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Animal Symbolism: The Crow, Raven, and Wolf

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Fine Art by Adam S. Doyle


Beowulf
A line from this ancient poem reads, “...but the black raven, eager for the doomed ones, as he shall say much to the eagle of what success he had at feeding, when he, with the wolf, plundered the corpses.” Excerpt from Truth and Symbolism: Mythological Perspective of the Crow and Wolf by Karen Bukowick


Crows and ravens will be used interchangeably throughout this post, but please note they are two different birds. Also, the crow and raven symbolism is quite similar from the past through the present, which is why you see them talked about as if they were the same bird. 

Ravens, crows, and wolves depend on one another for survival (also known as a symbiotic relationship). Ravens and Crows need the wolves to rip open the carrion for feeding, whereas, wolves will look to the sky for circling ravens that may indicate a future meal. The raven, crow, and wolf also share many present day and past symbolism's. The death, doom, and gloom of the "ye old tyme" past associated with these animals has slowly been replaced by focusing on their unique skill sets rather than their gruesome killing abilities or sometimes trickster demeanors.  

What about symbolism and can animals communicate messages to humans?

Cause it's all in your head. Animals cannot possibly deliver messages or interact with human beings on a deeper level, right? That's what my analytical mind thinks, but my Native American heart knows there is a deeper connection beyond most human comprehension that allows lessons to be learned and messages received from animals. If a dog has its fur standing up on his back, growling, and barring his teeth then that tells you to back off! Message received.

This week, I had a single crow fly over my head as I was crossing a parking lot. In my mind, I saw it circle back and land on a light post. Moments later, it did just that! The caw this crow cawed put me on edge...it was like a warning. Little did I know, this crow was indeed giving me a warning. I have been struggling with my new diagnosis of bipolar disorder. My medications are intense with terrible side effects. That night after the meeting with this crow, I developed rare side effects from my new medication regimen including: a facial mask, involuntary tongue movements, and severe anxiety as a result. These undesired effects led to a complete medication change with my psychiatrist. Crow also signifies change.

This interaction with my crow friend led me to search for more information regarding the crow as a spirit animal guide. I came across a photo and video displaying the deep symbiotic relationship the wolf has with the raven. It was a moment of connection. I no longer wondered why the crow was so familiar and fascinating to me. The crow and I are already friends. The wolf is my power animal spirit guide and the first animal I ever become aware of during deep meditations. My shaman also pointed out the wolf during a guided journey last year. All I know, is that I have a Native American significance in my heritage or elsewhere. Crows and wolves tend to follow each other for food, but it also appears they simply enjoy being in each others company.

Crows and ravens are different, but when it comes to symbolism their similarities are many. I have more interactions with crows, because I live in an urban area where crows like to inhabit. Ravens prefer the wilderness where it can find more carrion and other similar eats. Black symbolizes the void. Their color is nothing and everything at the same moment. Out of the darkness comes the light, and with it the dawning of a new day. Crows are the keeper of sacred law and are thought to walk between our world and the world of spirit, thus delivering important messages from the other side. The crow is a representation of creation and spiritual strength. To the Natives, the crow represent the Great Spirit, which should be treated with the utmost respect.

Ravens are highly intelligent birds that even have facial recognition for humans. Also, they have the ability(like the wolf) to form deep bonds with other animals. This ability to form deep bonds is rare for the predator. Like the tiger or a shark, most predators prefer to take the solo route. Wolf power leads to developing a deep perception and inner knowing about oneself coupled with intuition. Wolves are great hunters with impeccable social skills. They are also great teachers for their offspring and are well known throughout history for their teaching abilities. I feel the wolf with me always and believe that it is my primary power animal along with the crow. With their symbiotic relationship, it makes complete sense that I am utterly fascinated and drawn to them both!

The crow has also been ever present in my life. I have learned to pay attention to their caws. Can you receive messages from animals? I believe you can. Not the conversational kind, of course, but the intuitive feeling you receive from their presence. Look, listen, and feel....AND you may indeed learn something new about you.


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15 comments:

  1. Very interesting article. I've never paid attention to see if there was a tie between crows and change in my life. I feel like I rarely see crows, but maybe once I start paying attention I'll realize that they're more common that I realize.

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    1. What are you paying attention to? Is there an animal that you are drawn to, dream about, or have an affinity for? Start there. <3

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  2. This is beautiful! I love the soulful feeling animals bring to art. The colors that an artist use to portray each animal really says a lot.

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  3. Honestly crows creep me out. I think it's mostly because of the movies and how they always have them in those dark, scary roles. I love the painting at the top though.

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    1. There is still a lot of doom and gloom associated with the crow and raven, but the color of black represents pure potential and creativity. It is the seed from which we can manifest our heart's desires. Thank you for stopping by!

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  4. What an interesting idea. I gravitate to birds of prey, and am always on the lookout for hawks, eagles, and ospreys around where I live. I'm not sure if there's a special meaning, but I like them a lot.

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    1. All birds represent a connection with the heavens. You are by nature a very "spiritual" person. Pay attention, is there a specific Eagle, hawk, etc... that you always see?

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  5. I'm so sorry to hear about the side effects but I'm glad you got the change you needed. I've never really given much thought to spirit animals, but I do believe we have many souls we are supposed to meet and be touched by in our lifetimes if we allow ourselves to be open. What a beautiful presence you have allowed the animals to have in your spiritual journey.

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    1. Jennifer, Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I really needed it! <3

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  6. What an interesting piece of art work. As an English teacher, I love getting into discussion with people about the power of symbolism in both literature and art. I absolutely love the colors and brush strokes used in this piece. Such a thoughtful and thought provoking article.

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    1. Amanda,

      I am looking to buy one of his pieces as soon as possible! <3

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  7. This was beautifully written and very informative. Both my husband and I have Native American ancestors relatively close on our family tree (great-grandparent level), yet neither of us know much about the culture and the important status of animals. I find the meanings behind ravens particularly interesting because a family member once told me that would be a part of my Native American name.

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  8. Wow, such a fascinating post. I love that the two very different animals can have such a good relationship (just like my marriage!). I also love how connections like this resonate with us, maybe just when we need them to.

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  9. I wholeheartedly agree that animals can communicate us and can end us messages. I am not native but I am fascinated with the culture and the beliefs.

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  10. This was a great piece to discover the difference between the two in symbolism. That art is also beautiful! You made me think this morning and that's a great thing to get my motivation flowing.

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