What Do Crows Symbolize? Number of Crows, Feathers and More
You’ve been going to work every morning, like you always do, but the last two days you’ve noticed a blackbird following you. You get in your car and there he is. You drive home and there he is. This experience, though seemingly mundane, somehow feels otherworldly to you. And you decide to google “What do crows symbolize?” That’s how you’ve ended up here, where we’ll explain crow symbolism, black crow meaning, what it means to see a single crow or two or more. Let’s go!
Why are crows so unique?
The crow is part of the Corvid family of birds, along with ravens, jackdaws, jays and magpies. This particular family of birds is highly intelligent. In fact, they are the most intelligent birds AND some of the most intelligent animals in the world. There is a story in the book Ozark Magic and Folklore about people who have seen crows hold “court” and judge one of their own who have done the group wrong. They’ve also been seen holding crow “funerals” when one of their own dies.
According to Scientific American, “they are capable of making rule-guided decisions and of creating and using tools. They also appear to show an innate sense of what numbers are. Researchers now report that these clever birds are able to understand recursion—the process of embedding structures in other, similar structures—which was long thought to be a uniquely human ability.”
Clearly our ancestors held the crow in high regard for more than one reason. Crows are intelligent, mysterious, and keep us guessing with their trickster ways. If you watch videos on social media, you might have run into a few that show humans befriending crows. And vice versa, in which the crow lands on the person’s head or hand and may even bring them “presents” they find out in the wild.
Sacred Crows in Celtic Myth
When I see crows, I automatically think of their significance in Celtic and Norse lore. For centuries, possibly millennia, crows have been considered sacred animals to our ancient Euroepean ancestors. First, crows in Celtic lore are inextricably linked to quite a few powerful deities including The Morrigan, Bran, and Queen Medb. As one might expect, these deities dominate the mythos with their war-like qualities.
The Morrigan, specifically, is a goddess of war, death, shapeshifting, and magic. When she is seen on the battlefield, she is accompanied by crows…these birds follow her because they are scavengers. In addition, both Bran (a Welsh Celtic god) and Queen Medb (a legendary Irish queen and goddess) are accompanied by blackbirds and are also warring spirits. The general consensus is that the crow symbolized death, the afterlife, and war.
Crows in Hindu Mythos
In pretty much every culture worldwide, birds have always been thought of as divine messengers. They carry messages from the gods to us and vice versa. In Hinduism, crows are that inevitable link between the spirit world and the physical world. And, interestingly, they also believe that crows can sometimes be their ancestors in animal form. Who come to visit the living after their death. They will cook a big meal that their loved one enjoyed and allow the crows to feast on it in a ritual called the Shradh. Learn more about this tradition at Atlas Obscura.
What do crows symbolize? What is the black crow meaning?
After exploring the myths featuring our black-feathered friend, you might still be wondering what do crows symbolize today? What is the black crow meaning for my life? Yes, they represented death and the afterlife in centuries long gone, but do crows symbolize death today?
Crows can symbolize death in modern times, but my experience with crow messengers says otherwise. You might find that one of these interpretations rings true for you. Here are a few things they frequently symbolize:
- Magic and the Occult
- Life’s mysteries
- Transformation: turning death into life
- Trickery / Cunning
- War / battle / conflict
- Death and the Afterlife
Do crows symbolize Death?
Because of the fact that crows are scavengers and seen over battlefields, the simple answer to the question do crows symbolize death is YES. However, and that’s a big HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean that if you see a crow you’re going to die. Or anyone else around you, for that matter. Death can be a symbolic concept, as well as literal. It can mean that something bad in your life is coming to an end. And you’re about to be reborn in some other way. I’ve found that typically the crow flies into my life right before a big change comes. And, while change is always uncomfortable while we go through it, we always come out the other side better than before.
Number of Crows Meaning: 1, 2, 3, 4 and More
An ancient means of foretelling the future and clarifying on the present was reading omens and signs. Reading omens in the form of birds’ behavior and flight patterns is known as augury. And, when it comes to reading crow behavior, this form of divination is quite special. It dates back to ancient times, as we know the Romans practiced augury. And, with crows being messengers for the ancestors, this makes crow augury that much more powerful.
PLEASE NOTE: the way I interpret crow symbolism is a method I’ve used for years based on my own personal experience and also influenced by American folklore and folk magic. I highly encourage you to develop your own understanding of Augury and interpreting bird omens and signs. Because how I interpret crows might be completely different from how you interpret them.
According to Ozark Magic and Folklore by Vance Randolph, the number of crows means different things (both good and bad):
and Six is Death.”
Single Crow Meaning
According to old Ozark folklore, a single crow meaning is unlucky. But in my personal experience, seeing a single crow following me or talking to me has always been a message from my ancestors. And therefore is a lucky sign. It can also signify a new opportunity, new love, or new beginning. As number ONE represents the start of a new cycle.
Two Crows Meaning
Seeing two crows means you’re coming into a lucky time. Whenever I’ve encountered two crows, it is typically a clear-cut sign that Odin or some other crow-linked deity is comforting me. Reminding me of their presence. Two crows always equals LUCK. And guidance from the Otherworld.
Three or More (A Murder of) Crows Meaning
Being approached or followed by three crows is a reminder to focus on your health and wellbeing, again according to old folklore. However, if your health is in good condition, consider the sacred meaning of the number 3 = body, mind, soul. Life, death, rebirth. And the number 3 is also linked to the Triple Goddess of Wiccan belief. Again, a good sign!
Four crows means prosperity is coming. You might be coming into some money or your business is about to gain new clientele.
Five crows might mean an illness lies ahead. This is a sign to clean and cleanse your house and yourself. Refresh your wards and wear your amulets to ward off negative energy and illness.
And yes, six crows may mean death. However, as we explained before, death isn’t always a message of physical, literal death. But often speaks to the end of a cycle in life – i.e. a dead-end career, a toxic relationship, an unhealthy habit or addiction, etc.
Interpreting Crow Behavior: Crows on the Car and in the House
When crows fly around erratically, or pitch about high in the air, strong winds are coming. This means physically but also metaphorically…the winds of CHANGE. When a crow lands on your car while parked, this is a reminder that you are supposed to move forward but are holding yourself back from the change needed in your life. If a crow flies into your house, this is a sign your ancestor needs help. Hold a vigil for this ancestor and ask how you can help them move on. If a crow flies into your window and is knocked out (or un-alived), this is a sign that abrupt change is coming to your family and home. Don’t panic, but just be prepared.
In further odd encounters with the crow, sometimes people get pooped on. When a crow poops on you, it’s considered SUPER LUCKY! Even if it is rather disgusting LOL. Even crazier, if a crow hits your head it’s a major sign to pay attention to dangerous situations that may unfold that very day. And if a crow hits your windshield or flies into your car, you will be met with unfortunate news soon.
Finding a Black Crow Feather
If you’ve ever been lucky enough to find a black crow feather, all of what the crow symbolizes is inherent within that feather. Personally, I consider feathers as gifts from the Divine. From our angels, ancestors, or spirit guides. They are messages from the spirit world letting us know that we are not alone and that we have someone looking out for us.
Pay attention to when and where you found your black crow feather. Was it on your front doorstep? The parking lot at your place of work? Maybe on top of your car? The when and where has important meaning as to what your message is. For example, I found a black crow feather once while walking into an office where I worked. I was debating on whether to pursue another career and this feather brought about a string of events that confirmed it was time for me to move on. That job was a dead end and I needed to figure something else out. I kept that feather with me until I had graduated nursing school and acquired my first nursing job. It was my good luck charm.
Or maybe you found a black crow feather after your grandmother’s funeral. This could very well be your grandmother telling you she is safe and sound, but still watching over you from the Spirit World.