Owl Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)

Tori Rhodes
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Owl Symbolism and Meaning

The association between owls and wisdom is ancient, widespread, and most often attributed to the distinctive facial disc and predatory habits of the owl. Most of us know that owls are symbols of wisdom because of their large eyes and excellent vision, but in cultures around the world, owls have been linked to divinity, clairvoyance, and knowledge, all of which have been attributed to their large, unblinking eyes. Owls, who hunt by night and have exceptional night vision, are the epitome of stealth and silently observe those they intend to attack. Owl spirits are linked with penetrating insight and the ability to foresee the future while remaining unseen.

The owl was the symbol of Apollo, the god of divination, and is also associated with wisdom and the paranormal. In Shinto, the owl is considered sacred and protected by the Great Goddess. Some Native American tribes believe that anyone who kills an owl becomes blind.

Because the owl hunts at night, the owl represents the illusive unknown, the hidden, and is a protector of the mystery wisdom of the unknown. The owl represents knowledge for those who are willing to work and obtain it, and so is a harbinger of progression and evolvement. The owl is a nighttime predator, and so brings about the awareness of the destructive nature of the subconscious mind or dark aspect of the psyche and how to control and utilize it; it also warns of its potential for harm.

Owl Native American Symbolism

The owl is a very special animal amongst the native Americans. It only makes sense since it is a symbol of wisdom and knowledge.

Traditionally in North American decor, the owl symbol had a very different meaning. It was used to ward off spirits, witches, and evil.

So if you are planning on bringing a large owl statue into your home, you may want to consider putting it somewhere you can easily see it, such as a rooftop patio area, if you are in dire need of protection from the dark forces of the world.

Owls are frequently used as totems by most native American tribes because they symbolize guidance, protection, and spiritual wisdom. They are also excellent creatures to call upon for their healing powers.

In many cases, if an alleged witch is possessed by an owl spirit, they will look like an owl.

Owls are usually associated with night magic, and scrying is one of its most common practices.

They are unsurpassed as nighttime hunters and have excellent night vision.

Anytime you have a dilemma, a question you need answered about the past, present, or future, an owl might be the one to ask.

Owl Christianity Symbolism

In Christianity, the owl is a symbol of Saint Matthew, apostle and evangelist (symbolized by his attributes of a wallet and a club). It is an animal that presages death. Sometimes it is a symbol of darkness and ignorance.

In Christian tradition, screech owls are seen as harbingers of death, and are often associated with witchcraft.

In the medieval bestiaries, the owl is portrayed as a bird of bad omen.

The owl was thought to steal the breath of sleeping humans and to then hoot in their faces.[5]

The owl also was considered an emblem of the infernal regions, and in demonology the owl is the bird of Minerva, the goddess of wisdom.

In the first edition of Lives of the Saints, published by the Bollandists in 1675, there is a popular account of Saint Matthew the Apostle that says the following:

Biblical References to Owl Symbolisms

In the Bible, the owl is a symbol of a dangerous period of deception that must be overcome before a future of full tranquility and freedom can be obtained.

A reference to the owl is made by Jesus when he compares the generation of Jesus’ day to the time before God confused the languages at the Tower of Babel.

Psalm 135:17-18 also mentions the owl that stays awake during the night just like God.

However, among the ancient Hebrews, the owl statues were used as religious totems since they believed that the owl often carried disease and death into their homes. Hence, they used such statues to put themselves on display in their homes as a form of protection and warning to any evil spirits.

They believed that the evil spirits would quickly run away once they saw this image.

In the Bible, the owl is referred to as the birds of Minerva, the Roman version of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and war. Athena was said to soar in the form of an owl after a victorious battle and, in that manner, she earned the title of bird of Minerva.

Some scholars believe that the owl symbolizes deceit or an inner voice of wisdom and danger.

Owl Celtic Symbolism

Owl totems in Celtic culture typically represent wisdom, mystery, loss of a loved one, hidden knowledge and secrets, plus death, rebirth and transformation.

Other meanings to the Celtic owl include the idea of a spiritual guide, guardian angel or wise person outside of the physical realm.

Omens in Celtic culture look to the owl for direction and message. This meaning is also closely related to the wisdom of the owl.

The owls been seen as messengers, omens and healers. Because of its association with death and rebirth, the owl can also be associated with the underworld and the underworld deities.

Owls in Dreams

Series: First Totem

I’ve heard quite a few people relate their first experience of seeing an owl in the dream was chilling.

Note that the main observations suggest a dream about owls is not for reading randomly and apart from that, they come in many different forms. In fact, I’ve seen that in some cases hoot owls in dreams symbolize the witches!

This is not a complete trend and it’s rather a rare observation.

Had an owl symbolization, as seen in the dream, in the most frequent way, owls in dreams symbolize knowledge and use of that knowledge.

This relates to the vision of these animals. Owl eyes are really different, specially from the other birds. Usually, this type of bird has incredibly good night vision. This is another powerful feature associated to this emblematic animal.

Owls control these features through its head movements. In fact, this is one of the most revered symbols of a totem or an animal spirit guide: to know the world and to oversee.

Owl Encounters and Omens

Owls are powerful symbols of wisdom and magic, featuring quite extensively in a variety of folklore and superstitions and being one of the most recognized symbols in the world.

Owls have long played a fundamental role in the spiritual beliefs of many cultures around the world. Many omens and rituals are associated with owls in many diverse cultures and belief systems.

The belief that owls are a sign of good fortune or protection is prominent in many cultures. In African and Native American folklore, they play a role in many creation myths.

In ancient Persia, the owl was believed to watch over the dead. This powerful belief is reflected in one of its most common names: the “Mottled Owl.”

In the culture of the Pawnee tribe, the Great Horned Owl is seen as a sign of good luck and protection, as well as a symbol of fertility.

For the Sioux, the Great Horned Owl is a symbol of wisdom and mystery.

Owl Mythology and Folklore

Owl is not a bad bird, but a bird of wisdom, a guardian and a companion of Goddess Athena. In many cultures is believed that Owl brings luck to anyone who sees it. According to Greek Mythology, Owl is the protector of Athens. And those who see an Owl in dream gets protected by Athena.

In Native American mythology, owl represents the guardian of children and wise intuition. The Cherokee culture believed that Owl was the messenger who conveyed the worship to the Great Spirit.

Modern people find Owl’s wisdom in fable. They love to tell a story about Owl, the smartest of all birds. The story is about the Owl contest with the rooster, who was known as the smartest of all birds.

The two birds were asked to go look for a needle which has been dropped in a haystack. The contest will determine who is the smartest. Rooster finds the needle and proudly wins the contest. Owl who never gave up, goes to the end of the haystack.

And the victor is Owl, because he was able to enjoy in a quiet afternoon nap.

Owl Spirit Animal

Owls have always been associated with mystery, magic and wisdom.

Native American legend says that Owl was the wisest of all animals. He was considered as both a divine messenger of the Great Mystery Spirit and the keeper of forbidden secrets.

The original Native Americans and other indigenous folk loved the Owl. In their mythology and folklore, they ascribed supernatural characteristics to the Owl. They believed the Owl to be cursed with the ability to see what people could not (because of the animal’s famed night-vision), and to have a greater knowledge of the future.

Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher, regarded Ovid, the Roman poet, to have been reincarnated as an Owl after a tragic death.

The Egyptians considered the Owl to be a symbol of birth, death and regeneration since the bird often appears in areas where dead bodies are found.

The Romans took this a step further by associating the Owl with wisdom. It was believed that an Owl held the soul of a departed human being and that the hoots of an Owl reverberated the departed’s soul residing in the bird.

The Greek Goddess of wisdom, Athena, and the goddess of magic, Medea, were both depicted in paintings and art pieces as they carry Owls in their arms as pets. These paintings were supposed to give the viewer wisdom and magic.

Owl Totem Animal

Owls are so incredible because they appear to be so wise. The owl has meaning that links to spirituality and deep intuition. These magnificent birds also symbolize harmony and balance.

Owl totems and meaning can be about the messages the birds are trying to tell you. They are also the reflections of a psychic reading. Many spiritual people see dreaming of an owl as a sign from the universe.

They see these beautiful creatures as a symbol of one’s higher self. Some owls are even linked to goddesses whom you can read more about on Owl Goddesses.

The owl and owl meaning varies in different cultures. For example, in ancient Greece, they were considered to be the souls of the dead.

Owl spirits could be coming into your life as a reminder to follow your intuition. For other people, they appear as a protective animal spirit.

For all tribal cultures, the owl is a messenger from the world of the ancestors.

Owls are associated with witchcraft as well, and they have the ability to see into the spirit world. These remarkable owls can also predict the future.

Owl Power Animal

Owls are traditionally seen as an omen of death. Many cultures have associated the owl with death and superstition, for example:

In Japan, the folk belief is that only evil people turn into an owl in death.

The Maoris of New Zealand believed that owls were supernatural beings of a low order, like the kehua or wairua, but having some of the attributes of the higher spirits and capable of doing harm to the living.

In China, when owls cry near a house someone will die. The Greeks and Romans used to associate owls with death.

In Britain and Ireland, people believed that hearing an owl hoot at night was a sign of death.

However, the owl has also traditionally been associated with wisdom and insight.

The owl is a symbol of knowledge in many cultures and is a totem of wisdom.

The Native American Navajo tribe considered the owl a creator of all things and a symbol of breath. They believed that owls could see into the future.

The Romans and Greeks used to associate the owl with wisdom and the goddess Athena. In fact, the word wisdom is derived from the name of Athena…owl!

People associate the owl with intuition and receiving guidance from your dreams, hence, they serve as powerful symbols of psychic communication.

Owl Tattoo Meaning

Owls are nocturnal birds of prey belonging to the order Strigiformes. They display some remarkable features that make them popular in the Native American culture as well as in other cultures around the world. The keen eyesight, big heads and heart-shaped facial disks make them adorable since their birth. There are approximately 200 different species of these birds in varied colors and sizes. All have big eyes and ear tufts. Apart from that, mane and feather pattern also vary from one species to another.

The Navajo believe that Owls are good omens. The Hopi believe that the owl’s call carries prayers directly to the Great Spirit in the sky. It is this form of cultural wisdom that they have accepted as positive attributes to be associated with the owl symbol. As per their belief, these beautiful birds spread health, prosperity and wise counsel to humans. Thus, symbolizing Owl tattoo means how wise and inspirational you are.

Owl tattoo designs can be tribal, symbolic, geometric and realistic. Take your pick depending on how deep you want this symbol to be ingrained in your memory. Meaning is a personal choice. You can get Owl tattoo designs with tribal symbols, geometric designs or in realistic style. The choice is yours.

Here is a complete list of the meanings of Owl tattoos:


I hope that you enjoyed the lotteries and now understand better a little of what they mean.