Inside The Dark And Mysterious Meanings Behind A Crow Tattoo

While some people choose their tattoos based on trending ideas and inspirational celebrity ink, others feel that body art should be deeply personal. Tattoos should represent your own values, passions, and feelings, and ring true to you. Even if you're just choosing your ink based on what you think looks good, that's still a valid way for you to express your personal style, and isn't a decision to make lightly.


So when you feel a calling to get a particular tattoo, it's a good idea to explore the established meanings and history behind that symbol. You might not agree with the traditional interpretations of an image, and find that they have no sway over whether you want to go ahead with that tattoo or not. But you might discover that the symbolism behind an image really resonates with you, and makes that tattoo all the more meaningful for you.

Crow tattoos are a subject of controversy thanks to the crow's long history of dark and mysterious connections. Here are the ideas crows are believed to represent, and what getting inked with this powerful image could mean for you.

Overcoming trauma

In many cultures around the world, crows are a dark omen. They are associated with bad news and even death, and people are often aware of these grim meanings when they get inked with the ominous bird. One of the primary reasons for this is that people want to own those bad experiences they've been through. Getting a crow tattoo can be a way to celebrate overcoming trauma.


The idea of a crow symbolizing triumph over trauma stems from Celtic mythology, where the war goddess Badb was known to appear in the form of a crow (via The legends state that Badb, along with her two sisters, would appear to enemies of the Gaelic people as a sign that they would meet defeat on the battlefield. While for the enemy this wasn't a great thing, Badb became a symbol of battle and rising up again after tragedy for the Celts.

In modern times, the link between crows and death may be due, in part, to the fact that crows are carrion eaters, per Birdcageshere. It happens rarely, but crows are still capable of scavenging the remains of a carcass. However, getting inked with a crow can be a way of expressing that you have overcome all that is dark and grim, rather than as an ode to those things. 


Connection to the spiritual world

Besides the link to all things death and darkness, crows are widely associated with the spiritual realm. This may stem from the fact that crows are intelligent, and appear in some cultural stories as clever, almost all-knowing figures.


According to Aunty Flo, getting a crow tattoo can be a way of letting people know that you are a spiritual person. Perhaps you feel a strong connection with god, angels, your higher self, the universe, or whatever power you believe in. The website explains that people who seek out crow tattoos typically understand things that most people don't, most specifically the meaning of life, and can easily prosper in the face of change and challenges.

Crow tattoos specifically show that a person is connecting to their spiritual side when they have the tattoo placed on their lower arms, hands and wrists, neck, or ankles. In particular, tattoos of black crows (which most of them are) indicate a relationship with spirit.


Bad omen or good luck?

Crows are traditionally thought of as bad omens that foretell tragedy. This idea can be traced back at least to ancient Greece, when it was told that the goddess Athena punished the crow, by turning its white feathers black, for delivering bad news (via Find Tattoo Design). In early Christian England, people believed that crow behavior could predict everything from bad weather to death.


Despite this history, some people interpret crows as a sign of good fortune. In particular, seeing two crows together is a sign of good luck, which is why some people choose to have this variation tattooed on their bodies. Seeing three crows is said to be a sign of good health, and four is a sign of abundance. In the Middle Ages, seeing a dead crow was also a sign of good fortune, however dead crow tattoos today are comparatively rare.

As mentioned, crows are associated with wisdom and intelligence as much as they are with death, and it's up to you which meaning resonates the most. If you can't help being drawn to the idea of a crow, there's no reason why this can't be your lucky animal. What's a bad omen for others can be a lucky symbol for you.


Association with witchcraft

The link between crows and witchcraft also has roots in early Christian Europe, when those who didn't conform to the values of the church were labeled witches and heretics, and persecuted for their beliefs. Even today, crows are a symbol of magic, but this has traditionally been viewed as a connection to dark magic, per Spirit Animal. Crows have also appeared in folklore as tricksters, manipulators, and deceivers, which has perhaps fueled the view that they are related to witchcraft, at least from a Christian perspective.


It should be noted that historic depictions of witchcraft vary greatly from how modern witches who subscribe to the pagan religion of Wicca view themselves. Among the most common misconceptions about witches, as listed by Live Science, is that they are evil, satanic, and in touch with the dark arts to bring harm to others. It might be difficult to separate crows and witchcraft if that's been ingrained in you, but getting this tattoo doesn't mean you're a devil-worshipper or in any way evil.

Personal transformation

Crows symbolize many things, and sometimes those representations can be conflicting. While predicting misfortune for some, crows are a sign of good luck for others. And even though some people get the inherent sense of impending doom when they see a crow in real life, others feel like a great personal transformation is at hand.


If you feel that you have changed as a person after embarking on a journey, either physical or metaphorical, you might want to celebrate this with a crow tattoo. By the same token, you might be struggling with a transformation you are currently going through (because let's face it, change is tough), and getting this tattoo can give you the strength and motivation to keep going.

In particular, it's fitting to get a crow tattoo when you have gained some knowledge or understanding that you didn't have before. Across nearly all mediums, crows represent a higher understanding and omniscient energy.

Crow symbolism for indigenous people

Before getting a crow tattoo, you might want to look at the way indigenous people have historically interpreted these birds, as the meaning might resonate with you more than European views.

Across Native American tribes, crows were not seen as omens of death, but rather represented certain gods and spirits, and were much more often viewed as signs of good luck and beings of great intelligence (via Native Languages of the Americas). In one Lenni Lenape legend, the crow was even responsible for bringing fire to the people. Crows were also historically used as clan animals with tribes such as the Chippewa, the Menominee, the Caddo, and the Hopi.


Crows appear widely in Indigenous Australian Dreamtime stories, too, and often represent a person's ancestors and heritage, per You might want to get this tattoo as a tribute to relatives who have passed away, or in honor of your heritage or past.