What Does a Raven Symbolize?


Quick Answer

The raven represents gods and goddesses in many religions. In literature, crows often represent death or impending doom. In Native American culture, the raven is a symbol of transformation.

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The Norse god Odin is represented by a raven. Odin is the god of many things in the Norse pantheon, but primarily wisdom, war and death. It was thought that if a raven appeared, Odin was watching. Another god of war, Apollo, was also represented by a raven. In ancient Greece, for Apollo to appear in the form of a raven flying from the East or South was a sign of good things to come. The raven is crucial to Celtic mythology, in which it is not only representative of the goddess Morrighan, but also of witches and wizards, all of whom could transform themselves into a raven to spy on people. The raven was also a symbol of death in Celtic mythology. Although the raven was not always a bad symbol in ancient cultures, in literature, the appearance of a raven generally does not mean that good things are to come. In Edgar Allen Poe's poem "The Raven," a man is so bothered by the foreboding presence of a raven over his door that he literally drives himself insane.

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