Symbolic Meaning of the Raven in Native American Indian Lore

Written by avenefica on November 15th, 2007

The symbolic meaning of the Raven  in Native American Indian lore describes the raven as a creature of metamorphosis, and symbolizes change/transformation.

In some tribes, the Raven is considered a trickster because of its transforming/changing attributes.

Often honored among medicine & holy men of tribes for its shape-shifting qualities, the Raven was called upon in ritual so that visions could be clarified.  Native holy men understood that what the physical eye sees, is not necessarily the truth, and he would call upon the Raven for clarity in these matters.

Foremost, the Raven is the Native American bearer of magic, and a harbinger of messages from the cosmos.  Messages that are beyond space and time are nestled in the midnight wings of the Raven and come to only those within the tribe who are worthy of the knowledge.

The Raven is also called upon in Native ritual for healing purposes. Specifically, the Raven is thought to provide long-distance healing.

The Raven is also a keeper of secrets, and can assist us in determining answers to our own “hidden” thoughts.  Areas in our lives that we are unwilling to face, or secrets we keep that harm us – the Raven can help us expose the truth behind these (often distorted) secrets and wing us back to health and harmony.

See also: Feather Symbolism in Native American Indian lore and

Symbolic Meaning of Raven


19 Comments so far ↓

  1. heather says:

    My father shot himself too and came back as a crow. He is now one of my spiritual guides I found out recently. He shot himself at midnight under the chin, 10 years ago. My thoughts are with you.

  2. Lisa says:

    A few ppl who passed have returned to me as a crow and they hang around for a while to chat then disappear until the next time. I believe the Indian meaning of the crow. PEACE

  3. Lori says:

    Why is there a picture of a crow silhouetted against a sunset on a page devoted to the Raven in Native American Folklore?
    Tail feathers – Ravens have wedge-shaped tails and crows have fan-shaped tails!
    Wings-Raven wings are shaped differently than are crow wings, with longer primaries (“fingers”) with more slotting between them. Ravens have pointed wings, while crows have a more blunt and splayed wing tip.

  4. armesha says:

    I went to have my cards read and was told that most people are represented by crows, but I am respresented by ravens,that they watch over me. what does that mean?

  5. Florence says:

    Recently Me And My Friend Have Visited A Haunted House On Which We Be Very Very Often ! We Asked The Spirit To Show A Sign Of The Raven , And Suddenly The Raven Started To Croak And A Lot Of Them Started To Circle Us ! What Ever Could This Mean?

  6. millicent says:

    I am in a new apt. in L.A.and have quite a number of crows flying and making lots of noise….I do carry a lot of light and am aware that birds in general love the Light! So is there any info out there for me…

  7. B says:

    Years ago, when my life was ordinary, groups of ravens would greet me as soon as I stepped out of my door, and then follow me to the bus stop, I always wondered why. I knew it meant something, something was yet to happen, and I was right.

  8. J says:

    Thanks for this and all the wonderful information that you’ve shared. It’s much appreciated!

  9. Vie says:

    Is there a difference between the Crow and the Raven. There always seems to be crows hanging our my house lately…too many to count at times. Just wonder if there is a difference between them and ravens?

  10. ruth13ss says:

    I won’t be leaving this comment with any questions of what certain signs in my life might mean because after tonight I am most certainly convinced that signs are placed to create a sense of divinity in everyday seemingless-like happenings. I work at a thift store and about a week ago I purchased off the rack a necklace with a native american Raven pendant done by artist Joe Wilson from Canada. I found a sense of peace while wearing it accompanied by a small dream catcher with a feather charm hanging around a seperate chain. I would have never known the significance had I not been attempting to really meditate for the first time this evening. I at first googled “how to meditate correctly” and while finding no personal connection with traditional Buddhist techniques, due to my slight infatuation but limited knowledge of native american folklore, i looked up native american meditation techniques. This brought me to a page listing the native astrology cycle. My birthday being on October 13th made me a Raven. After reading the characteristics i instantly felt a sense of validity due to the fact that the description was not vague as is most other traditional astrology sign, and also listed negative characteristics which also i can relate to. Though i will say, i have quite a strong connection with my greek astrology sign Libra as well. While all of this may not have much of an impact on the reader, I am very pleased with the detail the publisher of all this information gave. So thank you Avia, for giving me more of a sense of value to life, and a stronger connection to the metaphysical world around me. This only motivates me to explore further in other cultures, to see how my personal symbolism plays a roll in myself and something bigger, as i personally believe, if we can be so open minded to combine certain attributes of all belief systems, this world would be much more accepting and available to coexist in a state of harmony.

  11. Bekah says:

    Thank you ruth13ss for the insight, i believe that the stereotype of ravens bringing death wasnt made in the correct mind sense, i find they bring peace to a troubled soul, and insight to another plain, world or dimesion…

  12. vincent says:

    @lori. The wings look slotted to me with raven type “fingers” so I don’t get what you’re seeing.

  13. Jim says:

    Yesterday I walked out on my back deck to find an enormous raven walking about, I approached it and it wasn’t startled by me so I bent down and picked it up thinking maybe it was hurt. it didn’t struggle and i wanted to help it but didn’t know what to do. I decided to take him across the street to a cemetary and just let him go. when I did he just flew away, I thought that was strange

  14. boobear66 says:

    living where I do outside Austin, I have never seen a raven here before. Growing up in the northwest I saw them all the time,and it had been so long at first I thought it was a crow. after comparing their song on the internet, it was the raven. while having morning tea, tending to the deer and my garden I started to hear it’s song, stopped watched for him he flew right into one of the big oaks behind me and just sang, jumping from limb to limb. only lasted maybe 5 min. I am convinced he was bringing me good news, about the sick puppy I am nursing back to health. I feel he brought me song of healing and acknowledment.

  15. Andraste says:

    Bob, when I was living in my childhood home….. I went out side,looked at a norway pine that was in the backyard

    Looked up at one of the branches,and noticed that a pair of ravens were sittting on the branch& they were looking directly at me..
    I’ve always taken this as aa sign of protection…
    could this be true?

  16. russell register says:

    I am Norse and Native Canadian/Inuit
    I love the Raven and is one of my sprite guides. I have beed granted four feathers over time. Each is during change in my life.
    The Raven offers us so much. But respect is also needed. thanks for your info too all.

  17. someguy77 says:

    thank u for this fascinating site.

  18. mwilkinson says:

    I was camping this weekend, & awoke on the last morning to find a single raven’s feather just outside of my tent. To me these are usually signs or messages, but there’s so much symbolism around the raven it’s hard to sift through to the core of the message. Anyway thanks for the website, it definitely is a great place to start!

  19. Gary says:

    The term “crow” is both general and specific. Crow is a general term to refer to all birds of the genus “Corvus”. (Ravens, crows, magpies, etc). It is also a specific bird, Corvus brachyrhynchos. A raven is Corvus Corax. Native American folklore gives identical attributes to both raven and crow.
    You can call a raven a crow and be correct. But if you call a crow a reven, it is not correct.

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