Q:

What is the symbolic meaning of seeing an owl?

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Quick Answer

Cultures throughout history have viewed owl sightings differently, with some believing that they are reminders to rely on personal wisdom and others that they are harbingers of death, sickness or general misfortune. The Greeks believed that owl sightings were a sign of good fortune. Ancient Greeks portrayed the goddess Athena, who was known for her wisdom, as being accompanied by an owl much of the time.

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Human beings have paid special attention to owls since prehistoric times as evidenced by cave paintings depicting the nocturnal birds.

For centuries in much of Europe, owls were viewed as messengers of doom and destruction. The writers and poets of the continent, including Sir Walter Scott and Shakespeare, often included owls in their works as literary devices that portend death. Most famously, Shakespeare imbued owls with premonitions of both Julius Caesar's and Macbeth's deaths.

Many Native American cultures viewed the owl as a totem animal representing wisdom and prophecy. They believed that those who saw owls should take the sightings as a sign to stand back from everyday life and turn inward for wisdom found through being quiet and listening to a person's inner voice. They also considered owl sightings to be signs that release aspects of life, including attitudes, that no longer serve a person.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What does it mean when someone sees an owl during the day?

    A:

    Owls are typically symbolic of wisdom or a significant life change, though some cultures also see them as a symbol of someone who is reaching out after death. As owls are nocturnal, it can be disconcerting to see an owl during the daytime, and though many may take this as a bad omen, it is not necessarily so. In most cases, it's likely that the owl's sleep was disturbed and it is simply looking for another place to rest.

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  • Q:

    What is the largest owl in the world?

    A:

    The largest owl in the world in terms of weight is the Blakiston's fish owl, a rare species found in Asia. The great gray owl is the longest owl. It weighs less than the Blakiston's fish owl.

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  • Q:

    What is the biggest owl in the world?

    A:

    The biggest owl in the world is the Blakiston's fish owl or Bubo blakistoni, found in eastern Russia and some Asian countries, such as China and Japan. The biggest owl in North America, on the other hand, is the great grey owl.

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  • Q:

    What eats a snowy owl?

    A:

    Two predators of the snowy owl are falcons and foxes, but the greatest danger is humans who may hunt the snowy owl for trophies or food, according to the University of Michigan's zoology department. Other threats to snowy owls include dogs, gray wolves and other birds, such as the skua.

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