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What Does It Mean to See an Owl? 15 Facts about Owl Symbolism

Due to their nocturnal activity and oddly unique appearance, owls have often been seen as mysterious animals and have been the subject of various myths and superstitions over the ages. 

While some cultures associate them with witchcraft, other cultures believe the hoot of an owl is a call from the spirits and that those who respond with a whistle without getting a response back from the owl meant death was imminent. These owl myths have led to their harsh treatment and elimination for ages.

So what does it mean when you see an owl? Are the myths by these cultures to be believed? Knowing what an owl symbolizes will help you navigate through the myths and superstitions and also understand what makes this creature so unique. 

Is it good luck to see an owl?

In reality, the superstitions about bad luck surrounding these magnificent night hunters do not differ from superstitions like broken mirrors, spilt salt, black cats or days like Friday the 13th, it’s all hogwash!

Owls generally symbolize change which to most people who are unwilling to change can be seen as bad luck. However, that change is often crucial and needed for spiritual evolution, transformation, and growth.

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What does an owl sighting mean?

Naturally curious, owls are known to be great explorers and are constantly revealing uncharted and new terrains. Seeing an owl might be a message that you’re about to receive insight that will help you get past an uncertain period in your life. It also symbolizes your need to be more courageous and curious. (Diazepam)

Is an Owl a sign of death?

Seeing an owl is not a sign of death. In fact, owls have no business with humans or their deaths and want nothing to do with them. They are also not messenger birds for witches and do not deliver letters as you’ve seen in Harry Potter.  

What is the spiritual meaning of an owl?

Spiritually, Owls are considered symbols of knowledge and wisdom. An owl depicts mental transformation and knowledge and is believed to symbolize the start of a new chapter of transformation in one’s life. In essence, owls symbolize the start of a new beginning in one’s life.

What does it mean when you see an owl at night?

Most animals unlike humans are nocturnal and active at night. Seeing an owl at night is no reason to be afraid. These skilled night predators are not interested in humans. 

On the contrary, they might even be of help when it comes to pest control. Owls are known to hunt rodents, insects, and other pests and their screech is known to ward of bigger animals. 

15 Facts about Owl Symbolism

Owls represent intuitive development, trusting the mystery, wisdom, observant listening, knowledge, change, and transformation. They are also linked with the spiritual symbolism of death which leads to new beginnings, an evolved perspective, and higher understanding. 

Knowing common facts about owl symbolism will help you understand why these creatures are not to be feared.

  1. Protection and Courage: When it comes to finding a nest, owls are opportunistic, but once they have found it, they continue defending it fiercely until their owlets leave. An owl spirit guide symbolizes that family and close relationships are important, and should be protected at all costs.
  2. Wisdom: It might also happen that an owl comes to you as an indication that you need more research or to learn something new. A wise old owl appearing to you may indicate that you need to improve and work on yourself. 
  3. Intuition: Your spirit animal might be an owl, which opens up the possibility that you possess a psychic sense of insight. What becomes certain to you is not obvious to others, and what is known to you is not known to them.
  4. Symbol of Independence: If the owl is your spirit guide, you must keep your ideas intact even if the crowd disapproves or is mean to you. Do not allow the mob to ruffle your feathers by making fun of you, your ideas, or your differences. In terms of spirit animals, the owl represents a free-thinker, an entrepreneur, and an oddball.
  5. Spirit Animal: Owls are the spirit animals of those who feel drawn to them. When an owl comes to your attention in any form, whether in person, in the media, or elsewhere, you should pay attention. It is not a coincidence.
  6. Sign of Righteous Justice: A well-deserved justice may be coming when one sees an owl holding watch or firmly rooted in a dignified and firm stance. This could mean that someone who has wronged you will be prosecuted, or you may be charged with a crime yourself.
  7. Symbol of Mystery: As they look over the forest at night, owls are often surrounded by mystery and intrigue. Sighting an owl might be a sign that you are about to encounter a mystery or currently have no idea about the situation you are going through.
  8. Symbols of Enlightenment: Owls tend to be most active at night. The presence of one during the day could signal that something outside your box will soon come your way. Possibly leading to a brand new understanding that will change the way you see the world.
  9. Symbols of Uncertainty: Be it about a career shift, a relationship change or a change in character by you or someone close to you, seeing an owl during the day could be a sign that you are not in the right place. A lost owl may indicate that you are also feeling this way, as it is away from its preferred state. You may find it helpful to reflect on the state of your life and how you are feeling.
  10. The symbolism of the White Owl: White owls are regarded with a great deal of apprehension in modern-day North America. White owls such as snowy owls are believed to bring great fortune: a whole flock could warn of disaster or a single white owl could save a village from starvation.
  11. Dream Symbolism: An owl dream is usually associated with intuitive skills, shadow work, or the development of psychic perception. It is possible to interpret owl dreams in many different ways, and depending on the circumstances of your dream you may see more than one symbolism. When you wake up, you should journal your dream and meditate on the information that comes through on that dream vision. This is the best way to uncover the message that an owl is sending you.
  12. Dreaming of a dead owl: As death is the transformation from one state to another, dreaming about a dead owl indicates that change is on its way.
  13. Owl crossing your path: A change is needed in your life if that’s the case. An owl crossing your path might mean you need to change your life course and represents a transformation.
  14. An Owl Flying Above You: You need to seek a bigger picture of your life. The events in your life may be too close to you and you need to be able to see them from an outside perspective.
  15.  Owl Symbolism in Christianity: An owl has long been associated with Christianity as a symbol that represents what lies beneath the darkness. Seeing an owl was believed by many to be a portent of dark times and impending evil. Christian mystics associated owls, however, with the deep wisdom that darkness is capable of teaching.

What does it mean when you see an owl outside your house

What is the meaning of seeing an owl outside your house? Owls can be a symbol of change and a sign that you’re about to make huge life-changing decisions.

Be sure to pay attention to the things that happen after the owl sighting. If good things come your way, then your sighting is one of great fortune, but if something negative happens such as an illness, then the sighting might be foretelling bad news. 

Owl Symbolism and How It Affects Various Cultures  

Owls have been recognized for thousands of years as creatures of the spirit world nearly everywhere in the world. While they were revered for their spiritual discernment, they were also feared for their supernatural power. 

Understanding how the owl has been interpreted and used by different cultures gives you a deeper appreciation of their complexity. 

Owl Symbolism in Ancient Egypt 

Owls in Egypt, despite their association with death and darkness, were also celebrated for these characteristics. In hopes of gaining a glimpse of a hidden world, Egyptians feared and worshipped animals who they believed had supernatural connections to the afterlife.

Chinese Symbolism of an Owl 

Owl represents yang energy, protecting, wise, and intuitive qualities in Chinese philosophy. In addition to repelling negative energy, this yang expansive energy can bring good fortune and increased abundance to the home. 

Owl Symbolism by Africans 

There is a long-standing association between owls and witchcraft in African cultures. According to African belief, the owl catered to both material and spiritual planes, conveying messages. In some Africa cultures, the hoot of an owl was a sign of negative things to come.

Owl Symbolism by the Native Americans 

In Native American tradition, they played an important role as teachers, especially to the young. Owl stories taught children that wandering out after dark can lead to danger. 

Storytelling was a Native American tradition for teaching children important life lessons without lecturing or disciplining them. The owl was seen thus as a great teacher of the night.

Owl Symbolism by Ancient Romans

The ancient Romans believed that you could uncover the secrets of a sleeping person by using a feather from an owl. 

Not only is the owl symbolism by these cultures untrue and merely myths, but most of these owl myths are also the major reasons why owls throughout the ages have been subjected to harsh treatments and attacks. 

In fact, certain species of owls are being threatened out of existence due to these negative symbolisms with about one million species of owls being endangered. 

So if you’d ask me, I’d say that most if not all owl symbolisms are worth the hassle as research or documented evidence can not back them. As such, they should not be the reason why these wonderful night hunters are feared, despised and hunted. 


Is an owl an evil bird? 

An owl is not an evil bird. However, because beliefs from various cultures associate them with death, evil, and witchcraft, they are often feared and killed.

What does an owl symbolize in Mexican culture? 

Death, magic, magic and darkness are associated with the owl in Mexico. Legends about the creature still hold sway in small Mexican towns with many maintaining their fear of owls.

What does the owl symbolize?

Owls are more likely to embody spiritual wisdom than intellectual wisdom. However, mythology relates them to feminity and wisdom.  

What god is represented by an owl? 

Before the Greeks gave their pantheon human forms, the owl represented Athena, goddess of wisdom and strategy. The owl was also believed to be kept on the shoulder of Athena, where it revealed world truths to her thereby representing the knowledge and literal wisdom of Athena.

Do owls hoot to ward off evil?

No, they don’t hoot to ward off evil. Owls hoot to communicate with other owls.


Those who know owls know that they are mystery-shrouded creatures. Be aware of any spiritual clues that these magical creatures are sending to you if you are seeing an owl repeatedly or if you have a peculiar encounter with one. 

However, owls are no cause for fear of death, witchcraft, or bad omen and you should always try to confirm the authenticity of owl myths before acting on them. 

Contrary to the ancient times where information about these species was not readily available, organizations like the Owl Research Institute and the Internation Owl Center now help in disproving these myths, while federal laws like the Migratory Bird Protection Act, ban the hunting, shooting, poisoning or trapping of owls. 

Some governments also encourage the use of owls by farmers as viable options for pest control. This helps in proving that humans and owls coexist peacefully.