person, but this can be a hard path for someone to walk.
Adaption and confidence are core aspects of a raven’s personality, and they can impart the wisdom of standing up for yourself and adapting to shifting circumstances to you.
Ravens are also deeply attracted to what they see as valuable, and if one becomes your power animal, it may question what it is you think of as valuable before helping you recover or gain this thing.
Raven: Native American Symbolism
In the cultures of the Pacific North-West of the North American continent, the raven is one of their most important gods. It is the god that created the world, yet it is also a trickster god that delights in the mischief it causes.
In some of these cultures, like the Tlingit, the raven is viewed as two separate entities: one the creator raven that brought the world into being and drew light from the darkness, the other the childish raven, a sly, selfish, and hungry creature.
The Great Spirit kept them in separate boxes and when the boxes were given to the animals that existed before humans, they opened them causing everything that exists in the world to flood out both positive and negative things.
As such, the raven is deeply respected as well as slightly feared in these communities.
Raven: Celtic Symbolism
The Celtic peoples of Ireland have a very deep reverence for the raven that continues somewhat today, long after the beliefs in such things died down.
The raven was the preferred form of the goddess, Mórrígan, also known as ‘The Phantom Queen’, who was the primary god of war and fate.
She was known for foretelling doom, defeat, and victory in wars and battles, inciting warriors to great feats, striking fear into enemies, and washing the clothes of those fated to die.
She was also a goddess who was seen as a great and wise protector of a territory and its people, being an earth sovereignty goddess and beloved by those she protected.
Even today there are many areas of Ireland that are associated with Mórrígan and her name has continued to be popular into the modern-day.
Raven: Christian Symbolism
The teachings of the Christian church link the raven closely with death and cleansing, with the original Christian imagery of the raven appearing in the story of Noah’s Ark.
There are two interpretations of the raven in this story. The first is as cleansers who feasted on the bodies of those who did not survive the flood in defiance of God’s will.
The second is their banishment from the Ark for their defiance and trying to bargain with Noah to be let back on, each time with him refusing, thus cementing their role as tricksters in Christian iconography.
Later on in the bible, ravens are seen guarding the body of St Vincent of Saragossa before its internment, and one even saves the life of St Benedict of Nursia by consuming poison bread before the saint.
This shows that their relationship with death and entropy is intertwined into their very being in Christianity and though they may never be the purest of beings, they will never be the most corrupt either, instead occupying a space in between that is necessary if unpleasant.
Many believe that a raven in a dream may be an ill-omen of death, but that is simply not the case. Ravens come to our dreams in preparation for a journey that we must make.
This journey can be many things: a transformation, a change of consciousness, perspective, or perception, or even death and rebirth, though this is entirely symbolic.
Still, it is important to note that change is coming and that the raven may well help you through it.
This can be seen on the inverse as well, as ravens can be associated with bad omens that predict a negative event that will occur or appear in the dream of those who are arrogant or wrathful to mock them for their foolishness. It all depends on the culture you were raised in and the beliefs you hold.
Raven: Tattoo Meaning
The meanings of raven tattoos can change depending on the person, but generally, there are four: wisdom and intellect, mystical and secretive, life and death, and fate and chance.
Most cultures, despite some of their misgivings about the birds, recognize that ravens are extremely intelligent, with their knowledge being trusted by people, gods, and demons alike. They watch the world carefully, and the tattoo may define what this person does as well.
Ravens are mysterious, secret keepers that move between the physical and spiritual realm. They have been known to interact and sometimes work with various deities, and it may be that a person bearing this tattoo may be alluding to this about themselves.
Life and death seemed to be integral to the raven’s story, their role as carrion feeders is well documented and their appearance at the beginning or at the end of great battles, cataclysms, or disasters make them appear as companions of death and the forerunners of gods who deal with it.
Ravens seem to have a supernatural awareness of the actions not yet passed and seem to appear at the moment when a life-changing incident will occur. Whether this is death or success is not important, but you can be certain a raven’s eye will be watching all the same.
Raven: Spiritual Meaning
As previously stated, the raven is a spirit of intelligence, fate, and the cycle of life. When you are touched by its spiritual presence, you are being guided by a spirit of understanding beyond your comprehension and your life is about to be transformed.
These changes may be positive or negative, but they require keen insight into traversing them, something the raven can provide in abundance.
The raven knows well the trickery of fate and fickleness of the gods, it will attempt to impart this wisdom to you and show you how to outplay and outmaneuver them, as it has done countless times before.
Raven in Astrology & Zodiac Signs
Ravens appear in the Native American zodiac for those born between the 23rd September and the 23rd October.
People born under this sign are communicative and social people who excel at diplomacy and are naturally intelligent.
On the other hand, those of the raven zodiac can also be very naïve, trusting those around them implicitly, and can have trouble expressing themselves, preferring to let others have their say instead of upturning the apple cart.
They are empathetic people and will always strive for understanding of others’ behavior or emotions, however, this can also come out in an impulsive streak that may end badly for them.
Despite their intellect and witty nature, ravens are some of the most honest people, finding it incredibly difficult to participate in a lie and are shocked when others do so.
Ravens also never slow down, either physically or mentally, and need constant stimulation to feel fulfilled, while this can lead to boredom, it can also lead to creative solutions or endeavors that they take in their lives.
Raven: Symbolic Meanings
- Intellect and wisdom.
- Spiritual and physical protection.
- Life and death.
- Change and transformation.
- Fate and chance.
When you hear the mocking caw of the raven on that chilly November morning, you may think nothing of it.
Yet, the raven’s appearance and your interest in the bird may have nothing to do with coincidence, a bird so deeply tied to fate may have known about your coming.
The knowledge it possesses and its deep relationship with most of the world’s cultures may give a mystery to explore that chilly morning, or knowledge to discover.
Maybe next time you hear the raven, find out what it has to say, it may be the start of a great journey.
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