Owls

Bring on the Wisdom… or the Death

Owls get the big play during Halloween.  There is something about the head turning, the hooting and the nocturnal nature of the owl that makes it a symbol of Halloween.  During this, one of the most glorious holidays, you will see owls of every shape and size festooning trees and mantles around house all over the neighbor.  Let’s start looking at the various ways that owls have been depicted around the world.

In most African cultures, the people see the owl has a harbinger of death at worst and as bad luck at best.  To hear an owl’s hoot is too know that someone near you, or you yourself might soon die.  Likewise in the middle east, the owl is not known to be a creature that you look forward to hearing or seeing.  In some Hindu societies, while they don’t see the owl as bad they just see it as a foolish creature. Across the globe, the native people of the Americas saw the owl has being attached to the occult and to sorcery.  The owl, like the black cat was seen to be a messenger of some bigger evil or the familiar of a witch.

For whatever reason, however, western cultures tend to place the owl in the realm of the wise.  The owl has been associated with wisdom for centuries in most European cultures.  In fact those people brought their beliefs of the virtues of the owl with them across the pond and they are part of the belief systems of the United States now as well.  In France and Belgium and a few other European countries, divide their owl beliefs up based on how the owl looks.  Ears are good and virtuous while those owls without ears are looked on bring ill tidings.

The owl has been used in the symbolism and iconography of people and things considered wise since the Romans.  Athens, being the home city of the goddess Athena had owls emblazoned all over their town.  The wizard Merlin in the mythos of the British Isles and King Arthur was often associated with owls.  In fact, As you dig through European societies and culture you will find the owl throughout their mythologies and iconography.  It is easy to see that the western cultures thought more of this beautiful bird then most.

In modern times, the hoot of an owl will be heard on spooky Halloween CDs.  Owls will find their way onto doors and in yard decorations but let’s aim the owl at the Rennie world.  If you are going for the fantastical and wizardly look – owls are going to be part of the base you pull from for symbols.  If you are witch or a sorceress, the owl should also be in your mindset.  Get a cloak emblazoned with an owl.  Go for the owl on your leather goods.  In fact you could even embrace the owl if you are doing the ranger thing.   A pair of vambraces with an owl carved into the leather would look great on any protector of the woods.

Embrace the owl past Halloween but don’t forget that the hoot of an owl might be the easiest way to scare the kids that are coming to your door to trick or treat.