Crow Symbolism (Meanings & Interpretations)

Crow symbolism and the belief in the magical and spiritual powers of this bird appear in several cultures. There are many species of crow in the world and they can be found in nearly every country. Most crows are all black, with some exceptions. Crows are known for their intelligence and problem solving abilities. They have made many appearances in the mythology of various cultures. 

What Does A Crow Symbolize?

The crow has always been a bird that stood out from the rest because of its larger size, deep “voice” and distinctive black feathers. Many cultures have different beliefs about this unique bird. Based on its behaviors, actions, and how it moves through life, we can look at the qualities of a crow and apply their lessons to our own lives.

  • Adaptability 
  • Transformation 
  • Teamwork
  • Magic and Mystery
  • Cleverness

Cleverness

Crows belong to the Corvid family of birds, known for their intelligence and problem solving abilities. Research has shown they have the ability to figure out how to use tools, such as sticks or rocks, to get food. They have also been shown to not only remember individual human faces for long periods of time, but also remember if they find that human to be a “friend” or “foe”. They can also teach other crows this information.

Crows can remind us to use our intelligence when confronting life’s problems. If you approach things too emotionally, you may be blinded to the answer. Remember to step back and look at things logically, and use the resources you have at hand creatively. If you feel stuck when facing a challenge, step back and try to see it from a different perspective.  

Magic and Mystery

In folklore, crows have often been associated with magic, occultism and used in various spells. Depending on the culture, there are beliefs that point towards crows having powerful foresight. According to myths, these birds can see your past, present, and future. And, if this animal is what you consider your spirit animal, then you likely have intuitive abilities when it comes to certain situations. 

Adaptability 

Crows are known for their strong ability to adapt in any situation. They eat a wide variety of things and can live in quite a few different habitats. Crows have even adapted to urban environments and are less skittish than many other birds in close proximity to humans. 

They’ve mastered the art of maneuvering human interactions. According to spiritual beliefs, if you cross paths with this bird, then you’re someone who has the ability to maneuver through different circumstances in life with ease.

If you are panicking about a sudden change in your life, don’t fret. Remember that you possess the ability to adapt deep within yourself. Remain open to new situations and don’t let sudden drama make you forget that you can handle yourself in any situation. All thing change, and we must go with the flow rather than try to push against it.  

Transformation 

Since time immemorial, crows have been known as birds that you find when a carcass is left in the wild. This means that these birds are usually found where animals have died. As a result, crows are usually associated with death. 

However, death isn’t the end, but rather the opportunity for a new beginning. Many cultures look at death as a cycle of life that is necessary to maintain balance. They don’t see death as an ending, but a transformational phase that represents something new. 

In this way, crows can symbolize change that you can use to turn over the parts of your life that you feel need fine-tuning. Perhaps something that has grown stagnant needs a rebirth.

Teamwork 

Have you ever noticed that you find crows gathered in groups instead of traveling alone or in pairs? Generally, crows are considered social birds because they love a big gathering. These birds have immense collaboration skills.

When they’re gathered in large groups they can communicate using more than 200 unique calls. They do so to ensure that they warn each other about any looming danger, potential food sources, and other useful information. People who have crows as their power animals are said to value relationships more than others.

If you find yourself facing too many issues alone, remember that help from others can bring in new ideas and fresh perspectives. Whether it is tackling something as a family or a group effort on a work project, use your skills to be a good team player and harness the power of collaboration. 

Fish Crow | image by Susan Young via Flickr

What Do Dreams About Crows Symbolize?

The list of what it means to see a crow in a dream is nearly endless. This may be because so many cultures have different interpretations of crows and what they stand for. Let’s look at a few specific ways crows may be viewed in dreams, then talk about what they can represent more broadly. 

A crow attacks you: you may be feeling a loss of control over your own power. You may be very sensitive to those around you, highly empathetic or experiencing a loss of confidence. This dreams serves as a warning that in your current state you may be opening yourself up to being manipulated by others. Make sure to strengthen your self esteem and confidence. 

You see a dead or dying crow: this is symbolic of change and transformation. If there has been a big change in your life that you are struggling with, the crow reminds you that with every change comes a new opportunity. Don’t fight against change but rather embrace it and the positive things that a new chapter can bring. 

A flying crow: crows flying above you may symbolize a “higher” or more divine sight that is needed on a situation. You may need to look at a current issue with a more expanded perspective. 

A crow on your shoulder: you may be carrying around a burden. Examine what may be weighing you down in life, especially in regards to things holding you back, self-sabotage or toxic relationships. There may be something you need to let go and move past. 

Chasing a crow: this can signify a deeper sense of being lost or feeling a loss of control. Is there something in your life you feel like you are chasing but keeps eluding you? 

Shadow Self

Crows often symbolize our “shadow self”, which is the part of us that we bury deep down that tends to hold feelings of fear, shame, guilt and trauma. These feelings can often affect our behaviors, and in turn our life, without us really being aware. If dreaming of a crow you may have a sense that there is an emotion inside you that you have been burying. Meditation and self-reflection may be in order to help some of these deeper feelings surface so that you can begin to work through them and affect positive change in your life. 

Transformation

Rebirth and transformation are common crow symbols. Crow dreams can point to your inner feeling that something needs to change. There may be a voice inside you telling you something big has to change but you’ve been holding yourself back out of fear or lack of confidence. The crow can be telling you it’s time to emerge from this darkness holding you back and put change into motion. The process of change is never easy, but you have the strength to make it through the struggle to reap the rewards. 

Where crow dreams are concerned, it’s essential for you to trust in what your intuition is saying to you. But, since the overall crow symbolism is based on change and positive transformation, dreaming about them seldom means it’s a bad dream.

Symbolism In Visits or Encounters With Crows

Encounters with crows can mean different things for different people. Some believe that it is a sign of positive change, while others believe they are bad omens. It is important to pay attention to the context in which you see this bird before you draw any conclusions about its meaning. What were you thinking or feeling right before your encounter? This can give you a clue to its meaning. 

Crows are sometimes seen as warnings that there are people around you that don’t have your best interests in mind. If you are currently having any suspicions that someone you know is trying to undercut you, is lying to you or being deceitful, you may be right and you should be very careful around this person. Trust your instincts.

As symbols of transformation crows can also bring the message that it’s time to change. If you’ve been pondering a decision, crows can remind you that deep down you know which way to go. Don’t fear making the choice that may be hard, but ultimately is right for you. 

 Most crow symbolism comes down to really taking a look at your life. What holds you back? What is not serving you? Are there fears and anxieties are you carrying around? You have the intelligence, cleverness and strength to address tough emotions and situation and truly re-emerge a happier person through change and transformation.

Superstitions About Crows

  • If you see 5 crows you will become ill, if you see 6 crows death will follow
  • If a crow caws on the roof of your house, it will bring guests to your home
  • In Wales, one crow crossing your path was unlucky, but two crows crossing your path was lucky
  • A single crow is a omen of death, bad luck or destruction
  • A group of crows in a church yard is back luck
  • They have psychic abilities and can see the future
  • Three crows cawing at you brings good health
  • Four crows cawing at you means prosperity and good fortune

Crow Spirit Animal and Totems

Crow Spirit Animal

The crow is a good spirit animal to call upon when you need to use your brain power to solve a problem. Known for their intelligence and problem-solving abilities, the crow can help you to “think outside the box” and use logic and higher perspectives to find creative solutions. They can also remind you to tap into your own insight and intuition. Don’t discount your gut feelings. 

Crow Totem Animal

Those with a crow totem animal are seen as creative and resourceful. Through logic, cleverness and a willingness to try different angles, these people can usually find a solution to seemingly complex problems and challenging situations. Like crows, they can be said to know how to “turn trash into treasure.” 

Using both wit to read a situation and their ability to adjust their personality to best fit the circumstances, folks under the crow totem are known to be highly adaptable. But they can also be a little mischievous. Take care to use your tricks for good and not ill.  

Spiritual and Cultural Meanings of Crows

In many places both crows and ravens are large, black birds with a very similar appearance. Because of this, in myths, legends and folklore, the black bird being described in stories can be interpreted to be either a crow or a raven. The two are often used interchangeably. In many of the cultures below you can apply the same meanings to crows and ravens.  

Crows in Christianity

Technically, crows are not mentioned by name in the bible. Rather, ravens are the black members of the corvid family that the bible talks about. However as we said, they are generally looked at as having the same meaning.

Crows are sometimes viewed as symbolizing resilience. In the story of Noah’s ark, the raven is his helper who he sent out over and over to check for dry land. When the raven doesn’t return, he sends a dove instead. The raven eventually returns, long after dry land has been found. It has the stamina to fly far and wide across the earth in search of land.

In a passage that details the destruction of Edom, the crow is mentioned as one of the animals that would survive. The spirit of the crow is again resilient and strong. This can serve as a reminder that you can overcome all obstacles with faith. 

Native American Crow Symbolism 

The fact is that Native American cultures are deeply rooted in spiritual meanings and symbols. The crow symbol was seen by many as signifying wisdom, and generally their intelligence was looked at as their most defining feature. Some tribes believed the crow was so smart that it had the power to talk. 

Crow feathers were often worn on their clothes and a single crow feather on their head. Some tribes believed that during the final flood that would cover the earth, the crow feathers they wore would life them above the water to the safety of the heavens. 

Crows were also seen by some tribes as shape-shifters with the ability to be in both the physical and spiritual world at the same time. They were associated with the Creator and holders of universal wisdom and laws. Because of this they were believed to have healing powers which was called “crow medicine” which could be summoned by calling up on the crow spirit. 

Crows in Greek and Roman Mythology 

The Greeks associated the crow with Apollo, the god of sun and light. The story goes that Apollo is in love with a princess named Coronis, and he sends his divine messenger, a white crow, to guard her. Coronis ends up falling in love with a mortal, prince Ischys, and betrays Apollo. Apollo’s crow sees this and brings the news back to Apollo of what she has done. Apollo is enraged, and is so angered that his crow did not peck out the eyes of Ischys that he hurls a curse at it, and his solar flames turn the crow black. 

The Greeks and Romans often believed seeing a crow was back luck and a bad omen, usually associated with death. Although the Romans also considered the crow to have third-eye abilities and be able to see the future. They would study the behavior of crows as a form of divination called Augury.

At some point, goddess Athena also had an interest in these birds, until she decided that they were too cunning for her liking. So, she chose to have an owl as a more suited companion.

Crows in Celtic Mythology

The ancient Celts believed in a shape-shifting goddess called The Morrigan. She was the goddess of war, fate and death, presided over freshwater rivers and lakes, and was the patroness of the night, prophecy, and magic. During war, she would hover over the battlefield in the form of a raven or crow, fortelling or influencing which side would be victorious or doomed. 

Crows in Norse Mythology

In Norse mythology Odin, the all-father, had two raven/crow companions named Munnin (“Memory”) and Hugi (“Thought”). They worked as Odins spies, keeping him informed of the news and happenings on earth and in all realms. The crows sat on his shoulders, and each morning would take off to fly around the world gathering the knowledge and wisdom of the day, then return and night to whisper what they had gathered in his ears. This boosted his reputation as as the “all-knowing” father.   

Crows in Chinese Mythology

Weaving maiden on the crow bridge

Some Chinese people’s associated the crow with sun and fire. One story says the earth had 10 suns embodied by 10 crows. One day all 10 suns rose at once, their combined power so hot that it was scorching the earth. To prevent further damage the Gods sent their archer, Houyi, to shoot down all of the crows except one. That is why today we have only one sun. 

There is also a Chinese fairytale that says on days you don’t see any crows in the sky, it is because all the crows in the world have gathered to form a magical bridge that allows the Weaving Maiden cross the Silver River.

The Crow in Tibetan Buddhism

In general, Tibetans view the raven/crow as a symbol of future success and protector of wisdom. There is a story of a 15th century Tibetan Buddhist monk, Ngawang Drakpa, who was traveling in hopes of building new monasteries. He felt the region of Gyalrong in eastern Tibet was special, but did not know the exact location he wanted to use for the monastery.

During one of his scouting walks, a crow flew down to him, grabbed his scarf, and carried it to the branch of a juniper tree. The monk took this as a sign that this tree was an auspicious location for building the monastery. The Dhe-Tsang Monastery was built on this site, and because the tree was chosen by the crow and seen as an emanation of the protector Mahakala, the tree’s branches were trimmed and the prayer hall build around it, rather than cutting it down. 

The Crow in Hindu Mythology

Some Hindu’s practice Shradh, a period of time where homage and respect is paid to ancestors through offerings of food and prayers. As part of Shradh, food may be offered to ravens and crows, with the belief that the birds will then bring the food to their ancestors who have passed. 

Crow Tattoo Symbolism 

Crows have so many meanings across cultures that run the gamut from negative to positive. So a crow tattoo can really have any meaning that resonates with you. Some of the most common meanings of crow tattoos are:

  • Many people interested in Norse culture may choose to get a tattoo of Odin’s two crows, symbolizing gathering truth and knowledge. 
  • Wisdom, intelligence, cleverness and resourcefulness
  • Prophecy, the third-eye, unlocking secretes, spiritual discovery
  • Transformation of mind and spirit
  • Omens and harbingers, of good or ill
  • Death, both physical and spiritual
  • Having one foot in the physical world and one foot in the spiritual world
  • Predictors and protectors in battle
  • The afterlife
  • Strong will and resilience 

Are Crows Good Luck?

Even though crows have mostly been associated with having bad luck, it’s important for you to know that they can be a sign of good things coming your way. It always depends on what’s presented to you when you come across a crow.

Seeing crows in your life can mean different things depending on how you want to interpret the signs and meanings. But, there are instances where most cultures believe that crows bring you good luck. 

Conclusion

In summary, crow symbolism isn’t as complicated as you might think. For the most part, crows represent a myriad of positive and significant changes in your life. It mainly depends on where you are and the type of crossroads that you’re facing. 

Although the general consensus is that these birds bring you bad luck because they’re a death omen. However, throughout history, there have been instances where crows have been used as catalysts for positive spiritual change. 

About Mary Richardson

Mary is an outdoor enthusiast, nature lover, and amateur birdwatcher that enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences with others.