There are hundreds upon thousands of superstitions surrounding viewing certain creatures, depending on how many of them we see at a time, the time of day that we see them, etcetera, etcetera.
Some of us take these superstitions very seriously: I know, myself, from personal experience, that if I see a magpie sitting on my fence in the morning, I will not forgive myself for the rest of the day if I don’t salute it and state, ‘good morning, Mr. Magpie’ before it flies away.
While it may seem silly to some, these superstitions are often threaded into our day-to-day lives, and we can find ourselves thinking about what these so-called ‘signs’ really mean for us.
So, say you just happen to witness three crows, or three ravens, sitting on a rooftop just ahead of you: does that have a meaning? Is there a reason that they are there? What are they trying to tell you, exactly? Maybe it doesn’t mean anything, and they’re simply resting after a long day of soaring the skies… but, what if there is a deeper meaning? What does this mean for you?
Allow us to help you out. Keep reading to discover what it could mean if you do happen to see three crows, or three ravens.
Let’s get started!
The Difference Between Crows And Ravens
So, this is something that we should probably learn to distinguish between before we make any further observations.
It can be difficult, at times, being able to see the difference between these two creatures. The reason for this is that they are both members of the Corvid family, along with rooks, magpies, and jackdaws.
These birds display similarities that can often make it difficult to tell them apart: the main similarity being their jet black feathers. The crow and the raven are particularly difficult to tell apart as they are both completely colored black, whereas the other species often display other colors to help us distinguish between them.
However, there are several differences that we can use to help us tell the difference between a crow and a raven, even if they appear to be indistinguishable at first sighting.
The most obvious contrast between the two birds is the sizing: ravens are, typically, quite a bit larger than crows. Ravens often measure to be between 24-27 inches long, while crows usually only grow to around 19 inches.
If the bird you see seems to be larger than what you’d usually expect a bird to look like, you are probably looking at a raven. Their ruffled feathers also cause them to appear larger, whereas crows appear to be much smoother on their surfaces.
A difference can also be found through their calls, as they tend to sound very different: ravens tend to vary between deep, throaty croaks and high pitched alarm calls, making their presence instantly and prominently known. Crows, instead, communicate through typical light ‘caw-caw’ noises, audible from long distances.
If you are lucky enough to view either bird close up, you will have a much easier time being able to tell them apart, as they are much easier to differentiate between when seeing them face-to-face.
It is pretty clear from first sight that ravens have fluffier feathers that surround their heads and necks, as well as having thick, long beaks that curve towards the end. Crows are smoother-looking due to having flatter feathers, and are considerably less shiny than a raven, with smaller, pointy, more defined beaks.
It can still be fairly difficult to note the differences between the two birds, even while taking the previous advice on board: after all, if you are viewing the bird from a far enough distance, it can be almost impossible to make the distinction.
It helps to know, however, that when it comes to superstitions in many forms of myths and religions, there are more similarities than differences between crows and ravens.
In this case, while considering the symbolism behind the birds, it is not particularly important to know the differences between their physical appearances: the difference between the two black birds are almost non-existent in most forms of symbolism, and they often get mixed up or recognized as the other.
So, in the end, don’t worry about it: you don’t have to be a bird expert to learn about the symbolism behind crows and ravens!
The Symbolism Behind Crows And Ravens
With most animals, you will most likely have heard of some sort of symbolism that they represent. Birds are no different, and there has been plenty of speculation around crows and ravens, and what they symbolise, for many, many centuries.
Let’s start with crows: for starters, a crow is commonly known to represent darkness, and the night time. Crows have been used in popular culture and mythology many times throughout history to symbolize bad luck, and are often associated with negativity.
They have been used in many myths and folklore to be evil creatures, and are famously named in connection to witches, as well as other evil beings that are known for using black magic.
Others believe that crows are godly creatures, and their wise auras can introduce foresight and important insight into your life. In many legends, such as those told by the Celts and the Native Americans – just to name a few – they were known to be signs of good omens. Depending on the religion or folklore that you are researching, you will find many conflicting views on what crows may represent.
Ravens, often confused with crows, are known for similar types of symbolism.
One of the most famous instances in which a raven has been used in popular culture is in Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, ‘The Raven’: in this piece, Poe stated that the Raven, itself, represented grief, and more specifically, ‘mournful and never-ending remembrance’. This is a common theme that ravens are known to symbolize, along with death as a whole.
Overall, this bird has many negative connotations. However, just like crows, ravens can also be known to symbolize wisdom.
Another popular connotation that is associated with crows and ravens alike is rebirth, intelligence, and the theme of ‘change’. This is something that will crop up quite often while discussing the symbolism connected to the original, titular question, which we will be moving onto next.
What Happens If You See 3 Crows Or Ravens
Now, it is time for us to return to the original question.
Remember when I mentioned my own acts of superstition whenever I saw a magpie? I am sure most of you reading this article will be familiar with the old rhyme that is often recited in connection to magpies:
One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy.
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret never to be told.
These lines can change depending on which version you were taught as a child, and the area you grew up in: for example, I was brought up to say ‘five for sixpence’ instead of ‘silver’. Others may recognize the lines, ‘One for sorrow, Two for mirth, Three’s a wedding, Four’s a birth’.
No matter which version you remember, the point remains the same: many people base their luck on how many magpies they view at a time. For some, seeing only one magpie could ruin their whole day, believing that bad luck is soon to follow.
This rule doesn’t just apply to magpies, but also to crows and ravens. If you were to see a group of either bird, the specific number will generate a different meaning and significance.
While some people actually use the magpie rhyme in connection to crows/ravens, there are deeper, more commonly used meanings that we are going to be looking at. For example, seeing only one crow may mean that a loved one is attempting to connect with you. Two crows may signify that good news is on its way.
So, what could it mean if you were to see three crows/ravens together at a given time?
1. An Upcoming Event
One interpretation is that a trio of crows represents an upcoming wedding or festivity within a household: an event that will ensure positive vibes for everyone. It could also mean the birth of a child may also be on the horizon for you and your family. The viewing promises joy and happiness, which is a welcoming notion compared to the several other superstitions previously mentioned in this article!
This is the most popular of the beliefs while sighting three crows or ravens, so hopefully this is the one that will ring true for you.
2. Good Health
If you hear the crows calling at the same time as the viewing, this can mean something different entirely, or may simply add to what you have already received. It has been said that if you see and hear three crows cawing at the same time, you may be rewarded with good health. Another positive sign!
3. The Holy Trinity
In Christianity, the number ‘3’ often holds a correlation with the union of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, otherwise known as the Holy Trinity. Through this interpretation, it can be understood that the viewing of the three crows may represent a guidance towards growth and guidance through God.
Depending on your own personal beliefs, this can be an extremely positive message to receive.
4. Shadow Signs
In contrast to the positive messages some have come to believe, there is also belief that the sighting of three crows could be something far more evil. The crow itself can sometimes be believed to be a trickster in disguise, using mischievous and deceptive energy to manipulate you and others around you.
You may need to beware of the negative energy and deception that could surround this sighting.
5. The Brothers Grimm
Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm and Wilhelm Carl Grimm, better known as the Brothers Grimm, collected and published many fairytales back in the 19th century: many of these stories, such as ‘Rapunzel’ and ‘Cinderella’ have survived the many ages since they were released, and are still just as popular to this day.
You may not know that they actually released several stories that directly reference the omen of the three crows, such as ‘The Three Crows’ and ‘Faithful John’, and describe how viewing them caused terrible luck for those who did. However, one instance references a man who overhears three crows talking, and the information he hears crucially improves his life.
It is recommended that you read the two previously mentioned tales for more information.
6. New Beginnings
There is a story that comes from the Druid’s called the ‘Three Ravens’ folklore, in which three of the birds attack another of their own. This is believed to be connected to how ravens and crows were known to eat the flesh from dead bodies on battlefields.
According to the Druid’s legends, seeing a trio of crows will mean that a new change of life is coming, and this may not necessarily be a good one: more specifically, it may suggest that someone is coming into your life, and they will either contact you or attack you. Hopefully it’s the latter!
7. Strong Relationships
Lastly on our list, we will be looking at Welsh folklore: the Welsh believe that if you see three crows or ravens together, flying in the sky, you will have strong, lifelong relationships going forward. This is a more positive note to end on, and hopefully it will come true for all those who view the trio of birds.
To conclude, if you have witnessed three crows or three ravens yourself and you are looking for the deeper, hidden meaning, it really all depends on your own beliefs.
There will be people you will meet in your life that will argue that their belief is correct, and they will argue until they are blue in the face: if you have been brought up with a certain point of view, they will likely teach that to you. This is why it is important to do your own research!
Technically, we may never know the correct answer. All we can do is look at the symbolism and folklore that is taught and believed about crows and ravens, take that advice, and make our own assumptions.
It doesn’t help that there are so many contradictions of beliefs: while some are adamant that crows and ravens are bad news, and will only bring bad luck and omens into your life, others will be convinced that they bring happiness and joy, and will actively hope to see three crows in a row in their lifetime.
Once again, it is up to you what you believe, and perhaps it would be helpful and interesting to note what happens after you view those birds: sometimes, by believing a superstition, we can wish these thoughts to life.
For example, if a person was to see four magpies one morning, they will be actively searching for a meaning in their life that connects to that symbolism. When they discover that a close friend is pregnant, and is, indeed, having a son, it will all make sense!
However, was this person just searching for a connection to their viewing, or was seeing the crows/ravens actually a sign?
In the end, all you can do is make the decision for yourself. If you are fairly superstitious, try not to panic: in the overall grand scheme of life, and all the events that take place to every single person on this earth every single day, seeing a trio of birds is surely unlikely to cause you real, genuine harm, even if they will apparently bring you bad luck.
The biggest key in life is to find positivity in everything you do: as long as you stick to this, and try to see the silver linings in everything that happens, it should all work out fine.
So, hey, don’t worry about it! You’ll be okay, friend.