• Chris MacPherson

Understanding the Owl

I cannot even tell you how many times the Owl has been appearing to me. I have seen Owl outside, heard the distinctive hooting above my head – even during light evening traffic - and have seen Owl literally everywhere – on a magazine cover at the dental office, throughout my social media, on a cover of a novel at work…. I really mean everywhere. I know that Owl is important to me and significant in a way that I cannot explain. (If you have ever worked with a Shaman to discover your totem animals, then you know what I am talking about!) I had Owl represented on my altar – even before I know I was connected to this animal through Spirit. So today feels like the right day to talk about Owl in general. Every species of Owl carries its own unique spiritual significance, but for this post, I will simply be sharing what I know about Owl from my own interactions and connection to it.


Posted on a friend's FB page


In general, Owl is a very nocturnal bird. It is connected to an awareness of all that goes in in the nighttime, and its senses of sight and hearing are almost incomparable. We often think of the Owl as an amazing hunter, but they are great thinkers too!


In many Indigenous beliefs, the Owl is known as a guardian of sacred knowledge, including forecasting the weather and having a deep understanding and connection to the afterlife. You may have heard that some cultures connect the Owl with death. This is thought to be such beacuse the Owl escorts the dead on their journey to the afterlife. The Owl then, can bridge between worlds which has always held great respect among the Indigenous peoples.


Some cultures also believe the Owl’s hoot is a warning to children to stay in at night or they will be taken and flown away; and yet another aspect of the Owl is the idea that their call serves as a message to the earthbound meaning that members within the society have not upheld their honour. It is from this that many people fear the sighting or hearing of the Owl call and feel that Owl is connected with negative energy or bad luck. However, most likely this idea comes from the fact that Owl is seldom seen in the light of day and its presence often elicits change.

Owls play a role in many cultures and religions, including the Celts who believed that Owl contains the wisdom of the fighter/warrior which gives it the right to travel the underworld. Since it also represented truth and honour, Owls have no tolerance for any kind of deception. In addition, Celts often used the symbol of the Owl on their clothing and in their well-known knot-work because Owl is connected to the goddess of fertility.


Athena, the Greek Goddess of War, had the Owl as her sacred animal. It was thought that if any soldiers saw an Owl during battle, then Athena was smiling upon them which indicated a positive outcome for the soldiers.


In Chinese culture, Owls represent the symbol of yang –protective, wise, and holding intuitive energy. Used to repel negative energies from the home, the Owl can be used to support Feng Shui by placing it near any opening (door, window, etc.) and also by keeping it near areas where mental work is being done, such as in an office. Yang energy – and that of the Owl – is a connected to good luck, and abundance.


A cute plant pot on Marketplace


When Owl appears to us, as it has done for me a lot as of late, it is important to use our special sight to look through and move past any negative emotions and fears we may be having. We need to see what is coming towards us as information – not something to be avoided. When we can do this, we more clearly use our wisdom to think through the issue. Consider Owl’s high perch where it takes in everything around and below. Owl’s amazing sight can move from telescopic to microscopic in just a few seconds. Taking a moment to remove ourselves and look from all angles at a situation will often lead to a more positive outcome. Plus, the benefit is that you have slowed down, taken a breath, and can see all aspects of your surroundings. Isn’t being Owl on a perch high above all a wonderful thing?


The outward turned eyes and its ability to see in the dark, reminds us to look deeply within ourselves and also to listen to our own feelings and inner guidance. Owl leads the way in showing us lessons of clarity and how to uncover deception. When our own inner eye is seeing clearly, it becomes easier to spot deceit externally.


Since Owl has the ability to connect to different worlds through all of time, you might often see representations of Owls with time pieces, and of course, with books to remind us of Owl’s great wisdom. The Owls’ recognizable hooting call also activates an emotion deep within us and has a specific purpose. Owl often comes bearing messages from the spirit realm, bringing wisdom, truth, and understanding of the mysteries of life for us.


Local tattoo artistry


Hearing the nighttime call of Owl should act as a wake-up call for you. It is s sign that you need to focus on your Spiritual and energetic boundaries. Because Owl is protective, their call is often heeded as a warning, and in this case, the warning is of toxic energies, people and relationships. This can be especially true if you are already feeling unhappy in some way. If you hear an Owl hooting in a more unexpected place or time of day, that is an indication that Owl is trying to get your attention. Perhaps it is time to tune into your own energy or focus your attention on your higher self and intuition.


Since Owl is a nocturnal bird who blends well into their background, they are actually quite rare and somewhat difficult to see. Oftentimes, seeing an Owl in nature indicates that this is an opportunity to deepen your knowledge and connection to your higher self. Owl comes to remind you of the wisdom that you can find within if you tap into it. Connected to the moon and the femininity of nature, the Owl may be signaling to you that it is time for some deep shadow work, healing from the past and coming to a more complete understanding and connection of your purpose. This may be a time of great revelation. Some people may feel the Owl is a bad omen, however, Owl simply wants us to shine a light on our hidden shadows and help us move towards growth and change, which can be scary for some individuals.


Personal photo


Just as Owl connects the departed to the spirit realm, Owl also can help us let go, detach and work through the process of transformation and rebirth. When we work with our Shadow self, we release part of our ego allowing us to move into a higher state of consciousness and an improved version of ourselves. This is truly its own type of death.


When working with Owl, you may have to develop a thicker skin since Owl energy is known to cause great transformation and people surrounding you may have difficulties accepting your new birth. You may also become more away of the illusion that surrounds you and see truths more honestly than others would like. This can be very true in relationships at home and at work.


Great Horned Owl in a Saskatchewan Rescue


If you find or are gifted an Owl feather, treat it with the greatest respect. This could mean that Owl is looking at you and wanting to share some insights. Owl feathers are prized highly in Shamanic work for their ability to provide soothing healing and helping the Shaman to see the hidden reality beneath the surface.


Did you know:

  • Owls not only have large eyes to facilitate their ability to navigate and find prey in the dark, but they also have a third eyelid which clears and helps lubricate their eyes

  • Since Owls cannot move their eyes from side to side as humans do, they turn their entire head in the direction they want to look.

  • Owl’s ears don’t sit evenly on their heads and you might notice that one is quite often larger than the other to facilitate them being able to hear different areas more easily.

  • Even though there are over 100 species of Owls, there are several that are endangered due to habitat loss.

  • Owls usually don’t make their own nests….they find existing ones and make themselves at home.

  • Unlike some species, males are usually the one who hunt prey to keep their babies fed and they can kill dozens of mice and rodents in just one night.


From all of this you can see why so many cultures have had such a deep fascination with Owl and why that fascination and spiritual connection continues to live on in our present-day society. Next time you see or hear an Owl, be sure to take a minute to inquire what message it has for you!


#sheCARES #spiritanimals