The owl, the nocturnal inhabitant par excellence, the teller of darkness, the bearer of a verse that ripples the darkness, is an animal to which, over the centuries, a rich symbolism has been associated. Let’s learn more about the meaning of a owl as a spirit animal, dream interpretation, and more.
Meaning of a Owl in Esotericism
In all cultures and in all historical times, this bird has often been associated with esotericism but, while in today’s everyday use it takes on exclusively negative meanings, in many traditions it has taken on and still assumes positive values.
The powers and forces recognized to the Owl are enormous, an integral vision of the animal goes beyond the contrast between good owl and bad owl and advises, diplomatically, to enter into the graces of this figure to direct its evil spells elsewhere.
That’s why we often see the symbol of an owl hanging from a door or gate – it, with its powers, becomes a precious ally, in fight against the enemies.
Symbolism of an Owl in Different Cultures
The association between this animal and evil or the dark forces dates back to very distant times.
- The Sumerians believed that the owl was associated with death. In a tablet dating back to 2300-2000 BC you can see Inanna flanked by two owls that represented death.
- In Egypt the soul that exhaled from the body was represented by an owl, and it seems that even for the representation of the god Horus an owl was used (contrary to the thought of other scholars who identify Horus with the falcon).
- The ancient Greeks and the Romans considered it the symbol of bad luck and bearer of misfortune. Tradition maintained that, when an owl appeared on the Capitol in Rome, the place had to be cleaned with water and sulfur to drive away the negative entities that the owl had brought with it. It is no secret that the Romans used images of owls to fight and repel the evil eye.
As a symbol of science and knowledge, it frequently appears in the symbol of bookshops and scientific publishers, which is also due to the fact that the goddess Athena / Minerva was considered the personification of wisdom, while in popular beliefs it has a negative meaning, probably for the its nightlife, its asociality, the silence of flight and the verse that reminds of crying.
It is also known that the owl (a different animal than the owl, but very often identified with the latter) represented the goddess Athena and was the emblem of wisdom and wisdom. An Athenian proverb to indicate a victory was about “here is an owl”.
There is evidence that in ancient times the goddess Athena was represented as an owl, or at least as a bird goddess (in the third book of the Odyssey it takes the form of a bird).
- The drawing of an Owl In Persia the owl was, and still is, identified as the angel of death.
- Judaism imagined that the Lilith was in the company of a nocturnal bird like the owl, in Hinduism it was considered the mount of the goddess Durga, which manifests itself as “Camunda” and among the Maya of the Yucatan the god of the dead Hunakau had the owl’s head.
- In the tradition of northwestern Native Americans the owl was one of the totemic animals, represented the creator of the night and was therefore a symbol of wisdom, insight, and astral projection. In the south-west they identified the owl as a warning – if the inhabitants of the Apache or Navajo villages were struck by a contagious disease around the village several owls would have appeared to warn the warriors or hunters returning home.
- In India, to favor the premonitory dreams, owl feathers were placed under the pillow, it was believed that in this way its power to be able to peer into the night and see the invisible was transmitted to the person who used them with the intention of understanding the own dreams.
- Also among the African tribes the owl the owls were associated with witchcraft and black magic.
- In Madagascar the souls of the sorcerers were called owls, in Nigeria, the Yoruba tribe is convinced that the magicians send owls as their emissaries to carry out murders.
- In Great Britain the owl was considered disastrous and even Shakespeare lists it among the bad omens (Julius Caesar, Act I, scene 3).
(Julius Caesar, Act I, scene 3)
Now in Alsace, it is thought that an owl is a messenger of death and if his verse is heard near the room of a sick person, it will surely die. In Normandy, on the other hand, it is a tradition that an owl egg omelet is able to carry off a hangover, while in Yorkshire, owl broth is used to heal pertussis. Owl soup was also used to cure epilepsy.
In Scotland folklore holds that seeing an owl during the day means misfortune and misfortune for the observer and, if you look into an owl’s nest, you will become melancholic, and sad for the rest of your life.
- As we have seen, this stupendous animal was not always associated with bad luck. For example in Israel small gray owls are considered auspicious especially if they appear near the crops.
- In ancient China it was common to sacrifice these animals and put ornaments (called owl angles) on buildings to protect them from fires. Pliny mentions a belief according to which, to reveal the most intimate secrets to a woman, it is sufficient to place the heart of an owl on her breast.
- In some tribes of Northern Asia, an owl is placed over a child’s bed to scare away evil spirits and, according to an Indian tradition, it is even possible to induce sleep in a restless child by placing owl feathers under the pillow.
The owl symbol is widely used in alchemical, occult, and black magic practices (often identified with Satan) and in Freemasonry. In this regard we recall, without dwelling in particular explanations that go beyond the scope of the present article, the Bohemian Club which is ‘a very important Masonic association (most of the presidents of the United States and the most illustrious men of American history have been part of it), whose symbol is really an owl flanked by the letters B and C.
As a talisman, the owl (and/or the owl) helps us find our way even in moments of darkness, to know how to recognize dangers in time, to interpret apparently incomprehensible signals, to become wise through visions, to develop the sixth sense and intuition and becoming clairvoyant.
As an amulet, it protects from blindness, from fear of darkness, from excessive attachment to materialism and from Nyctalopia (the loss of night vision).
It is interesting to highlight how the most diverse ancient traditions have influenced ways of speaking, beliefs, attributions of meanings, uses and customs up to the present day. For example, still today, in common parlance, the term owl is used to refer to people who are usually moody, melancholy, sad, unsociable and bearers of misfortune.
It is also noteworthy that, very often, superstition and folklore hide real facts and arise from the observation of natural phenomena.
Spiritual meaning of hearing an owl
Even now in the countries of southern Italy, a popular belief has it that if an owl who sings at the home of a sick person, he will die within three days and, in the case that there are no patients at home, he announces that he will soon have one of his inhabitants will be affected by tonsillitis.
You can also learn what does it mean if an owl crosses your path here.
Spiritual biblical meaning of seeing an owl
The Christian tradition is not very forgiving with the symbolism of this creature and for example in a passage from the prophet Isaiah it is said that in the land of Edom the wrath of the Lord will fall and on those lands, which the owl will become deserted and desolate “the crow will dwell there”.
In Italy the popular belief associates all the meanings of the owl that we spoke of earlier also to the owl: it is a bearer of misfortune and it is not by chance that in the jargon of the youth the expression “to owl” is used to indicate bringing bad luck.
- If we dream of observing an owl on a tree and we see our mother or father with us, a particular event may probably happen to our parents or our relationship with them will change and this change may be due to a news story, to a secret that it will come out and that can upset us.
- There’s another very important meaning connected with this dream symbolism is hunting. The owls are excellent hunters and they throw themselves with their claws on the prey to grab it. Their claws are really deadly and have nothing to envy from the claws of hawks or eagles.
- An owl on a tree at night is not a good sign for prey because it means that it is ready to catch, to hunt and then to eat. And here the dreamer must be very careful, with his eyes wide open when he sees an owl on a tree in the night. Almost certainly a danger could come in life or a person could create damage. A bad omen, especially for business and work, so if we dream of being at work and watching this bird, then our business could fall sharply.
- Hearing the sound of an owl is not a very positive dream because it can symbolize the possibility of an unfavorable event that comes into our lives.
- But indeed every dream can have its positive sides. And so to dream that an owl attacks us trying to hurt us with its claws but being able to escape, even to kill the bird, means being ready to fight, being able to overcome a moment of difficulty that can come at any moment of our lives. Shooting an owl, therefore, means avoiding a nefarious period, a very complicated phase of our life.
- A wounded owl who loses blood signals the possibility of having to face a very complicated period, a period in which our psycho-physical energies will be very low indeed.