Why Are Owls Considered Wise?

Owls appear frequently in mythology and literature as representations of wisdom however, they are also used as symbols of bad luck. In both instances, the owl is revered and fearsome.

What is the reason owls have these two reputations?

Owls are believed to be wise due to their enhanced senses and connection to the night. The night-time vision of owls particularly was awe-inspiring to people of the Ancient Greeks, who believed that the vision was the result of a mysterious inner light. They also attributed the Owl as The Goddess of Wisdom, Athena.

Why Owls Are Symbols of Wisdom?

Owls are thought to be symbolic of wisdom mostly because of their ability as a hunter and their nocturnal habits however, they are not a sign of any degree of intellectual superiority.

The belief system is widespread across different cultures The earliest ancestors of the symbol appearing in Ancient Greece were rooted in the beliefs of the goddess Athena.

Are Owls Intelligent?

Owls aren’t more or less intelligent than other wild birds. They can use tools but are not able to pass difficult tests on cognitive abilities.

For instance, burrowing birds are able to use dung to attract beetles into their territory However, in a study, the grey owls were unable to find out the best way to draw a rope so as to deliver a tasty treat to them.

These birds are extremely sharp in their senses, but their excellent hearing and vision make them great hunters.

They’re also nocturnal which further enhances the image of the owl as a fascinating and revered creature.

Wise Owls in Folklore and Mythology

There are many cultures that have believed that owls are spiritual or a symbol of wisdom or authority in some manner which includes numerous Native American cultures and the Ancient Greek.

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Let’s look at the myths.

Native American Folklore

A lot of Native American cultures considered owls as symbols of strength and wisdom because of their mysterious nighttime activity and strength as predators.

They were believed to be guardians of warriors as well as they were believed to be carriers of ancestral souls.

Ancient Greek Mythology

The owl is a symbol of wisdom in Ancient Greek mythology, the Owl is believed to represent the essence of Athena the goddess of wisdom.

In the classic artworks as well as statues Athena usually depicts an owl. it is believed that she selected the bird as a beloved friend.

While the source of this connection is unknown There are theories that suggest these myths originate from the ability of owls to discern darkness with an enthralling, superhuman eye.

The scientific name for The Little Owl, Athena Noctua originates from the mythology of this owl.

Ancient Roman Mythology

Although the owl wasn’t as well-known during Ancient Rome the way it had been during Ancient Greece, Romans did connect owls to their goddess of wisdom and prophecy Minerva.

The belief was that the owls could be capable of seeing the future, and therefore were capable of providing the people with warnings and guidance.

Wise Owls in Literature

Why Are Owls Considered Wise

Owls with wise eyes are frequently featured in the literature of all ages, from ancient texts to modern-day literature. 

There are references to wise owls throughout The IliadAesop’s Fables as well as Winnie the Pooh, and many more.

The Iliad

Within the Iliad, The Owl is used as a clever disguise for Sleep as he hides from Zeus. In this particular scene, the owl represents Sleep’s wisdom as well as intelligence.

The owl also serves as symbolic of Athena who is the Goddess of Wisdom She is believed to have elevated the owl’s status to a prestigious standing within Greece because of her respect for the animal.

Aesop’s Fables

In Aesop’s Fable “The Owl as well as the Grasshopper, an owl is frustrated by the chirping of a grasshopper throughout the day and invites the grasshopper to drink with it.

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The wise owl is aware that the grasshopper is attracted by the attractiveness and will eat it when it gets close enough.

Winnie the Pooh

The film of the Disney film Winnie the Pooh The character Owl is modeled on the stereotype of the Wise Owl.

He has an abundance of experience and often offers advice to other characters, however with a humorous twist his advice is usually not helpful and is ill-informed.

He is also very angry when no one is listening to his voice.

The Silver Chair

In C.S. Lewis’s novel The Silver Chair, the owl Glimfeather is a wise owl that provides assistance to the two protagonists, Eustace and Jill.

The owl gathers together a Parliament of Owls that represent wisdom and wisdom. Owls of all kinds appear to be intelligent and helpful.

Why Are Owls Considered Bad Luck?

Barn Owl (Tyto alba) looks out from a hole in a wall as the light fades. Gloucestershire. UK

Because owls are nocturnal they’re often associated with dark, night, and unknowable. They’re also regarded as formidable due to the fact that they’re predatory birds.

Together all of these elements have created the Owl a symbol of darkness and death.

There are common themes regarding what it means to observe an owl in different various cultures, and even those that are thousands of years old or thousands of miles from each other.

Most prominent among these include those of the Ancient Romans, the English, East Africans, Indians, and Native Americans.


Ancient Romans believed that Owls could foretell disaster and death and predicted the demise of Agrippa Commodus Aurelius and Agrippa, Augustus, and Julius Caesar.

The play of Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Shakespeare directly refers to this notion:

“…yesterday The night bird did not rest

Even at noontime on the market,

Hooting and screaming”

Shakespeare’s explicit use of the owl as a negative symbol also reflects English attitudes towards the owl in the day and also the possibility that it could be linked to illnesses and deaths.

Owl Myths around the World

Owls are often linked to witches and witchcraft and this is true both within Ancient Roman and Greek culture as well as in contemporary literature such as those in the Harry Potter books and movies.

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Romans as well as Greeks believed witches were able to transform into an owl. In Rome, the owls were believed to be able of sucking blood from newborns.

For Romans Owls were such significant negative signs that people would nail dead owls to their doors as a method of repelling evil.

In India, there is a widespread belief that Owls are a symbol of foolishness. Owls are related to the goddess of wealth Lakshmi and are believed to symbolize wealth acquired through illegal means.

Images of Lakshmi riding on an owl symbolize corruption and unfortunate events.

In the United States, there is an old saying that any person who hears an Owl hoot three times in a row is cursed. Others believe that owls reside alongside ghosts.

Ages ago, there was a legend that an owl that fell on top of a home with a baby has doomed the baby to turn into a witch.

In many regions of Africa, Owls are often associated with magic, darkness as well as sorcery, and witchcraft.

Within East Africa, owls are believed to be spirits who can cause sickness to children, and dance to celebrate the death of a loved one by dancing around graves during the evening.

There are many Native American nations had beliefs concerning owls being negative omens typically associating the owl with illness or punishment.

Many believed that owls had something to do with the demise of the opposing forces in battle, while some believed that owls were depictions of the dead.

Most often appearing on the pages of Native American myths were the Great Horned Owl, the Barn Owl, and the Burrowing Owl as well as Boreal Owl. Boreal Owl.

Final Words

The Wise Owl is a character in both literature and mythology repeatedly mostly due to the fascination that is triggered by their nocturnal behavior and their enhanced perception of hearing and vision.

Owls aren’t particularly smart when compared to other species However, they do have access to tools, so the status of them as smart animals is not undeserved.

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