Owl Symbolism – Deeper Meaning of Owl

Written by avenefica on August 14th, 2007


Owl Symbolism - Owl Meaning

Owl Symbolism - Owl Meaning

I got an email from a young lady in a panic because she had encountered an owl.  She was apoplectic about it because she thought Owls were a bad omen or a sign of death. 

Nothing could be further from the truth as you can see from my email response on the deeper meaning of owl:

Dear Owl-Shocked,

Utter nonsense – the owl is no more a symbol of death than I am (and I assure you, I am not!).

Yes, in certain cultures (China, Egypt, India) the symbolic meaning of owl is associated with death, but you must understand that the owl is nota symbol of death per se. Rather – it was revered (honored) as being the guardian of the after-life – a highly respected emblem indeed.

Throughout many cultures, the symbolic meaning of owl deals with:

  • intelligence
  • brilliance
  • perspective
  • intuition
  • quick-wit
  • independence
  • wisdom
  • protection
  • mystery
  • power

Native American tribes (primarily plains’ Indians) viewed the owl as a protector against harm and their feathers  were ritually worn to ward of evil spirits.

Ancient Athenians made the owl an emblem of wisdomand even emblazoned the image of the owl on their coinage.  To the ancient Greeks, the owl is a symbol of Athene who is goddess of foresight & knowledge.

Taking symbolism from the owl directly, it is noteworthy that it is a creature of the night.   Nocturnal creatures are symbolic of inner-knowing, psychic ability, and intuition – so too is the owl.

If an owl has visited you, an incredible gift has been bestowed.  Also, keep in mind that animals are only called to those who share the same energy.  In other words, you hold within you some of the very same symbolic attributes the owl represents.

To illustrate, you may have abilities to know things that others do not know.  It may be likely you have very strong intuitive abilities that can be fine-tuned.  Further, you may be strong-willed person, and/or have a protective side to you.  I can already tell from your email that you are mentally sharp – so we know you have this in common with the owl already.

These owl sightings may be messages for you to develop your education further.  Or, the owl may be trying to tell you to develop your intuition further. 

Owls also show themselves as a sign of warning (no, not of death).  You simply need to pay close attentionto people around you – owls are incredibly perceptive – you are probably perceptive too – use your powers of perception around new people you may meet.  Not everyone is as nice, or “cool” as they seem to be.

Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to dispell a common misunderstanding about the owl being a harbinger of death.   With a little more research and contemplation upon the noble owl we see there is much more to this creature than this.  You can read more of my thoughts about the symbolic meaning of owl here.

As I do most everyone who writes in asking for symbolic meanings, I would encourage you to meditate upon the owl. I’ve found that animals are quite willing to share their knowledge with us when we are open and willing to receive them.

Soar into Higher Symbolic Skies!  Check out these relevant pages:

Owl Symbolism (in general)

Air Totem Meanings

Bird Meanings in Dreams

Nature Symbols

Bird Tattoo Symbolism

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58 Comments so far ↓

  1. vanessa says:

    Hi everyone,
    I know absolutley nothing about owls. But I had an encounter yesterday. It was during the day. My living room couch sits right next to the window I looked and noticed a small bird. I leaned in the window to look closer and found out it was a samll owl sitting in my grass. It was just starring at me for a long time. I thought nothing of it. I let my daughter out to go swiming for a while about and hour or so,butI think I scared him away when I opened the door. After I brought her in and dried her off, I went back in the living room sat on the couch looked out the window again and there he was again! The strange thing was that he was just starring at me in my eyes. Then it would look around the yard and glance to both the right and the left and just stare me in the eye again. He must have been out there standung in the grass the same spot for about 2 hours.

    To my regret now I called my brother in law in amazment at this creature. He scared me telling me it was a sign of death that I must scare it away at once.So I opened the door and approced it and it flew away. After reading this I now wish I hadn’t but he told me to fear this owl. But the thng was it returned one more time at the same spot and statred at me. My brother in law was all freaked out and told me to scare it away again. So I did. It never returened. The funny thing is I have been looking out my window hoping to see it again.
    What does all this mean!? Was this a good sighting did I do a terrible thing to scare it away1?

  2. Teri says:

    I returned this evening from a Shake Down experience in which we shake our bodies for about an hour, resting as needed, and then find stillness. Open to whatever may come. Tonight I had a vision of a brown owl which led me to this site. Thank you for the information. I will be open to my dreams and looking forward to growing the characteristics of the owl in myself!

  3. ~Deanna says:

    Last night, my family and I were returning home after my son’s baseball game, and having supper. It was about 10:00pm, and as we were driving up our street (in a subdivision), I saw something massive flying. At first I thought it was a hawk, but I had a feeling it was an owl because it seemed too large to be a hawk. It was dark so difficult to see, but I kept my eyes fixed upon it, and it swooped upwards and landed on the highest peak of our 2-story house. We pulled in the driveway, and it remained on the roof. It was definitely an owl. It was all very exciting, as this is something you don’t see every day. I happened to have my camera since I took it along to take pictures at the ballgame, so I tried to take some pictures out of the window of our vehicle, but they were blurry from my zooming in to try and get a closeup picture of the owl. My husband took some from his side of the car, and our camera promptly ran out of battery power. I told him to go quietly and get more batteries from the house. He did, and the owl stayed with us until he came back out of the house. He got one fairly good picture of it. I said something in a whisper to my husband, and when we both looked back, the owl had gone, silently into the night. None of us heard it — not a rustle of a feather or a flap of a wing.

    My immediate reaction to this was that it was a good sign — that the owl may be bringing us goodwill or good fortune. My family has been going through a difficult time these last few years. My husband was laid off from his job of 23 years, in the IT industry, back in 2005. He has worked sporadic contract jobs since then. More recently, we have been on unemployment for the last almost 4 months. We have 3 children to support, ages 15, 11, and 3, and no health insurance since the layoff. There have been numerous job interviews, but the job always seems to go to someone else. As of yesterday, before the owl sighting, we had 3 job possibilities on the horizon.

    Also, we have a 15 year old son with autism, and have been having a very difficult time with him as of late. He has behavior issues (a manifestation of his disability). He can be aggressive at times, and is cyclic in his behavior. We seem to have been in a pretty bad cycle recently, and it’s been tough on all of us. However, a few months ago a wonderful Christian woman named Sue came into our lives as a service provider. She is our son’s respite and supported community living worker. I have felt so depressed at our financial situation and daily life with our son being so trying, lately. His daily meltdowns can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. I had been opening up to Sue, sort of emotionally unloading on her. She has a genuine desire to help our family, and these last few days I have been working with her (via email) on devising a plan to deal with (and hopefully gradually begin to change for the better) my son’s behavior. Yesterday was the first day that we saw it as actually possible. I think my son had a breakthrough yesterday and was able to finally acknowledge his behavior, which is hopefully the first step in beginning to change it. He said to me, “The goodness needs to happen, instead of the badness”. It seemed very profound, to hear this from him. Yesterday, during the day, I felt very uplifted, and the most hopeful that I have in several months. I felt kind of a tingling or energy within that maybe things were about to finally change, for the better — that maybe we could be happy again like we used to be, before we lost our livelihood 3 years ago. I wondered if my husband would be hired at one of the 3 possible employers, and if our son might actually be able to get a grip on his behavior at home. He is perfect at school, but at home he feels safe and loved enough to “explode” after holding it together all day. School is obviously not in session now since it’s the summer, but he attends a summer program for disabled children, so he is still on good behavior there and if he melts down, it is at home with us in the evenings. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that yesterday I felt the most positive that I have in a very long time, and then was visited by this owl last night.

    Something made me get on the internet and see if there was any type of luck (good or bad, but hopefully good) associated with seeing an owl, since most people don’t see them often. I grew up in the country and used to see them as a child, and hear them hooting at night. I also want to say that I was very moved by Adam’s posts and can relate to what he was saying about nature. As a child growing up, I felt the same way, attuned to nature. I’m an only child and spent a lot of time outdoors, and had a magical place in the woods behind our home, that was my very own (I’m an only child and had to entertain myself). I don’t recall ever seeing an owl during daylight hours when I was there, but I also used to lie on the ground and watch the trees sway gently in the wind, and saw them as dancing. I used to love to take a quilt and lie on the ground and watch the clouds drift by, visualizing different shapes. Since being an adult, and living in the city, I have missed nature and felt like I had lost that connection to it that I used to have. So, to see the owl last night was thrilling and I had an immediate appreciation for its presence. I felt graced by its choosing MY house to light on, and stay for several minutes.

    However, when I got on the internet and looked for luck associated with it, I saw all the negative things that are mentioned about it. It didn’t feel right, and gave me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I try to go with that feeling in my life because it usually never steers me wrong. I began to look for what I could find that would be good about a visit from an owl, rather than the bad, and that is when I found your site. I want to choose to believe that this owl appearing to us last night was a sign of something good about to happen to those who live in the house it landed on. I felt like all the negative things I read about the owl didn’t apply to me. I was born on the 13th of April, and the number has always been lucky for me. Other people fear it and see it as negative, but I never have. I think the owl is the same. Maybe it means bad things to some people, but it could mean the opposite for me, just like 13. I have always felt “different” and not like most other people, in this way. Thirteen always seems present in my life and pops up when I least expect it. There are random occurrences. If I count something, it almost always winds up being 13. I look forward to my birthday falling on a Friday (I was born on a Saturday), because Friday the 13th is even more lucky, I feel.

    I spoke to my mom last night on the telephone. I told her about the owl. I said I wondered if it was a sign (I never said “good” nor “bad”, and I didn’t share what I had read about luck being associated with the owl, so as not to color her opinion or alter her “normal” reaction). She said not to be silly, it was nothing more than a hungry bird, and we have lots of chipmunks around here — tasty morsels for an owl. She said I might want to call the conservation department. My mom thinks she lost her elderly cat last year, aged 21 years, to a hawk. Her vet told her that it’s bad to have a hawk around, but an owl is even worse. I don’t have any small pets outside to worry about. I think it is best to let the owl be, and let it do its thing. I think mankind interferes too much with animals and nature. The owl may have been sitting atop my house every night for a long time and I just didn’t know it until now. I don’t think it is hurting anything. But I do feel that we were allowed to see it for some reason, and to know of its presence. And, I think it is more than a hungry bird looking for a late night meal. The feeling I got from it was that maybe a couple aspects of my life were about to change for the better. That is my gut instinct, and I’m going to stick with it and hope that is the outcome. What is ironic, is that my mom has always loved owls, and collected them. I grew up with owls around the house. She made a large ceramic one in a pottery class, and painted it herself. It’s beautiful. We also had a picture of one hanging over our fireplace mantel. I thought maybe my mom would have something positive to say about the owl, maybe some insight about her feelings for owls and why we had owl things in our house when I was a kid. I was disappointed with her saying it was merely a hungry bird on the prowl, and that I “shouldn’t make too much of it”.

    If after reading my story, you are moved to respond, I would be honored. It looks like you get a lot of posts and haven’t posted here for over a month so I know you must be busy. Also that the time has to be “right” to formulate your response — I am the same way, doing things when it feels right to me. I am respectful of everyone’s time, so if you don’t respond, I understand. It is enough for me to feel uplifted further by sharing last night’s “owl experience” here, with others.

  4. avenefica says:

    Hi Deanna,

    I just wanted to thank you for sharing your beautiful observations and insights – I love how this owl called you forth to express these amazing thoughts – it’s an honor for me that you expressed them on my blog.

    Your son’s statement: “The goodness needs to happen, instead of the badness” is indeed profound – he’s a remarkable intuitive – a brilliant gift within your life.

    I’d like to hone in on the protective function of owl energy. My experience (and upon asking) indicates the owl oversees your home, and serves as an energetic sentinel, insuring peace over all you hold sacred within your realm.

    It might also be fitting to point out the owl’s sacred connection to the Greek goddess of learning, Athena. The owl is also depicted on some Greco-Roman currency as a symbol of status, intelligence and of course, wealth.

    Owl is incredibly choosy, shrewd, focused – it would not lightly visit you. If we gather up all the variables – the pure positive moment your physical (and spiritual) eyes touched upon the presence of the owl on your roof is nothing short of clandestine & worthy of the awe you so eloquently expressed in your post.

    Deanna, I’m so pleased to learn you are reconnecting with your true self – the core brilliance that is you – the one who experiences the tingling pleasure of wonder that saturates each moment of life.

    The most masterful among us recognize that wonder & understand there is elation in all things. The most masterful among us are touched by the energetic wings of the owl, and recognize that contact as a dynamic, powerful experience. The most masterful among us know that life causes us to expand and reap the joy available to us in each moment.

    Deanna, indeed, you are masterful. Enjoy your transformation – embrace the blessings and bounty that are yours.

    Thank you again for sharing your experience.

    Namaste & brightest light,
    A.Venefica

  5. mack says:

    i was wondering if the regularity matters i am a biker and there is hardly a day that i do not see one and do the spacifick bread of owl matter because it seems as if i see differnt depending on the night that it may be

    i work a swing shift and do most of my riding at night or early morning befor traffic realy hits hard so i guess i am asking about the time of day that i do see them

  6. kayla says:

    Last night, I was coming home from work just after 9 p.m. It was extremely dark, and as I got my keys out to open the door, I jumped back suddenly because something had brushed by my foot.

    It was a small owl, about the size of a rabbit, staring me in the eye as it sat on the ground about an inch away from my door. I stood there in shock for about five seconds as it stared directly at me, then flew away suddenly away.

    How crazy is that? I knew it must be some kind of omen, and while I’m not exactly sure what, it’s reassuring to know that it is hopefully a good one.

  7. Eve says:

    Never having seen an owl before, I have seen one twice outside my house at night. The second time was tonight. I am going through a rough patch and know seeing this owl meant something. I asked the owl what message was it trying to bring me. After a few minutes it lifted its backside and did one big poop and flu off. Can you advise me if this was a message and what the message may be?

  8. Jeremy and Whitney Hood says:

    I recently met my soulmate and we have been hanging out for about a month. She has been freaked out alot do to the fact that she thinks I can read her mind. She has also freaked me out a few times on her ability to say things that I am thinking. We were hanging out at a friends house and my two friends went in to use the restroom and when they did an owl landed on the peak of the roof and sat there until my two friends walked back out. My girl and I where the only ones to see the owl and we thought it to be kind of weird. The really weird part is about two weeks later her and I were laying in her hammock on her back patio and heard the strangest noise. We both wondered what it was then all the sudden we saw the owl again fly from the tree directly next to us. The two houses were only about a mile from each other so I know it was the same owl, I could feel it. We would have never seen it this time except for the noise that it made to tell us that he or she was watching over us. I have only seen two owls in my life up to that point and I am 29 years old. Since being with her we sighted an owl twice in a two week period. I know it was the same one. Talk about a sign.