Unique Among Birds
Photo credit: Kathy Wynn
Unlike most birds, owls are nocturnal with a large head and forward facing large eyes. Their eyes are fixed in their sockets, and some are able to rotate their head up to 270 degrees. With exceptional vision, acute hearing, and the ability to fly silently, they are a stealthy and effective hunter.
Solitary Nocturnal Birds
Nocturnal creatures are symbolic of inner-knowing, psychic ability, and intuition. Birds are considered by many cultures to be messengers between earthly creatures and spirit.
Global Reverence for the Owl
The owl is deeply connected with magic, shamanism and heightened senses throughout the ages. Some have thought of the owl as a “cat with wings” as they share similar characteristics of personality.
Middle and Far East
In some middle and far eastern cultures, the owl is a sacred guardian of the afterlife, ruler of the night, a seer and keeper of souls transitioning from one plane of existence to another.
The ancient Greeks attributed the owl to Athena, goddess of wisdom and foresight. This symbol was used on Greek coins and therefore also became associated with wealth.
Native Americans attributed owls with wisdom and sacred knowledge. The shaman would call upon Owl medicine for insight into the truth of ill-intent. Plains Indians wore owl feathers to protect against evil spirits.
West African and Aboriginal Australian cultures also saw the owl as a messenger of secrets, and companions to medicine people.
In the celtic tradition, the owl (cailleach-oidhche), represents wisdom, clairvoyance, stealth, initiation, change and detachment. Always aware of its surroundings, the owl uses intuition courageously, with insight into hidden truth, and a guide between earth creatures and underworld deities. During medieval times in Europe, owls were believed to be witches and wizards, shapeshifters in disguise.
Summary of Owl Attributes
The owl is still considered a witch's companion, sharing unique spiritual communication between them, and even sharing the same secret powers of the night. Today, the owl is often used as a symbol for education, and used as a graduation mascot.
Many cultures have associated the following attributes to the owl:
intelligence, brilliance, wisdom, power, knowledge
intuition, messages, mysticism, mystery, unconscious, silent observation
independence, protection, bravery, transition, longevity, reincarnation
If You Are Drawn to the Owl
The owl’s gift of heightened senses enables it to see through deception, external appearances and illusion and to discover hidden truths.
If you are drawn to owls or owl symbolism, you may have this same ability to uncover secrets. People may feel uneasy around you, as if you are able to see through pretense. The owl also teaches us to acknowledge the dark side of our personality, and in that darkness we may find food for growth.
If people do not speak words that reflect the truth of their actions and motives, owl medicine (as referred to by aboriginal cultures) will guide you with vision and inner knowing to reveal the truth. The owl puts an end to doubt and offers vision and clarity of the truth of events, people or circumstances in your life.