What does the owl symbolize?

The owl's nocturnal lifestyle has long formed a halo of mystery around it. In the cultures of various peoples, this bird personified the following concepts:

  • night;
  • the kingdom of the dead;
  • witchcraft, secret knowledge;
  • wisdom.

At first glance, drawing parallels between wisdom and death is not entirely correct. However, having studied the reasons of our ancestors, one can, if not completely agree with this, at least admit that such a version has a right to exist. So what does an owl symbolize in different religions and cultures?

An owl in the Ancient world

It is interesting that in belief systems belonging to different peoples and separated from each other by many thousands of kilometers, the role of the owl is approximately the same. In Egyptian writing, the hieroglyph "Owl" means cold, night, death and passivity, inactivity - depending on the neighborhood with other signs. And in the Hindu religious tradition, the owl is the companion of the goddess Durga, the wife of the god Shiva. Its function is to accompany the souls of the dead to the realm of the dead. Symbolism in both cases has much in common, although contacts between Ancient India and Ancient Egypt were extremely difficult, and therefore insignificant. Most likely, they were limited to visits by a few inquisitive travelers. In any case, there is no need to talk about the interpenetration of cultures here.

Among the Mexican Indians (although contacts with them before Columbus were extremely fragmentary and unstable), the owl played about the same role. She was a demonic nocturnal creature and an unkind sign. And besides, she was a companion of the underground god, a harbinger of death and also a guide of souls to the kingdom of the dead. Where such a commonality of religious views comes from - from the similar living conditions of the ancient Americans and the ancient Egyptians, or, perhaps, from the common origins of their religions - to judge historians and ethnographers.

But in ancient China, the role of this bird was more positive. She was considered, for example, the patroness of blacksmiths, but not always, but in the days when they forged swords. Iron processing technology at that time was not well developed, so it seemed much easier to assign part of the responsibility for the quality of products to the magic bird. In addition, the owl was associated with thunder, cruelty and death. Over time, symbolism acquired an increasingly positive meaning, and now the owl has a purely positive meaning in this country.

In Hellas, “owl symbolism” was also “with a plus sign”. The owl was considered a constant companion of the goddess Athena - the patroness of the polis of the same name, which is today the capital of Greece. She was even depicted on Athenian tetradrachms - coins in denominations of four drachmas. Considering that Athena was considered not only a warrior, but also the patroness of wisdom, skill, ingenuity, then the owl was involved in these areas of knowledge and human activity. In the Roman Empire, the role of the owl received a further logical development, however, more in the works of Ovid and Virgil, and not in traditional religion.

Owl in the Middle Ages

In Christian culture, which is the heir to the Greco-Roman tradition, the owl symbolizes the forces of darkness, bad news, but at the same time - solitude and sorrow. This nocturnal bird is often present in the images of praying hermits (solitude). In the views of the common people, its meaning differs from the official (church) version. European folk culture has learned a lot from Celtic and Germanic paganism, so often an owl is an obligatory attribute of a witch. At the same time, ancient symbolism is also clearly traced: the owl begins to become the patron saint of students and teaching in general. That is, it acquires the familiar look for us.

In East Slavic folk beliefs, the role of an owl is approximately the same as that of the ancient Celts and Germans. She is a demonic creature and portends some kind of misfortune or death. For women, an owl is a symbol of an old maid or widow. At the same time, she is the keeper of enchanted treasures and a creature in front of which any locks can be opened. Owl feathers are considered a talisman.

Owl in modern times

Today, the old, magical image of an owl is used only by authors of fantasy novels. The significance of this bird as the patroness of knowledge and teachings has become widespread. No wonder the connoisseurs from “What? Where? When?" chose her as the mascot of their popular game show. Often, eminent universities choose an owl as their symbol. Her image in the traditional rectangular "Oxford cap" has become a textbook.

Well, what does the owl symbolize in the house today? The universal passion for feng shui has spread its significance as a talisman against unreasonable decisions and waste of money. Often, an owl figurine is placed on the so-called money tree. According to the Chinese, this amulet in the house is directly related to well-being, a positive moral climate and happiness.

Aside from otherworldly symbolism, what is the meaning of an owl that has settled in the attic of your house? For a city dweller, such a neighborhood is extremely unlikely, because it is very problematic for an owl to find food in a modern city. But residents of rural areas should not be afraid of such a neighborhood, here, on the contrary, they even need to rejoice. The owl, although a predator, is nocturnal, so it cannot damage domestic animals. And that there will be fewer rodents spoiling the beds on your site - it's clear, and you don't need to go to a fortune-teller!