Today’s animal blog post on the folklore, mythology and symbolism plus more will be covering the Owl. With approximately 250 species of Owls around the world it is expected that these predators of the night would absolutely become embedded in culture, folklore and even associated with Deities which indeed is the case. Owls to me are very fascinating both with their important roles in nature and how they have had an effect in humans. So today let us dive into the world of Owls and their significance in the myths, folklore and more.
Owls in Mythology & Culture By Deane Lewis
Throughout history and across many cultures, people have regarded Owls with fascination and awe. Few other creatures have so many different and contradictory beliefs about them. Owls have been both feared and venerated, despised and admired, considered wise and foolish, and associated with witchcraft and medicine, the weather, birth and death. Speculation about Owls began in earliest folklore, too long ago to date, but passed down by word of mouth over generations.
In early Indian folklore, Owls represent wisdom and helpfulness, and have powers of prophecy. This theme recurs in Aesop’s fables and in Greek myths and beliefs. By the Middle Ages in Europe, the Owl had become the associate of witches and the inhabitant of dark, lonely and profane places, a foolish but feared spectre. An Owl’s appearance at night, when people are helpless and blind, linked them with the unknown, its eerie call filled people with foreboding and apprehension: a death was imminent or some evil was at hand. During the eighteenth century the zoological aspects of Owls were detailed through close observation, reducing the mystery surrounding these birds. With superstitions dying out in the twentieth century – in the West at least – the Owl has returned to its position as a symbol of wisdom. Continue reading HERE.
OWL MYTHS AND LEGENDS by Shani Freidman
Owls and humans are connected from the dawn of history. The nighttime activity, large eyes, acute vision, and “wisdom” of owls were known by the ancients. Dating from a Sumerian tablet (2300 to 2000 BC), Lilith, the goddess of death, has talons for feet, wears a headdress of horns, and is flanked by owls. She is probably the inspiration for Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and warfare. The rock crevices of Athens and the Acropolis were filled with small owls, believed to be the embodiment of Athena. When the Athenians won the battle of Marathon from the Persians in 490 BC, the warrior goddess Athena assumed the shape of an owl and led them from above.
The Romans, who appropriated many of the Greek beliefs, associated owls with Minerva, the goddess of prophesy and wisdom. Minerva’s role was similar to Athena’s. The prophetic qualities of owls were known. Virgil writes that the hoot of an owl foretold the death of Dido. Pliny reports great confusion and fear in the Forum when an owl entered. Horace associates owls with witchcraft. Romans used representations of owls to combat the evil eye. Owl feathers and internal organs were found in magical potions and pharmaceutical remedies. For example, the ashes of an owl’s feet were an antidote to snakebite, and an owl’s heart placed on the breast of a sleeping woman forced her to tell all her secrets. Continue reading HERE.
6 Myths and Superstitions About Owls
- Owls are famous for their exceptional eyesight and it was thought that you could gain better eyesight by ingesting parts of them. In England, the method was to cook owl eggs until they were ash, then incorporate them into a potion. Folklore from India had a more direct method: just eat owl eyes.
- Owls are a sign of death in many cultures, including some Native American tribes. For instance, dreaming of an owl signified approaching death for Apache people. Boreal owl calls were a call from spirits to the Cree people, and if you answered back to the owl with a whistle and didn’t get a response, it was a sign that your death was imminent. On the other hand, Dakota Hidatsa people believed that burrowing owls acted as protective spirits for warriors.
- For some cultures, the owl was sacred. Among Australian Aborigines, owls are the spirits of women and so are sacred. The Kwakiutl people also thought owls were the souls of people and shouldn’t be harmed because, if the owl was killed, the person whose soul the owl carried would also die. In fact, many different cultures believed that a person became an owl after death.
- Owls are often viewed as a symbol of wisdom. The “wise old owl” character comes from an old English nursery rhyme, which suggests that listening more than talking is a valuable character trait that we would all benefit from developing. As such, the owl has become a sign of learning and mental change. Many people believe that seeing an owl is a profoundly good thing, as it indicates the start of a new phase in life.
- Owls are, of course, associated with witchcraft—particularly white ones, which are the most elusive. Greeks and Romans believed witches could turn themselves into owls, and in this form would come to suck the blood of babies. In other cultures, owls were simply the messengers of witches, or hooted to warn of the approach of a witch. Unfortunately this led to many owls being hunted and killed in the Middle Ages.
- Though the owl’s nocturnal activity was at the root of many superstitions, the amazing ability of an owl to rotate its neck to extraordinary degrees was even turned into a myth. In England it was believed that if you walked around a tree that an owl was perched in, it would follow you with its eyes, around and around until it wrung its own neck. SOURCE
“You don’t need anything but hope. The kind of hope that flies on silent wings under a shining owl moon.”-Jane Yolen
The Owl as a Spirit Guide
When you seek out Owl, it is a way of reaching your Higher Self and truly seeing things from a spiritual perspective; This refreshing vantage point allows you to open doorways into other realms and connect with the Devas, Ancestors, Angels, and the Divine.
Owl has a strong connection with the element of air. Travel with Owl Spirit to the heavens and soar through the halls of the Akashic records. Owl will show you things that might otherwise remain hidden to you, so be open to seeing things in a whole new way.
You cannot deceive Owl, which is why this Spirit Animal reminds us to remain true to ourselves, our voice, and our vision. Owl does not tolerate illusion or secrets. If there are skeletons in the closet, you can trust that Owl will find them and start house cleaning.
It is no surprise that the Goddess Athena held Owls as sacred. Athena is beyond doubt, one of the most complex Deities in history, and Her attributes included wisdom and strategy – so Owl Spirit became the perfect companion. In Greek tradition, Owl was also a protector. It was believed that an Owl flying over a soldier or army portended victory because Owl would remain watchful.
As a creature of the night, the Celts and Egyptians regarded Owl as a gatekeeper to other realms, particularly the souls of the dead. In some stories, this bird actually accompanies a soul, so it doesn’t get lost on its journey.
In Native American tradition, Owl represents sacred knowledge (you’ll get to know me, I live for puns). When you begin studying the mysteries, this Spirit Animal Guide is an amazing helpmate and mentor.
Overall, Owl is a symbol of being able to navigate any darkness in our life; this Spirit brings clarity, prophetic inklings, and a strong connection with the mystical world. SOURCE
“Owls are known as lonely birds, but it is not known that they have the forest as their best friend!”– Mehmet Murat Ildan
Perception, Silent Observation, Wisdom, Deception
The Owl has a dual symbolism of wisdom and darkness, the latter meaning evil and death. They are symbolically associated with clairvoyance, astral projection and magick, and is oftentimes the medicine of sorcerers and witches, you are drawn to magickal practices. Those who have owl medicine will find that these night birds will tend to collect around you, even in daytime, because they recognise a kinship with you.
The two main symbolic characteristics of the Owl, its wisdom and its nocturnal activity– have made it represent perception. Considering perception in a spiritual context, Owl medicine is related to psychism, occult matters, instincts, and clairvoyance– the true ability to see what is happening around you.
The owl can see that which others cannot, which is the essence of true wisdom. Where others are deceived, Owl sees and knows what is there.
Use your power of keen, silent observation to intuit some life situation, Owl is befriending you and aiding you in seeing the whole truth. The Owl also brings its messages in the night through dreams or meditation. Pay attention to the signals and omens. The truth always brings further enlightenment.
The Owl, symbol of the Goddess, represents perfect wisdom. Owls have the ability to see in the dark and fly noiselessly through the skies. They bring messages through dreams. The Owl is the bird of mystical wisdom and ancient knowledge of the powers of the moon. With wide-open, all-seeing eyes, Owl looks upon reality without distortion and acknowledges it, yet is aware that with ancient magickal and spiritual knowledge, he or she can make changes. SOURCE
What Sees the Owl by Elizabeth Sears Bates
His velvet wing sweeps through the night:
With magic of his wondrous sight
He oversees his vast domain,
And king supreme of night doth reign.
Around him lies a silent world,
The day with all its noise is furled;
When every shadow seems a moon,
And every light a sun at noon.
How welcome from the blinding glare
Is the cool grayness of the air!
How sweet the power to reign, a king,
When day his banishment will bring!
For him the colorless moonlight
Burns brilliant, an aurora bright;
The forest’s deepest gloom stands clear
From mystery and helpless fear.
He sees the silver cobwebs spun,
The dewdrops set the flowers have won,
The firefly’s gleam offends his sight,
It seems a spark of fierce sunlight.
Clear winter nights when he so bold,
“For all his feathers, is a-cold,”
Sees the Frost-spirit fling his lace,
And fashion icicles apace.
At his weird call afar and faint
A sleepy echo, like the quaint
Last notes of some wild chant, replies
And mocks his solitude—and dies.