The Owl Spirit Guide and Owl Mythology Around the World
There’s something special about owls. I can’t speak for everyone, but they’ve always been one of my favorite animals. Owls have been around for millions of years. Prehistoric cave paintings of owls prove they are one of the oldest birds in existence. With age comes wisdom, which seems to draw us to this majestic bird. Let’s talk about the owl spirit guide, symbolism and the importance of owl mythology through time.
First, A Few Amazing Owl Facts
- Owls turn their heads around up to 270 degrees
- When owls meet in a group, it’s called a parliament
- Owls will eat other owls (the Great Horned Owl hunts smaller owl species for food)
- Some owls swallow their prey whole but cannot ingest feather, fur, or claws which get excreted
- Owls can be very small (the Elf Owl is 5-6″ tall) or very large (the Great Gray Owl can be up to 32″ tall, that’s about the size of a toddler!)
- Some owls can detect prey up to a half mile away
The Owl Spirit Guide’s Message
If an owl has come to you in your dreams or in waking life, the owl spirit guide is trying to connect with you. The owl spirit guide appears to lead us from one phase in our lives to another. It’s often been seen as a “bad omen”, which is a misunderstanding. The owl doesn’t bring death to your doorstep; however, he may warn you of impending danger or an ending of some kind. Otherworldly wisdom is brought to the individual visited by the owl spirit guide. I consider myself lucky when visited by this wise creature.
1. The Owl Spirit Guide Warns Us
Once when new neighbors moved in, a screech owl sat on the cable box on the side of my house. The owl spirit guide was warning me to protect my home. Ironically, the new neighbors were trying to “shoo” him away. She never moved. I followed her guidance and envisioned a white circle of light around my house to keep unwanted visitors away. In addition, I performed a protection ritual and the next month the nosy, obtrusive neighbor moved.
2. The Owl As A Psychopomp
A psychopomp is a spirit that leads newly-departed souls safely to the afterlife. Many of the “bad omens” in modern society, namely the owl, are actually psychopomp spirits. So, essentially, they don’t bring death but they come around to help guide someone who is dying to the afterlife. They are beneficial and gentle creatures. The Owl is one of those helpful, otherworldly guides. Which is also why they’re associated with darkness…because we often consider death as a “dark” part of life. It’s unknown and therefore feared. But the owl comes around to comfort us…the exact opposite of what many people believe.
3. See Through the Darkness
The owl is nocturnal – it hunts, eats, mates and generally stays awake at night. For some owls, being awake at night is beneficial because the temperature is cooler. Like owls in the desert. Owls have 30 to 1 rods to cones in their eyes, making it easier for them to see in the dark than human beings. Knowing this, the wise owl spirit guide reminds us to listen to our intuition – the inner voice that most people ignore. It also reminds us to protect what is ours and see through the darkness. The owl spirit guide also brings moments of clarity and calls us to dive deep into the spiritual and mystery realms.
4. Head on a Swivel
Are you the kind of person who only sees what’s directly in front of you? While in many ways this means you’re a focused person, it also means you could be missing some details. In particular, you could be missing some warning signs about a toxic situation or person. The owl teaches us to have our head on a swivel. To be able to see what’s coming but also what’s behind us. Whether that’s looking at our past to learn about our future. OR to protect ourselves from enemies sneaking up from behind.
5. Let Go of What No Longer Serves You
Just as the owl utilizes it’s full resources then excretes what no longer serves it, as should you. Too often in life we hold on to things that we don’t need. The owl spirit guide teaches us that though we think we need these physical things, sometimes its unhealthy to hang onto them. These could be items from the past that bring up memories of old relationships. Or it could refer to old emotions or habits you’ve yet to eradicate from your life. You may know you need to stop smoking but you haven’t made the effort. Now’s the time. And owl will guide you.
6. Focus on Your Goals
The owl can sense its prey from great distances. Some owls can even sense their prey a half a mile away! Now is your time to focus on your goals. You know that goal you set but seems so far away? Don’t forget it. Move forward and race towards it like its your prey. Attack it and achieve what you set out to achieve in the first place.
World Owl Mythology
There are owl myths and folklore from all over the world ranging from whimsical to ominous, depending on the culture and time period.
La Lechuza: Owl Mythology in Mexico
In Mexico and in the Southwest U.S., there’s a fearsome owl creature called La Lechuza. This evil owl was once a black magician or witch who was cursed and turned into an owl for eternity. Legend has it that if you see La Lechuza, she will whistle at you and upon waking the next morning you’ll be covered in wounds and bruises. Obviously this is one of the negative aspects of owl mythology; however, I suspect La Lechuza might have once been a positive figure since mutated by the church.
Greek Owl Mythology
If an owl was seen before a battle, the ancient Greeks knew a victory was in store. Athena’s familiar was a little owl! In Greek mythology, the owl was associated with the wise goddess Athena. Owls were the guardians of Athena’s temple and represented wisdom and protection.
Before Athena was depicted in human form, she was depicted in owl form. An owl of Athena adorns the back side of an ancient Athenian silver dollar. In other ancient images, Athena is seen with an owl perched on her hand or flying over her shoulder. The owl’s representation as a wise animal is attributed to Athena and wisdom in ancient Greece. One source states owls were kept in Athena’s sacred temple in Athens in honor of the goddess.
Blodeuwedd: Welsh Owl Goddess
Owl myths are found in Celtic lands, as well. The welsh goddess Blodeuwedd was punished and changed into the an owl after plotting to kill her husband Lleu. Modern pagans and witches honor Blodeuwedd and see her as an empowering icon for women who have been betrothed to men they didn’t choose and for women who are bound to decisions they didn’t make.
More Owl Myths
Some Native American tribes looked to owls for wisdom and protection and even wore their feathers as talismans. Owls were considered messengers and sometimes considered psychopomps (a spirit that guides the dead to the afterlife). Owls are also sometimes thought to be a shapeshifting witch or sorcerer or someone’s astral double in animal form. In certain Northern American indigenous tribes, the owl is linked to the terrifying creature called the Wendigo. I wonder if this association didn’t come later in their lore, after the introduction of Christianity.
In addition to Athena and Blodeuwedd, other deities are also linked to the owl. Some include Ragana from the Baltics and the Hindu goddess Lakshmi. Learn more about owl goddesses here.
Modern Fear of the Owl
I’ve noticed through the years when an owl is spotted most people automatically consider it a bad omen. Superstitions of the past rear their heads today including the owl being a bringer or messenger of death. While I have to admit I’ve seen an owl or two before the death of an individual, it doesn’t make these spirit guides evil. They are warning us and guiding us to another phase of life. The owl spirit guide is a gift to the discerning spiritual individual, not a bad omen.
More on Spirit Guides:
- Hummingbird spirit guide and folklore
- Mythical totems and spirit guides: mermaids, fairies, dragons, unicorns
- Moth spirit guide, symbolism and folklore
- Types of spirit guides and how to connect