Owl Symbolism & The Spiritual Meaning Of Seeing Owls

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Owls are very fascinating animals, which is why spotting one is so meaningful. Not only are they nocturnal, but they are birds of prey; instead of eating seeds and insects, they hunt.

But these birds of prey also have very symbolic meanings.

Owl Symbolism & Spiritual Meanings Of Owls

Seeing or dreaming of an owl can mean a variety of things. In fact, owls symbolically represent wisdom, knowledge, courage, intuition, independent thinking, protection, listening, intelligence, and even death in some cultures.

These birds of prey rely on their intuition and intelligence when hunting; owls trust their instincts to find their next meal, and depend on their intellect to determine which animals to hunt.

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Owl Encounters and Omens

Because owls are nocturnal animals, it's very rare to see them in the wild during the day. However, if you are lucky enough to encounter one, it's not a bad omen; rather, it's a warning of some kind.

Even though owls symbolize death in some cultures, that death is symbolic of change; ending something to start a new beginning, higher understanding of the world around you, and an evolved perspective on what you once didn't know.

In the end, encountering an owl is connected to your intuition and knowledge.

What Owls of Different Colors Symbolize

Owls come in a variety of colors, including brown, gray, white, golden, and reddish-brown. However, sometimes owls will appear in additional colors in your dreams. And the color in which they appear can mean a few different things.

White Owl Meaning

Dreaming of a white owl, or even seeing one in person, is symbolic of a life change on the horizon for you. It's important to remember that change is necessary to help you grow and move forward.

Grey Owl Meaning

Because owls are so peculiar and are associated with mystery, it's no wonder that a grey owl would hold the same meaning. A grey owl also represents communication with the spirit world and your spirit guides, encouraging you to trust in what the universe has in store for you.

Black Owl Meaning

Black owls symbolize shadow work, or the unconscious mind allowing certain information to surface in the conscious mind so it can be worked through.

Yellow Owl Meaning

Yellow owls don't exist in the wild, so seeing one in a dream has a lot to do with your own self-worth and the way you express your inner emotions. Yellow owls are also associated with independence, identity, and discovering who you truly are.

Red Owl Meaning

While reddish-brown owls do exist in the wild, seeing a strictly red owl in a dream is related to issues regarding emotional and physical health, issues in the home, anger, and even sexuality.

Brown Owl Meaning

The most common owl is the barn owl, which is brown in color. But seeing one in person or in a dream is directly related to your intuition and the way you view yourself. Brown owls are also associated with nurturing energy, forgiveness, patience, and mindfulness.

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Owl Symbolism in Dreams

When you dream of an owl, there are multiple interpretations of what your dream might mean. Overall, dreaming of an owl is simply a message being delivered to you, in an attempt to make you aware of the situations around you.

But depending on the matter of the dream, it could mean something else.

Dreaming of being attacked by an owl

If you dream of an owl attacking you, it's a sign that you're fearful of something currently occurring in your life, and are scared to make that leap forward. But this type of dream is a message to not be afraid; in fact, it's an encouragement to embrace change and grow from it.

Dreaming of a flying owl

A dream of a flying owl represents change occurring in the subconscious mind, and trying to bring that information to the surface. It's a reminder that even though you may not know what change is approaching, trust that the universe has your best interests in mind.

Dreaming of a talking owl

Whether you dream of an owl screeching, hooting, or speaking in a language, this is a serious message from the spiritual realm. A dream of this kind also indicates that you may have psychic abilities you aren't yet aware of, and are receiving messages from souls who have passed on.

Dreaming of an injured owl

There are a variety of meanings associated with a dream of an injured owl, but the main meaning is that something in life is holding you back from being completely free. You may feel helpless to the circumstances, and are letting fear of some kind prevent you from moving forward.

Dreaming of being eaten by an owl

In dreams, food represents an experience you're in the process of rectifying. So, to dream of an owl eating you means you're in the middle of removing yourself from the negative thinking that holds you back in life, and accepting your inner intuition.

Photo: Alan Tunnicliffe / Shutterstock

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Owl Spirit or Totem Animal

A spirit animal is a life guide meant to direct us in the right direction while teaching us lessons. Totem animals are also spirit guides, but those we call upon to guide us. Both are guardians or protectors, and help us walk through life without failing to acknowledge our higher purpose.

While you can't choose your spirit animal, they select you. And you'll know if an owl is your spirit animal if you resonate with the creature somehow.

Those with an owl spirit animal may have a variety of lessons to learn.

An owl spirit animal is encouraging you to take action.

This spirit animal is trusting its intuition and wants to warn you that you can no longer procrastinate, or need to stop feeling inadequate. The owl is telling you that it's time for that big change you're too scared to make.

An owl spirit animal wants you to open your eyes.

Your owl spirit animal is trying to get you to broaden your horizons, and acknowledge that there is more to life than the typical day-to-day. Challenge yourself to see things from different perspectives so you become more aware and in tune with the world around you.

Those with an owl spirit animal need to trust their gut.

The owl is a sign you need to trust yourself. Your intuition and gut feeling will not steer you wrong. Don't allow outside factors to confuse you to the point where you have no idea what to do. An owl spirit animal is telling you that it's okay to trust yourself, because you're capable of doing so.

An owl spirit animal is delivering a warning.

The form of death that an owl is warning you about can be either physical or symbolic. Throughout history, owls were seen as the announcers of death; the hoot of an owl, in superstition, foreshadows that physical death is near.

The warning in this case is that a change will be taking place in your life, saying goodbye to something from your past to make room for a new beginning.

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Spiritual Meaning of Owls in Christianity

In Christianity and the Bible, owls are not portrayed in a positive light; in fact, they are often associated with death and mystery. In the Bible, owls were compared to animals like the raven, bat, and dragon, all of which had negative meanings as well.

Christians believe owls represent what is hidden in darkness and the unknown, and considered owls a bad omen, foretelling of evil. However, there are some followers of the religion who believe that owls represent wisdom and prophecy.

Owl Symbolism in Mythology and Folklore

Throughout history, owls have featured in mythology and folklore, symbolizing death or negativity in most consequences. And legends and stories about the owl have been found in cultures of the Celts, Native Americans, the Americas and the East, the Vikings, and even the Mayans.

Native American Owl Symbolism

Different tribes view owls in unique ways, with some tribes considering them wise messengers, some thinking of them as evil creatures who came around in the nighttime, and others believing that owls hold ancient knowledge and wisdom.

For example, the Lakota, Blackfoot, and Cherokee tribes believed that medicine men could shape-shift into owls, and could possess the same insight from their dreams similar to the razor-sharp eyesight of an owl.

Other tribes had positive beliefs associated with owls; the Mojave tribe believed they would be reincarnated as an owl after death; the Tlingit tribe believed owls were warriors who assisted in battle, giving fighters confidence and instilling fear in their enemies; the Kwakiutl tribe saw owls as the souls of humans who had died.

Celtic Owl Symbolism

Owls have a positive connotation in Celtic mythology, and are connected to a goddess who appeared as an old woman; however, she was the goddess of death, and hearing an owl screech was a sign that someone near was destined to die.

Celts also told a legend about Blodeuwedd, the goddess of betrayal, and associated her with an owl. The myth of Blodeuwedd goes that she was created from flowers as a gift for a prince, but Blodeuwedd and her lover plotted to kill the prince.

When he was killed, he turned into an eagle and was restored to human form by Gwydion, the magician who created Blodeuwedd. Seeking revenge, the prince had Gwydion turn Blodeuwedd into a white owl, doomed to feel sorrow and loneliness in the deep, dark night.

Greek Owl Symbolism

In Greek mythology, owls symbolized the goddess Athena. An owl sat on Athena's "blind side" so she was able to see the truth of all situations. In addition, owls symbolize wisdom and guarded Acropolis.

Ancient Rome Owl Symbolism

The Roman counterpart to Athena, Diana was associated with the owl, as well as the moon. However, Romans believe owls were bad omens, signifying impending death; hearing an owl hooting was a sign of death.

Owls even predicted the deaths of famous Romans like Agrippa, Augustus and Julius Caesar.

African Owl Symbolism

Owls didn't signify wisdom or knowledge in African folklore; rather, they were believed to be harbingers of death and disease, specifically for children. Other cultures saw owls as messengers who traveled back and forth between the realms and spiritual worlds, delivering messages.

Owl Tattoo Meaning

Much like owls symbolize wisdom, knowledge, and intuition, getting a tattoo of an owl represents the power of trusting yourself, wanting to deepen your connection to the spiritual world, or discover new insights about yourself.

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Tamara Sanon is a writer who covers astrology, spirituality, love, and relationship topics.