Owl Symbolism, What does it mean when you see an owl?

What is owl symbolism? Over the years, the owl has possessed some of the most mysterious if not all mystery of paranormal manifestations in many cultures of the world. At a literal level, you will be taken aback by the sheer posture of the owl. You will often observe it sitting tactically on a branch of a tree. Characterized by its big eyes, the owl will absorb huge chunks of information on its surroundings. You will observe it moving with speed and precision as soon as it spots its prey.

Many cultures associate this animal with wisdom. Deservedly so, you can see its thinking, planning and hunting prowess from the above observation. On the flipside, other communities associate this animal with negativity, bad omen and darkness. This is mainly due to the fact that owls are night-fliers. With these parallel perceptions, it is paramount for you to be acquainted with all the information and diverse perspectives. Some perspectives will be fascinating while others will be underwhelming. Buckle up and enjoy this amazing ride.

owl symbol

Historically, you can extract many perceptions on various subjects across various communities. You can take this data and juxtapose it with your current observations and draw a realistic interpretation of the phenomena. As Henri Amiel said “We are all visionaries and what we see is our soul in everything”. It is therefore crucial for you to associate your belief on what you can actually see and experience.

There are many symbolic meanings associated with the owl. Some of these include:

  • Transition
  • Mystery
  • Messages
  • Secrets
  • Protection
  • Wisdom
  • Intelligence

We can dissect each of these symbols and get a deeper understanding of each perspective;

  1. Transition

The transition is often signified here by death. Due to the silent and predatory behavior of owls, many communities associate them with death. Various cultures have varied beliefs regarding owls as harbingers of death as demonstrated below;

  • North America – in the North American traditions, the sight of an owl signified the transition to the afterlife. According to the Navajo legend, the owl is regarded as the bearer of bad news. When somebody encounters an owl, they will inevitably receive bad news or even worse that someone is going to die.

The Sioux on the other hand believe that owls are the guardians of the gates of the afterworld. Once you die, your soul will be judged by the owls who will determine whether you will join the spirit world or be condemned to eternal abyss. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Mayans and Aztecs hold the belief that these creatures often keep company with the gods of death. The sight of an owl outside an ill person’s house is considered to be a prophecy of an impending death.

In the pacific North West, the legend has it that the owls would call out the specific names of the people that were going to die. The sight of the owl would therefore overwhelm members of the community as they listened keenly on whose names would appear in the list of death. Frightening, isn’t it?

  • India – The Garo tribe of Meghalaya have a specific name for owls which is petcha or dopo. These names mean that they are birds that will call out at night when there is an impending death.

The Shakun shastra on the other hand believe that when an owl shifts from trees and comes to sit on top of a house and starts making sounds, there is an inevitable death that will occur in the family.

The Alakshmi community associate owls with bad luck and death due to their screeching call and nocturnal activity. They are believed to be the goddesses of misfortune and strife. 

  • Africa – The kikuyu community in Kenya believe that the sight and hooting of an owl around your house will foretell a death in the family. It is more catastrophic when the owls come in twos or threes because this will mean more fatalities in the family.

In Cameroon, the owls are dreaded as they are recognized as the bearers of bad news most predominantly, death. This creature is even considered to be too evil that even mentioning its name is considered a taboo. To avoid this mentioning, they have adopted a phrase that reads “the bird that makes you afraid”

As recently as 2019, an owl was spotted on the buildings of the Tanzanian parliament. Attempts to chase it away proved futile. This prompted the speaker of the assembly to issue the following statement “Honorable members of parliament, we have been seeing an owl in this house since morning but in the tradition of people of Dodoma, an owl that is seen during daytime cannot have any effect on anyone. This means that we have nothing to worry about its presence” This demonstrated how dreaded the sight of an owl is in the African culture.

  • Mystery

Many people consider the owl to be a very mysterious creature. Many owls are strictly nocturnal. This fact is very fascinating to humans because they consider the night to be mysterious and where activities of unknown nature occur. Living within the darkness mostly signifies magic and ancient knowledge.

As the moon is only sighted at night, owls are considered to be connected to it. The moon cycles are considered to be a symbol of femininity and fertility. This makes these nocturnal birds to be even more intriguing.

  • Messages

Many communities consider the owl to be the most reliable medium of transmitting information flexibly through the night and day. The unique characteristic of seeing at night that they have has prompted this assertion. They are believed to be connected to the afterlife world and hence they can deliver important news to the living creatures in the world. The belief that the sighting or hooting of an owl signifies an impending death has led many to belief that they derive this message from their interactions with the gods.

  • Secrets

Due to the silent nature of the owl, many have considered it to bear a lot of information which it relays as and when it is necessary to do so. This nature has created many conspiracy theories on the existence of a secret society that uses the owl as its symbol.

This establishment has come to be referred to as “secret owl society”. This secret society is believed to exert huge influence on world affairs. It is believed to be undetected by journalists, scholars and historians. Their members are well-versed in ancient mystery teachings, eastern philosophies and mystical traditions. This group is believed to influence global politics, economies and exploitation of resources. The owl logo is predominant in their existence. Mind-boggling, isn’t it?

  • Protection

In the ancient cultures of the Celtic, Hindu and Egyptians the owl was considered to be a symbol of guardianship. This animal was regarded as the protector of the underworld and the dead.

The owl was honored as the medium of transit of spirits from the physical world to the spiritual world. The owl is therefore enthroned to protect the souls of the dead or the soon to be dead as they take their journey to the other world.

  • Wisdom

According to the Greek mythology, a little owl often referred to as Athene noctua accompanies or represents Athena. Athena is the virgin goddess of wisdom. The owl is thereby called the “owl of Athena” which is a symbol of perspicacity, wisdom, knowledge and erudition.

Myth has it that an owl could sit on Athena’s blind side. This would make her see the whole truth from all angles. The western world has also regarded the owl as a clever bird due to its huge eyes. The owl’s ability to see at night and sensitive ears which can detect a rustling sound from a distance further advances this hypothesis.

On the flip side, some parts of India consider the owl to be a dumb creature. The superstitious folklore has it that the bird is stupid because it is a messenger of death. When someone calls you an owl in these parts of India, they are actually calling you stupid or mentally retarded.

  • Intelligence

Due to the solitary nature of this bird, many regard it as an intelligent creature. In the normal world, people who are intelligent are considered to be introverted and meditative. Scholars consider the owl to be meditative, calculative and tactical in its execution of its mandate.

According to scientific studies, 75% of the owls brain is devoted to sight and hearing. This shows a high level of environmental awareness and focus. This prompts the owl to make very intelligent decision in the pursuit of its prey.

Different owls have been attributed to symbolize different situations and phenomena. Some of these owls include;

The sight of this owl is also taken to insist to you to adapt to your current situation and seek solutions inwards. You are encouraged to distance yourself from all distractions and connect with the spiritual world. It is believed that by doing this, the answers that you have looking for will be revealed to you spiritually.

  • The burrowing owl – when this owl makes an appearance in your life, you should carefully observe and evaluate your spiritual journey. This perspective serves to remind to take things lightly and seek happiness for yourself and others. This burrowing owl signifies laughter and humor in a person’s life. It encourages you to engage other humans in constructive engagements while instilling a vibe of joy in their life.
  • The barred owl – this owl symbolizes the need for you to re-evaluate the competitive side of your life. It is believed to be communicating to you the message of co-operation instead of rivalry. This owl is believed to possess peaceful co-existence amongst humans. You are encouraged to have a gracious and gentle heart as you approach and interact with your archrivals. You are also guided to take a break, listen to wise counsel and implement it in your strategies.
  • The long-eared owl – this owl represents the act of passionate creativity in your undertakings. You are encouraged to set clear goals and be intent on pursuing them aggressively. This owl is a sign that your dedication and goals will come to fruition. You should therefore ignore and get rid of the saboteurs of your plans.
  • The screech owl – this owl represents authenticity. The owl communicates the message of embracing and owning your choices in life. When participating in group activities you are being encouraged to engage in events that you want to engage in rather than doing it because you have to or you want to fit in. in essence, the owl comes to tell you that you are being overwhelmed by tasks that you are engaging in. you should therefore take a step back and break things down into smaller pieces. By so doing you are in a position to make priorities and thereby achieve your goal with more ease.
  • The short-eared owl – this owl reminds you that in any activity you are undertaking you should source for solid knowledge and have effective preparation. You should avoid taking short cuts and follow the process to the latter. You are therefore put on high alert that some activities may appear that would seem simple and straightforward. You should be very cautious when engaging in these activities because they are not always how they seem.
  • Snowy owl – this owl challenges you to have more ingenuity and come up with solid strategies to untangle yourself from the current situation you are in. this white bird reminds you to use foresight while manifesting your desires. You should be careful of what you wish for because you might as well receive it. You should therefore set clear intentions.
  • Great horned owl – this owl comes to manifest to you the fact you have been to make progress but in essence you don’t have a specific direction that you have set in your mind. This creature further reminds to set clear boundaries with others. You are encouraged to take a step back and be more reserved as you make your decisions because your colleagues maybe ruing you.

Different interpretations of dreams that are associated with owls do exist. These dreams are interpreted according to the color of the owl that appears in your dreams. Some of the interpretations include:

  • A black owl – the black owl in this dream often appears with red eyes. This signifies a transformation that you are going through. The red eyes are there to tell you to take the necessary measures to correct the mistake immediately.
  • A white owl – the white owl symbolizes happiness, pleasure, pleasant surprises and good fortunes. This dream can be indicative of a peaceful relationship that you are about to indulge in.
  • A grey owl – when you see this owl, you should brace yourself on what is to come. This dream is an indication that soon you will suffer the consequences of your actions.
  • A brown owl – this owl dream comes to remind you that you have lost your way and you need to re-strategize and get back on the right track. It reminds to define specifically what you want in life.
  • A golden owl – this color of owl represents sufficiency. This is to tell you that the fortune that will befall you in the future is likely to last for eternity.
  • A red owl – the red type of owl in a dream symbolizes both love and angst. When you see this owl in you dream you are likely to experience bitter-sweet situations. You should therefore take keen interest in enjoying the sweet moments so as to compensate the bitter ones that will follow.

Owl spiritual meaning

Different spiritual beliefs have been extracted from different religions to unravel the mystery of the owls. We can dissect some of these perspectives so that you can have a deeper understanding of the spiritual nature of these birds.

  1. The Christian view

The Christian faith has viewed owl in diverse perspectives. We can see some of these views here anchored with biblical excerpts.

  • As unclean creatures

According to the Jewish people, the owl is considered to be unclean and therefore not suitable for consumption. This is derived from the Mosaic laws. The book of Leviticus categorically prohibits the Israelites from eating hawks, vultures and owls amongst other birds. These birds are considered unclean probably because they are predatory in nature and feed on flesh that has blood.

  • As a symbol of desolation and emptiness

Another Christian view on the owls is that they are birds that represent emptiness and desolation. According to prophets Zephaniah, Isaiah and Jeremiah the owls are depicted to be living in ruined lands where there is barrenness and desolation. Isaiah prophecies how the Medes will attack and destroy Babylon and leave it desolate.  

Isaiah continues to show this emptiness in chapter 34 verses 8-11 where he says that the lord would rescue Zion and avenge on their enemies. The land would be left empty where the owls and ravens would take over.

The fall of Assyria has been predicted by prophet Zephaniah. He has characterized owls as creatures that dwell in ruined and desolate land as seen in Zephaniah 2:13 which clearly explained a situation whereby the city of Nineveh would be converted to a waterless and deserted ruin. The owls would live in those ruins and hoot from the windows of the ruined structures.

In Jeremiah 50:39 the prophet describes the destruction and perpetual desertion of Babylon as that would have inhabitants such as hyenas, desert creatures and owls.

  • As symbols of misery and loneliness

David has laid bare this view in the book of psalms 102:3 where he laments that his body was disappearing like smoke and compares his solitude to that of an owl in abandoned ruins. He is comparing his loneliness and misery to an empty town where only owls can exist.

  • As a symbol of mourning
Owl Symbolism

In the bible, Micah has compared the sound of an owl to a lament as seen on Micah 1:8. He says that he would weep, wail and walk barefoot and naked. He continues to say that he would moan just like an owl. The owl is depicted as the epitome of mourning.

Job also associated his mourning to owls as seen in Job 30:28 where Job wails that he is blackened not by the sun but because he has become a brother to the jackals and a companion to the owls.

  • The Hinduism view

In the vast majority of the Hindu spiritual belief, the owl is viewed to be a symbol of prosperity, wisdom. Good luck and wealth. This is mainly attributed to the fact that Lakshmi who is the goddess of wealth normally has a white barn owl accompanying her in her vehicle. In the Bengali households you cannot send an owl away as it is considered to symbolize good fortune. The logical reasons which make the Hindu adore the owls and associate them with prosperity are as follows;

  • Globally, it is common knowledge that you cannot amass lifelong prosperity by being employed by someone. To gain wealth you should start your own venture and work hard to make it successful. You should therefore go “solo” just like the owl does and leave behind the “flock”.
  • So that you can succeed in business you need to possess a unique characteristic that your competitors don’t have. The owl’s competitive advantage in hunting is its ability to see at night. The owl also has excellent listening skills which enable it trace the whereabouts of its prey. The owl therefore signifies adoption of strategic measures that blow the competition out of the water.
  • The owl conducts its hunting business at night. At this time there is little or no competition. This highly increases the success rate of its gains. This concept is also applicable in business whereby if you want to be more profitable, you should operate in a zone where others are not able to reach. You are able to create a state of monopoly just as the owl does.
  • The owl is a wise animal because it knows the time to hunt and the time to rest. You will hardly see it roaming around. It positions itself strategically at the right place and time to pounce on its prey. This concept can be applied in the acquisition of wealth whereby you will know when and where to work. You can also learn time management effectively from the behavior of owls.
  • Success in business can be attributed to a long-term vision and shunning from unnecessary noise when not needed to do so. Owls can spot their prey from a very long distance. They then stay silent as they wait for the opportune moment when to make their move.
  • The Buddhist view

In Buddhism, the birds are creatures that represent freedom. According to the Suttas, Buddha used birds as similes because of their ability to fly to the sky without leaving a trace. In the Tibetan Buddhism, the twilight realms such as the crows, ravens, vultures, falcons and owls are regarded as emissaries or messengers for magical deities such as the Mahakala. The Mahakala are a powerful embodiment of bodhisattva who have put off going to paradise so that they can assist others in getting enlightenment.

Due to the meditation emphasis of Buddhism, the owl is regarded in high order. They symbolize knowledge and wisdom. Their symbols are a central part in the meditation process in the practice of this religion.

Owl spirit animal

The owl spirit animal is an emblem of connection that is deep rooted in good judgment, knowledge and wisdom. Just like an owl which is characterized with keen observation and sharp vision, you will be able to have intuition and deep insight of a myriad of matters. This manifestation can transform your life to levels that you have even never thought about.

Having this revelation means that you can be able to discern peoples motives and how they want to impact your life. Having this totem can give you many benefits such as;

  • You will have an urge to explore the world of the unknown. The mysteries of life are very fascinating. The owl spirit animal will give you a unique opportunity to go through the steps of unraveling this gigantic field of magic.
  • The owl spirit animal will enable you to unearth your hidden abilities and potential. The intuition enables you to look deeper to your inner self and determine what you can and cannot do.
  • As the owl spirit animal is regarded as the symbol of transition, you can use this sign to notice important changes in your life that are about to happen.
  • When the owl animal spirit descends to your life, you will be to appreciate the purpose of your existence. You will visualize all the things that happen to your life with more clarity and objectivity. You will develop a habit of gratitude no matter how hard the situation may turn out to be.
  • This totem will enable develop a sensitivity towards correct timing of every activity that you indulge in. Just as the owl sits back, observes and then acts, you will be able to make better and progressive decisions.

What does it mean when you see an owl?

Owl Symbolism

Seeing an owl can either be a blessing or a bad omen to your life. After you sight this nocturnal animal, you should pay attention on what comes immediately in your life. If a good thing happens then the owls portends a good fortune and when something unpleasant happens then that owl is predicting a bad occurrence.

In the ancient Welsh culture, the owls were associated with fertility. When a pregnant woman from this community heard the sound of an owl, it would mean that she would have a less painful and smooth labor. On the other hand, the ancient Greeks viewed the sight of an owl as a sign of wisdom.

You should therefore sit back and observe what happens to your life the next time you sight or hear the sound of an owl.

What is meaning of seeing an owl in your house?

Amongst the Native American people, the appearance of an owl in your house signifies that it has a special message for you. This message is construed to be very personal to you. This message may be either positive or negative. It is upon you to observe your environment keenly and discern what the owl is trying to tell you.

Amongst the Hopi people, an owl’s appearance in one’s house is a warning about sorcery. This means that there may be forces working against your well being. On the other hand, for the Ojibwe people the owl is definite warning of an impending death or evil.

In some Indian communities, the sight of an owl in your house shows you that a big fortune is coming your way. You therefore make all adjustment to welcome lady luck in your undertakings. Many members of these societies like to be affiliated with these creatures.

Final words on owl symbolism

Owls are magical creatures which are wrapped in intrigue and mystery. They silently observe and see us with an all-knowing insight to give us symbols and signs to unravel. If you have been in constant search of a totem animal to give you that spiritual perspective in your life, the owl is the perfect fit for you. Their presence can illuminate your life to have that revelation of what to expect in your future. I believe you are now exposed to different approaches on how to handle your life without necessarily freaking out anytime you see an owl. Have an amazing experience with these nice creatures and transform your life to the positive.

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