Crows and ravens, often interchangeable in mythologies, have played significant roles in various myths and legends across different cultures. Here are some notable examples:
In Norse mythology, the god Odin had two ravens named Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory). These birds would fly all over the world and bring back news to Odin, making them symbols of intelligence and surveillance.
In Greek mythology, the crow is associated with Apollo, the god of prophecy and the arts. There’s a legend about a white crow that served Apollo and was turned black for delivering bad news.
Native American Mythology
Many Native American tribes have legends involving crows. For example, in some cultures, the crow is seen as a trickster figure, similar to the coyote. The crow is often depicted as intelligent and resourceful but also mischievous.
In Celtic mythology, crows are associated with war and death. The goddess Morrigan, often depicted as a crow or raven, is a prominent figure in this mythology, representing fate and premonition.
In Hinduism, crows are considered to be ancestors’ spirits. During the festival of Pitru Paksha, Hindus offer food to crows, which is believed to reach the ancestors.
In Japanese folklore, the Yatagarasu is a three-legged crow and a divine creature that is said to guide individuals on the right path. It is often seen as a symbol of guidance.
The crow is also significant in Chinese mythology, where a three-legged crow (Sanzuwu) is often associated with the sun. In some legends, ten crows each represented a sun, and their simultaneous rise caused great hardship for the earth.
While not a myth, crows feature prominently in several of Aesop’s fables, showcasing their cleverness. A well-known example is “The Crow and the Pitcher,” where a thirsty crow drops stones into a pitcher to raise the water level so it can drink.
Crows in the Bible
In the Bible, crows and ravens are mentioned a few times, with the most significant references found in both the Old and New Testaments:
Noah’s Ark (Genesis 8:7): After the great flood, Noah first sent out a raven to see if the waters had receded. Unlike the dove, the raven did not return with a sign of land.
Elijah Fed by Ravens (1 Kings 17:4-6): In this story, the prophet Elijah, while hiding from King Ahab, is fed by ravens sent by God. The ravens bring him bread and meat in the morning and evening.
Jesus’ Teachings (Luke 12:24): In the New Testament, Jesus refers to ravens in a teaching about reliance on God. He notes that ravens do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn, yet God feeds them.