Do you hear the winds howling? Is that a harvest blood moon rising in the dark night sky? That’s right friends it is THAT time of year. October is always one of my most productive months as blogs go. Mostly because I have more fun and exciting things to post about. This month should be no different. If you are in the mood to learn more about the month, the holiday and its traditions, I suggest you check out some of my other October / Halloween posts.
Today I want to continue something I started last year by posting some great info about a Halloween familiar we are all, well, familiar with. What makes us see the owl as a creature associated with darkness and superstitions? Tufts of feathers on the top of an owl’s head gives them the appearance of horned devils and their piercing cries add to the spook effect found in the ancient folklore of many countries. The fact that they can turn their head around almost 360 degrees is also quite a frightening sight. They are meat eaters that are almost alway nocturnal, having wide piercing eyes specially built to see prey in the dark of night. They are found on ALL land masses and like to frequent old, often abandoned structures. It’s no wonder they have such a connection to the mysterious and supernatural beliefs of mankind.
Lets explore some of the more common owl lore. In many cultures owls were symbols of magic. In today’s world, we have learned that most of these owl superstitions are just stories, born in a time when people were fearful and trying to find answers to their lives and environment. However, many of these legends survived over time. Here are some other interesting and somewhat strange superstitions that are linked to owls.
In England, it was believed that if you cooked an owl’s eggs until they were ash, it could be used as a potion to improve eyesight. In India, if you ate an owl’s eyes you would get the same result.
Witches were often linked to owls. One Greek & Roman superstition believed that witches could turn themselves into an owl and then they would swoop down and suck the blood of babies. Other superstitions related to witches and owls were: that the owls were messengers for sorcerers and witches, that they danced together on the graves of the dead and that if you hear the hoot of an owl, then a witch approaches.
An owl hooting or screeching at night could result in the death of a newborn baby, will cause the child to have an unhappy life, or possibly that the baby would become a witch. If the owl was heard screeching during cold weather it signaled that a storm was coming.
Owls are thought to be the only creatures that can live with ghosts, so if an owl is found nesting in an abandoned house, the place must be haunted.
Death is often associated with owls such as if: an owl perches on the roof of your house or hearing an owl hooting constantly nearby.
If a traveler dreamed of an owl, then that meant he would be robbed or possibly shipwrecked.
Not all superstitions were bad. Owls were also believed to bring good fortune in some cultures. An Afghanistan legend states that it was the owl that presented humans with flint and iron so they could make fire. In exchange, man gave owls their feathers.
The Aborigines of Australia believe that owls are the spirits of women and are therefore sacred, while in Brittany is was a good sign to see an owl on the way to the harvest as it meant that it would be a good yield that year.
The owl is a symbol of guidance and help by the Inuits of Greenland, while the people of Indonesia saw them as wise beings using the owl’s different calls to determine whether to travel or not.
So, what do you think? Do owls give you the willies? Remember Sowain is coming.
“Of calling shapes, and beck’ning shadows dire, And airy tongues that syllable men’s names.”