Owls – They enter the world’s stage at dusk. Much like the leathery winged Halloween symbol, the bat, it is believed that owls became frequent visitors to Celts Samhain bonfires. Despite their large size, owls are incredibly stealthy, seemingly appearing from nowhere to those who encounter them.
In ancient Athens, the owl was so revered that it appears on their first widely circulated coin. The ancient Romans honored the owl by depicting its image alongside Minerva, the goddess of wisdom – which they had adapted from the earlier Greek legends of Athena and her ties with owls (see A Brief History of Halloween on how cultures would layer their beliefs and customs on top of another society’s traditions). For some ancient cultures, sighting an owl during times of crisis or war was considered a good omen.
Throughout history, owls have remained mysterious creatures that have long been linked to humanities secret shadows of influence and power (Illuminati and the Bohemian Club). What we do know about owls is that they are mostly solitary and nocturnal. Perhaps the most prominent features of an owl are their large predatory – forward facing – eyes. Although, certainly a case can be made for the owls apparently spine defying rotating head as being its most attention-getting attribute.
In addition to their haunting “woo-woo” vocalization, many species are able to emit a piercing screech that cuts through the ebony night sky like a knife. There is a strong association between witches and owls. There are tales of witches shape-shifting into owls; which some believe accounts for the owl’s witch-like screech. Even in modern times, there are claims by apparent alien abductees who state that they frequently encounter owls during their abduction experiences. Author Whitley Strieber theorizes that the image of an owl serves as a screen-memory that masks the true nature of the abduction experience. However, we will disembark here from that discussion and leave that subject for another blog.
You do not to have to live in the “Hundred Acre Woods” nor seek the Yoda-like wisdom of the Toosie Pop chomping owl, to get the connection between owls and our continuing desire for knowledge, and ultimately wisdom. Just don’t bother asking him where the candy is because his bowl is all empty! And whatever you do, stay away from Woodsy – although he means well – something is just not right with that Strigiform.