Birds are great choices if you are looking to get a tattoo that is both visually striking and packed full of symbolism. From eagles to hummingbirds, each one of these beautiful creatures look different and represent different traits that many of us would love to take on for ourselves. The bird tattoo is extremely versatile and can be incorporated into other tattoos or stand as a solo tattoo that fills up an entire back. It is up to you and in this post, we are talking specifically of the raven.
The raven tattoo isn’t necessary the most popular of the avian designs out there, but it’s certainly one of the coolest looking bird tattoos around. There are plenty of raven tattoo meanings and quite a few design choices to choose from, which means that it’s pretty easy to come up with a unique one that best represents who you are.
In this post we are going to talk about the raven and talk about what makes them unique as a bird. We will get into the raven tattoo meaning and what it is known to symbolize as well as what it means to those that have this tattoo. We will also talk about a few different variations of this tattoo so you have a better idea of how people use the raven image. By the end of this post, we hope you have a better idea of what the raven tattoo symbolizes. Below you will find the most popular raven tattoo meanings and their origins.
About the Raven
The raven is a truly remarkable animal. These lustrous, black birds are acrobatic and excellent fliers that are right up there with hawks and falcons when it comes to their flight behavior and skills. You will see most of these skills on display during the raven’s mating season. During this time, the raven will conduct a great deal of tricks in the air like diving, chasing and rolling in mid air during their mating rituals.
Ravens were known as being playful and being slick pranksters by the Native Americans and they were honored as one of the most intelligent birds in the world.
Ravens happen to be known as scavengers, however, the raven is a very effective hunter as well and they have been known to work together to get their food. A team of ravens have been known to cooperate with each other to take down an animal that is too big for one of them to do on their own. In addition to working together, they also know how to use their wits to get an easy meal. The raven is known for eating nestlings of other birds and their eggs. They will also eat grains, worms, insects and rodents if they have to. They will also scavenge on dead animals and in tough times, they will eat human garbage. The raven will not go without and will figure out a way to survive.
When the winter season comes, ravens will roost together at night and work in groups to forage for food. However, during the other seasons of the year, they will work in couples or small groups to accomplish their goals. It is also believed that a raven mates for life which is extremely rare in the animal kingdom. They will create very large nests made of sticks and other things to create a place for the females to lay their eggs. The female raven is known to lay between three and seven eggs each spring. In the raven family, the mother and father stick around and take care of the young because they need several months before they are able to go out on their own.
The common raven will usually make a croaking sound when they vocalize but they are able to make a variation of sounds as well.
Ravens are the biggest perching birds in North America. Long ago, ravens were killed because they were thought to be pests that killed domestic animals and game birds. In times like these, the population of ravens is slowly growing and you can find them all over the Northern Hemisphere from the Mediterranean to the Arctic to urban city areas.
Raven Tattoo Meaning
The raven is typically seen as a symbol of darkness, mystery and death, but it can also symbolize the good attributes within a person. Because of this, one person’s raven tattoos might mean something completely different than someone else’s. It also means that someone could get a raven tattoo to represent both the positive and negative meanings it holds.
In ancient Europe, with constant war came an overabundance of dead bodies, and with the bodies came scavenger creatures who fed upon the decaying remains. Due to the abundance of ravens in the area they were the ones who were generally seen feasting upon the fallen Europeans. This image is what sparked the symbolism between the raven and that of death. Someone looking for a very striking image of death might choose the raven, or they could include a raven with other death tattoos.
The Celtic culture also depicted the raven picking at remains of fallen soldiers and thus associated the bird with death and war. However, they also viewed the bird as representing protection, prophecy, and magic. These aren’t meanings that are usually combined together, but someone who is looking for a tattoo design that combines magic and death would have a hard time finding a better one than the raven tattoo.
Many ancient cultures believed that the raven was a magical creature that carried powerful secrets. However, in mythology they believed that the raven was unable to keep a secret and ran its mouth far too often. Once again, these raven tattoo meanings seem to work against each other, which means that owners have to attach the meaning that works best for them. For example, someone could decide to use the raven tattoo to represent the fact that they can keep a secret.
Native Americans believed that the raven brought light to the earth and was a symbol of balance; as in a symbol of the good and bad within a person. When using this raven tattoo meaning, the person who has the tattoo will be showing that they are human through and through, and that people have to accept the whole rather than just accepting the good. In this way, the raven represents humanity more than most other tattoo designs.
Greek and Roman mythology linked the raven to Apollo and Athena, this making it symbolic of the attributes of the sun. This might not seem like a very deep meaning for a raven tattoo, but the sun was seen as the primary source of wisdom. Someone who feels that they have a deep understanding of life might find that the raven tattoo best represents that quality.
According the Norse legend, the raven represents thought, wisdom and the mind. This is shown as the god Odin was always accompanied by two ravens; Hugin and Mugin. Hugin represented power of thought and Mugin represented the mind and intuition. Odin’s daughters, also known as Valkyries, had the ability to transform into ravens. In a way the raven is one of the most important representations of mythology, which is why many people who love this lore will get a raven tattoo.
The raven is an incredibly intelligent creature and can be trained to speak. They typically utter a noise that sounds like “cras, cras”. Cras in Latin translates to “tomorrow”. This connection leads many to believe that the raven can foretell the future. As you might image, this raven tattoo meaning is attractive to many people. They might get it to try to have more control over their future, or they could even get it to “ask” it for information about their future.
On the overall, a raven tattoo can be a great symbol of wisdom, knowledge and protection to the wearer. In fact, many people decide to use all of those raven tattoo meanings as well as the darker ones. It is a tattoo that can represent either one or multiple things all at once. It all comes down to what the owners want their ravens to mean
Raven Tattoo Variations
The raven tattoo can be portrayed in many ways and can be coupled with other images to make either reinforce the symbolism you’re trying to portray or completely change up the meaning. Below are a couple examples of raven tattoos that we like. We know they aren’t the only ones out there but between these and the pictures below, you should get a pretty good idea of some different options.
Raven and Skull Tattoo
Outside of a raven tattooed by itself, a skull is probably the next most popular way to get this tattoo. The raven has long been associated with the idea of death so to pair the raven with the skull is one way to get this message across. Outside of symbolizing death, it just looks bad ass so consider this if you want to get a tattoo that will symbolize the darker parts of life.
Raven and Rose Tattoo
You might see the raven tattooed sitting on or by a rose. This is a tattoo that represents the duality of life. Life and death; love and hate. These two symbols seem to contradict each other but they can mean whatever you want them to mean or represent different parts that we all hold inside of our souls.
Raven Feather Tattoo
The raven feather tattoo is a great way to represent the characteristics and traits of the raven without getting a giant tattoo that will be more difficult to conceal. For those that are fans of having a tattoo that isn’t as noticeable, the feather is a great way to do so. In addition, it is easier to add other images to the tattoo without taking up large portions of space on your body.
To make the raven tattoo meaning a bit clearer, some people will put extra focus on what the raven is doing in the tattoo. For example, a raven landing with its claws out could have a much darker meaning than one perched up in a tree. If you are thinking about getting a raven tattoo, it would be a good idea to figure out which meanings you want to use and how best to express those meanings through the image.
We suggest taking your time in your search for a tattoo artist. Have a sit down with the artist and make sure they do the style of work you like and that you feel comfortable with them. If you are having trouble finding an artist that you feel good about, reach out to us at Tattoo SEO. We have years of experience in matching up customers with tattoo artists. We want to make sure you vision comes true. Happy hunting!