A collective of Owls or a Wisdom of Owls
Sacred to Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, the owl is a symbol of intelligence and learning.
In Greek mythology, a Little Owl baby (Athene noctua) traditionally represents or accompanies Athena, the virgin goddess of wisdom, or Minerva, her syncretic incarnation in Roman mythology. Because of such association, the bird — often referred to as the “owl of Athena” or the “owl of Minerva” — has been used as a symbol of knowledge, wisdom, perspicacity and erudition throughout the Western world.
In ancient Egyptian, Celtic, and Hindu cultures the symbolic meaning of owl revolved around guardianship of the underworlds, and a protection of the dead.
In this light the owl was ruler of the night and seer of souls. A misunderstanding of this necessary relationship gave the owl some negative associations with death.
It should be clear that the owl was honored as the keeper of spirits who had passed from one plane to another. Often myth indicates the owl accompanying a spirit to the underworld – winging it’s newly freed soul from the physical world into the realm of spirit.
Myth tells of the owl accompanying spirits to the underworld – winging the newly-freed souls from the physical world to the spirit realm.
In the Medieval times of Europe, owls were thought to be witches, priestesses or wizards in disguise. In this aspect, the owl brings energies of silence and hidden knowledge.
American Natives associated the owl with wisdom and foresight. Owls were considered to be the keepers of sacred knowledge. The owl empowers in silent whispers – words not spoken, yet the message conveyed.
West African and Aboriginal Australian cultures saw the owl as a messenger – a carrier of secrets – and companion to mystics, shamans, sorcerers and seers. Here, the owl sits in quiet observation, watching, listening and encouraging us to meditate in the stillness of the night, for this is when life’s secrets will be revealed.
The owl speaks to us of the divine feminine, the Moon and the night. Of rich intuition and magic. Of the power that lies in wisdom.
Connect with the owl and learn the languages of the Moon and the Sky, the wind and the trees, the Earth and all living things. The owl has messages of mystery, change and wisdom for you, which can appear in the shadows and in your dreams.
“Don’t count your owls before they are delivered.” Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter
“A wise old owl sat on an oak; The more he saw the less he spoke; The less he spoke the more he heard; Why aren’t we like that wise old bird?” Unknown
If you have an owl as a totem or spirit animal, you probably like to explore the unknown. The mysteries of life are a fascinating field of interest. As the owl guides your steps, you are likely to develop an appreciation for life’s magic.
When the owl shows up in your life, listen and look out for the subtle signs that are around you. Your animal spirit guide is a great helper to be attentive to what usually goes below your radar, but is now of particular importance.
The owl is also a guide to uncover your hidden potential and abilities. Check whether you need to reveal more of your intuitive nature.
Night time is particularly auspicious for your creativity, so take the time to focus your creative energy then.
Owl spirit animals as messengers of change
Owl spirit animals are symbolic of death in many traditions. In most cases however, it should not be taken literally: If the owl is associated with death, it can be viewed a symbolic death, meaning a transition in life, important changes that are taking place or about to happen.
When the owl shows up in your life, pay attention to the winds of change. Perhaps you are about to leave some old habits, a situation that no longer serve you or bring something new in your life.
Dream interpretation of the owl
When you dream about an owl, your spirit animal may be contacting you to warn you about a danger or threat hat you need to pay attention to. It can bring a wise insight about important matters that you should not ignore.
When an owl appears in a dream, it could also mean that the intuitive part of you is calling for attention: Pay attention and listen to the subtle signs in your life, to what is important, but not necessarily obviously so.
The owl could also be a animal spirit guide offering you insight about a moment of transition. Since this totem animal is often associated with death, when an owl shows up in a dream, it could mean that you are receiving guidance regarding personal transformation, change.
In many dream interpretations, the owl can represent a deceased friend or family member who comes back in the dream in the shape of a spirit animal.
The owl spirit animal & superstition
Birds, especially birds of the night, are often associated with departed souls. The owl is no exception. In some popular believes, they are considered as bad omen signifying the imminent death of a close relative or someone important. Romans even believed that an owl hooting from the top of a public building announces the death of an important public figure. It could also represent the spirit of a deceased family of close friend.
The night owl was the animal associated with the Lord of Death in the Aztec tradition. There’s a similar meaning for the Celts who associated the owl’s spirit with an animal announcing death, especially if it flies into someone’s window while a sick person is inside the house. It was viewed as the spirit animal that would carry the souls of the departed to the underworld.
Other traditional meanings for the owl spirit animal
In Indian American traditions, the owl is called the Night Eagle. The owl totem has a special connection with the night and the moon, while the eagle is connected to the sun.
The owl is associated with witchcraft in a number of European and some American Indian traditions. Witches would often take the owl as an animal spirit guide.
As mentioned above In Greek mythology, the Goddess Athena, goddess of the wisdom and war, was represented as an owl. It is said that the Romans believed that someone would reveal all their secrets during their sleep if an owl feather was placed near their pillow. What is the owl spirit animal revealing about your secrets?
The most famous myth dealing with the owl is in the story of Bloudeuwedd, contained in the Mabinogi. Lleu, one of the central characters of the story has a wife created for him by the magician Gwydion, because his mother forbade by her own word that he would never marry any ordinary woman. Bloudeuwedd is her name, and as the tale goes she tricks Lleu into divulging the secret to his own mortality, convincing him to even demonstrate how.
In the process, Bloudeuwedd then kills Lleu, who avenges his death by turning her in and owl, from which she receives her namesake in Gaelic.
To the Welsh, the Owl is a night predator — the only bird capable of defeating the swift falcon and then only at dusk, its time of power. The Owl symbolizes death and renewal, wisdom, moon magick, and initiations. Their Goddess Arianrhod shapeshifts into a large Owl, and through the great Owl-eyes, sees even into the darkness of the human subconscious and soul. She is said to move with strength and purpose through the night, her wings of comfort and healing spread to give solace to those who seek her. A star and moon Goddess, Arianrhod was also called the Silver Wheel because the dead were carried on her Oar Wheel to Emania (the Moon-land or land of death), which belonged to her as a deity of reincarnation and karma. The Mother aspect of the Triple Goddess in Wales, her palace was Caer Arianrhod (Aurora Borealis), or the secret center of each initiate’s spiritual being.
However, many cultures have focused on the dark side of the Owl’s symbolism. People have always been suspicious of the Owl because of man’s fear of the dark, or night, and those things that might dwell there. In general, the hooting of an Owl is considered a portent of death or bad luck, and it may even prophesize death, as the death of Dido was foretold. It is a medical fact that most people die at night, and for that reason also the Owl has been seen as the messenger of death.
A partner in evil …
As previously discussed, The owl is the symbol for Minerva, the goddess of wisdom. The Enlightened (illuminati) Ones see themselves as the wise rulers of the planet.
Links to the Illuminati: The Bohemian Grove, an exclusive elite 2,700-acre encampment situated in the Redwood forest of northern California features an owl on its logo. The planning meeting for the ultra-secret Manhattan Project is also rumored to have taken place at the Grove. It is also where Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan worked out a deal on who would run for President of the United States.
Abyssinia: the Hamites held the Owl to be sacred.
Afghanistan: the Owl gave Man flint and iron to make fire – in exchange, Man gave the Owl his feathers.
Africa, Central: the Owl is the familiar of wizards to the Bantu.
Africa, East: the Swahili believe the Owl brings illness to children.
Africa, Southern: Zulus know the Owl as the sorcerers’ bird.
Africa, West: the messenger of wizards and witches, the Owl’s cry presages evil.
Algeria: place the right eye of an Eagle Owl in the hand of a sleeping woman and she will tell all.
Arabia: the Owl is a bird of ill omen, the embodiment of evil spirits that carries off children at night.
According to an ancient Arabic treatise, from each female Owl supposedly came two eggs, one held the power to cause hair fall out and one held the power to restore it.
Arabs used to believe that the spirit of a murdered man continues to wail and weep until his death is avenged. They believed that a bird that they called “al Sada” (or the death-owl) would continue to hoot over the grave of a slain man whose death had not been avenged. The bird would continue to hoot endlessly until the slain man’s death was avenged.
Arctic Circle: a little girl was turned into a bird with a long beak by magic, but was so frightened she flapped about madly and flew into a wall, flattening her face and beak. So the Owl was created.
Australia: Aborigines believe bats represent the souls of men and Owls the souls of women. Owls are therefore sacred, because your sister is an Owl – and the Owl is your sister.
Aztecs: one of their evil gods wore a Screech Owl on his head.
Babylon: Owl amulets protected women during childbirth.
Belgium: legend has it that a priest offered the Owl his church tower to live in if the bird would get rid of the rats and mice that plagued his church.
Bordeaux: throw salt in the fire to avoid the Owl’s curse
Borneo: the Supreme Being turned his wife into an Owl after she told secrets to mortals.
Brittany: an Owl seen on the way to the harvest is the sign of a good yield.
Burma: during a quarrel among the birds, the Owl was jumped upon and so his face was flattened.
Cameroom: too evil to name, the Owl is known only as “the bird that makes you afraid”.
Carthage: the city was captured by Agathocles of Syracuse (Southern Italy) in 310 BC. Afterward, he released Owls over his troops and they settled on their shields and helmets, signifying victory in battle.
Celtic: the Owl was a sign of the underworld.
China: the Owl is associated with lightning (because it brightens the night) and with the drum (because it breaks the silence). Placing Owl effigies in each corner of the home protect it against lightning. The Owl is a symbol of Too much Yang (positive, masculine, bright, active energy).
Croatia: The Owl is a symbol of City of Krk on the island of Krk, and is also protector of the island of Solta, where it is called “cuvitar”. (Jadranka Lukacic)
Ethiopia: a man condemned to death was taken to a table on which an Owl was painted, and then expected to take his own life.
Etruria: to the Etruscans of Ancient Italy the Owl was an attribute of the god of darkness.
France: when a pregnant woman hears an Owl it is an omen that her child will be a girl.
Germany: if an Owl hoots as a child is born, the infant will have an unhappy life.
“A charm against the terrible consequences of being bitten by a mad dog was to carry the heart and right foot of an Owl under the left armpit.” (Encyclopedia of Superstitions)
Greenland: the Inuit see the Owl as a source of guidance and help.
Hawaii: Owls feature in old war chants.
Incas: venerated the Owl for its beautiful eyes and head.
India: Seizures in children could be treated with a broth made from Owl eyes. Rheumatism pain was treated with a gel made from Owl meat. Owl meat could also be eaten as a natural aphrodisiac. In northern India, if one ate the eyes of an Owl, they would be able to see in the dark. In southern India, the cries of an Owl were interpreted by number: One hoot was an omen of impending death; two meant success in anything that would be started soon after; three represented a woman being married into the family; four indicated a disturbance; five denoted coming travel; six meant guests were on the way; seven was a sign of mental distress; eight foretold sudden death; and nine symbolized good fortune. In parts of the Indian sub-continent people believed that the Owl was married to the bat.
The Barn owl is the “vahana” (transport/vehicle/mount) of the Hindu goddess of wisdom, Lakshmi. As such, the owl is held as a symbol of wisdom and learning. The eagle owls, especially the rock eagle owl [Bubo bengalensis] and the brown fish owl [Bubo zeylonensis] are called ” ullu” in Hindi and the word is also used as a synonym for “idiot” or “imbecile”. The most chilling sound during the quiet and cold winter nights in the plains of Bengal is perhaps the call of the ” kaal penchaa”, the Brown Hawk Owl. The rhythmic “kuk – kuk – kuk” is believed to be a foreboding of impending death. Information thanks to Anirban Brahmachari of Northern India.
Indonesia: Around Manado, on the isle of Sulawesi, People consider Owls very wise. They call them Burung Manguni. Every time someone wants to travel, they listen to the owls. The owls make two different sounds; the first means it is safe to go, and the second means it’s better to stay at home. The Minahasa, people around Manado, take those warnings very seriously. They stay at home when Manguni says so. Information thanks to Alex van Poppel.
Iran: In Farsi the Little Owl (Athene Noctua) is called “Joghde-kochek”. It is said that this bird brings bad luck. In Islam, it’s forbidden (Haram) to eat.
Ireland: An Owl that enters the house must be killed at once, for if it flies away it will take the luck of the house with it.
Israel: in Hebrew lore the Owl represents blindness and desolation and is unclean.
Jamaica: to ward off the Owl’s bad luck, cry “Salt and pepper for your mammy”.
Japan: among the Ainu people the Eagle Owl is revered as a messenger of the gods or a divine ancestor. They would drink a toast to the Eagle Owl before a hunting expedition. The Screech Owl warns against danger. Though they think the Barn Owl and Horned Owl are demonic. They would nail wooden images of owls to their houses in times of famine or pestilence.
Latvia: when Christian soldiers entered his temple, the local pagan god flew away as an Owl.
Lorraine: spinsters go to the woods and call to the Owl to help them find a husband.
Luxembourg: Owls spy treasures, steal them and hoard them.
Madagascar: Owls join witches to dance on the graves of the dead.
Malawi: the Owl carries messages for witches.
Malaya: Owls eat new-born babies.
Mayarts: Owls were the messengers of the rulers of Xibalba, the Place of Phantoms.
Mexico: the Owl makes the cold North wind (the gentle South wind is made by the butterfly). The Little Owl was called “messenger of the lord of the land of the dead”, and flew between the land of the living and the dead.
Middle East: the owl is linked with destruction, ruin and death. They are believed to represents the souls of people who have died un-avenged. Seeing an owl on the way to battle foretells a bloody battle with many deaths and casualties. Seeing an owl at somebody’s house predicts their death. Seeing an owl in your sleep is fine as long as you don’t hear it’s voice. An Owl’s sound forecasts a bad day.
A person who nags and complains a lot is compared to an owl. When someone is grumpy or is delivering bad news, they are said to have a face like an owl.
Mongolia: the Burial people hang up Owl skins to ward off evil.
Mongolia, Inner: Owls enter the house by night to gather human fingernails.
Morocco: the cry of Owls can kill infants. According to Moroccan custom, an Owl’s eye worn on a string around the neck was an effective talisman to avert the “evil eye.”
New Zealand: to the Maoris it is an unlucky bird.
Newfoundland: the hoot of the Horned Owl signals the approach of bad weather.
Nigeria: in legend, Elullo, a witch and a chief of the Okuni tribe, could become an Owl.
In certain parts of Nigeria, natives avoid naming the Owl, referring to it at “the bird that makes your afraid”.
Persia: wizards use arrows tipped with a bewitched man’s fingernails to kill Owls.
Peru: boiled Owl is said to be a strong medicine.
Poland: Polish folklore links Owls with death. Girls who die unmarried turn into doves; girls who are married when they die turn into Owls.
An owl cry heard in or near a home usually meant impending death, sickness, or other misfortune.
An old story tells how the Owl does not come out at during the day because it is too beautiful, and would be mobbed by other, jealous birds.
Puerto Rico: The Owl is called “Mucaro”. Back in the 1800s, the people from the mountain coffee plantations used to blame the little mucaro for the loss of coffee grains. The belief was that the coffee was part of the owls’ diet, and many owls were killed.
There are old folklore songs on the subject, one goes like this:
you’re a gentleman
you just want to eat a rat,
then the rat set up a trap,
he eats the coffee grains
and people blame you.”
Romania: the souls of repentant sinners flew to heaven in the guise of a Snowy Owl.
Russia: hunters carry Owl claws so that, if they are killed, their souls can use them to climb up to Heaven.
Tartar shamen of Central Russia could assume Owl shapes.
Kalmucks hold the Owl to be sacred because one once saved the life of Genghis Khan.
Samoa: the people are descended from an Owl.
Saxony: the Wend people say that the sight of an Owl makes child-birth easier.
Scotland: it’s bad luck to see an Owl in daylight.
Shetland Isles: a cow will give bloody milk if scared by an Owl.
Siberia: the Owl is a helpful spirit.
Spain: legend has it that the Owl was once the sweetest of singers, until it saw Jesus crucified. Ever since it has shunned daylight and only repeats the words ‘cruz, cruz’ (‘cross, cross’).
Sri Lanka: the Owl is married to the bat.
Sumeria: The goddess of death, Lilith, was attended by Owls.
Sweden: the Owl is associated with witch’s.
Tangiers: Barn Owls are the clairvoyants of the Devil.
Transylvania: farmers used to scare away Owls by walking round their fields naked.
Ural Mountains: Snowy Owls were made to stay behind while other birds migrate as a punishment for deception.
U.S.A: if you hear an Owl-cry you must return the call, or else take off an item of clothing and put it on again inside-out.
Louisiana: Owls are old people and should be respected.
Louisiana Cajuns (individuals who share the French-based culture originally brought to Louisiana by exiles from the French colony of Acadia in the 18th century) thought you should get up from bed and turn your left shoe upside down to avert disaster, if you hear an Owl calling late at night.
Illinois: kill an Owl and revenge will be visited upon your family.
New Mexico: the hooting of Owls warns of the coming of witches.
Wales: an Owl heard among houses means an unmarried girl has lost her virginity.
If a woman is pregnant and she alone hears an owl hoot outside her house at night then her child will be blessed.
In Welsh mythology, Blodeuedd, a woman made from flowers, is cursed by her husband’s uncle, turning her into an owl. “You are never to show your face to the light of day, rather you shall fear other birds; they will be hostile to you, and it will be their nature to maul and molest you wherever they find you.”
Browne, Vee. 1995. “Animal Lore & Legend: Owl”. Scholastic
Collaborative. . “Wikipedia”. Wikimedia Foundation
Knowling, Philip. 1998. “A Wisdom of Owls”. Avenue Press
Weinstein, Krystyna. 1990. “The Owl In Art Myth & Legend”. Universal Books Limited