Owl Symbols

Photo credit: Marilyn Barbone (Dreamstime.com)
Owl Ornithology Mythology

Legend and mythology are powerful stories that cultures and society project upon a person, animal or thing. As individuals, we also give these things meaning and believe in their symbolism. This is equally true of ornithology, the study of birds. Probably all species of birds have a characterful story of a concept that it represents.

The owl is, among these, one of the most universal and best known, powerful symbols of the bird kingdom. This empowering of human thoughts and ideas into an image is why the owl is often used as a powerful talisman or representative of a god, group or institution. We project these ideas and concepts on the owl, and it feeds our subconscious minds. Thereafter, every time we look at it, those meanings are triggered. It’s important to remember: it’s your thoughts, not the Owl itself, that contains the power.

Owl Symbology

Many resources will state that ancient tribes and (some modern) cultures associate the owl with misfortune or even death. What is often overlooked is that this has to do with the concept of an afterlife, and that the owl has the power of communicating with spirit. This connection can bring messages from the other side regarding the transition from human to spirit.

Owl Symbols in Current Culture

Arms of Sherbrooke, Quebec (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Left: The arms of the University of Sherbrooke, Quebec bears an owl sitting on top of the shield. Here, the owl symbolizes wisdom, perception and purity. It is also a reminder of the importance of conserving the environment. The snowy owl is the avian emblem of the Canadian province of Quebec. This rare owl survives winters in southern Quebec by being exceptionally adaptable.

Below: At 3 Via Amedei in Milan, Italy, a relief sculpture of the head of the Roman goddess of Wisdom, Minerva, is depicted with cornucopias of abundance and owls either side. The owls emphasize her powerful relationship to wisdom.

Roman goddess of Wisdom, Minerva, with owls  (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Woodsy Owl (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Left: Woodsy Owl was a character created in 1970 by Harold Bell of Western Publishing in the United States. He was famous for the saying: ”Give a hoot, don't pollute!” (which later became ”Lend a hand, Care for the Land!" He provides children with information about nature on behalf of the Forest Service.

Right: The owl is one of the city symbols for Dijon, Bourgogne in France. For good luck, it is traditional for residents and visitors to touch the owl sculpture on the northern wall of the Notre-Dame church in Dijon.

Owl symbol on Notre Dame, Dijon, France (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Owl symbol for landscape conservation in Lower Saxony  (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Left: The Owl is a symbol for landscape conservation area in Lower Saxony, in north-western Germany.

Right: The tetradrachm of Athens from 5th century BC depicts Athena the patron goddess of Athens, and the owl of Athens.

Tetradrachm of Athens (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
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