Crows are very interesting creatures. They symbolize many different things, depending on where you live and what culture you belong to. In Native American folklore, the crow is a trickster spirit that causes chaos among people but also brings change and innovation. Some cultures believe that crows represent death or bad luck. Others see crows as symbols of knowledge and intelligence because they’re so smart!
Table of Contents
What Do Crows Symbolize?
Dark Symbols or Bird of Death?
Dark, lugubrious, and mysterious, in western culture the crow is often associated with nefarious and infernal messages. Some say the crow symbolism stands for a bird of death. Used to feed on carcasses, it directly recalls the image of death and lifeless bodies.
Crows have traditionally been associated with death in many cultures. The idea that a crow is an omen of bad luck or signifying the end of someone’s life comes from how some people view their black and white feathers as symbols of light followed by darkness (i.e., good times are behind us). Others believe it has to do with the way they feed – swooping down on unsuspecting prey, sometimes even attacking humans for food. Still, others say it’s because at night you can see them flying around like spirits looking for souls to take back up into the sky.
Along with cats, crows were associated with witches in the Middle Ages. In fact, it was believed that the crows were their diabolical messengers and that the brides of the Devil could take on the appearance of blackbirds in case of need. One of Disney’s most gothic and disturbing evil characters, the Maleficent witch, is always accompanied by a crow.
In many cultures, the bird is seen as an omen or messenger carrying news of death which leads them to be linked with things like funerals and mourning rituals. Which does not improve its reputation really…
Light and Positive Symbolism
In other peoples such as the Irish Celts or American Indians, the crow evokes powerfully positive and fascinating atmospheres, in stark contrast to the symbolism of Christian Europe. For American tribes, for example, the crow is in direct contact with the Great Spirit, through the powerful link between the world of the living and the kingdom of the dead.
Few people know it, but crows are extraordinarily intelligent animals. Like humans, dolphins, and chimpanzees, they are among the very few to recognize their image in the mirror and manage to elaborate extremely elaborate thoughts, manipulate tools, and structure strategies for solving problems.
It is no coincidence that the two crows of Odin are called “Thought” and “Memory”: their thinking, in fact, is extremely elaborate and is endowed with a deep and rare sense of memory. In Japan, crows drop acorns on the roadways for passing cars to open for them. Indeed, they often make them fall at the pedestrian crossings, to be able to recover the acorn in complete safety when the green is triggered.
In the Celtic legends of Ireland, as well as in the mythology of the American Indians, the Crow is a symbol of extreme intelligence and profound knowledge.
Crow feathers were often worn by Native Americans for ceremonial purposes because they symbolized victory over death. This connection between life and death extends into modern times with crow symbolism being popular
Crows as Symbols of Transformation
Even if the crow contains infinite opposite meanings, there is an aspect that we find in all its interpretations, regardless of culture and time: the passage. The crow, in fact, is always associated with a passage from one state to another. It symbolizes the transition from ignorance to knowledge, from life to death, from evil to good, and from night to day. Metamorphosis, transformation, and passage, therefore, are strongly symbolized by the crow in all their nobility and power.
A Crow in a Dream
Birds are a common motif in dreams and depending on their context within the dream they can represent wildly different concepts. In general, however, birds are seen in mostly positive regard. They may represent prosperity or abundant wealth especially if they are rather large in appearance. Not so regarding the Crow.
The meaning of the crow in dreams is connected to the popular preconceptions that want him to bring misfortune and bad luck. Preconceptions can also affect modern culture causing fear and distrust in the dreamer. Dreaming of a crow will then be the reflection of his funeral thoughts and his fear of the future.
It should be remembered, however, that the symbolic meaning of the crow in dreams feeds on contrasts and, since ancient times, in addition to negativity, it is recognized as having an oracular and magical role.
The crow is a spokesman for other worlds and other levels of existence, the crow is a spokesman for the darker areas of being. To understand the meaning of the crow in dreams it is necessary to keep in mind its ambiguous and contradictory symbolism, the context in which it appears, the emotions it arouses, and the real sensations of the dreamer towards this bird. This means that if the dreamer shares the preconceptions of which tradition is rich, these preconceptions and thoughts will influence the meaning of his dream.
It is possible then that the crow in dreams is a warning signal to some external situation, or a stop message from the unconscious towards some attitude, some decision, some direction is taken. Just as it is possible that the crow in dreams simply stages the fears, anxieties, and negative and depressing thoughts of the dreamer.
It should also not be forgotten that the symbol of the crow in dreams is linked to power and intuition and its dreamlike image easily refers to self-expression and the need to find one’s place in the world. The crow in dreams will thus be connected to trust in one’s feelings, in one’s dreams and ideals, and in the balance between concreteness and fantasy. Between the ability to keep your feet on the ground and that of flying high.
Symbolism in Different Cultures
Crow Symbolism in Native American Culture
In the culture and tradition of the populations of the subarctic territories, the crow represents magic and metamorphosis because it shares several secrets with the Great Spirit. The crow teaches man to live in a humble, conscious, and moderate way.
According to the mythology of some Indian lineages, it was the crow that created the earth: the bird, in fact, would have carried in its beak the pebbles that it dropped into the sea to form the first islands.
As a totem spirit of Indian and Aboriginal cultures, the crow takes on an aspect totally opposite to that of our local tradition, in fact, he would be able to protect us from black magic and witchcraft, as well as be of help for the foresight of future events.
According to other traditions of the Native American peoples, the crow, as a strong animal, represents the expansion of consciousness: its black feathers constitute a passage towards infinity and, being in direct contact with the Great Spirit, it can have healing properties towards the person who conjures it with magic.
Crows in Christian Culture
The crow has long been a symbol of impending death, but the Bible offers a different view of it. In the Canticle of Canticles, a beautiful person is described with thick hair like “palm bunches, black like the crow”, suggesting that the color of the crow is admirable and desirable.
Where there is talk of prophecies as in Christianity and therefore also in the Bible, the presence of the crow could certainly not be missing; this bird is mentioned several times in the Bible, also raising the opinion that it was an animal devoted to the will of the Lord. It is mentioned among other things in the Gospels in reference to the old testament in the history of the prophet Elijah.
In the Book of Kings, God sends a plague on the people as punishment for his idolatry but decides to save the prophet, Elijah. God tells Elijah to go to the Query valley, where he is fed by crows who bring him bread and meat twice a day for almost a year.
The crow is rather present in the Bible. It is in fact the first bird that is mentioned to you. When Noah wanted to check if the water was falling back, it is known that he released a dove who returned with an olive branch, but first, he sent a crow who did not return.
Symbolism for the Vikings
The crow is a sacred symbol of Odin, the god of the Vikings. Warrior and powerful deity, Odin has two crows, Huginn and Muninn, which he frees at sunrise to fly to the world. These return to the evening and lean on the shoulders of the god, whispering the information and secrets that they have stolen during the day. The translation of their names is interesting: Huginn means “thought”, while Muninn means “memory”. Due to the importance, these animals have assumed for him, Odin is called “the Crow God”.
Crows in Asian Culture
The crow is extremely important to the cultures of China and Japan. There are many legends that speak about how crows can predict the future, or even offer advice!
For example in Chinese culture, if a person sees a white-feathered crow before they go on an important journey then it’s said their travels will be blessed with success.
In Japanese folklore, there have been stories told of people being able to obtain great wisdom from listening to the sound made by crows’ wings flapping against one another while flying.
It seems as though people all around the world have different feelings about this dark bird– but no matter what its meaning may be for us humans.
Dead Crow Symbolism
Well, the rulers of England surround themselves and almost adore it; the Tower of London is inhabited by some specimens, and they are convinced that when the crows are dead, and they stop living in the tower, it will inevitably be an omen of bad luck both for the rulers and for the whole of Great Britain …
But apart from this legend it seems that in reality according to most of the symbols a dead crow would imply exactly the opposite of a live crow … indeed much more means in fact that anything not beautiful begins to cease to give life to a very beautiful new beginning, a new birth, therefore a totally positive meaning. But that is not the only meaning of a dead crow.
DEAD CROW MEANING: THEY ARE CONSIDERED TO BE THE MESSENGER BETWEEN THE WORLD OF THE DEAD AND THE LIVING, THEIR PRESENCE ACTING AS A WARNING. THEY’RE ALSO THOUGHT OF AS A GUIDE OF SOULS TO THE AFTERLIFE. THIS EXISTENCE BETWEEN THE TWO WORLDS GIVES THEM SUPERIOR KNOWLEDGE, EXPLAINING THE RESPECT WE HAVE FOR THESE PARTICULAR BIRDS.
If you find one in the street, it can be a message for you that you are going to be lucky in the right future!
The Symbolism of a Flock of Crows
The flock of crows instead represents an event or the omen of something that will happen in the near future. More than anything else it is a negative conception.
The flock of crows can take on many meanings based on the place or time and how this flock presents itself to our eyes.
If we spot a flock that lives in a wood, the omen is that of a famine that will most likely hit us shortly while if we spot a flock of crows where one flies against each other, the omen indicates a possible war that will take place.
Seeing a huge amount of crows the universe and the paranormal are trying to communicate something to you and are, therefore, a warning to pay close attention to everything so that we can understand the exact message they want to convey to us.
3 Crows Meaning
The number of crows we see also has a very precise meaning. Seeing a single crow has a certain meaning, seeing two together has another, and seeing 3 has another one.
According to many legends, dreaming or seeing three crows would be the incarnation of 3 people who accompanied us along the path of our life, who even after losing them continue to stay with us and guide us along our life path.
Alternatively, seeing 3 crows means the great probability of big changes that will happen in our life very soon or still indicate to us our excellent state of health. So 3 crows all positive aspects for us, whether we see them in reality or in a dream.
Crow vs. Raven Symbolism
Although today crow and raven are two mostly similar animals, in the symbolism of the history of esotericism as well as of the peoples as well as in the stories, they are exactly seen as the same bird or in any case as if it were.
There is, however, an interesting legend that poses exactly clear differences between crows and ravens; the Ravens are creatures with a magical power superior to the crows with more intense and profound powers relegating the crow symbolism is only to “teacher of illusions”, the raven is considered eviler and is the one who can change its shape.
Crow Tattoo Meaning
Quoth the raven, a literary symbol and an ominous messenger of death. Ravens and crows are associated with darker emotions and death due to the crow’s black feathers and foreboding history in literature. These blackbirds often carry omens of death, so they will be a spooky addition to your skin as a tattoo. They are also linked to intelligence and mischief, so if those are qualities you hold, this tattoo may be right for you!
In infamous Edgar Allen Poe stories, ravens are one of the many talking birds in literature. You may not be able to hear a raven talk to you in real life, but as in a poem of the same name, ravens have functionally spoken to characters and given them messages that drive the plot of the stories. Raven tattoos pair well with images such as ink pens, parchment, and open books to show off the literary side of your personality.
Crows specifically represent guidance and protection in certain European cultures. To shed a small ray of light on a commonly unloved bird, these cultures find hope in this blackbird. As I mentioned earlier, a Celtic goddess is famous for using a raven to fly over battlefields and blanket them with protection and good fortune. The tattoo meaning of a crow can showcase an unconventional picture of luck in your everyday life.
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“It is not necessary for eagles to be crows.”
– Sitting Bull
“Animals are certainly more sophisticated than we used to think. And we shouldn’t lump together animals as a group. Crows and chimps and dogs are all highly intelligent in very different ways.”
– Alison Gopnik
“What the Danes left in Ireland were hens and weasels. And when the cock crows in the morning, the country people will always say ‘It is for Denmark they are crowing. Crowing they are to be back in Denmark.’”
– Lady Gregory
“’As the crow flies’ – a popular and picturesque expression to denote a straight line.”
– William Henry Maule
“The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark When neither is attended.”
– William Shakespeare
Check here our post: The Lark Symbolism: Symbolic Meaning and Interpretations
[Video] The Amazing Intelligence of Crows (TEDtalks)
Crow Feather Meaning
The crow’s feather has been used to help people on their spiritual journey since ancient times. One legend tells of a warrior who lost his arm in battle and then found it again after being healed by an Indian medicine man with the power of crows. The story signifies that if you have lost something important, there is hope for recovery as long as your faith remains strong!
Crow feathers are a symbol of transformation and renewal. It is often used in Native American culture to represent the new dawn, as well as the end of a difficult time. In many cultures, crow feathers have been used for centuries to ward off bad luck and evil spirits, so they can be seen as a powerful totem.
In most cases, Crow feather meaning will depend on where the feather comes from or what it is being given for. If you were gifted one by someone close to you, then it’s likely that they see you as inspiration – their own personal muse! This person may also believe that you’re going through some changes in your life at the moment and this gift is meant to encourage those changes. Read more about the crow feather meaning and we also compared owl vs crow in the linked articles.
Crows have a long history of symbolism. From the ancient Egyptians to Native Americans, crows are seen as omens and portents that can be interpreted for messages from the gods or other spiritual entities. This association with spirituality is likely due to their intelligence and ability to communicate through complex vocalizations, behaviors which humans often associate with divinity.
It’s important not only how we interpret the meaning of crow imagery but also why it has been used in this way throughout time by cultures around the world. In conclusion, I think people should take caution when interpreting what they see in nature because you never know who might be watching!