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MoonDay Musings: Owl

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Snowy Owl by Sue Ratcliffe Photography

Once again, Owl came into my dreams and I am now contemplating her message, her medicine.

I have loved owls all my life and collected owl figurines in my youth. They always seemed rather serene to me, although I knew they were hunters. At that age I was not yet aware of their goddess associations or place in Celtic mythology.  And although not my personal power animal, Owl has always been a strong ally.

Owl brings us strong medicine about how to look at and live in our world. It connects us to the energies of Grandmother Moon and the Divine Feminine, to magic, and to the Underworld/Otherworld.

When I dream about Owl, I know that she (for Owl is typically female in Celtic mythology, and is often a goddess companion across several pantheons) is often telling me there is something I may have overlooked, that I have not seen all dimensions of a particular situation, and that I should ponder what beliefs or illusions may be masking the truth.  She is also letting me know that a change is coming.

And, once, Owl came to me as a harbinger of death. I was visiting a dear friend in the Kananaskis Mountains near Banff, Alberta, many years ago. On the way home at night, a snowy owl — much much larger than one I had ever seen before — sat squarely in the middle of the lonely road. From afar, we couldn’t tell what it was . . . it appeared almost like a huge block of ice. So still. We approached slowly and carefully, then stopped and got out of our car. Owl looked at us and we all sensed her message: death was coming soon.  We drove away, quietly, sensing something significant had happened. Sadly, my friend died shortly afterwards, in a mountain plane crash.

But that is my Medicine; perhaps Owl has a different message for you. 

To the Celts, Owl was often seen as an ill-omen, perhaps because of her association with the Otherworld/Underworld as a messenger of death, but she is also associated with wisdom and transformation (death/rebirth).

And I love that there is also an association with An Cailleach, the “Hag of Winter” and archetypal Crone goddess. According to Philip Carr Gomm, in his book “The Druid Animal Oracle”:

“Because the Owl is sacred to the Goddess in her crone-aspect, one of its many Gaelic names is Cauilleach-oidhche (Crone of the Night). The barn Owl is Cauilleach-oidhche gheal, “white old woman of the night”.  The Cailleach is the goddess of death, and the owl’s call was often sensed as an omen that someone would die.”

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Image by Thalia Took

Owl is also prominent in the tales of the Welsh goddess Blodeuwedd (“flower-face”) who was created from the flowers of spring and was known as an Owl Goddess. But her transformation into an owl was a consequence of her actions, betraying and killing her husband Llew Llaw Gyffes. I like to think of the more positive aspects of Owl: her wisdom and insight!

Owls are wise, silent and swift, hunt stealthily by night and are the messengers of secrets and omens. In some cultures, as with the Brythonic (British Celtic languages and culture) above, they are seen as harbingers of death (one local example for me is the owl mythology of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation, and my Kananaskis experience above) and very often are seen as messengers of change.

If Owl is your power animal, it is possible you:

  • have strong intuitive powers that you are either actively using or can develop 
  • can see through the darkness, where others can not … into the hidden, beyond deceit and into reality 
  • can expect change or transformation in your life
  • spend time alone . . .  but are not lonely (perhaps, like Owl, you are not a “flock” bird)

If Owl has shown up in your life, physically or in dreams or messages of any kind, meditate on your Owl to connect with it even more and create relationship and to get clarity around the message she brings to you.

Remember that there are many different species of Owls — such as the burrowing owl, the screech owl, the barn owl, the horned owl, the snowy owl — and each has its own medicine.

Take a journey with your Owl.

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