On Samhain the barrier between the physical and spiritual world is thin and pliable. Appropriate to the Samhain Sabbat is the owl, whose symbolic meaning across cultures revolves around guardianship of the underworld and protection of the dead. Celtic, Egyptian, Aztec, Mayan, Persian and Hindu cultures all regard the owl as the ruler of the night and seer of souls. The owl is an honored keeper of spirits who passing from one plane to the next. Often myth indicates the owl accompanying a spirit to the underworld – winging it’s newly freed soul from the physical world into the realm of spirit.
In Greek culture the owl was sacred to Athena, the Goddess of learning and wisdom. Native Americans associate the owl with wisdom, foresight, and as keeper of sacred knowledge. The owl is a great fore-teller of weather conditions, and its ability to see at night is legendary. This owl attribute would be invoked during ceremonies when an oracle of secret knowledge was required.
Similarly, West African and Aboriginal Australian cultures view the owl as a messenger of secrets, kin to sorcerers, as well as companions to seers, mystics and medicine people. During medieval times in Western and Central Europe it was fabled that owls were actually priestesses (witches) and wizards in disguise. To this day the owl is considered a witch’s familiar (an animal soul-spirit linked to a spiritual person via a unique, communicative bond).
As a creature of the night, the owl is associated with dreams, psychic awareness and other worldliness. Owls symbolically have a deep connection to intuitive knowledge and mysticism. As a totem, the owl indicates the ability to see what is hidden to others, and the ability to see true reality beyond illusion and deceit. The owl offers those who have it as animal-familiar or spirit animal the inspiration and guidance required to deeply explore the elements of magic and the hidden and mysterious workings of the world and physical life.