As it turns out, my post on Owls is very popular! So I decided to do a bit more research into this mysterious and beautiful animal.
Owls throughout history have been known for their wisdom and prophecy. In pop-culture, famous owls include (L-R) Hedwig from Harry Potter, Owl from Winnie the Pooh, the owls from Legend of the Guardians, Archimedes from The Sword In The Stone, the Tootsie Pop owl, and the Barn Owl from Labyrinth.
Rather than intellectual wisdom, owls are connected with the wisdom of the soul. Owls are often seen as mysterious, mostly because many owls are strictly nocturnal and humans have always found night to be full of mystery and the unknown. Related to the night is the moon, which owls are also connected to. It becomes a symbol of the feminine and fertility, with the moon’s cycles of renewal.
Owls are the hunters of the night. Their feathers and body are designed for a silent flight. They have flexible necks that can rotate up to 270 degrees to see all around them. Owls know when to move silently and when to be still, which makes them the keepers of secrets.
Greek and Roman Mythology
The owl is patron animal to Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and Strategy, who was impressed by the owl’s eyes and solemn appearance. Owls frequented the Acropolis, and were seen as a symbol of protection. According to myth, an owl sat on Athena’s blind side, so that she could see the whole truth. Athena’s bird was ‘Little Owl’, which kept an eye on Athenian commerce by being placed on the reverse side of coins, such as the silver tetradrachm (below).
Native American Mythology
The Native American tribes had a diverse opinion of owls. In early Indian folklore, owls represent wisdom and helpfulness, and have powers of prophecy.
Apache Indians believed dreaming of an owl signified approaching death. Cherokee shamans valued Eastern Screech-Owls as consultants, as the owls could bring on sickness as punishment. The Cree people believed Boreal Owl whistles were summons from the spirits. In the Sierras, native peoples believed the Great Horned Owl captured the souls of the dead and carried them to the underworld. California Newuks believed that after death, the brave and virtuous became Great Horned Owls. The wicked, however, were doomed to become Barn Owls.
The Inuit believed that the Short-Eared Owl was once a young girl who was magically transformed into an owl with a long beak. But the owl became frightened and flew into the side of a house, flattening its face and beak. They also named the Boreal Owl “the blind one”, because of its tameness during daylight.
English and American Folklore
Owls in early folklore and literature were often seen as harbingers of darkness and death. This could have been from people such as the Dakota, and some Germanic tribes and Scandinavian Vikings, who would signal the approach of attack with the hoot of an owl.
Owl Totem Animal
An owl totem gives you the power to extract secrets. Meditate on the owl and things will be revealed. Listen to its voice inside of you. You will not hear what is being said by others, but what is hidden. You can detect subtleties of voice that others can’t.
Owl people can see into the darkness of others souls. Most owl people are clairvoyant because of this ability. Learn to trust your instincts. Let your owl totem guide you.
Owl comes to us when we need to open our eyes, and study the situation at hand. If we watch and listen with our inner selves we can figure out what is happening behind the scenes, and confront those who are trying to deceive us at the appropriate time.
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