After spending a delightfully cold afternoon (17 degrees to be precise) taking photos of Antelope Island with my son Justin and my friends, we headed back. I was driving on the back on the causeway when I look out the right side and saw a big white/yellow bird flying alongside the road, about fifteen away. It sort of turned to look at us and we realized it was an owl!
This is apparently a barn owl. He kept us company for about three miles as we drove along, before turning and heading south. I can hardly believe we saw it. I have only seen a perched owl twice before, and never seen an owl in flight. I didn’t realize they were out at Antelope Island. I drove along to keep up with the owl, and Justin took pictures. While the pictures are slightly blurry because we were in movement (as well as him), you can definitely see it is an owl, and the details on it.
I love seeing owls in the wild. It is so rare, and I consider it a privilege and honor whenever it happens to me. The owl is a bird loaded with symbolism.
In Ancient Greek mythology the Owl was a creature sacred to Athena, Goddess of the night who represented wisdom. Athena, the Greek Goddess of Wisdom had a companion Owl on her shoulder, which revealed unseen truths to her. Owl had the ability to light up Athena’s blind side, enabling her to speak the whole truth, as opposed to only a half truth. The Ainu in Japan trust the Owl because it gives them notice of evil approaching. They revere the Owl, and believe it mediates between the Gods and men. The bird features prominently Celtic folklore where it is considered both to be sacred and to have magical powers, again because of its abilities in the dark. Zulus and other West African nations consider the bird a powerful influence in casting spells, and think that using parts of the owl gives great strength to a person involved with magical incantations.
To the Welsh, the Owl is a night predator — the only bird capable of defeating the swift falcon and then only at dusk, its time of power. The Owl symbolizes death and renewal, wisdom, moon magick, and initiations. Their Goddess Arianrhod shapeshifts into a large Owl, and through the great Owl-eyes, sees even into the darkness of the human subconscious and soul. She is said to move with strength and purpose through the night, her wings of comfort and healing spread to give solace to those who seek her. A star and moon Goddess, Arianrhod was also called the Silver Wheel because the dead were carried on her Oar Wheel to Emania (the Moon-land or land of death), which belonged to her as a deity of reincarnation and karma. The Mother aspect of the Triple Goddess in Wales, her palace was Caer Arianrhod (Aurora Borealis), or the secret center of each initiate’s spiritual being.
As an animal totem A quick-list of owl symbolic meanings:
Native Americans associated the meaning of owl with wisdom, foresight, and keeper of sacred knowledge. This may largely be due to the fact that the owl is a great fore-teller of weather conditions. Also its ability to see at night is legend among the Native Americans, and this attribute would be invoked during ceremonies when an oracle of secret knowledge was required.
Similarly, West African and Aboriginal Australian cultures viewed the owl as a messenger of secrets, kin to sorcerers, as well as companions to seers, mystics and medicine people.
During medieval times in western and central Europe it was fabled that owls were actually priestesses (witches) and wizards in disguise. To this day the owl is considered a witch’s familiar (an animal soul-spirit linked to a spiritual person via a unique, communicative bond).
And a personal total bonus to me. Harry Potter!