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Owl Symbolism: What This Spirit Animal Represents (For You)

front view of an owl with big ears

Owl symbolism is shrouded in mystery. Often deemed as highly intelligent, the owl is a beacon of wisdom.


This mysterious nocturnal creature also carries a dark veil of curiosity mixed with intrigue. It is not uncommon to hear of owls being spoken about in relation to supernatural encounters, witchcraft, and magic.

So what exactly does an owl symbolize? Is the owl a spirit animal?

Owl Mythology

There are many symbolic owl meanings. These include:

  • Mystery
  • Wisdom
  • Messages
  • Intelligence
  • Mysticism
  • Transition
  • Secrets
  • Protection

Being nocturnal creatures, owls are associated with darkness. For many of us, nighttime symbolizes the occult, unknown, and other mysteries. In some cultures, the owl is connected to the moon which symbolizes feminine energy and fertility.

Owls are not bad luck. These nocturnal birds are as harmless as black cats and breaking mirrors.

Although the owl is a strategic hunter, the bird has developed through years of evolution allowing it to see better in the dark.

However, to get a better understanding of the owl and its habits, it is important to learn about its background according to different cultures.

In ancient Greece, the owl was interlinked to Athena, the goddess of wisdom long before Greek gods took human form. Sitting on her blind side, Athena’s owl helped her see the whole truth and was lauded as the guardian of Acropolis.

In Rome, Diana, goddess of the moon, was also associated with the owl. The moon is also associated with fertility making Diana’s owl a symbol of the feminine form.

For native Americans, the owl is a spirit animal that accompanies the dead to the afterlife. A hooting owl was regarded as an unlucky omen and mothers would hide their small children to shield them from any negative energy.

In West African cultures the owl was viewed as a companion to seers, wizards, and witches. In other cultures, the bird is associated with ghosts and lost souls with others believing that an owl sighting indicated messages and warnings from the underworld.

Some Americans believe when an owl flies in front of you or hoots you must hoot back or take off an item of clothing and put it back on inside out to prevent bad luck. You can learn more about owl mythology by reading about different cultures and their beliefs.

Read Also: Why Do Owls Hoot?

What Do Owls Represent

Owl meanings are not always dark and eerie. Different cultures use different owl totems to signify and fortify their strengths.

People who use the owl as their totem animal often do not fear the bird of prey or the dark and occult meanings associated with it.

Barn Owl Totem

White and orange brown owl

The barn owl tribe is regarded as intelligent, resourceful people who are good at tuning into the deeper meaning in conversations. If the barn owl is your spirit animal, you will succeed in business and have sharp insight to ensure you always get your way.

Burrowing Owl Totem

The burrowing owl spirit animal symbolizes a great sense of humor. If you have this owl totem, you understand the power of laughter and can laugh at yourself amid adversity. The burrowing owl essence also symbolizes patience and the desire to wait until you can attain your goals.

Screech Owl Totem

The screech owl is symbolic of a self-sufficient spirit that is just and caring. People with this totem can be territorial and protective. Although they are competitive, people of the screech owl nature are generous and make choices that will benefit all those around them.

Barred Owl Totem

If you have the barred owl as your spirit animal, you are cooperative and amicable in all aspects of your life. The barred owl totem people are born mediators who are loved by everyone. This totem also symbolizes you are a charmer who knows how to get your way.

Snowy Owl Totem

White spotted owl

People with this owl spirit animal may be perceived as mysterious and mystical. The snowy owl symbolizes spiritualism, strength, and an excellent sense of timing. People with this spirit animal are observant, calm, and do not waste their energy.

You might find that as a person with a snowy owl spirit you wait until the perfect time to make a decision. Although people might underestimate you, you instill change for the better in everyone you meet.

Great Horned Owl Totem

This raptor is a powerful bird. If the great horned owl is your spirit animal you will often be a leader with unerring focus and the ability to make quick adjustments. This totem also means you are a go-getter with a dominant personality and great enthusiasm for life.

Short-Eared Owl Totem

The short-eared owl is the totem for clever opportunists who work hard to build a solid foundation for their friends and family. This spirit animal inspires curiosity and versatility. If you carry the short-eared owl spirit, you are passionate and imaginative with a great passion for life.

Long-Eared Owl Totem

Brown owl with big eyes and long ears

A creative totem, the long-eared owl spirit animal is powerful at manifesting future goals. This highly compassionate totem also makes you a fiercely protective parent with solid plans in the pursuit of success for you and your family.

Spiritual Meaning Of An Owl

Many superstitious beliefs surround the spiritual meaning of owl sightings. Many communities associate these sharp-sighted animals with death. Some communities view owl sightings as symbolic of life transitions.

For some, the owl is a spirit guide that offers you guidance in personal change and transformation. For instance, dream interpreters regard an owl appearing in your sleep as a close family member sending a message.

These spiritual interpretations all have one thing in common, they are associated with nighttime owl sightings.

So what does it mean when you see an owl during the day?

Common interpretations associate daytime owl sightings with imbalance. The owl is a nocturnal bird so a daytime sighting is regarded as a significant event.

Seeing an owl during the day represents a vivid warning from the universe that all is not in order.

Although there are some diurnal owls, spotting these elusive creatures during the day is not a common occurrence. Many people also believe that a daytime owl sighting is indicative of a revelation or enlightenment.

Some people also associate seeing an owl during the day with good luck. Commonly seen at night and viewed as a harbinger of bad luck, perhaps seeing an owl during the day indicates the opposite.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Spiritual Meaning of An Owl?

The spiritual meaning of seeing an owl varies depending on your community, your owl totem, and your personal beliefs. These beautiful birds are also associated with the ability to see what is hidden in the spiritual realm. An owl sighting reveals the hidden and indicates change, wisdom, and transition.

What Does It Mean If An Owl Visits You?

An owl visit is regarded with great apprehension. Many cultures associate owl sightings with death. However, death is not always physical. Sometimes it can be spiritual, mental, or emotional.

With this in mind, an owl sighting indicates a change is imminent with some owl visits regarded as a warning. In modern-day North America, white owl visits are thought to bring great fortune.

Are Owls A Symbol Of Protection?

In Ancient Celtic, Egyptian, and Hindu cultures, owls were a symbol of protection for the dead and the underworld. Owls were regarded as guardians or spirits transitioning from one world to the next.

Protection can also come in the form of forewarning of a danger to come. Some cultures consider owls as a warning which allows people to protect themselves from imminent danger.

Why Do Owls Symbolize Wisdom?

This classic question alludes to the Little Owl of Athena the Greek goddess of wisdom. Athena’s owl sat on her blind side helping her see the whole truth.  Due to their sharp night vision and large eyes, some cultures also consider owls all-seeing.

In the owl’s natural element, darkness blinds humans which may indicate that the birds can see the hidden. With the ability to fly silently, these birds rarely make a sound in the presence of people. It is no surprise that these birds are considered wise.

Here's a video of why people think of owls as wise birds:

Is Seeing An Owl A Good Sign?

One common agreement among most cultures is that the white owl brings good luck. In Hindu culture, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth rides a white owl which is symbolic of great fortune and success. No matter what you believe, seeing an owl is a good sign that things are about to change. 

Read Also: Baby Owls

Owl Symbolism In Everyday Life

There are many different owl symbolism interpretations and beliefs. How you interpret owl meanings in real life depends on your beliefs and perhaps, to some extent, the type of owl you see.

Most people consider owls a symbol of knowledge and wisdom. You may not understand these birds, but one thing is for sure, their message is always clear to the inner being and your soul.

Enjoy magical owl encounters and remember, always evaluate your circumstances to understand the owl symbolism in your life.

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