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 Today I am reprinting a post by Rose Smith, appearing in The Aviary at Owls.com.

Owls and Superstition.

Superstitions surrounding owls have a long and ancient history. These nocturnal creatures often appear in horror mystery films, have been associated with dark, haunting night themes, and grace our Halloween decor each fall. Their wide staring eyes give them a wise appearance, while the ability to turn their head around makes them fascinating and mysterious creatures. 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.

Robert Strickland, The Owl Pages

Robert Strickland, The Owl Pages

In many cultures owls were symbols of magic. 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.

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.

  • 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 apparently are 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.
  • A silly owl superstition is that if you see an owl perched in a tree and you walk around and around that tree, the owl will follow you with it’s eyes, turning his head around until he wrings his own neck. (The reality is that an owl cannot turn his head completely around).
  • 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.

There are many, many more legends concerning the owl. The reality is that owls are very helpful to us as they are excellent at pest control, especially Barred Owls. They control the population of mice, voles, moles, rats, skunks, snakes, insects and slugs to name a few. So this Halloween, put together an owl superstition trivia sheet for the guests at your Halloween party and add a friendly wise old owl to your decor. It’s the perfect “night watchman”.

Laura C. Williams, The Owl Pages

Laura C. Williams, The Owl Pages

About the author: (c) 2005. Rose Smith is the owner of HalloweenHowl.com a website filled with Halloween party ideas, costumes, decorations, games, graphics, crafts and more. It’s Halloween fun for all ages! Come visit us at: http://www.halloweenhowl.com


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