The raven as a visual symbol can remind people of gothic styles and all things scary.
Most of all, they tend to be about some sort of dark magic.
Ravens have been viewed as creatures with all sorts of magical qualities, and have been held in high esteem by a lot of ancient cultures.
Raven tattoos may have acquired a bit of dark symbolism, but they bring with them eclectic and enchanting meanings that can add personality to your look.
What does the raven tattoo symbolize?
Ravens are symbolic of large transformations in life.
If you think about what a raven’s job is in the animal kingdom, it may seem creepy at first.
Their life is about finding dead carcasses of animals to eat and sustain themselves.
But there’s a different way to look at these tattoos.
The raven has a unique purpose because it is constantly continuing the natural circle of life in a really cool way.
They make literal death transform into the properties needed for life.
That’s why raven tattoos symbolize those ultimate changes in life, especially ones that are the ending of one part of life and are a rebirth of self.
Raven Skull or Head Tattoo
Raven skull tattoos are interesting from a symbolic standpoint because of the raven’s relationship to the transformation of the dead.
When the tattoo is of the raven’s skeleton, the symbol shows that even the raven is impervious to death.
Therefore, this tattoo symbolizes a more meta version of the circle of life– or can represent those nihilistic feelings about death being inevitable.
Skull tattoos themselves too often bring with them a dark enchantment that only some people find charming.
Sometimes, thinking gothic imagery is beautiful is not a thought that comes from darkness.
Someone may want to get a raven skull tattoo because deep down they can see in positive in every difficult situation and the good in bad people.
There is power in having a connection to the macabre, and this kind of tattoo can show your complicated emotional intelligence.
Raven & Rose Tattoo
When ravens are paired with roses in a tattoo, the raven adds meaning to the rose tattoo which usually refers to love.
Love is often transformative.
Love can change peoples’ lives for the better or can cause heartbreak and sorrow.
Since the raven is a common dark image related to death, when paired with the rose this tattoo would be best to represent sorrow and lost love.
The great part about adding flower imagery with a raven is that the raven visually looks dark and ominous, while flower tattoos are beautiful and joyful.
This has amazing potential to create a striking balance of dark and light beauty in your tattoo.
These combinations have the ability to symbolize endings and new beginnings in life while bringing in the flower to describe why that transformation is beautiful to you in your life.
Raven Feather Tattoo
Raven feather tattoos are dark, beautiful, and slightly mysterious.
Their imagery relates to the raven in a more secretive way, perhaps relating to how its unique powers often are misunderstood or just out of our grasp.
Feathers make for great tattoos too because they fit into almost any kind of placement on the body including in between other tattoos.
There is a Native American belief that ravens bring light to the Earth.
They saw how ravens help to cycle life by turning death into the rebirth of life.
Feather tattoos are a great way of symbolizing this light returning to the Earth because although feathers fall onto the ground with seemingly no great purpose, they do manage to bring us beauty.
Ravens also are connected to predicting the future, and their feathers can feel like for a second we can touch and hold onto part of their secret world.
The Ravenclaw House from Harry Potter uses the raven as the symbol of what defines them.
Each house in Harry Potter has its own theme and the students are chosen for their specific house at the start of their magic schooling based on what their personalities are like.
Ravenclaws are known for being all about academics and are not afraid to be themselves.
A Ravenclaw tattoo is for people who want to not only work hard but be original.
Maybe, the Raven is their symbol because they like to solve problems differently than their peers, even if they must sacrifice being misunderstood.
Just like the raven creates light out of darkness (and deals with a negative reputation), getting a Ravenclaw tattoo could symbolize your mission to succeed at any cost.
Wolf & Raven Tattoo
The wolf and the raven can often be compared to each other because they are both seen as predatory animals.
They share a sometimes bad reputation for being surrounded by danger.
In tattoo form, wolves and ravens shown together can symbolize a power that matches the strength of your personality.
These animals are often thought of as doing what it takes to survive.
Having a tattoo that shows both of them together can be your way of expressing that side of yourself that will always get things done.
Maybe you’re a predator in life, and you want to show that being afraid or becoming a victim is not in your mindset.
Viking Raven Tattoo
The Vikings believed in a god called Odin who had two ravens, Hugin and Munin, who were his eyes so to speak.
Hugin is supposed to be thought while Munin is memory.
In Norse mythology, Odin was often involved in war and death.
However, he also was a wise god with magical powers and a lust for knowledge.
If you want to get a Viking tattoo representing Odin, it’s important to know that the symbolism behind your tattoo will mostly come from these mythological stories.
For many cultures today who admire the ancient Viking culture, some of the traits people tend to be the most fond of are their stoicism and their strong trust in the supernatural.
Viking raven tattoos have both ideas at play.
There is an air of strength about these tattoos as if you have stared into the face of death and lived to tell the tale.
Yet, there is also a lot of magic involved, as well as a mystery of the unknown such as where we go afterlife.
This combination of ideas leads to some cool and personalized raven tattoos.
Haida Raven tattoo
Haida raven tattoos come from symbols created by Native Americans from what is present-day British Columbia as well as parts of Alaska.
A raven is on the flag of the Haida people and generally symbolizes a being that is mischievous and selfish at heart but helps humans connect with spirits on a deeper level.
If you are concerned about using a Native American tattoo design because of cultural appropriation, then finding a Haida tattoo artist would be your best bet.
A great approach to getting this tattoo would be to have a Haida artist either design the tattoo, be your tattoo artist, or both!
But, fair warning, their culture is from a tiny archipelago called Haida Gwaii on the Pacific coast of Canada.
So if you are in search of a traditional Haida tattoo artist, you may have to go on a bit of an adventure.
Tribal Raven tattoo
Tribal raven tattoos can come in countless unique designs.
What makes a raven tattoo tribal has more to do with the style of the line work than anything else.
Unless you intend to reference a specific cultural element, using the tribal tattoo style for the design of the raven should match your personal aesthetic.
The way that individual lines add to the sum of the raven’s body is undoubtedly original and creative.
These tattoos have almost a magical quality and can relate to the raven’s spirit and mysterious nature.
The broken-down elements of this style can also give your raven tattoo a modern look that looks great as a chest or back piece.
American Traditional Raven Tattoos
Raven tattoos done in the American Traditional style usually show the raven’s personality as a being who ruggedly defends their territory.
People who get a raven tattoo in this style typically want it to add to their masculine look or continue to tell a tattoo story on their body about being tough.
American Traditional Raven tattoos are sometimes accented with symbols that emphasize the tattoo’s meaning.
One common example is barbed wire, which certainly accentuates the raven tattoo’s powerful strength.
Many of these tattoos contrast the raven’s black head by placing a red moon behind it.
This is symbolic of the mystical powers behind the raven’s symbolic ability to look into the future.
Where do you put a raven tattoo?
The great thing about raven tattoos is they have a lot of options for placement.
Being a bird tattoo, you simply need to find an area where the raven is able to either sit upright or fly in one direction.
The arm or leg, being a vertical region of the body, works well for raven tattoos.
However, if the raven tattoo you are planning on getting shows off its wingspan, then the chest or back would be perfect.
Are raven tattoos bad luck?
Many people think that raven tattoos are bad luck because they are associated with dark magic and the unknown.
There is no unlucky omen about having a raven tattoo, though!
If the style of a raven tattoo design and the meaning behind it speak to you, there is no reason to be worried about attracting bad luck because of the raven.
It’s a shame that raven tattoos have acquired such a bad reputation– they are beautiful and contain wonderful meanings.
Alyssa Kucinski is a writer, curator, and photographer who publishes articles on the topics of the arts, culture, and social justice. She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in fashion business and art history and museum professions. Her experience working with a variety of art institutions, her world travel, and her inquisitive nature provides her with a unique insight. Check out her about page, she would love to connect with you!