Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Wise Old Bird

As is my custom, welcome to new follower Elizabeth who has already left some comments on previous blogs, may you come here often and I hope I can give you something to muse about every now and then.

You may remember I spoke recently about a dunnock singing through the night in the tree near our bedroom window?

Well last night I heard the eerie and sustained shrieking of an owl. Now this is a common occurrence, we are surrounded by mature trees in the neighbourhood and owls are regular screeching visitors around us, usually in the early hours. I have no idea what kind of owl it could be - I've never seen it but the books say it's probably a Barn Owl, 'Tyto alba.' Chaucer (the second time I've mentioned him in two days) described the Barn Owl in the 14th century as a 'prophet of woe and mischance.' A bit over the top do you think?

At the same time the owl was shrieking away (it's breeding season for them by the way) a crow lazily cawed away in clear protest at being woken up and disturbed. So three night time birds heard in recent days, one to be expected, two definitely not.

I learned, through Weaver, a exceptional and knowledgeable blogger the difference between a crow and a raven for example. The crow, not liked by some, I'm not sure why, is a most comical bird when the one who lives near us is prancing about on my neighbour's bungalow roof, rooting about in the moss on the tiles.

However in spiritual terms, the birds the owl and the crow feature large in what they represent in the animal world and how their behaviour can be attributed as signs or portents. I have some animal 'Medicine Cards' which I use in my spiritual work and here is a few thoughts about what they represent.

The crow is thought to be the keeper of the sacred law and has the ability to shape shift and be in two places at once - a keen observer of what is going on in the neighbourhood and in the universe as a whole. Crows are thought to be an omen of change and teach us to speak the truth and they teach us to be prepared to carry through on our words, in other words, don't just 'talk the talk' but 'walk the walk.' A powerful animal in medicine.

The owl is another bird of enormous power in the spirit world (remember what Chaucer said about them?) The owl is associated with clairvoyance and magic and sits in a place of illumination, hence a 'wise old bird.' Ancients thought the owl was dangerous because it hunted at night and because it was silent (both of which are true of course.) Owls are often associated with witches and sorcerers - you only have to look at how JK Rowling depicted them in Harry Potter books, as 'familiars' and messengers. They are birds of wisdom because they can see, especially at night, what others cannot. Owls are truth, intuition and keen observers.

Phew - you can breath again or open your eyes now. Strange stuff over with.

Mr. Owl

I saw an owl up in a tree,
I looked at him, he looked at me;
I couldn't tell you of his size,
For all I saw were two big eyes;
As soon as I could make a dash,
Straight home I ran, quick as a flash!

By: Edna Hamilton

I hope you enjoy the rest of your week.

Chat soon

Picture of the barn owl taken by [http://www.flickr.com/photos/steve_brace/ Stevie B] *Source [http://www.flickr.com/photos/steve_brace/217149481/])


  1. Donna OShaughnessy16 February 2011 at 04:59

    And so 30 years ago I named my daughter Raven, Uninformed relatives would tease her and call her "bird" or "crow" but she handled it well and with dignity at a very young age. She is now a beautiful woman, amazing mother and an outstanding nurse. Coincidence ?...Probably.
    PS. I love the poetry. It MAKES me slow down. Thank you.

  2. Isn't there such a bird as a Screech Owl in England? I seem to remembering hearing one when I was in college. Maybe they have another name.

  3. Hi Donna
    What a wonderful and strong name - Raven, delightful. Spiritually, the Raven is bringer of magic and guides distance healing (which I use quite a bit) and perhaps why your daughter is a nurse. Ravens bring special magic which no-one can or should try to work out, simply accept it for what it is. By the way, I don't believe in coincidences.

    As for the poetry, you are very welcome - I like them short, simple, thought provoking and if possible something to engender a smile.

    Hi ChrisJ
    Research indicates the screech owl is indeed the barn owl. The golden masked owl (related to the barn owl) in the USA is also known as the screech owl or hissing owl.

  4. Crows are exceptionally intelligent. If I've understood correctly, they can recognise different humans in different guises and communicate that to each other.

    As in "watch that bloke in the blue jeans and red top, he tries to chase you off", or, "That girl in yellow is cool, you can eat near her.."

    Apparently, they use tools as we do too.

    Spiritually, it's the one bird I'd love to fly with. It's careful, considerate and sociable, and an observer, but forthright. It holds no secrets.

    Bit like yon owl, I guess.

  5. Ey-up Rare Lesser Spotted - thanks for a great read. I'm a Rotherham girl living in Chesterfield (ChezVegas!), so it felt like coming home reading your posts!
    I've got a screech owl outside my bedroom window at night at the moment - good job I like birds!

  6. Hi Wheelie,
    Crows are great communicators and that why they are so successful, they can be in two places at once, so they see more. Colours of course are hugely important and tell us so much. I think if I had the choice, I'd like to fly with an Eagle for a whole host of reasons I haven't got space for here.

    Hi Nutty Gnome
    What a fantastic name and you are very welcome indeed Yorkhsire lass. Thanks for the comment.

  7. Thank you for your welcome, kind sir, it's good to be here; I hope you won't be too disappointed to hear that I am not a pygmy goat!!

    Shakespeare's Ophelia referred to the owl as 'the baker's daughter' after a legend about Christ going into a baker's shop and asking for something to eat. The mistress put a loaf in the oven but her daughter said it was too generous a portion and split the dough in half. She was transformed into an owl for her troubles. Perhaps its just as well that that one didn't make the accepted canon!

    There used to be a beautiful little owl that regularly sat on a fence at Watton Carrs, but I recently saw that it had been knocked by a car - so sad. x

  8. Hi Elizabeth
    Not disappointed at all. Thanks for the Ophelia story which I didn't know. It's a long time since I've been to Watton Carrs, probably twenty plus years. Hope to hear many more wise and interesting comments...