Owls repeatedly appear in literature and mythology as symbols of wisdom, yet they additionally sometimes appear as signs of negative luck. In both cases, owls are revered and also feared.

Why go owls gain both of these reputations?

Owls are considered wise since of your heightened senses and association v the night. Their night vision, in particular, impression the ancient Greeks, who believed that this vision to be a an outcome of a mystical inside light and associated the owl v the Goddess that Wisdom, Athena.

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Why Owls are Symbols of WisdomWise Owls in Folklore and MythologyWise Owls in LiteratureWhy room Owls Considered bad Luck?

Why Owls room Symbols the Wisdom

Owls are taken into consideration symbols the wisdom largely due to their success as hunters and also their nocturnal schedules, but not to any kind of superiority in intelligence.

This belief is pervasive across cultures, with the earliest origins of the symbol in old Greece stemming native the see of the goddess Athena. 

Are Owls Intelligent?

Owls space no much less intelligent than many other wild birds. They are able to usage tools however cannot pass complicated cognitive tests.

For example, burrowing owls have the right to use dung to entice dung beetles come them, however in a test, grey owls can not number out just how to traction a string to carry a treat towards them. 

These raptor birds have actually acute senses, however, and their remarkable vision and also hearing do them fantastic hunters.

They’re likewise nocturnal, which adds to the see of the owl as an intriguing and also revered being. 

Wise Owls in Folklore and Mythology

Many cultures have had beliefs around owls being way or icons of spiritual government in some way, including plenty of Native American cultures and the old Greek.

Let’s take it a look at at several of these myths.

Native American Folklore

Many aboriginal American cultures thought about owls come be signs of wisdom and strength because of their secret night task and strength as bird of prey.

Many considered them to be protectors of warriors and also carriers of genealogical souls. 

Ancient Greek Mythology

In old Greek mythology, the owl is taken into consideration the embodiment the Athena, the goddess of wisdom.

In standard paintings and statues, Athena is often pictured v an owl, and also she is said to have actually chosen the bird as a favourite companion.

Although the beginning of this association is unknown, there room hypotheses the these myths come from the owl’s ability to see v the dark with a piercing, superhuman gaze. 

The scientific name of the small Owl, Athena Noctua, originates from this mythology.

Ancient roman Mythology

Although the owl was not as significant in ancient Rome as it was in ancient Greece, Romans did combine owls with their goddess that wisdom and prophecy, Minerva.

They believed that owls to be able to view the future and thus qualified of pass warnings and also wisdom come people. 

Wise Owls in Literature

Wise owls repeatedly appear in literature, from ancient texts to modern literature. Referrals to way owls appear in The Iliad, Aesop’s Fables, and Winnie the Pooh, amongst others. 

The Iliad

In the Iliad, the owl is offered as a successful disguise because that Sleep when hiding indigenous Zeus. In this scene, the owl symbolizes Sleep’s wisdom and also intelligence. 

The owl is also a symbol because that Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, who is said to have actually elevated the owl come a high standing within Greece due to her reverence for the creature. 

Aesop’s Fables

In Aesop’s Fable The Owl and also the Grasshopper, an owl i do not care frustrated by the singing of a grasshopper throughout the day, so the invites the grasshopper to concerned have a drink together.

The wise owl knows the the grasshopper will be lured in by the flattery and also eats it as soon as it comes close enough. 

Winnie the Pooh

In Disney’s Winnie the Pooh, the character Owl is based on the stereotype the the way owl.

He has actually a wealth of knowledge and also frequently advises various other characters, although, in a comedic twist, his advice is regularly unhelpful and ill-informed.

He also gets really frustrated when no one listens come him.

The silver Chair

In C.S. Lewis’s The silver Chair, the owl Glimfeather is a way companion owl that offers aid to the protagonists, Eustace and also Jill.

The owl also gathers together a parliament of Owls that represent wisdom and also knowledge. All of these owls show up intelligent and helpful.

Why are Owls Considered bad Luck?

Because owls are nocturnal, they’re commonly connected with the night, darkness, and the unknown. They’re also considered formidable due to the fact that they’re bird of prey. 

Together, these facets have do the owl a price of darkness and even death. 

There are similar themes about what it method to see an owl throughout cultures, even cultures thousands that years and also thousands of mile apart.

Prominent amongst these cultures are the old Romans, the English, eastern Africans, Indians, and also Native Americans.


Ancient Romans thought that owls foretold death and also disaster and predicted the deaths that Agrippa, Commodus Aurelius, Augustus, and also Julius Caesar.

In Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, he renders a direct reference to this belief:

 “…yesterday, the bird of night did sit

Even at noonday, top top the marketplace,

Hooting and shrieking”

Shakespeare’s usage of the owl as a negative omen also reflects English beliefs around the owl at the time and the fact that it was connected with illness and death.

Owl Myths approximately the World

Owls are often associated with witches and witchcraft, both in ancient Roman and Greek culture and in modern literature prefer the bother Potter books and also movies. 

Romans and Greeks believed that witches could even change themselves into owls. In Rome, owls were also believed to be qualified of suck the blood of babies.

For Romans, owls were such powerful negative symbols that some would certainly nail dead owls to their front doors as a means of driving away evil.

In India, over there is a common id that owls room symbols that foolishness. The owl is regarded the Goddess of wealth Lakshmi, and it’s thought to represent wealth obtained by illegitimate means.

Images the Lakshmi travel on one owl represent corruption and misfortune.

In the joined States, over there is a saying the anyone who hears an owl hoot three times is cursed, if others believe that owls live together ghosts.

In years past, there was a myth that an owl who landed on the roof the a home with a newborn baby doomed the child to end up being a witch.

In many parts of Africa, owls are linked with darkness, magic, sorcery, and also witchcraft.

In eastern Africa, owls are said to be spiritual creatures the can bring sickness to small children and also that celebrate fatality by dance on tombs in the night.

Several indigenous American nations had beliefs around owls as negative omens, generally associating the owl with sickness or punishment.

Some believed that owls had to carry out with the downfall that opposing pressures on the battlefield, while others thought that owls were depictions of the dead. 

Most commonly appearing in aboriginal American myths to be the an excellent Horned Owl, the Barn Owl, the Burrowing Owl, and also the Boreal Owl.

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Wise owls show up in mythology and also literature repeatedly, largely because of the intrigue carried on by their nocturnal habits and heightened senses that hearing and also vision.

Owls room not an especially intelligent loved one to various other birds, but they deserve to use tools, an interpretation that their standing as smart creatures isn’t undeserved.