Friday, September 25, 2009

The Sacred Owl

On a full moon night, you're taking a walk maybe with your friend or taking some time to yourself, off in the distance you hear the Owl making it's familiar call. It's one of the most recognizable sounds of the night. I don't know about you, but when I hear it, it brings a smile to my face and a spark in my spirit. I love to sit out on my deck in the swing and listen to them off in the distance. We had a family of Owls in the neighbor last spring. She had three chicks. I got to watch them grow up and take flight. The chicks would hop from tree to tree expanding their territory, exploring their new surroundings and getting adjusted to their wings. You could hear them screech all around. Sometimes they would swoop off the limb and onto the ground. I thought it was awesome.
The owls were held in awe and wonder to our ancestors, either in the Ol' country or to the Native Americans. Their are so many different stories, superstitions, folklores and myths regarding out night time friend. Some cultures held the owl as an animal to be honored and sacred. Some held the owl to be feared and to be a prophet of doom. I'll try to do the owl some justice with this blog and touch base with just a fraction of the myths and superstitions of the owl.
In Chinese mythology, the owl was a dancer, who danced on one foot and had a human face. Yu, the Emperor of China, one day forced the owl to dance a dance of submission because the owl opposed the Emperor. At one time according to the myths, the owl was once a drum and to this present date the owl is not afraid of thundering and lightning because it was the dance that created the two elements. In some parts of China, the owl were thought of being evil and ate their own mothers.
In Japan, the Eagle Owl was trusted, because it warned people of evil that was approaching. These owls were kept in cages and honored. Also they were sacrificed to the gods because they could take the messages of the people and priest to the gods.
Greece, held the owl to be very sacred because their Goddess Athene, the Goddess of Wisdom, made the bird her favorite among all feathered creatures. In the famous, Acropolis, a huge number of owls inhabited the marble columns and they were protected. The owl was a protector of the Greek armies and also accompanied them to battle. If an owl flew over the soldiers before the battle began, it was taken that victory laid ahead. The Greek trade and commerce had respect for the owl, his image appeared on different Greek coins.
In ancient Rome, if an owl was believed to have caused some evil, then the accused owl would be killed and then nailed to the door of the household to advert the evil that it had caused. We know of the death of Julius Caesar, well according to folklore, it was said that an owl's call was heard before he was killed. According to Roman superstitions, if an owl's call is heard then it meant immient death. An owl also predicted Augustus and Agrippa. Another rumour was that witches would transformed into owls and then suck the blood from babies.
In some cultures to dream of an owl meant a traveller would be either shipwrecked or robbed. The call of an owl while flying past the window of a sick person meant certain death for the individual. If an owl was found nesting in an abandoned house it meant the house was haunted because the owls love to hang out with the spirits of the dead. Imagine that!
The English, thought that the screeching Barn Owl could predict cold weather or a storm was on the horizon. Now if the owl screeched during a storm then the weather would change. In the 19th century it was still believed that nailing a owl to a barn door would ward off evil and lightning. Get this, in the remedies of English folk medicine, alcoholism could be cured with an egg of an owl. What is it with alcoholism and England? If a child would eat a raw egg of the owl, then he/she would be protected against drunkness. Another owl egg remedy is if you cooked an owl's egg until it turned to ashes it would improve eyesight. Also if your child was suffering from the whooping cough, then broth made from owls was given to them to ease their suffering.
In Brittany is was a very good sign if you see an owl on the way to the harvest, it meant that the harvest was going to good.
In Ireland, if an owl flew into the house it must be killed before it flew out, because it would take all the luck of the household with it.
If you saw an owl during the day in Scotland was considered bad luck. It was also considered misfortune if you see an owl flying across the moon. It was so serious, that in order to protect yourself you had to change your name and move to another town. The screech owl was thought to warn against any danger, but the horned owl was a carrier of ill fate.
In the Shetland Isles, if a cow was scared by an owl then it would give bloody milk.
To the ancient Celts, the owl was a sign of the Underworld. The owl was sacred to the Goddess Blodeuwedd, a Welsh Goddess who was made from flowers. Her name meant 'flower face'. Her destined was to be turned into an owl as a punishment for her betrayal and death of her husband. She was made from 9 flowers by Gwdion and Math, considered to be two magicians. She was to be the bride of Llew, but she wanted to be married to another, named Goronwyn. Blodeuwedd had Goronwyn to spear Llew, but he was saved by Gywdion, who turned Llew into an Eagle. Gywdion turn Blodeuwedd into an owl as her punishment.
Also in Wales, if an owl was heard among the homes then an unmarried girl lost her viginity and if a woman who was pregnant heard an owl then the child would be blessed.

The Native Americans held high esteem for the owl. If you were Apache and dreamed about an owl then death was approaching.
The Eastern Screech Owl was considered a consultant from the spirit world to the Cherokees. If someone answered the call by calling a similiar sound and don't get a response back then the individual would die.
The brave warriors of the Dakota Hidatsa saw the Borrowing Owl as their protector.
The Borrowing Owl became the totem of death and all underground things to the Hopis. The owl's name was Ko'Ko', watcher of the dark.
The Iniuts believed that the Short Eared Owl use to have a long beak until it was frightened and flew into the side of a house which flattened it's face and beak.
Among the Cree people, the presence of an owl would make speaking very difficult. A stutterer could attract owls. If an owl was believed to be causing the village supernatural mischief, then someone would go out into the forest and purposely start to stutter. This would summon the owl, who could be confronted with the problem and made to resolve the situation.
Some believed that the owl was bad to their children. In Malaya, it was thought that the owls ate new born babies. In Arabia, owls were evil spirits that would carried children off.
A lot of hunters in different cultures held the owls with honor. In Russia, the hunters would carry the claws of the owl because when they die their souls would climb to heaven.
An owl was thought to save the life of Genghis Khan.
The owl was thought to be a very sacred bird, honored and feared in many ancient cultures for centuries. The list of superstitions, myths and folklore goes on and on. So it's obvious it's a very special creation of the Goddess and God. So now when you hear that call from somewhere deep in the country and it gives you the chills, now you know why. It's in your blood.

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