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Owl Symbolism & Spirit Animal: What Does Seeing One Mean?

black and brown owl

There are times when we all feel too drained both spiritually and mentally, struggling to find the truths about life matters around us. 

These are the times when...

We turn to the symbolism of birds to find the answers. Among a few others, the owl symbolism is the most believed since ancient times. The owl omen has unique characteristics that make all the owl symbolism prominent from the rest of the birds.

Let’s review some of the most common myths and symbolism of owls.

Most Common Owl Symbolisms

White and brown owl in a dark forest

The beliefs and legends about the spiritual meaning of owls are more than you can ever imagine. Strangely these beliefs come with parallels that are still mysterious to humanity. This is mainly because of the pervasiveness’ of owls around the globe.

Another notable reason is the imagined or real, mysterious intelligence of owls (although they are adept hunters). 


The most common interpretations of the spiritual meaning of owl include shape-shifting, wisdom, and death.

However, all of this now comes with modern interpretations of “what do owls symbolize?” – and that’s what probably brought you here.

Here are some of the most common symbolizations of owls:

Owl – A Sign Of Death

According to contemporary North American beliefs, owls are considered a bad omen or a messenger of death. These beliefs roots back to the Apache and Navajo traditions where sighting owls was a serious matter.

Many Navajo stories state of owl saying any person’s name following the same death, shortly.

At the same time, seeing an owl is seen as a signal to cancel all your plans and prefer staying home.

Likewise, in many Native American beliefs, the owl is a messenger of death and psychopomps – creatures that deliver living to the afterlife. Meanwhile, in today’s North American setting, people refer to owls to unease and disrupt peace.

This can be due to the long-going disturbing stories about owls.

Owl – A Symbol Of Wisdom

An interesting parallel owl meaning that has traveled between cultures is their presumed connection with intelligence. However, while many omnivores and carnivores are considered intelligent by scientists, owls are not on that top 10 list.

To the fact, an owl can’t even recognize their own self in the mirror!

Neither have they ever passed any intelligence test.

Still, myths about owl’s intelligence exist. For example, in Greece, owls are considered a symbol of goddess Athena and her influence of offering wisdom and power or victory on the battlefield.

The soldiers used to scan the war-field in the hope of a glimpse of an owl to boost their morale.

There are many views and answers about “what does it mean when you see an owl?”

White Owl – A Symbol Of The Extraordinary

white owl standing on a hand

In today’s North America, the white owl spirit animal has a special place. Here it is regarded as an extraordinary apprehension. If you explore long enough, there are several ancient tales of white owls bringing prodigious fortune.

At the same time, clouds of white owls are considered as a warning for any natural disaster. But a single owl is seen as a savior with mysterious powers.

With that many contradicting myths, it is tough to decide what an owl symbolizes – actually, or what is the truth behind these myths or beliefs.

Owl – Other Symbolism In Dreams

Seeing owls in dreams also hold an important place in the discussion of the symbolization of owls. And the meaning of seeing an owl in dreams is fascinating and versatile in folklores, mythical or religious descriptions.

The problem here is two-fold though because, at the moment, we don't quite understand dreams to their fullest either.

So when this bird visits you in your dreams, it is generally telling you to let go of the past or negativity. However, seeing it can have other interpretations as well. Owls in dreams are generally a sign that you should beware of the deception to deceit around you.

In simple words, you might need to rethink the latest events and interpret them with a critical mind to find who is lying to you or might have hidden agendas.

What do owls represent, then? Oneriologists explain it in a slightly different way.

So if you ask them about “what does seeing an owl mean”, they will explain it as your mind or subconscious is trying to warn you about being more careful and take conscious actions in your life.

In other words, it can be your internal realization of how your actions and thoughts are counterproductive to your psychic goals. Here, the spiritual meaning of owl remains the same – warning signs or awareness about something you are dealing with.

The interpretation of owl in your dreams widely depends on what condition or scenario you see it.

It also varies based on the breed you see.

Here are some common occurrences of owls in dreams and their simplest interpretations:

A Single Owl: It means you should be more thoughtful and aware of what is happening around you. A brown owl spirit animal has the power to view things from a higher level.

Several Owls: In this case, the owls expect some important advice from people around, and you should pay attention to those wise words.

A Flying Owl: Seeing a flying owl is not considered a good sign. It interprets issues in the family shortly. It is commonly interpreted as a conflict between family members.

A Dead Owl: Seeing a dead owl is the worse omen. It symbolizes the death of the person dreaming or someone closer to them. It is also interpreted as the transition to the next life.

TheBlack Owl: It is a sign of spiritual awareness or awakening.

The White Owl: Seeing a white owl in dreams means you are about to welcome peace and happiness shortly.

Owl In Daylight: So, what is the meaning of seeing an owl in daylight? Seeing an owl during the day is considered a misfortune according to many ancient myths.

Other Symbolic Interpretations Of Owls

young brown owl standing on a tree

An interesting question that most curious fellows ask is how owl gets to have that many interesting, spooky and strangest of all tales?

Since ancient times, there are peculiar tales about owls, from monsters to shape-shifters and the undead.

So, what does it mean when you see an owl at night?

Usually, the nighttime gives us the creepiest feelings and thoughts. Almost all of us look around, frozen with fear, with every sound that we hear.

This is because, despite being in our safe house, we are still animals, and feeling threat alerts are common. Usually, at night, our senses are muted, and the predators like to take advantage of it. Therefore, at night, even an innocuous creature like an owl can scare us.

From the babbling of screech owls to spine-chilling screeches of barn owls, there can be many things that we may find unsettling. But keeping aside these innate features and subconscious threats, there is nothing to be scared of an owl.

Take them as relief of having someone around you. And with the fact that owls are the most natural and effective pest control, having them around is actually beneficial. They can play their part in keeping insects and rodents away.

FAQ Section

Here are some related questions asked by those who wonder “what does an owl symbolize?”:

What is the spiritual meaning of an owl?

Owls are associated with the spiritual symbolism of “Death”, which is also a new beginning with evolved perspectives and higher understandings of life. Likewise, owls also signal you to listen to your intuition.

This spirit animal is also associated with looking deeper into yourself and being fair to our feelings and intentions. Some interpretations state that the owl tells us when our inner vision is clear and when we become able to spot trickery or deception in the outside world. It also allows us to be calm, observant, calculated, and majestic.

What does it mean if an owl visits you?

brown owl in autumn leaves

The question “what does it mean when an owl flies in front of you” can make you wonder if it has something to do with the supernatural or more. Generally, owls are considered night birds, and it is rare to see them during the day.

As most people around the globe see them as a link to the supernatural world, they question sighing owls during the day. These are the ones looking for the meaning of sighting an owl in daylight.

Spiritually owls are a symbol of wisdom and show a new perspective on the future. So if you are seeing an owl often during the day or night, it might be a signal for you to look at things more closely and try to find the hidden truths.

Are owls a symbol of protection?

There are varying interpretations of Owls in different mythologies of the world. In Greek mythology, the Athena symbol is the most widely known in owl mythology. Since the owl was a sacred animal for the Greeks in those times, if any soldier spotted an owl while heading or on the battlefield, the common interpretation was that Athena – the Goddess of War was blessing them.

The Chinese culture also mentions the owl as a protector that acts as a shield against all negative powers and energies. Even in Hindu, Celtic, and Roman mythologies, owls hold special powers as protectors. Many refer to them as angels of death but all the mythologies acknowledge that owls have transitional importance and wisdom.

Why do owls symbolize wisdom?

In Greek mythology, the owl symbolizes Athena, known as the goddess of strategy and wisdom (also war). According to the myths, an owl sat on the blind side of Athena, which allowed her to see the whole truth.

Also, in Ancient Greece, an owl was a symbol of deep thinking and wisdom. This belief was shared by other civilizations and mythologies as well as attested by the abundance of owl totems and other relics.

Is seeing an owl a good sign?

Unfortunately, no. Owls own a bad reputation and are generally thought to bring bad luck or evil. They are also believed to be foretellers of darkness and death. This could be because of their nocturnal nature and their preference to stay mysterious.

This nature of the bird must not be seen as something “bad,” rather it is something that we don’t completely understand. There are parts of our life and the world we live in that we don’t understand yet.

The same can be the case with owls and their isolated nature. Owls can bring a change that can be perceived as “bad” by those who do not like the new change.

At the same time, this change can be interpreted as “good luck” for those who liked it. Another point to note is that this change can be related to experience, transformation, mental growth, or spiritual evolution.

With a little focus, you can find that every broken piece of the past is just an opportunity to evolve and create a better future and opportunities. Facing reality is always hard, however, it still opens doors for a brighter, calmer, and more successful future.

Part of the mystery in owl meaning is because of how silently they fly, here is a YouTube video explaining how come owls are so silent mid-flight:

Final Thoughts

Despite varying mythical beliefs and symbolisms of owls, they are indeed majestic creatures to witness. They are natural, silent radars that will watch you from a safe distance.

If you wish to pay a little attention to their signals, you can prevent bad happenings around you. Likewise, you can consult them for answers you are desperately looking for – at least this is what the ancients thought and it worked well for them!

All you need to do is pay a little attention to the signals.

While seeing owls can be chilling sometimes, it is still a great idea to have them around you, there’s a lot you can learn from them.

1 thought on “Owl Symbolism & Spirit Animal: What Does Seeing One Mean?”

  1. Seeing an owl as your spirit animal is a sign that you are intuitive, wise, and have a strong connection to the spiritual world. They are also known as the "master of the night" and are associated with wisdom, knowledge,

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