Owl Meaning & Symbolism: Spiritual Significance

Owls are mysterious creatures associated with deep religious and spiritual significance in almost all the cultures around the world.

Owls symbolize wisdom and foresight along with intuition and knowledge. Owls also have a negative representation in many cultures, which perceive them as harbingers of bad times especially death. They also represent transformation to higher planes of spiritual and mental development.

Owls have always been a subject of mystery for most of us. My grandmother used to tell me stories related to owls, magic, mystery, and supernaturalism when I was a child.

She believed that staring at an owl will cause it to fly towards you and attack you in an attempt to take your eyes away. This made me fear this bird and consider it evil. But as I grew up I understood that these birds are pretty harmless and mind their own business most of the time; although, they do symbolize a lot of things.

We have a lot to learn from these birds. They can help us in discovering our true path and strengthen our spirit, only if we pay close attention and listen to what the owl has to say.

There are over 240 species of owls, more than 200 of which are solitary and nocturnal birds of prey. These birds usually have a broad head, a straight posture, and skills like binocular vision, binaural hearing, pointed claws, and feathers that enable silent flight.

They mostly hunt small mammals, insects, and other birds. A few of them also hunt fish. Owls can be found all over the planet, excluding the Polar Regions and a few remote islands.

Their distinctive appearance and nocturnal behavior make these birds mysterious. Owls are therefore associated with many symbols and occur in many myths and supernatural topics.

Owl Meaning & Symbolism: Spiritual Significance
Owl Meaning & Symbolism: Spiritual Significance

Owls Meaning: Spiritually & Symbolically in Different Cultures

Owls have existed for a long time all over the planet (excluding Arctic and Antarctic regions) and it is not surprising that these birds have several connections with various myths, folklores, and artworks of different cultures. Their meanings and symbols vary from culture to culture. A few examples have been briefly mentioned below:

Symbolic Meaning of Owl in Africa

Owls were not seen as positive symbols in Africa. People of East Africa believed that owls were harbingers of illness and thus, were associated with death. Cameroonians were afraid of owls. Various African cultures depicted owls as symbols of sorcery and witchcraft. They were seen as gateways that connected the material world with the spiritual world. The hooting of the owl symbolized that some negative changes were about to come.

Owl meaning in Celtic Tradition

The Celtic mythology associates the barn owl with their Goddess in the form of an elderly woman. The Celts called these birds “Cauilleach-oidhche gheal” which translates to “white woman of the night”. The Cauilleach is the Goddess of death. The screeching of an owl is therefore viewed as an omen symbolizing death.

Owl Symbolism in Welsh mythology

In Welsh mythology, there is a story about ‘Blodeuwedd’, the Goddess of betrayal. She was created by a magician called Gwydion as a gift for Prince Llew Llaw Gyffes. But she had a secret affair with another man and together both of them planned to kill Prince Llew. They succeeded, and upon death, Prince Llew transformed into an eagle that was later transformed back to his human form by Gwydion. The Prince then ordered Gwydion to transform Blodeuwedd into a white owl so that she is forced to haunt the night in sorrow and loneliness.  

Owl Spiritual Meaning in Ancient Greece

Goddess Athena, who was the Goddess of wisdom, and her incarnation Minerva were both accompanied by a small owl. This owl was called the Owl of Athena or the Owl of Minerva. It expanded Athena’s wisdom and warned her about changes to come. The owl hence became a symbol of knowledge and wisdom in Greece and presently, all over the world.

Owls were also seen as a symbol of protection in ancient Greece. The people believed that owls possessed a magical inner light that enabled them to see at night. They believed that these birds protected the castles located in the city of Athens from threats.

Symbolism in Ancient Rome

During the Roman Empire, owls were associated with death. Their hooting was considered an omen, signifying that someone’s death was near. Legend says that the death of Julius Caesar, Emperor Augustus, and Emperor Commodus Aurelius were predicted by owls.

Owl Symbolism in Bible & Christianity

In the Bible, owls are depicted as filthy birds that are unfit for human consumption. Like dragons, bats, and ravens, owls too had similar negative connotations. They symbolize desolation, loss, loneliness, and disobedience.

Symbolism of Owl in China

In Chinese culture, Owls are associated with a strong symbolism of yang, protective, wise, and intuitive energy. They are considered a good omen that fills one’s life with positivity, hope, and good luck as well as drives negative energy away.

Meaning of Owl in Ancient Egypt

Owls in Ancient Egypt were seen as a symbol of death and darkness. They were feared but worshipped because of their supposed connections with the supernatural world, in the hope to get a glimpse into the afterlife. They were seen as the guardians of the Truth and Supernatural Wisdom and were believed to protect them from the material world.

Native American Owl Meaning

Native Americans associated owls with nighttime spirits. The cry of the owl was symbolic of death. Several Native American tribes feared the horned owl and believed that they were not actual birds but shape-shifters.

They believed that medicine men could shape-shift into an animal, usually an owl, and transform back into a human. These men would use medicines either for the benefit of a person or for negative consequences. The Lakota, Cherokee, Blackfoot, and Caddo tribes believed that medicine men received insight from dreams at night because of the sharp sight of the owl. They, therefore, wore owl feathers and never harmed these birds.

Many indigenous people believed that birds active during daytime were “bumbling good-for-nothings” and did not have wisdom like the owl which was much active during the night. Almost every Native American tribe has legends and stories that revolve around owls. This is also reflected in their artworks and dances.

Symbolism Among Various Native American Indian Tribes

The Hopi tribe, along with the Tlingit and the Mojave tribes, associate themselves with the owl clan.

The Hopis saw the burrowing owl as the God of death who guards their fires and is the keeper of everything that happens underground, including the germination of seeds.

They call the burrowing owl “Ko’ko”, which means “watcher of the dark”. They also believe that owls help in the growth of their peaches.

The Tlingit tribe believed that owls helped them in battle. Warriors would hoot like owls on the battlefield to gain confidence and make the enemies fear them.

The Mojave tribe believed that upon death, they would transform into an owl, and then into a water beetle, before vanishing into thin air.

The Kwakiutl tribe believed that the owl carries the soul of a person who has passed away and therefore, should not be harmed. They also believed that if a person killed an owl, their spirit would die.

The Lenape tribe treated the owl with great honor and respect. They believed that if an owl appeared in someone’s dream, it would become their spirit animal and would protect and guide them.

In general, owls were symbolic of knowledge and wisdom for many tribes.

Read more: Check out the meaning of Yellow Butterfly and Black Butterfly.

Owl Spirit Animal

Owl Spirit Animal
Owl Spirit Animal

Owls are extraordinary birds that possess abilities other animals do not. If you are frequently drawn to them and sense a strong connection with them, it means that the owl is your spirit animal.

This symbolizes that it will guide you and bring you messages from the Universe to help you discover yourself and your purpose in your soul’s journey.

Owl will at times assist you in finding the answers you are looking for, and guide you in selecting the right path

Owl Totem Animal

The owl totem represents wisdom, protection, intuition, and insight. It is also a symbol of independence and freedom.

What does it mean to summon an owl as your power animal?

If you are inspired by the unique traits of the owl, you can summon it as your power animal during these situations:

  1. When you want to make a wise decision and be certain that you do not regret it later.
  2. When you want to sharpen your intuition and strengthen your connection with your spirit guides.
  3. When you wish to enhance your protective instincts and reaffirm boundaries so that you can protect the ones you love.
  4. When you wish to live your life intelligently and insightfully.

What Does Seeing an Owl Mean?

The chances of encountering an owl are rare since they are nocturnal birds.

Seeing an owl is usually symbolic of our knowledge and connection with our intuition. It is associated with the energy of the moon and represents deep wisdom. If you see an owl, ask your higher self or angels to guide you. Meditating is recommended so that you can discover your answers sooner and learn something new about yourself.

The owl can guide you in your journey, help you recover from past trauma, and aid you in learning the true purpose of your existence.

Owls are considered mysterious and are often associated with the supernatural world. If you encounter owls frequently, see them in images, videos, in the news, or hear about them in stories or conversations, it might mean that the owl is your animal spirit guide. It can also mean that the owl is your spirit animal or power animal.

Seeing an owl is usually considered bad luck because of the nocturnal nature of the bird and its association with darkness and mysteries. It can be seen as a bad omen by those who do not want any change in their lives.

However, from a broader perspective, this change is often followed by the growth, transformation, and spiritual development of an individual which is essential. Owls, therefore, signify new beginnings and discoveries.

They also teach us to accept the truth even if it is challenging; so that we can attain deeper wisdom.

Read more: White Butterfly Meaning & Symbolism

What Does it Mean to See an Owl in Your Dream?

Seeing an owl in your dream might symbolize various things depending on the experience.

If you experience fear and anxiety, it might mean you need to face a situation that you have been avoiding while you are awake.

If you hear an owl screech in your dream, it could be a wake-up call. You should activate your conscious mind and pay close attention to the events happening in your life rather than overlooking them.

Feeling emotional during the dream might mean that you need to use your intellect and deal with your challenges logically instead of being emotional.

Dreaming of a dead owl might symbolize inevitable changes as death implies spiritual transformation, meaning the end of something that eventually paves way for the beginning of something new. Owls also serve as the symbol of supernatural power.

Seeing an owl in your dream might mean that you need to use your intuition and instincts more. Try to meditate or pray so that you can connect with your inner self better.

What Does Having an Owl Tattoo Symbolize?

Having a tattoo is a personal choice. However, if we connect the animal with its historic symbolism, we can understand the greater meaning associated with an owl tattoo.

What Symbolic Meanings Do Owls Hold?

Owls are quiet and mysterious birds. They have a lot to teach us through various symbols that hold profound meaning. These symbols have been shortly discussed below:

Independent thinking

Owls are solitary birds that enjoy being independent hunters. However, they do not isolate themselves completely from their kind. They live together yet enjoy their freedom. Owls teach us to love our independence and work on our own. We may choose to live alone, but we must not forget our kind and learn to appreciate the company of others.

Withstanding mob mentality

Owls are powerful hunters, which is why birds of other species usually feel threatened by them. They will sometimes group up to attack an owl. Although rarely hurt, the owl does not counter-attack. It tolerates the other birds and in some cases, leaves. Owls teach us to keep patience and remain calm in similar stressful conditions. We should try not to mistreat others and search for alternate and satisfactory solutions to such problems.

Seizing opportunities

Owls usually do not build their nests. They take over nests built by other birds. For example, great horned owls take over deserted nests built by hawks, crows, or magpies. Other owls start living in hollows in trees that occur naturally or are drilled by woodpeckers. Burrowing owls nest in underground tunnels that have been dug by other animals like ground squirrels, prairie dogs, etc.

They symbolize the instinct to seize opportunities. Owls teach us that we should take advantage of any opportunity we get whenever we have the chance.

Being true to one’s ideas

Owls can see and sense things others cannot. They are quite skillful and remain unaffected by how others treat them. Their nature represents the ability to think freely and to have the qualities of a successful entrepreneur. They teach us that we should stay true to our ideas even if they are subject to harsh criticism. We must not lose hope and believe in our abilities even if we are treated like an outcast.

Owl symbolisms and our home

Owls can symbolize our preferences when it comes to building a house. If the owl is your spirit animal, you might prefer to stay at different people’s houses to experience variety. You may prefer hotel life over buying a piece of land to build your own house.

Seeing an owl might sometimes mean that we are investing too much into building our own house and not balancing our expenses. This may come at the cost of other priorities in our lives such as food and comfort. Owls may act as indications that we should limit our expenses on housing and balance them with our needs.

Courage and protection

Once an owl captures a nest, it will protect and defend it fiercely, especially if there are young owlets to look after. They are also very courageous and will defend their nests for months against powerful birds of prey and even people. Owls are therefore symbols of courage and protection and teach us to maintain these qualities.

Prioritizing people

Owls try to protect their owlets at any cost, no matter how severe the threat. They teach us to prioritize our loved ones above anything else and to struggle for them and protect them at any cost. We should learn to protect our children and family from any potential threat and try to maintain a healthy relationship with people that are important to us. Having close friends is a blessing and hence we should prioritize them as well.

Reaffirming boundaries

If you discover an owl, it could be a sign that it is asking you to reaffirm your boundaries (physical, psychological, spiritual, or social) and protect your relationships. Our day-to-day routine is full of monotonous and busy events which drive us away from what is truly important. The owl spirit reminds us to spend some quality time with our near and dear ones which help in strengthening bonds and provides us with peace.

Concentrating on our abilities

Owls have adjusted themselves well to the changing world around them. They thrive because they can make proper use of all the abilities they possess. Owls teach us that all of us have unique talents and abilities and we should work on exploring and enhancing them so that we can utilize these abilities well in our lives.

Wisdom

All of us have heard about the idiom “as wise as an owl”. Owls are considered wise specifically because of their eyesight. They can spot prey or threats from miles away with the help of their incredible vision. With such powerful eyes, they can act quickly based on the situation. They are symbolic of wisdom and inspire us to make decisions wisely.

Intuition

If the owl is your spirit animal, it means you are gifted with insight that others describe as psychic. You can see and sense things that others cannot. You can guide others and you may even have powers to foretell the future.

Learning to fly

Owls do not inherently know how to fly. Owlets must practice flying from their nests before they are adept in it. With this fact, we are reminded that we must try to improve our skills to the maximum potential and not give up. We should be determined to be better and do everything we can to achieve our goals.

Death

Owls are often treated as a symbol of death because of their nocturnal behavior and frequent sightings at or near graveyards. Death here does not signify literal death. It rather symbolizes spiritual death and suggests that something will come to an end which will eventually pave way for a new beginning. In other words, owls signify change, transformation, rebirth, and renewal.

Owl tattoos are a positive symbol that portrays your personality. It informs others that you are a free-thinker and rely on your intuition and instincts to make conclusions.

You have a curiosity to understand things beyond their surface level and you have a keen interest in knowing about the deeper mysteries of life, including what the supernatural world might have to teach you. It can also symbolize your belief in magic.

Read more: Grey Eyes Meaning

What Do the Different Abilities of the Owl Symbolize?

Owls are well known for their remarkable abilities which separate them from other birds. But what do these abilities symbolize?

The ability of wide vision

These birds have a wide vision and their heads can turn 270 degrees allowing them to see in every direction. They have almost zero blind spots. Owls have adaptations in their necks that allow the blood vessels to operate when they turn their heads. Their unique and extraordinary eyesight is the reason why owls are seen as a symbol of insight and wisdom.

The ability to see from different angles

Owls can view an object from various angles. This ability holds a deeper meaning as it is symbolic of insight, reminding us to witness and analyze one situation from several perspectives before a conclusion is made. A person can truly strive toward wisdom and excellence if he can analyze a problem from different standpoints.

Being insightful also signifies that we should learn from the past and see how it is impacting the present so that we can predict and influence the future. The owl reminds us to rely on our insight, intelligence, and perspective so that we can arrive at prudent conclusions.

Night vision

Owls are nocturnal birds and thus have a vision that is more active at night and allows them to see and hunt during darkness. This is why they are symbolic of darkness, and often associated with the night in art and literature. Their ability to see in the dark also symbolizes hope.

No matter how dark the times are, we will receive new light which will drive the darkness away. Having an owl as a spirit animal means you can see light in the darkness and guide yourself as well as others in finding a way.

Skillful hunters

Owls are skilled at hunting. They can instantly adapt to new habitats which increases their chances of survival. They teach us to learn how to accept changes and try to adjust ourselves in new places and around new people.

Strong memory

Owls have quite a powerful memory. This ability is also why they are considered wise. Owls can remember every route in their territory and take advantage of them during the night. Owls teach us to hold on to our memories and use them to guide ourselves and others by sharing them with the world in the form of stories, or songs.

Listening ability

Along with extraordinary eyesight, owls are blessed with acute hearing ability. This makes them even more adept at hunting. Owls can identify any kind of sound and locate their prey effortlessly. Owls are therefore symbolic of being an observant listener.

Having an owl as your spirit animal signifies your talent for different languages, accents, and music and suggests that you can separate the truths from lies when the words are flowing from a person’s mouth. Owls teach us to look beyond what is in front of us.

Agility and silent flight

Owls are agile and have exceptional flying skills. They can quickly take flight and their wings allow them to fly vertically from a standstill. This ability enables them to evade threats with ease. Along with providing agility, their wings enable owls to fly silently with minimum turbulence.

Their agility symbolizes that we should move with grace and avoid conflicts whenever we can. Their silent flight symbolizes that we should not over-share our thoughts. Owls teach us to respect our privacy and discreetly perform our activities.

Read more: What Does It Mean When Your Eye Twitches?

What Does the Hooting of an Owl Signify?

The hooting of an owl has often been associated with death and darkness. However, in a spiritual sense, an owl hooting might mean that you need to set energetic boundaries. Owls carry protective energy with them and they might be telling you to leave unhealthy relationships and get rid of toxic people from your life.

Driving negative forces away and being around optimistic people will give you a positive boost and enable you to heal faster. Hearing an owl hooting at strange places could be a sign that you need self-introspection.

Try meditating or attempting to connect with the spiritual world so that you can discover yourself and find your answers.

What Does an Owl Crossing Your Path Signify?

Owl Meaning & Symbolism: Spiritual Significance

Since the chances of encountering an owl on your path are rare, there can be no coincidences.

Having an owl cross your path signifies that you will soon experience a change in direction. At this point, you should stop your journey and pay attention to what is happening under the surface of your reality. If you are struggling with arriving at a logical conclusion, you should rely on your instinct and intuition to make a choice.

Encountering an owl flying above you symbolizes intuition, wisdom, and psychic insight. It might mean that you need to develop your inner wisdom and self-awareness and analyze a situation from a broader perspective.

Symbolism of Finding an Owl Feather

Finding an owl is a spiritual sign that represents knowledge, wisdom, insight, and mental pursuits. It means that your angels are nearby. It conveys a message that you should pay attention to your thoughts and work on your ideas.

Different Colors and Types of Owls, and their Meanings

White owl

White owls symbolize change. If we are going through a hard time, they remind us that change is the law of nature and therefore, our hardship is temporary and good times will soon come.

Black owl

Black owls represent energetic protection. They symbolize our shadow work, such as the false beliefs and negative thoughts of our subconscious mind. They help in bringing these thoughts to the surface so we can move past them. Black owls usually appear in our dreams or visions.

Brown owl

Brown owls carry nurturing energy and represent intuition and self-worth. They might signify that we should work on our spiritual development.

Grey Owl

Grey owls represent mystery. They symbolize that everything will work out on its own even if we do not completely understand the situation.

Barn Owl

Barn owls are creative, innovative, and have out-of-the-box thinking. They represent the skill to solve a problem using one’s intellect and abilities and symbolize looking at a situation from a different perspective.

Barred Owl

Barred owls are associated with peacemaking and mending broken relationships. They may be asking us to forgive someone important to us or symbolizing that we need to resolve conflicts.

Snowy Owl

Snowy owls represent change and spiritual growth. They may be asking us to give up negative relationships, harmful habits, or toxic environments. They symbolize the acceptance of a spiritually uplifting lifestyle.

Great Horned Owl

Great horned owls are associated with the solar plexus chakra. They represent taking swift actions, and showing confidence and determination. They might be asking us to stop procrastinating and get productive with our work.

Are Humans a Threat to Owls?

Owls are special birds. They are magical, extraordinary, and mysterious. They imply various symbolisms, convey several important messages, guide us in our journey and help us find our true purpose.

Despite this fact, we are posing a threat to their survival. Loss of habitat, rapid environmental changes, climate change, and release of toxic materials and poisons in the environment are some of the prime reasons why these unique birds are presently on the verge of extinction.

All owls are listed in Appendix II of the international Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) treaty. Every species of this bird is endangered and slowly moving toward extinction. If we do not take adequate measures to conserve them, owls will disappear from this planet soon and forever.

Conclusion

Owls may be much dreaded because of its abilities and nocturnal habits, but its powerful spiritual connections and powers cannot be ignored. If owl is your spirit animal it means you’re on your way to realize your higher spiritual self. You’ll be blessed with an intuitive abilitiy to see and hear beyond the veil of darkness and silence. No wonder, owl is often sought after as a conduit to take you ethreal realms.

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About the Author: Naomi Hills

God has given me the gift to read the signs, interpret the dreams, decode the angel numbers since birth. Through rigorous practice and application, my gifts have been fine-tuned. Now, I use my gifts solely to help those distressed souls who have lost all hopes, those who have been left alone to fend for themselves, those whom the system doesn’t care anymore, those whom the mainstream science has ignored.

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