Owl Symbolism

Owl Symbolism in Culture, Religion & Dream [+Spirit, Totem, Omen]

One of the most common birds in your neighborhood, Owls, holds profound meaning in terms of luck, spirituality, and in your social life. In essence, Owl symbolism means bad luck. They are an embodiment of misfortune and death. However, sometimes they manifest the notion of wisdom and positive supernatural power. Of course, contexts matter a lot here.

But what does an owl mean to you? Keep reading this article, and you will find out. 

Owl Symbolism and Spiritual Meaning at A Glance

Check out all the common meanings of Owl symbolism here below. 

CategoryOwl Symbolic Meaning
Native American culture– Companion of death 
– Messenger from the spiritual realm 
– Symbol of laziness 
Eastern culture– Symbol of wisdom and knowledge 
– Bearer of prosperity and fortune 
– Symbol of companionship 
African culture– Sign of death 
– Sign of back luck and declining health
– Symbol of draught 
Judaism  – Symbol of wickedness and deceit 
– Symbol of stupidity 
Christianity – Symbol of loneliness 
– Sign of satanism 
– Symbol of mourning 
Islam– Owl doesn’t have a significant meaning in Islam 
Hinduism – Symbol of wealth, wisdom, and good luck 
– Sign of helpfulness 
– Sign of impending disaster 
Dream – Sign of impending change
– Indication of hidden knowledge and wisdom
– Sign of spiritual awakening
– Sign that you are afraid 
– Hint that you shouldn’t ignore your problems 
Omen– Warning of impending disaster
– Possible death of a loved one
– Transformation of someone close
Spirit Animal– Vision- Freedom
– Knowledge
Totem animal– Explore the unknown
– Prospect of positive change
– Connection to the mystery of the universe

Now let’s take a look at a detailed analysis of what Owl symbolism means for you.

What Does Owl Symbolize?

While owls have different connotations in different cultures, there are some common beliefs surrounding this species of bird.

Independent Thinking: They are most popularly thought of as independent thinkers. Owls, by nature, hunt all alone. And they don’t like to dwell in groups in the wilderness. This clearly tells us that owls are a symbol of solitude.

Mob Mentality: However, sometimes they do group up while hunting bigger prey. Or they are likely to gather around to attack another group of rival owls. Biologists identify this behavior as mobbing. This is why it is thought that owls symbolize mob mentality. 

Self-Honesty: Owls never behave out of their nature. Unlike other animals, it is very hard to tame an owl because they don’t change their attitude no matter what they are offered. This is a sign that one should stay true to themselves and never lose their essence. 

Carpe Diem: Most importantly, owls embody the carpe diem attitude. They tell you to seize the day. Most owls, like the great horned owls and the burrowing owls, never build their own nest. They either take shelter in some other bird’s nest or in an abandoned house. Not forming a permanent abode shows that they are only living for the moment without any thought of the future. This thinking process keeps them alive for more than 10 years in the wilderness. This is a lot for birds. 

Courage: Finally, the owl popularly symbolizes courage. You have to admit that owls are brave animals. Their grave stare is a reflection of their sturdy heart. They hunt mostly alone and that too during the night. Mainly these factors make owls a fearful beasts. 

Owl Symbolism in Native American Culture:

North Americans popularly believed that Owls are the companion of death. According to their common folktales, the hooting of an Owl meant the bird had come to take away a man’s soul to the afterlife. Their belief in this was so strong that they didn’t let the children go out when a hooting was heard nearby.

Some tribal fables also believed that owls are messengers from spiritual realms. Their hooting was a message from someone who had recently died. This is why many people were afraid of the bird. 

Interestingly, according to some Native American myths, Owls were banished into the night for their laziness. As the Owl doesn’t do any work during the day, this bird was taken to be an embodiment of idleness. This is why being called an owl was considered an insult.  

Owl Symbolism in Eastern Culture:

The people in the east hold Owl in high regard. The Chinese geomancy, Feng Shui, considers Owl to be a symbol of knowledge and wisdom. Mainly the bird’s grave look and nocturnal behavior have earned it this reputation. 

In Japan, Owl is a bearer of fortune and prosperity. Common Japanese belief dictates that snowy owls bring positive energy to people and shower honesty with wealth and prosperity.

On the other hand, Mongolian think of Owl as a symbol of companionship. A popular story of Genghis khan is the reason behind this belief. It is commonly said that once, Genghis Khan had to hide from his enemies. He took shelter in a tiny coppice. There, an Owl roosted in the tree right above him. The stillness of the bird made the enemies think no one was there, and they went away. This saved Genghis khan. Here, the Owl acted like a friend, which is why Mongolians still believe Owl is a good omen of friendship. 

Owl Symbolism in African Culture:

African culture fears Owl. Their first impression of the bird is marked by the notion of death. The Kikuyu tribe of Kenya believes that owls are an indication of impending death or destruction. Hearing or seeing an owl’s hoot means someone is going to get seriously ill or die soon. 

Other African tribes, too, believed that Owl foreshadows the upcoming deterioration of health. Many take Owl as a warning sign and arrange a festival where everyone prays for the well-being of the person who saw the Owl.

A popular belief among farmers’ groups is that owls are a sign of drought. This is why they fear owls, especially during the harvesting seasons. 

Owl Symbolism in Judaism:

Owl is greatly despised in Judaism. Jews believe owls are a symbol of wickedness and despicable deceit. Their arts support this claim. The Judaist paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries present Owls in the scenery with burning candles. This suggests these creatures are an entity of the dark.

Apart from this, Jews also considered the Owl to be a symbol of stupidity. According to their belief, Owl can’t see in broad daylight (which is not true). They relate daylight with knowledge or wisdom. As owls can’t follow the path of light, they are considered to be stupid. 

Owl Symbolism in Christianity:

Christianity doesn’t see Owl in a positive light either. According to the verses of the Bible, Owls represent the dark psychological aspect of human consciousness. 

Firstly, in Christianity, Owls are a symbol of loneliness. Plasms 102:6 reads, “I am like an owl in the desert, like a lonely owl in a far-off wilderness.” 

Bible verse also presents Owls as a symbol of mourning. Job 30:28-29 says, “I went mourning without the sun: I stood up, and I cried in the congregation. I am a brother to dragons and a companion to owls.” This shows that Christian believes Owl to be a sad bird. This bird is sad because of its association with Satan. In a sense, this is a teaching that one should not get involved in sin. Otherwise, they may end up being like mournful creatures such as the Owl.

Owls are also associated with the practice of Satanism as well. The reason behind this belief is that satanic rituals require Owls.

Owl Symbolism in Islam:

Owl doesn’t have much significance in Islam. But the prophet voices against the prospect of Owls being a harmful animal. In hadith, it is clarified that “there is no Hammah (bad omen from owls)”.

Owls are just like any other bird, and Muhammad (PBUH) orders everyone to be kind to every animal. Believing that an animal bears a bad omen is a sin. The prophet has ordered not to believe such things. In Al Bukhari and Muslim, he says, “There is no contagion, nor is there any evil omen in birds, nor is there any evil omen in the owl, nor is there any bad omen in the month of Safar”.

So it’s safe to conclude that Islam doesn’t hold any rude outlook on Owl. 

Owl Symbolism in Hinduism:

Hinduism has conflicting ideas on the meaning of Owl symbolism. Sometimes Owl is a positive omen, and sometimes it’s a sign of something bad.

According to the Hindu scripture, Veda, Owl is the symbol of wealth, wisdom, and good luck. The reason behind this belief is the purpose of the Owl. The owl is the vahana or the mount of the goddess of fortune, Lakhsmi. 

Indian folklore also makes Owl a sign of helpfulness. They focus on how Owl saves the harvest by eating mice and other harmful rodents. 

However, Owls are also a sign of impending disaster. This belief, too, came from Veda. It is believed that the fearsome form of Chandi or Chamunda sits on an Owl to travel the earth. This also makes the Owls a messenger of death in Hinduism. 

Owl Symbolism in Dream:

The symbol of the Owl holds great significance in the dream. Different actions and the presence of an Owl can mean different things. 

Just simply seeing an owl in dreams means there is an impending change. Something in your life is going to change soon, and it is likely for your own betterment. 

It can also be an indication that you have hidden knowledge or wisdom. You have to try and pull out that profound intellect lurking within you. Just pay focus on your soul, and you should get there.

Apart from these, seeing a white owl in a dream means you are going to have your spiritual awakening soon. Now is the best time to let go of your bad habits and take on a positive, healthy routine. This spiritual awakening is going to be important for you.

Seeing a fighting owl in dreams means you are probably afraid of something. You are likely bothered by something that is out of your control. You may not want to confess the fear to yourself, but it’s still struggling within you. 

Finally, seeing an owl biting you means you shouldn’t ignore your pain any longer. Now is high time you control all the issues that are bothering you and reach a proper resolution. The Owl in the dream warns you that if you don’t stay alert, something horrible can come upon you. 

Owl Symbolism in Omen:

As you can probably guess, Owls are a bad omen. They are a warning of the disasters that are nearby. It can be the death of a loved one, or a demotion. Something more horrible can also happen. But remember, whatever may come upon you, it will be a result of your action.

Owls are also an omen of change. They can mean that something in your life or your close one is going to transform into something completely different. This change is usually bad. 

Owl Symbolism in Spirit Animal:

Owl is great as a spirit animal. As they are an embodiment of wisdom, having an owl as your spirit animal means you are visionary. You have freedom in your heart, and you use that freedom to explore more knowledge. 

You should utilize your positive energy and take your life toward better destinations. 

Owl Symbolism in Totem Animal:

This is good news for you if you get Owl as your totem animal. This will turn you into a better person. 

Having Owl as a totem animal means you should get out of your comfort zone and explore the unknown territories of reality. Don’t be afraid to do so because this journey will bring a positive change in your life. You just have to have a strong belief in yourself. 

This transformation will give you a profound understanding of the mysteries of the universe. This knowledge will make you a much more humble person. 

Different Coloured Owl Symbolism and Their Meanings:

Owls come in a plethora of colors and sizes. Interestingly, the essence of each and every type holds a unique meaning.

The white owl signifies the upcoming change. It bears a reminder that transformation is the law of nature.

Black owl means something on the darker side. It is a manifestation of negative thinking and false belief. 

Brown owls are the bearer of energy. They represent mystery. However, they also ask you to stay calm and wait for everything to settle down.

A gray owl is a reminder of the mysterious universe. However, as an omen, the gray owl is telling you to trust the unknown. It can be a path to salvation.

Red owls are a sign of your impending emotional or physical problems. Your psychological or physical health may deteriorate if you don’t properly take care of yourself.

Yellow owls are mostly found in dreams. They are a rare find. This is why they bear the special meaning of discovering self-worth. 

Key Takeaways 

As you can see, Owls are particularly not a good sign for your luck. But if you manage to properly utilize your energy, you can avoid all the misfortune and embrace all the positivity life has to offer. Want to ensure all that? Here’s what you should maintain,

  • No matter how bad luck an Owl may bring, never trap or hunt the bird
  • Leave leftovers where owls usually stay 
  • Try to release encaged owls because they are going extinct 
  • Never throw anything at an owl
  • Protect this endangered species

In conclusion, it doesn’t matter how much misfortune or bad omen an Owl may bring, you should never hurt this bird. Owl doesn’t do anything. They just let you know what’s going to happen. In a sense, they are helping you to prepare for the upcoming disaster. You are saving yourself from a rough blow by getting ready for the worst. Sometimes, Owl means something positive too. So stay humble and alert, and see what life has in store for you.


Is it bad to keep owls as pets?

Owl is one of the worst options for pets. Not only are they bearers of evil omens, but they throw severe tantrums that can make even the toughest man horrified. Simply put, keeping an owl as a pet is not good in any way. 

What does Owl mean in Buddhism?

In Buddhism, Owls are the embodiment of protector deities. According to Buddhist belief, if you encounter an Owl on your way to a journey or any task, you will be safe the entire way. They believe the same thing in terms of ravens as well. 

Should you let an Owl enter your house?

Well, it may not be good for you to invite an Owl into your home. However, if they somehow enter your premise, don’t hurt them or force them to go away. Just contact animal control and let them professionally handle the situation. 

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