Raven Spirit Animal
This beautiful black creature brushes mountainsides with wingtips. His black eyes drink in landscapes as subtle breezes hold him aloft. Raven’s undeniable determination is audible in the whir of his heavy wingbeats. On occasion he joins with a troop of two or three others to cackle at the wind and tease the beasts on the ground below. His voice cuts through the forest’s silence. It echoes like an inside-out gurgle of water down a seep-hole. His call is an invitation to other worlds. Is he calling those worlds forth? Or is he calling us to those worlds? This is for raven to know. He is incredibly clever. We admire him for his ability to use tools and solve puzzles. The trick is we haven’t even begun to solve the puzzles he creates.
Initiation into Mystery
Bringer of hidden truths, Raven spirit animal wanders the world over probing mysteries. He contemplates the unknown as the ravens named Hugin (“Thought”) and Munin (“Memory”) – the Norse god Odin’s trusted advisers. Odin is the god of wisdom and seeking. His wisdom is owed to the help of two intelligent ravens.
Ravens help us discover the the hidden treasures within our own mysteries, lighting up the unconscious. An Inuit tale tells of a raven tricking his way into a whale’s belly where he meets the soul of the whale and eventually feasts on the rich oil inside the whale. He carries two fire sticks with him that he goes to great pains to retain. Raven’s confidence in his ability to light up the dark helps us navigate the unfamiliar in life and in ourselves.
In other myths, raven is known for birthing the human race by coaxing the first humans out of clam shells. For us, raven spirit animal draws us out of our own protective shells and guides us through the mysterious unknown “out there”. He is an opener of doors for the mind and soul.
Raven spirit animal’s intelligence was passed down to humans when he taught people how to sow seeds and hunt. He is known in the mundane world for his ability to outwit other animals, use tools, and use complex communication. If anyone is going to lead you into cloaked and uncharted territory, cunning raven is a good bet.
Raven is depicted as a hero god who either created or helped create the world in stories of the Northwest Coast of North America. On the other hand, we find associations with death in Celtic and European folklore. He is associated with the decimated battlefield littered with the corpses he feeds on. Comfortable with death and the underworld, raven spirit animal helps us enter into that Great Unknown during important life transitions.
The Trickster God
Mythology surrounding raven shows him providing aid and causing trouble at the same time. He’s a trickster who causes hardship for humans and other creatures by convincing them to do foolish things. He’s just as likely to steal the light as bring it. However, raven’s conniving can also result in him putting things right again. An example of this is the Athabaskan myth of raven stealing the sun and moon back from a greedy chief who hid them away. Trickster energy can change the course of things for good and grant us valuable wisdom.
Have you ever had something go terribly wrong and later been grateful for the detour? In looking back do you now realize that there was a Divine hand in the event? Did what you learn in this experience make you all the richer? Or did the redirect take you to place better than what you could have imagined?
Remember when considering raven spirit animal, that you aren’t looking for ways he’ll bring you material wealth or outstanding recognition. Raven helps you know deep mysteries that help you breathe into the infinite.
Ravens vs. Crows
Ravens have wedge shaped tails and long fingers on the ends of their wings. This is how even the novice can tell them apart from their close cousins, crows. Crows have square tails and rounded wingtips. It is important to know one from the other because crows carry aspects of community, civilization, and play. They understand more of what it means to be in society.
(View article on Crow Symbolism here)
Ravens, on the other hand, are closer to the heavens, to solitude, and to wilderness. They keep company with clouds, hawks, bears, coyotes, wolves, and wolverines. They scavenge carcasses of big game. Raven spirit animals relate to what we experience when we spend time alone contemplating the big game, the big questions in life, and how we relate to this mystery.
Raven’s Illusions and Magic
So much is shared about this bird that engulfs mystery with his black coat of feathers. Jamie Sams and David Carson write in Medicine Cards: “If you have chosen Raven, magic is in the air. Do not try to figure it out; you cannot. It is the power of the unknown at work, and something special is about to happen. The deeper mystery, however, is how you will respond to the sparkling synchronicity of this alchemical moment.”
Ravens often come to assist me with ceremonies such as weddings and land blessings. I believe they are responding to the opening of the veil that occurs when we call in the holy. One particularly poignant raven encounter happened at a wedding ceremony I conducted for friends. As I was setting space and asking the guests to circle around the couple, two ravens flew directly overhead right through the center of the circle.
Ceremony involves working with what we call magic. Magic is simply an unseen force that adds power to a setting and it relies on the power of illusion. When magic is in the air surprising omens appear and events outside the laws of nature seem to take place.
Raven spirit animal, like a magician, weaves intricate illusions that causes us to see unbelievable things. When you have an experience you don’t think anyone else will believe, raven is often afoot. He helps shatter our preconceptions and shows us new possibilities. Raven spirit animal captivates us with tricks and causes us to question everything we once thought was certain.
Power is never created or lost. When you direct power to create the dazzling illusion, you’ll find that another area of your life seems to lose power or attraction. There is nothing wrong with this situation, just something to be mindful of.
The part of your life that now seems mind-numbingly boring hasn’t changed, but the balance has shifted. Give the illusion some time to fade away and things will seem less uneven. Ultimately, once raven comes to visit you will never be the same. Adjusting to this new world view will be your new task.
The Flight into the Dark
The path to enlightenment is the same road into the dark. Our ability to hold awareness allows us to persevere rather than tumble into suffering.
Can we tell if the darkness is our own shadow or if it the vast void stretched out before us? When does our shadow merge with the void?
How do we choose the unknown over our fear? Raven has the skill to navigate these currents, to steer through this illusory black hole, and come out more robust than before.
The next time you notice a raven in your field of view, pause to watch what he’s up to. Remember you can learn much about the illusion and the mystery of existence. If you’re luckily enough to notice and engage, raven spirit animal just might offer you some flashing insights.
For more information on raven symbolism and the spiritual path, read my article on the fairytale of “The Seven Ravens”.
About Author, Stacey L. L. Couch
Stacey L. L. Couch is a Spiritual Director who teaches about archetypes and symbolism. Her speciality is working with soul pioneers - those of you who are making it up as you go along the spiritual path. She works with beginner and life-long spiritual seekers. Through working with Stacey, lost seekers find their way home and professional spiritual guides receive mentorship. Stacey empowers people with the ability to explore their purpose and calling. Wisdom found in story, mysticism, and nature provide guidance and healing in her work. She is the author of Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks. She values mindfulness, wonder, and compassion in her daily spiritual practice. Learn More about Stacey.
I wish I had clarity! I love what you wrote about Raven. But in my own life I can’t figure out what to do?
Raven came as a totem yesterday, a couple of Ravens were fighting. One had the other by the throat. It was and violently biting the others neck. The one on the ground appeared helpless.
I broke up the fight. It was so sad.
One aggressor walked away. The one attacked stood up and looked at me for a long time. I quietly left.
Then about 1/2 hour later I saw 2 Ravens flying next to my car with 2 chunks of bread in their mouths. Or nesting material. What ever they had, it looked identical.
I interpreted that this met, 2 people had a situation where one was going for the throat. And later things worked out well. Very well and they were sharing the goodness.
I just don’t understand how this fits into my life?
Does Raven come to tell of future events? Or just to mimick struggles??
Hello Wendy, Thank you for taking the time to tell the story of what you saw and for asking some good questions. You are on the right track with interpreting the encounters and just need to continue forward with your line of thought. Let’s see if I can help. When we encounter what we consider to be animal messengers of any species we have a number of ways we can view the message. You listed two already… Foreshadowing the future and representing what is in your life right now. It is important to remember to look at not just your relationships with other people, but also with life circumstances (do you feel life has you by the throat?) or within yourself (are you being very critical of yourself?). We are often at war inside regarding decisions and the animals can mirror that inner conflict. So, I’d recommend looking at what you are wrestling with in your own being and what you are doing to come into harmony like the two birds flying side by side, each with a piece of the puzzle. Many Blessings, Stacey
I have practiced shamanism for decades. I rarely look at shamanic sites on the web as so many are not very good. However, you write with clarity, lightness, and apparent openness. Thank you for this website. I have learned from it and appreciate you making this material available for anyone interested!
All My Relations
Hello Susan, You are most welcome. I am happy to offer this writing as a gift. It is important right now that we strengthen and deepen our connection with the wild ones. If my insights can help this mission they are worth sharing. I hope to stay in touch with you. Many Blessings, Stacey
Hi Stacey…I had a dream about several (5 or 6) ravens surrounding me, one of them very close who just was calmly looking at me. The others were just around kinda like forming a circle around me but not really paying attention to me at all. At least I think they were ravens rather than crows as they were rather large birds. This is all I remember of the dream except that it’s like I suddenly became aware of them in my dream…thought this is really strange for them to be so close & all around me & why aren’t they flying away in fright. In the dream I wasn’t scared & neither were they. The weirdness of it I guess is what woke me up. When sharing this dream with others…they found it a little creepy…so did I a bit but I can’t help but feel that they were protecting me somehow??? I’ve researched a little & found one site that said that when a raven in your dreams is just calmly looking at you, he is invoking magic? what magic! I can’t seem to find info on several ravens at once in your dreams. The dream is stuck in my head & I just don’t know how to interpret it. I would love to hear your thoughts on this please if you have the time. Thanks deb
Hello Deb, Dreams like these that have a very strong impact on us typically don’t have a single message to them and there is usually an element of the meaning that we feel rather than cognitively know. The fact you can’t express exactly what the dream was like for you is not surprising. Raven medicine is about the Great Mystery, and now you have the feeling of the Great Mystery inside you. We cannot know everything there is to know and when we truly come into contact with that truth it can be uncomfortable. This is your opportunity to gain comfort and confidence with the unknown. This faculty will serve you throughout the whole of your life. Think of how many times you’ve faced uncertainty in your life, not knowing what the future will bring. Think of how much more comfortable you are already than you were back then. The ravens are simply moving this process along for you and helping you build your inner courage. I could go into the numerology of what 5 or 6 raven spirit animals means, but I think the meaning is much bigger than that simple reduction. As always, please check in with yourself to see if you resonate with what I’ve shared. I’m here to pose possible interpretations. I’m sure you have much wisdom to add to the process. Many Blessings, Stacey
Thank you Stacey. I do resonate with what you’ve shared & appreciate your input immensely. I have always been a bit afraid of ravens & I admire them at the same time. Perhaps part of the message is to stop being so afraid of the unknown as it’s keeping me from furthering my spiritual development (I know it is). Thanks again for your insight. Many Blessings to you as well
Hello. I just wanted to say I appreciated your sharing this. A shaman had given my mother a Raven figure to give her son. I had never met him and at the time I didn’t think anything of it at the time. Fast forward a bit down the road, I was working on a project and I’d thought to research the meaning behind the Raven. The truth to my relation with the symbol was heavy enough to change my perspective forever. Not only that, but the project I had been working on has a purpose of helping reveal people’s true selves and path in life. Apparently this is also in line with the Raven. At the time I hadn’t put the two together, but when I named the company I named it after Raven.
I expect I’ll be understanding the significance of this the duration of my life. But if I may ask your opinion..I already spend the majority of my time seeking, studying, experiencing, learning. As someone who understands this culture better than I, do you recommend anything in particular that I need to absorb?
Hello Nic, I am glad to hear that you are feeling patient about waiting for the significance of raven’s presence in your life to continually unfold before you. That patience in and of itself is a beautiful gift. Anything you can do to learn more about how to develop symbolic sight and how to relate to spiritual guidance will be helpful. You may want to attend a shamanic journey workshop or learn more about dream interpretation. Also, this recording of an online class I recently offered may help you in your studies: https://www.wildgratitude.com/product/seeking-spiritual-guidance/. Good luck with your learning path. I trust it will bear you great fruit. Many Blessings, Stacey
Hello Stacey. I have read your replies to some of the inquiries asked of you on this site and I find myself seeking some clarification on this subject as well. I would greatly appreciate any insight you may have regarding my experiences with the Raven. First of all, my birth name was Raven and although it is not my listed name on my birth record, my father named me Raven and was only one who called me by that name. Second, I have had many divine experiences in my life from earliest memories and the symbolism of the Raven has factored in on many of these divine experiences — too many to relay here but nonetheless spiritual manifestations in the highest degree. What I write below occurred on a cloudy morning up in the foothills at the base of the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque, NM. This is what happened.
I was quietly enjoying the view of the city and the mountains on a cloudy Sunday morning on May 1, 2016. I was taking random photos of the landscape/scenery, and shortly after doing this I departed and went on with my day. On Monday morning, I viewed my photos from the previous day and noted a white plume of light shooting out of the ground at the foot of a boulder. It was a blindingly white plume of light and one could see through it in its transparency. After viewing it with puzzlement for a few minutes I disregarded it as a reflection, trick of light on the camera, etc., because it was actually part of the landscape and not a trick of light or some kind of camera reflection. I enlarged the photo and at the top of the plume is an illuminated outline of a bird’s beak, its eye and part of its head. Looking at another photo with the same view of the black rock mountain without the plume of light, one can easily see an image of a raven complete with a full head of feathers, its beak, an eye, on the side of the mountain. The light shooting out of the ground from the rock across from where my car was parked, when the photo is blown up, the top of the light plume illimuninates the outline of the black bird image on the mountainside. I’m stymied by this. How can this be? And even if the white plumed light IS a trick of light or from the camera causing it, why is it STILL that the plume of light outlines the profile of the bird’s image on the mountainside?
Might you be able to shed some light for me about this mysterious phenomena? Any feedback you can provide would be appreciated.
Thank you. Also, I would be glad to send you the photos so you may see it for yourself.
Hello Lorraine, Thank you for reaching out and sharing your story. What a beautiful synchronicity and image of the light, the landscape and the raven. What a beautiful way to come into contact with the Divine. Many people are discussing how they are witnessing the thinning of the veil between this and the spirit world. With that phenomenon and your own willingness to open up to such experiences, awesome encounters can occur. I would look beyond a single meaning and into the grace of such a meeting. Allow it to open you up and shed light on your soul. Many Blessings, Stacey
Thank you for all you say here. It’s wonderful and I relate absolutely with it.
The first guide I became truly close to came in the form of a large Crow. I couldn’t understand why he was so large. Later he showed himself as a frightening looking warrior with jet black hair. He taught me what warrior energy truly meant and how conflict was not part of this, but with skill, humour and strategy could be countered and deflected. He educated, protected and entertained me. A few years later, I found a picture in a book I was leafing through and was blown away. My warrior looked like the men in the picture: ‘the Crow tribe’ was the description in the caption. It said that Crow was a mistranslation – that they were in fact Ravens. Amazing – that’s why he had appeared as a large crow. The mistranslation was not an accident. Once his time with me was up, he told me he had fulfilled his role and was satisfied I had integrated his knowledge. Then he was gone. I was so sad for months – my incredible friend had left. So hard to explain to anyone without them thinking you mad! Years have passed since then but I have thought of him often and the gifts he left me, and although I have been guided by many kind energies, none have stayed for so long or become my close beloved friend in the way he did. Like you say, he changed my world, my perception and my life path – under his influence I became an artist.
Year have passed since then and I had given up hope of finding another companion quite like him. Then…earlier today, I had the honour of meeting a new friend. Another Raven! This time it is pure white with green piercing eyes and I see him sitting on a great staff. The energy is so very different… so ethereal, so majestic and powerful. He is a story teller, a dream-weaver and I sense he has a nordic flavour. I know he is going to stick around like my lovely black raven did and I am so very very happy about that and excited to get to know him. But I can find very little information on a white variety of this guide that connects with an intuition. Can you help at all? I sense that I must follow the crumbs as I did before and I am drawn to share this with you that I believe you may be able to throw me the next clue 🙂 x
Hello Cat, How fun that you get to come back into raven medicine. Just like friends, spirit animals come and go in our lives. The good news is that we have a whole tribe to work with. I do not know of any mythology around white ravens, but when a white animal shows up we are being called into a deeper relationship with the Divine… A pure devotion that asks nothing short of us coming into service and surrender. The color green relates to nature of course but also the heart chakra and richness. As you say, no final chapters here from me, just the first few lines! Enjoy getting to know your new friend! Sincerely, Stacey
Hello, Cat –
I wonder if I might offer some thoughts regarding your experience with the white raven. I follow Norse traditions, and what you describe sounds like what I would interpret as a visit with the being known as Odin. He is strongly associated with ravens, and two very specific ravens are his companions, Huginn and Munin – their names mean Thought and Memory. They are said to travel the worlds of men and spirits, and bring news back to Odin. He is often portrayed as a white haired man with one eye and a staff. He is known as a storyteller, a god of magic, wisdom, mysteries, and travel between worlds.
Of course such experiences are entirely subject to one’s own experience and interpretation, as Stacy has said in many responses, but even if my point of view misses the mark, maybe it can help in the process of elimination. I wish you every joy in your journey.
I will try to condense this and hopefully not lose any value/meaning to the circumstances.
My first spiritually recognized encounter with the raven occurred when my dear cousin was dying of cancer. A beautiful raven landed on a tree branch very close to me. My initial thought was why is this bird comfortable being so close to me. Soon afterwards, my cousin passed. My 2nd encounter occurred in a dream. I won’t go into detail of the dream as it would be very lengthy. In a nut shell, 3 owls appeared to me with a message. The raven watched (on the side lines) as the owls gave me a message. The raven never interacted, it just watched.
The last and most recent encounter with the raven; I was in the kitchen (working) when I heard a very demanding squawking. For whatever reason I knew I was being beckoned outside. I walked out to the back deck and on the railing sat a scruffy ragged raven. I asked the raven for his message. Unfortunately, I was not in tune to hear the answer. We were interrupted by my German Shepherd dog that charged and chased the raven away. Soon there after, we received notice that my step-daughter had passed away from a drug overdose. After this 3rd encounter I fully accepted the fact that mystic events were occurring in my life and the raven is the vessel. Your thoughts are much appreciated.
You are most welcome Victoria and thank you for sharing your experiences with raven spirit animal. It does sound like you have a close and long-standing kinship with raven, and that raven shows up as a form of support for you. In this article, I talk about how ravens often show up to help with sacred ceremonies. The passing of your loved ones is a sacred moment when the soul slips across the veil and into another plane of existence. The ravens may very well be showing how sacred, although painful, these moments of crossing over are. Many Blessings, Stacey
Do you have information on crows, I would love to hear your insights, thank you 🙂 love your website
Hello Flower, Yes I do! I just posted a new article on Crow Symbolism here: https://www.wildgratitude.com/crow-symbolism/. Enjoy! Many Blessings, Stacey
Hi Stacy –
Simply, what is the relationship between the raven and the Archangel Cassiel?
Hello Vicki, I am not familiar with the Archangel Cassiel, so I can’t speak to the connection here. What do you know about the angel? And what are your thoughts on the connections? I bet you know more than you might think! I hope to hear your thoughts if/when you get a chance. Many Blessings, Stacey
Archangel Cassiel, the angel of solitude. I can relate as solitude is my life for as long as I have been in this life time. Solitude that is not by choice by my present being but apparently a previous choice I chose for a purpose unknown to me. It is my personal struggle but I know I chose this for the greater good. Cassiel, the Archangel of solitude, spirit animal crow & the raven. The effects of solitude are profound.
Yes, I can definitely see the theme of solitude when it comes to raven spirit animal. They are much less communal birds than crows and can often be spotted traveling alone. It sounds like you aren’t entirely alone although. The angels and spirit animals are with you no? And, I agree, the effects of solitude are very profound.
Hi Stacey, ravens seem like pretty mysterious creatures, and I have a question about that. For a few months now, there is a raven on a tree in my backyard. A found it a few times on my window, but as soon as I moved the curtain to look at it (ravens are my favourite birds), it flies away. Recently there’s been a struggle in my family (health)and I don’t know if the raven is supposed to mean something? I also often dream about it, since it tends to make noises when it’s dark and I hear him the entire night through.
Hello Helena, Raven spirit animal relates to illusions and magic, reminding us that what we think is true really isn’t. Illnesses do the same thing, turning our lives up side down. We thought we were safe and/or that our lives will always be this way, and then, boom, we or someone we love gets sick and everything changes. Rather than play the victim, we have a chance in these intense circumstances to open up and question everything. This allows the magic of raven to intervene and shift our perceptions, our interior, and hopefully our lives for the better. Many Blessings, Stacey
Hello , please I need help. Ever since I found out my girl friend was a succubus whom I survived for almost a year, two ravens has visited my home 4 times and I don’t know what to do. Help!!! Despite having so many signs and warnings that I was dating a demon which I ignored or couldn’t interpret, I wouldn’t want to make such mistakes again. I think these ravens are trying to communicate to me. Though I defeated this demon and made mockery of her because she couldn’t break my spirit and made it clear to her that I’m not scared of the dark. Help please.
Hello Chris, The best advise I have for you is to see to your wounds, your places of feelings of unworthiness, your self doubt and your self criticism. You can put up the best wards in the world and build a fortress of self-protective talismans, but ultimately as long as you have big gaps in your sense of self there is a chance you may be willing prey for darkness. As long as you need someone else to affirm, recognize, love, and reassure you, this opening in you that you are waiting for someone else to fill may be courted by trouble. It is a lot of work to tend to our own self-esteem and self-worth and self-love, but it is the best way I know out of these kinds of traps. You can always contact me about working together in a one-on-one private shamanic healing session and we can explore this further: https://www.wildgratitude.com/product/shamanic-healing-schedule/. Many Blessings, Stacey
Hello, every since my mother was diagnosed (and since died) with ovarian cancer, I’ve been seeing ravens. Every where I go, they are there. Esp across the street there is one (sometimes two) that busy quite regularly.. squawking a lot.. while looking at me.. I talk to him.. lol… I’m thinking it’s a message from my mom?
Hello Melissa, Our loved ones most definitely communicate with us from the other side via animal messengers. I am so glad to hear the ravens are bringing you connected conversation during this lonely time. What a gift from the angel that is your mother. Many Blessings, Stacey
Hi there, I hope you can help me find some clarity. I see many birds & animals on my travels every day. Yet this last few weeks have felt different, very omen like, ( I also feel this year has been something of a dark night of the soul for me).
1. Hawk taking flight across my path holding a snake in it’s talons.
2.12-14 ft scrub python dead beside the road.
3. Brown snake trying to enter my home.
4. Two crows, (on the side of the road) staring me down as my car passed them. They didn’t move or take flight, ( there was no food). Once ok but exactly the same thing on 2 consecutive days?
5. On the third day,(a long way from the first 2 crows). a freshly dead adult crow in the middle of the road. Took him home & placed him in a sacred area of my garden & said a prayer.
6. Travelled to the other end of the state & wake up to a raven strutting around the back yard.
Stacey, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom of the raven spirit guide.
Your highly creative, intriguing, and soul-igniting writing style helped me to imagine being fully present with the moments, especially the profound story where the physical and the spiritual worlds were one in, “A Story About an Alchemical Moment.”
Continue to Be an invaluable gift to self/Self, interconnected humanity, Mother Earth, merging worlds, and beyond.
You are most welcome Barbara! Many blessings to you!
I saw a raven yesterday at a park in Dublin Ireland. This is magic in itself, as I don’t think they are suppose to exist in Dublin (just crowd which I love). I was talking about that with my son recently and how I never saw one. He was making a different noise and another girl noticed and was also filming it. I need and have been asking for changes at my current work. It was straight after a very big and weird call with the VP of the company asking me to change everything I’m working on. I decided not to mind as I will be on holidays soon and intend to find another job soon. It did talk of magic and some interesting synchronicities happened as I went to a shop after. I found specific exact items of things being placed in my front, my size, perfectly like I have been visualising, that I did not believe I even found in that shop. PS- I just had a talk a few days earlier of how I never saw a rave before, as my son was asking it. I filmed it. – What do you think, something pops up to mind?
I saw a Raven just last Sunday morning in our yard. I just notice him/her in our wall fence facing outward of our house. He/she was pacing a little bit, then few minutes later , he/she flew away. Today, which is Thursday, so timely, it’s my husband and I’s 12th wedding anniversary, I saw 2 ravens this morning. One was just inspecting the food I put on the table (for the other birds, small local birds & ring neck doves), and the other was sitting on the top of the dead peach fruit tree facing outward of our house. When I opened the back door, it did not startle them, then a minute later or less, they both flew away.
What does it mean? Both Sunday and Thursday birds were silent. They weren’t noisy at all. It seems like they were just hanging out in our peaceful yard.