A wise old owl lived in an oak,
The more he saw, the less he spoke
The less he spoke, the more he heard,
Now, wasn’t he a wise old bird?
Owls have amazing, almost supernatural senses and I don’t think there’s a better place to start than there.
Their charismatic faces act like a satellite dish which channel sound towards their ears. Their excellent sense of hearing means they can hear prey which is under the snow. Some owls have ears at different heights which helps them establish the height of a sound not just direction. They can turn their head through 270 degrees which allows them to see and hear a wide range.
Their eyes are huge, taking up to 70% of the skull space (for comparison, human eyes take up 5%) which allows them to gather a lot of light and therefore they can see much brighter than we can. Their eyes can flick between seeing an overview and minute detail incredibly quickly. They see the bigger picture as well as the nitty gritty.
Some owls have ear tufts but despite appearances, these aren’t for hearing, they’re used for non verbal communication. Owls have a well developed verbal vocabulary and good memories.
They have very sharp talons which help them hold onto their kill. If you have drawn this card, think about what you’re not letting go of.
Their silent, stealthy flight is due to their feathers which have what are effective silencers on. However this comes at a price, this adaptation has resulted in non waterproof feathers so they don’t fare too well in the rain… Their feathers and wings are constructed so that the owl is a master of slow flight. Essential when you’re looking out for hidden prey.
Slow down, look more closely, only go in for the kill once you’ve used your senses to get all the information. What sacrifices are you making in order to develop?
In terms of family life, most owls are monogamous and are good parents, but they aren’t great at nest building and tend to steal nests or use holes in trees etc.
The owl is a creature of mystery. They inhabit a different world to us, navigating the dark realm with ease which brings us onto myths and legends.
The owl and night are inextricably linked and this is reflected in the stories and beliefs that surround them.
A Cherokee myth tells how all the animals were challenged to not eat and not sleep for seven days. Most animals did not manage this but the few which did were gifted with the power to see in the dark. The owl was one such animal. Thus, the owl became a creature of the night and therefore of dreams and the subconscious. The owl glides confidently and silently through this realm and her sight lets her see through lies and deceptions, cutting through them like a sword. Their sight also links them with clairvoyance.
The owl is said to be a messenger from the other world which makes sense when you consider that a lot of birds are messengers because of their ability to fly up to the gods and the night is tied with the unknown and the spirit world.
This mistress of the night is linked with Athena, goddess of wisdom, craft and war, and Diana, the goddess of the moon, hunting and nature.
In Sri Lanka, a type of owl is referred to as the devil bird and people are afraid of their call because it means something terrible is going to happen. This comes from a myth where a jealous husband killed his child and fed it to his wife. Once the wife found out she ran into the forest and tried to kill herself before the gods turned her into a shrieking and understandably angry owl.
The owl as an ill omen is seen in other cultures around the world. I read somewhere that the owl call is one which we can make easily and because of this would be made by humans as a warning that danger was coming.
In contrast to this, the owl in the card is the white owl, companion to goddess Lakshmi who is associated with good fortune and prosperity.
The court cards of the swords or air suit are depicted by owls, which feels very fitting given their reputation for intelligence and being able to cut through lies and deception.
The daughter of swords is watchful, observant and clear sighted. The son of swords is pictured going in for the kill, he is charging ahead, he is in pursuit and he is decisive. The mother of swords is queen of the mental world. She embodies intelligence and logic and is a more mature version of the son. She is still pursuing knowledge and she is determined but she is more considered and thinks things through first. The father of swords asks us how we use our power of thought and communication. He is rational and logical and uses his skills to maintain order.
We also see the owl in the Wheel of Fortune. Here she is observing the web of life, overseeing it perhaps but definitely not phased by it’s tangled appearance.