Owls have been used in various artistic, mythological and literary traditions to symbolize concepts such as wisdom, magic, nighttime, protection and awareness. For example, the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena, was often seen accompanied by owls.
Different cultural traditions have used owls to symbolize different things. According to Kansas State University, the Native American Pawnee people saw owls as a symbol of protection, and other Native groups believed that owls were associated with the ability to see and hear through deception. The Athenian owl, the constant companion of the goddess Athena, has represented the concept of wisdom for centuries with contemporary educational institutions such as Rice University adopting the owl as both its mascot for sports and symbol for more formal associations.