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Everything To Know About Raven Symbolism: Meanings, In Dreams & More

Tianna Soto, M.A.
By Tianna Soto, M.A.
mbg Contributor
Tianna Faye Soto, M.A., is a Puerto Rican, Jamaican-Chinese writer, editor, and wellness speaker based in New York City. She has a master's degree in Clinical Psychology in Education from Columbia University, where she received specialized training at the Spirituality Mind Body Institute. She is also certified in yoga, meditation, and Reiki levels I & II.
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Have you ever seen a raven in nature or had one appear in your dreams? Although these mysterious, dark-colored birds may appear ominous at a first glance, some say ravens are spiritual messengers that represent inner healing and transformation. Here, experts weigh in on what ravens symbolize and what it could mean if you keep spotting them. 

What do ravens symbolize?

In animal medicine and across various cultures, the raven represents magic, says Hae Lee, a spiritual teacher, healer, and author of Reiki Illustrated.

Seeing a raven in your waking or dream life can often be a clear sign that meaningful change is coming. “When the raven appears in your life, it signifies an impending shift in consciousness, beckoning you to explore the inner realms and illuminate the shadows within,” Lee explains.

Although the jet-black raven has long been associated with loss and grief (as in Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem, “The Raven”), seeing the animal doesn’t necessarily mean that something bad is going to happen. “It’s a common misconception that the raven is solely seen as an omen of darkness due to its black color, but black does not mean evil,” says Lee. “In fact, black can symbolize the quest for answers, the void, or the spiritual and nonphysical journey.”

Keywords associated with ravens:

  • Messenger
  • Magic
  • Intelligence
  • Darkness
  • Shape-shifting
  • Transformation 
  • Divine timing

4 spiritual meanings behind the raven

The raven can represent various themes depending on your culture, lineage, and belief system. Maggie Wilson, author of the forthcoming book Metaphysical AF, says the raven is a highly intelligent animal associated with the winter solstice—notably, the darkest day of the year.

In Norse mythology, for example, ravens served as important messengers for the god Odin, while in Celtic tradition, ravens were associated with knowledge and divine prophecy1. Other cultures believed that ravens were related to war and battle, and in some Native American traditions, ravens represented the creation of the world and good luck.

“Across all cultures, it is evident that humans have reverence for this bird,” says spiritually-oriented psychotherapist Maja Zovko, LMSW. “We see the myths represent their brilliance, their ability to overcome obstacles, as well as humans’ fear of darkness. Taking this into account, Raven—the messenger of the shadow—is bearing gifts needed for our healing.”

Here are a few more spiritual meanings behind the raven:


It’s time to embrace the unknown

According to Lee, seeing a raven could be an invitation to explore or consider new paths—whether personal, professional, spiritual, or otherwise. “Raven medicine is often used to empower individuals, granting them the courage to venture into the depths of the unknown and embrace the profound mysteries of life,” she says.


The spiritual realm is sending you a clear message

According to astrologer and spirituality expert, Eden Sky Orion, ravens are spirit guides who come bearing important life lessons. “In mythology, ravens would carry messages to and from the gods,” she says.

“If a raven comes across your path, I would ask yourself, ‘What is the spiritual message that this raven is bringing me or asking me to look at?’” It could even be a departed loved one trying to communicate with you from the other side, Orion adds.


You’re ready to heal

The raven can also be a sign that you’re ready to accept both the light and the darkness—and face your shadows head-on, spiritual teacher and healer Maggie Gold, M.A., tells mindbodygreen.

“When the image of a raven comes to you, it is an invitation to embrace the parts of ourselves we might normally look away from,” she says, adding, “[The raven symbol] draws us into our darkness to reveal our light.” Seeing a raven could mean that it’s a powerful time for shadow work.


You’re about to experience a major change

Although ravens aren’t necessarily a “bad” omen, Orion says that ravens can sometimes represent symbolic “deaths” and endings—like a spiritual awakening, or even a dark night of the soul.

“If a raven comes to you, it could be that there’s a part of you you’re laying to rest, or some part of you that’s dying. That may sound drastic, but it’s really when we’re going through an inner change or transformation,” she explains. 

What to do if you keep seeing them

If you continuously see raven symbols emerging in your life, Orion says it’s a clear invitation to explore the animal’s unique meaning.

“Research all different types of associations—culturally, mythologically, and throughout history—and see how they connect to your life right now,” she suggests, adding, “It’s always good to go to your own lineage first. Then go to the cultural meanings [from other traditions] to gather inspiration and see what resonates with you.”

Seeing an animal symbol multiple times means that it’s there to support you, Orion adds. If you notice the raven is trying to send you a message, she recommends consciously harnessing its energy in real life. “Print out a picture of a raven or find an image and make it your phone background to consciously connect with the energy that’s already trying to connect with you,” she says. 

And according to Gold, seeing a raven is a reminder that you can’t separate light from dark—and if you’ve been ignoring or compartmentalizing different aspects of yourself, practicing self-love and self-acceptance can help you integrate your experiences. “When we allow ourselves to see all parts [of ourselves] with love, we release the pain of disconnection and move much closer to wholeness,” she says.

To learn more about how to work with the Raven (or any animal you feel spiritually connected to), Orion recommends Animal Power: 100 Animals to Energize Your Life and Awaken Your Soul

If a raven appears in your dream

Dreaming about a raven is another clear sign to reflect on the “dark” parts of your life and bring them to light, especially if you've been struggling with something tough lately, says Zovko.

“Finding the root cause of suffering and exposing the ‘shadow’ is the number one step to uncovering what is causing our misalignment,” she says. “If the raven is appearing in your dreams, ask yourself, ‘What do I need to see for my healing to move forward?’ Then, get still and be patient until you hear the answer.” 

If you notice ravens appearing in your dreams, Zovko recommends taking some time to write in a journal, draw, paint, or engage in another creative activity you’re drawn to. This can help relax your body, allow your subconscious to speak, and reveal important messages about your life that you need to hear.

“You might be surprised to find out what has been hiding in plain sight,” she adds. You can also make a dream journal or explore specific shadow work prompts.


What does the Raven mean in Native American culture?

There are various meanings of the Raven across Native American traditions. The Raven has been associated with creation, light, the ability to shift consciousness, secrets, and power.

What does a raven symbolize in Norse mythology?

In Norse mythology, the god Odin had a pair of ravens that symbolized thought and memory. They were regarded as important spiritual messengers who acted as spies and delivered important news.

What does a black crow mean spiritually?

Although ravens and crows differ, they are very close in appearance and spiritual meaning. Black crows often symbolize cleverness, change, transformation, death, and rebirth.

The takeaway

Although the raven can seem like a dark, foreboding presence, Wilson says the raven ultimately serves as a reminder to harness your inner power. “Everyone has a unique and powerful magic within and Raven has been thought to help shape-shift our lives dramatically. Raven symbolizes the opportunity to be the magician of your life,” she explains.

While the raven may symbolize metaphorical death and transformation for some, you shouldn’t be afraid if you encounter one (or multiple) on your path.

As Orion says, “Animals that have negative connotations are often very powerful guides. Ravens have power and they can help us in times of transformation and change—especially inner transformation. When the core of the change needs to happen inside, the animals that we might be a little more likely to be scared of are some of our greatest allies.”

Tianna Soto, M.A. author page.
Tianna Soto, M.A.

Tianna Faye Soto, M.A., is a Puerto Rican, Jamaican-Chinese writer, editor, and wellness speaker based in New York City. She holds B.A. degrees in Psychology and Spanish Language & Literature from North Carolina State University and an M.A. in Clinical Psychology in Education from Columbia University, where she received specialized training at the Spirituality Mind Body Institute. She is also certified in yoga, meditation, and Reiki levels I & II.

Tianna was previously the Contributing Editor of Dating at Elite Daily and an Associate Editor at Her Campus Media. Her work has been featured by Cosmopolitan, Conscious Magazine, Thrive Global, and more.

As a professional speaker, Tianna leads keynotes and workshops focused on mental health, identity, and personal growth. She has worked with 50 universities around the country along with organizations like Facebook, Neutrogena, Bumble, and The UN Foundation. She also serves as a board member for the international mental health organization To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA).

Tianna’s work is heart-centered, service-driven, and rooted in empathy. Follow along and connect on Instagram: @tiannafayee.