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Crow Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)

crow

Crows have been experiencing a bit of a revolution lately. After years of being thought of as bad omens, macabre symbols, and urban nuisances, the popularity of the crow is on the rise. In recent years, these birds have begun to be recognized for their impressive intelligence and cooperative social behaviors. (1)

The symbolism connected with crows is complex and contextual. Something about these exceptional birds has cast them as important figures in the mythologies and traditions of several cultures worldwide. Although their connection with death persists, likely due to their scavenging behavior with regards to carrion, crows are now recognized as symbols of insight, intellect, curiosity, and playfulness. Read on to discover the many meanings of the mighty crow, both ancient and new!

For a comprehensive look at the intelligence of crows, check out our article on why crows are so smart.

Table of contents

Crow Symbolism and Meaning

Crows, as well as other lookalike corvids such as ravens and jackdaws, are often thought of as signs of bad luck or danger. They hold prominent places in art, poetry, and storytelling as symbols of death and doom. (2)

More broadly, though, crows seem to be associated worldwide with foresight and vision.

Ancient Greeks connected crows with augury, the practice of using birds as oracles to predict the future. Norse mythology features a pair of crows belonging to Odin whose names mean “thought” and “memory.” Although the trend of appreciating crows feels recent, they have always been recognized to some degree for their unique sense of insight, knowledge, and mental acuity. (3)

Related: 12 Tips on How To Attract Crows to Your Backyard

Crow Native American Symbolism

Native American cultures are some of the many exceptions to the macabre rule of associating crows with death. Throughout various Native American traditions, the crow appears as figures associated with wisdom, wit, selflessness, and occasional mischief. Overall, these birds are usually recognized as good luck. (4)

One of the most noteworthy Native American crow myths is that of the Rainbow Crow. According to this Lenape story, the crow did not always have black feathers or a hoarse cawing voice. Once, the crow was a vibrant bird with feathers in all of the colors of the rainbow. The crow was a beautiful singer and a kind soul. Because the crow was so kind, it risked everything to bring fire down from the heavens to the animals and people who were freezing on earth. In the process, crow inhaled smoke and lost his beautiful voice. The fire was so hot that crow’s feathers turned black as soot. In the end, crow chose selflessness over beauty. (5)

The following Native American cultures are known to have utilized the crow as a clan animal:

  • The Hopi tribe – their crow clan was known as Ungwish-eungwa or Angwusngyam
  • The Chippewa tribe – their totem and crow clan was called Aandeg
  • The Pueblo tribe of New Mexico
  • The Tlingit tribe
  • The Menominee
  • The Caddo tribe

Amongst these tribes, the crow is a powerful symbol for the clan and its traditions, history, and future.

Many crow myths use the terms “crow” and “raven” interchangeably. These birds are notoriously difficult to tell apart from one another. A good rule of thumb is that ravens are larger and have thicker bills. Some tribes treat the crow and the raven as separate entities, however, both are typically associated with wisdom and benevolence.

Related: Bird Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)

Crow Christianity Symbolism

The confusion surrounding crows verses other lookalike corvids persists in Christian traditions. Although there is no mention of the word “crow” in the bible, ravens do appear in the story of Noah’s Ark. According to Genesis, the first bird that Noah sent to look for a sign that the floodwaters were subsiding was a raven. The raven did not return, prompting Noah to send the iconic dove. (6)

The primary symbolism of crows and ravens in Christianity is often related to one of the following things:

  • The reference to Noah releasing a raven/crow from the Ark. The raven is sometimes interpreted as untrustworthy based on its failure to return.
  • The community associates crows with death because of their color and their feeding style.
  • In contrast to other birds, people identify crows as being earthly. They spend most of their time on the ground, close to their feed, instead of flying in the air.

Related: Why Do Crows Gather? (Everything You Need to Know)

Crow Celtic Symbolism

Like the Native Americans, Celtic traditions also tend to hold the crow in high esteem. Although they are more connected to death on the battlefield and scavenging in Celtic myths, crows also signify arcane knowledge, prophecy, strategy, wisdom, and messages.

According to some Celtic traditions, crows were the bearers of prophecies and could carry secrets between their feathers. In some cases, crows were thought to be battlefield messengers, bearing strategic messages between the various war gods and heroes.

The Celtic crow is primarily connected with the female deities Medb and the Morrigan. Medb is a war goddess who sets in motion the events of the Tain Bo Cuailnge by attempting to steal a powerful bull from the men of Ulster. Medb is ruthless and power hungry. Her ambition results in many battles and bloodshed. The Morrigan, on the other hand, is more mysterious. She is the hand that moves fate. Although she often brings about war and conflict, her actions are typically necessary to bring the heroes their fated victories. The Morrigan is powerful, strange, and deeply feminine. (7)

Crows in Dreams

It is common for dreamers to feel a sense of doom or danger after dreaming about a crow. This is understandable due to the somewhat gothic symbolic identity which crows have long held. Note, however, that a crow in a dream can have many positive meanings.

A crow dream often connects with the ways in which we think about death and our mortality. Rather than signifying impending death, such dreams may indicate anxiety or contemplation surrounding death or impermanence. It may mean that you are worried about what your legacy may be when you pass on, or that you are afraid of the inevitable changes which come with the passage of time.

A crow in a dream can also signify intuition, insight, or curiosity. Dreaming of crows indicates opportunities to learn and to grow. Foster the curious crow inside of you by trying new things and stimulating your mind.

Some say that seeing crows in your dreams is also a sign of positive change, especially when you see them following or watching you. As with any symbol connected with death, there is always a chance that this “death” symbolism actually represents a rebirth. Closing a chapter in one’s life is often an opportunity to improve and prosper.

Overall, crows are a symbol of transformation. It is up to you to determine the nature of the changes.

Related: What is a Group of Crows Called & Why? [Murder Background]

Crow Encounters and Omens

What does it mean when you see a crow?

Encountering a crow is often interpreted as a message. This message can be a piece of advice, an omen, or a warning depending upon whose path it crosses. To determine the meaning of a crow encounter, it is important to look inwards. Note any big decisions, struggles, or diverging paths before you. Crow encounters may present wisdom which can help you to choose a path.

Crows can also be a warning of the presence of duplicitous figures around you. They are a symbol of transformation and intuition; this is why they are the first to know if a person around you has “transformed.” You should also trust your instinct and avoid anyone who feels untrustworthy.

Crow Mythology and Folklore

The mythology and folklore involving crows is vast and varied. Crows are discussed worldwide in terms of cleverness, virtue, and creativity as well as ill fortune, death, and precariousness.

Native American Mythology:

Native American mythology emphasizes the intelligence of crows. Some tribes believe it to be a trickster, recounting many of its tales of mischief. Other tribes credit the crow with conveying divine wisdom from heaven above. (8)

Celtic Mythology

In Celtic mythology, the Morrigan, the warrior goddess of fate and prophecy, often assumes the form of a crow or is accompanied by a group of them. It is said that when you see a group of three crows approaching, it is a sign of her watching. (9)

Welsh Mythology

In Welsh mythology, witches and sorcerers could transform themselves into crows or ravens, enabling them to avoid capture. The bad reputation of witches was connected with these intelligent birds, casting them as a symbol of black magic and a harbinger of death.

Greek Mythology

In Greek mythology, the intelligence of crows links them to Apollo. He is said to have turned the crow’s feathers black in anger after learning that his lover had married another. Because Apollo is the god of prophecy, crows in Greek mythology are connected with oracles and visions. (10)

Chinese Mythology

In Chinese mythology, crows are often depicted in connection with the sun. Chinese people usually take crows as a sign of good luck, but this is far from universal.

Crow Spirit Animal

People who are blessed with the spirit of the crow have the unusual ability to see far beyond all that is apparent.

The crow is an intelligent creature that has a unique talent for observation and intuition that many other animals lack. People with the crow as their spirit animal often inherit a strong memory and a deep well of insight. Usually, people with this spirit animal are defined by their curiosity about the world around them and their creative thinking and problem-solving ability.

Crow Totem Animal

People with a crow totem are well-known for their outside-the-box thinking. Additionally, people with the crow as their totem animal tend to have a knack for creating things. For some, this is a purely artistic pursuit, but for others craftsmanship is key.

People with the crow totem are excellent at reading others. They are chameleons who quickly analyze the appropriate response to their situation and adapt accordingly. For this to be possible, individuals with the crow totem must be able to empathize with others instantaneously.

People with the crow as their animal totem have a lot of personal integrity. They are not only insightful but also mindful of their actions and opinions. As a result, they live their lives whilst undergoing constant self-analysis. It is impossible for someone with the crow totem to comfortably live the “unexamined life.” As a result, people with this totem often hold themselves to a high standard set by their own internal code.

Crow Power Animal

In addition to the qualities mentioned above, crows provide the very potent power of protection. These intelligent birds are fiercely protective of their territories and their nests. They can usually manage to ward off trespassers that are much bigger than themselves. 

This power, when transferred to a human, translates to vigilance and courage, especially with respect to the safety and well-being of loved ones.

The crow power animal is particularly helpful when you are most in need of creativity, especially when the stakes are at their highest. These birds can help you think of unusual solutions to avoid negative outcomes.

Related

Crow Tattoo Meaning

Crows are very smart, intelligent, and very creative. Yet, many tattoo experts admit that people usually choose the crow symbol as a dark, mystical, or ominous sign. They also say that although it has a significant positive meaning, it tends to get second billing to its dark side.

However, we see different crow meanings throughout different cultures. For instance, the middle ages considered spotting a dead crow as a sign of good fortune, and the Chinese considered it a loving symbol representing the creative side of people.

When a person gets a tattoo design with a crow symbol, it usually is a representation of an experience or a point of view that has greatly affected them. The detailed interpretation of a crow tattoo may lie within the intricacy of the design.

Many people say that we carry the symbols that we tattoo on ourselves to our afterlives. If this is true, then a crow tattoo can be an excellent way to signify that one’s earthly life was filled with rich experiences and self-exploration.

Conclusion

Although there is much much more that can be said about the crow, hopefully the above information has communicated this: crows are not evil. They do not bring death or danger with them as they navigate their habitats. Instead, the crow is an animal that we can all learn a lot from. They are uniquely intelligent and capable of so much more than we have even discovered.

RelatedHow to Befriend Crows? (Step-By-Step Guide)

42 thoughts on “Crow Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)”

  1. I was mucking out the horse stalls this morning and i saw a crow stumbling on the muckheap. I could see he was weak and couldn’t fly so i picked him up and put him in a cage in the shade where he was safe from the dogs and cats and other big birds that live here. He is very skinny so we are feeding it and giving it water and hopefully he or she will recover and we can release back to nature.
    What does this mean spiritually? Thanks!

    1. Hailey Brophy

      I wonder if this opportunity to nurture a crow is also a reminder to nurture your curiosity and satisfy your inner child. I also want to quickly suggest that calling a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for advice might be a good idea. Hopefully your feathered friend comes around!

      — Hailey Brophy
      Writer @ World Birds

  2. Every winter for 20 years between 80-100 crows come and stay on my property. They love the bird sanctuary I’ve created for my Giant Canadian geese ( the crows have befriended) and other birds. But the other reason they come is I can mimic each crow families sounds. My friends and neighbors cannot tell the difference. The crows have in many ways adopted me and my Canadian geese as well. Years ago in the 80s I was given a starving, sick Raven who had been shot and his wing had healed crooked. I took care of him he loved scrambled eggs and toast well he got better and stronger. One day he was playing and saying his name ” Alfred Alfred!”(I named him for Hitchcock) he was actually speaking English. I looked at him and suddenly my voice opened up and I cared, croaked and cared. I was surprised never even tried it. So Alfred gave me his voice … he flew away a month later and I missed him very much. I had a very vivid dream 2 weeks after he left. He flew back and brought 3 other ravens he landed on my head I could feel his talons gripping my head as I balanced him. Alfred opened his wing and a hummingbird dropped down and flew all around the inside of my gown & robe I could feel the fluttering. The hummingbird flew back up into Alfred’s wing he than pushed off my head and flew away with his 3 raven companions. So now when I talk with the Crows it’d because of Alfred’s voice which lives inside of me.
    Also this past January I almost died of covid lost my voice for 5 days. When I finally went outside a crow came to me saying ” Hello, Hello …. hello hello”. I took a video of this crow saying hello to me. It was amazing I think they missed my voice. I’ll send you the video if you like. This crow stayed saying hello all winter I was grateful.

    1. I just looked out my window and there were 15 to 20 crows landing in my yard then they flew up and landed on my fence. They sat there for 5 minutes then flew off. Never seen them in my yard before. Anyone with any insight on what that can mean?

      1. I’ve had crows following me for many years now.. when it first began I started doing all kinds of research and I came across a poem. One for sorrow
        Two for joy
        Three for a girl
        Four for a boy
        Five for silver
        Six for gold
        Seven for secrets never to be told……

    2. Please send your video I was told my spirit animals is a crow. At first I was very disappointed but I noticed very soon after that every where I went there were crows aroun. Especially in times my hart was very sad or in times of trouble.so I’m with a man I met latter in life we have been together now for ten years. But shortly afftter we met he told me his animals is a humming bird. An old Indian woman told him this. So please send me that video and thank you so much.
      Yours truly Lisa bailey/Chase

    3. In meditation a crow came to me, signifying as my spirit animal. I loved your story and I wish good luck with your journey of life may the crows guide your way.

  3. I met a young crow on the country road today. He wasn’t hurt but he was unable to fly up. So I picked him(I got a feeling he was a boy) up and left him on the wall. He had a little rest and jumped on the tree and was climbimg up.
    It was my dream come true, to hold a crow in my hands. I hope he is telling all his family and friends that it is not so bad to be touched by a human

  4. Very enlightening… i saw a large circle of crows just flying in the sky for about two minutes. I looked down and after almost 30seconds, I lifted my head back up only to see they had disappeared.

  5. Good morning,
    Thank you for your great information on the crow!
    I have just discovered a large dead crow outside my front door. Have you any thoughts on the symbolism of this. I’d love to know. Thank you in anticipation!
    Jan Etoile

    1. Hailey Brophy

      I wonder, perhaps, if the crow died by striking your front window? If so then I’d take this opportunity to install some bird-friendly window decals to prevent future instances. Crows are social animals, so a dead crow may refer to loss in the context of loved ones or relationships. Be especially kind to yourself during periods where you lack a firm support system!

      Thank you for reading and I hope this helps!
      — Hailey Brophy
      Writer @ World Birds

  6. 15 minutes after I wrote my last comment my problem was resolved. Thank you beautiful crow – hope rang true!

    1. I’m so glad to hear that the crow brought you a good outcome! Thank you for reading and for sharing!

      — Hailey Brophy
      Writer @ World Birds

      1. Hi we just had a crow land on our 4th of July deco on the front door.
        We have never had anything like this ever happen. We do have crows that hang out in the pine trees of our backyard. Our dogs keep barking at them ,the crows scream back .
        Oh there is a small roof over the front door. I do enjoy all birds.
        Any thoughts.

        1. Hailey Brophy

          A lot of people find crows creepy, but I think they’re delightful. They are very curious and inquisitive, so I wonder if your colorful decorations might have attracted them. In any case, I would consider their visit to be a reminder to stay curious and ask questions!

          I hope this helps!
          — Hailey Brophy
          Writer @ World Birds

  7. I have known for some time that crows are not harbingers of bad luck or death. I just now got off the phone with someone who wasn’t very encouraging about resolving an issue that could have a very bad outcome for me, I happened to turn and look out the window and there was a single crow sitting on the railing outside the window. I immediately looked up the significance of a single crow and after reading your site I feel there’s hope ahead. Thanks for your wonderful site.

  8. Deanna Wallace

    Last evening I saw a single crow on a road sign looking right at me and cawing as I sat in stand still traffic in my car. This morning as I was at a stop sign a single crow sat in the roadway straight across looking directly at me. There was not any ominous feeling about either visit . It was more like a message, but I’m not sure of the message meaning

    1. Hailey Brophy

      I agree that this probably wasn’t anything ominous. Crows are so common that it’s not too strange to bump into two within the span of a few hours. Often, crows remind us to get creative, so maybe take them as a sign to look at your problems from a new perspective!
      — Hailey Brophy
      Writer @ World Birds

  9. Last week I was walking along the beach and a crow landed on my head, as i was startled as it came from behind me, i waved my hand over my head and as i turned the crow was crowing and I apologised to it, as it had caught me off guard.

    1. Hailey Brophy

      It was nice of you to apologize; they say that crows remember people who are kind to them!

      — Hailey Brophy
      Writer @ World Birds

  10. My baby was just 12 days old when a crow visited at the window while he was asleep. I was cooking in the kitchen and suddenly felt like checking on him. The crow craw very loudly that I wondered what the matter was. As I walk towards the window to see what bird it was, it was already flying away as if it sensed my presence. I don’t understand why it came around?

    1. Crows are very curious creatures. I wonder if this crow had been watching over you for a while and was just curious about the new addition to the family? Crows are often misunderstood and are definitely no cause for alarm.

      I hope this helps!
      — Hailey Brophy
      Writer @ World Birds

  11. Please help me I am really in need of your help, this Crows worries me so much that, at night back of window 1 or 2 Crows will cry and change their cry into more disturbing sound, in lonely place they intention fly towards me or fly in circle on my head and much more..

    1. Kathleen Dolan of Raventail

      Don’t worry about them,until they outright attack you,they are just lonely and want to be your friends,and thats there way of greeting. Try giving them a treat,or a toy.

  12. A few years ago, as I was going to a friends memorial, a crow stood in the center of an off ramp on the way to the locale. I stopped my car in front of it, but it didn’t move. It stood looking at me for at least 30 seconds, then slowly walked to the side. I arrived at the room for the memorial, which included stations that showed aspects of the departed’s life. One of the biggest was devoted to the deceased ongoing relationship with his crow neighbors. There were pictures, writings, poetry related to his daily encounters with crows. I was unaware of his connection to the crow. I told the family of my encounter.

    1. ANIL SHRIRAM KULKARNI

      Hallo Sir
      Today in morning at 11 am
      One dark crow was continuly looking from the window of my hall and sort of calling me for long time.
      I looked at him and asked him come to next winow
      He came
      And started looking at me directly and making different sounds
      Some times from his throat, some times raising his wings and making sounds
      And some times just looking at me and making sounds, as if talking to me
      And it was going on and on for almost an hour, he was not at all afraid of me and inched closar to me
      And constanantly looking at talking to me as if
      I told him i dont understand what you r saying
      And expressed my problems
      And he was making sounds which i failed to understand
      They were not normal sounds when crows do
      They were different sounds
      As if he was telling me somethings
      This is the first time in my life time
      I am 68 years old
      Can u please explain
      Its meaning
      Regards
      Anil

      1. It sounds to me like maybe that crow appeared so that you’d have somebody to talk to. Birds can be excellent listeners. I hope this crow’s visit helped you talk through some of your problems!

        — Hailey Brophy
        Writer @ World Birds

    2. Kathleen Dolan of Raventail

      Thats beautiful,the crow recognized your connection to your friend. (Nonbinary pronoun) wanted to test your kindness and patience,and you passed its test

  13. Two days after my husband died last month, an enormous crow with a wine cork in its mouth appeared on our balcony. My husband loved wine. I took it as some kind of sign. I have been eagerly looking for more signs, but nothing more so far. Thanks for this encouraging, insightful article.

    1. I believe the meaning is for you celebrate the life crossing over becoming A more spiritual being. No longer remembering misery and sadness but recall the love and understand the transgression

  14. my wife just had our first baby a few days ago, last night, she dreamt of transforming into a crow, but her sisters cut off her wings and left her all alone after a bit of a quarrel with her.. can anybody please tell me what would be the meaning of this…
    I really appreciate any answers you could give me…

    1. Congrats on your baby! That is exciting.
      I just prayed for you and about your wife’s dream and I get the sense from the Holy Spirit, that this is actually an encouragement to seek out community. I can be totally wrong, but just see if it rings true. I wonder if your wife felt like she has to be suddenly wiser and smarter with this new arrival, like turning into a super mom. And I wonder if in her heart she sometimes compares herself with either her sisters or women close to her. And now especially with this new role, it is all coming to the surface. So her heart is trying to send her a message. If she is attempting to change herself so she fits into the image of what she thinks she needs to be as a mum, or she feels like she has to pretend she has it all under control, it will leave her broken and alone.
      The part with her wings being taken by her sisters after a quarrel, I actually saw how God was turning it around. The key for her to be completely herself and be able to “fly” (free in her person and as a mum and loving it) will be through sisterhood. Her sisters have her wings. So instead of isolating and trying to cope on her own, I think it’s an invitation to be vulnerable and open with either her actual sisters or her girlfriends. It might also be that God has a new set of “sisters” for her in these upcoming weeks/ months. And with seeking out sisters and being open for it she will experience beautiful freedom and support in being a new mom.
      I don’t know, but I feel excited for her. This will be good. I think the “attack” from the dark side is this intimidation and the fear that she will be left alone and broken, maybe especially when seeking out “sisters”. But that is exactly what she should be doing and will need to get her wings back and “fly” in this new role.
      I hope this is helpful. If not, please just let it go. I’m learning and can get it wrong and won’t ever say I’m certain about this. Blessings on you and your little family! God is for you and loves and knows you deeply.

  15. Goodmorning. This morning at 5:45 I went to the kitchen and suddenly I heard a bird crowing and I open my curtain and saw that it is a black crow flying over my house but it was so different. The sound of his crowing, so I said oh please Almighty guide us All

  16. Kerry ocallaghan

    Hi…we have a family of 4 ravens that visit every day. Our front yard is a vegy patch they fosic and play… They usually leave the 2 kids..babies..with us for hrs at a time and recently they have left a fledgling raven with us that we have been feeding and looking after for a mth now as it was to young to fly but can fly now…but it stays in our yard all day.. ive named him/her charlie..and it loves peanuts.. and eggs.. we have hrs of entertainment from the kids..but 1 adult doesnt like little charlie and picks on it..so we have to watch them sometimes..but baby is growing into a good little raven so far so good…awesome.

  17. Nicholas Rayes

    I wrote this and experienced this before reading this article. My sister sent me this link and I read it all… it has touched me in so many ways that I can’t thank you enough for making it available for me. Thank you Garth!

    25….
    Maybe 35…
    Crows flew over me and my backyard
    I sat there sick with Covid and my dog Watson
    This can’t be a good sign I thought to myself
    I embraced this virus vaccine free
    It has been the worst sickness I’ve ever suffered
    Besides life itself, a broken heart is the worst pain I’ve ever felt,
    It felt like those crows knew I was close to the other side
    I’ve seen no more than ten here before this
    And normally, I only see one, two or three
    These crows cawed and flew over my head
    For 20 minutes or more
    I’m puzzled by this event still
    I’m alive to write about it
    What the fuck do we know about anything
    I didn’t even go to the hospital
    But I can’t say I wasn’t scared at some moments
    My chest hurting, grabbing for my heart, waking up drenched in sweat, coughing and gasping for air
    Dreams floating in and out of reality… in and out of consciousness
    I’m lucky I’m not older or in worse shape
    I’m glad it wasn’t my ending yet
    My condolences to the ones related to or who know the souls on the other side.

    1. Yeah, it’s all good 👍 or all bad sometimes 👎just keep on moving forward with both feet bro…..enjoyed your article.

  18. I rescued a baby crow from a heat wave, where he was fallen from his nest above & the parents were no where to be seen, He grew up to be a very smart, intelligent & gentle natured crow. By the short period of time where I had to interact with him I realized how intelligent these crows can be.
    Even though he stayed with me for a short period of time, I truly felt how sweet the Crows could be.

  19. Thank you so much for sharing this information. I have been considering a crow tattoo and I have a special experience tied to it. You mention in your article:

    “The detailed interpretation of the crow tattoo lies in the intricacy of the design. We suggest you choose the design of your crow tattoo very carefully as minor details can completely change the meaning. Form love, future, and wisdom, you can very quickly end up with something akin to a bad omen with a single mistake”.

    I was wondering you might be able to direct me on where I can learn what the appropriate details are for different meanings?
    Thank you very much.

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