Barn Owl, Again Picture

Afterwork: Cropped and sharpened.

Birds of Prey - Indianapolis Zoo, Indianapolis, Indiana.

There has always been a mystique surrounding the owl, regardless of the species. It’s probably the most revered, feared, loved and worshipped bird in the history of the world. The owl is cloaked in superstition and folklore originating from stories spun through hundreds of years and each culture has its own interpretation and many times they conflict.

Boiled owl and owl eggs have been used for medications in Peru and, in English folklore, the owl egg was believed to cure alcoholism. A child given raw owl eggs was then protected from drunkenness throughout his life. In India owl broth was said to cure seizures and the meat used as an aphrodisiac. The Swahili of East Africa were not as sold on Owls for medical purposes. They believed that the owl made children ill.

Athena, the Greek mythological goddess of war and wisdom, chose the Little Owl as a protective symbol. It was believed the owl’s night vision was a magical inner light. The Little Owl adorned coins in the 5th and 2nd century BC and if an owl flew over Greek soldiers it was a sure sign of victory. The Athena Owl remains a symbol used often in today’s society.

In Roman antiquity the owl was not worshipped at all. In fact, it was their belief that an owl’s hoot brought death. It was said that an owl predicted the death of Julius Ceasar, Agrippa, Commodus Aurelius and Augustus. Witches were believed to turn into owls. Ascalpus in Roman Mythology was turned into a Screech Owl by Hades, god of the underworld, as punishment for snitching on Persephone for eating a pomegranate.

The owl in some cultures is evil. He dances with witches, steals treasures, brings bad luck and is a symbol of the underworld. It’s said in Ireland that if an owl enters the house one must kill it before it can carry away the good luck.

The owl in other cultures is very helpful. He helps find husbands for old maids, determines the sex of an unborn child, and, in Belgium, he was the church’s choice for resident pest control.

Legends of the owl are quite amusing. In the Artic North a little girl who was turned into a bird was so scared she flew straight into a wall. It flattened her face and beak. Thus was borne the owl. 12th century English owls were not allowed out during the day because one stole a rose. Menominee (American Indian) owls were not smooth talkers and lost a talking contest to a rabbit who received his choice of day or night. The rabbit chose day so to the loser went the night. Polish owls are just too beautiful. If they come out during the day they are mobbed by other jealous birds.

Poor owls. They’ve endured many more bad raps than good throughout history. Probably the worse offended were the Transylvania owls who were chased off constantly by naked farmers protecting their crops. — And the owl isn’t even a vegetarian!

Continue Reading: Hades