Animal Symbolism

Owl Animal Symbolism   

A quick-list of owl symbolic meanings:

Wisdom, Mystery, Transition, Messages, Intelligence, Mysticism, Protection, Secrets

In early Indian folklore, Owls represent wisdom and helpfulness, and have powers of prophecy. This theme recurs in Aesop's fables and in Greek myths and beliefs. By the Middle Ages in Europe, the Owl had become the associate of witches and the inhabitant of dark, lonely and profane places, a foolish but feared spectra. An Owl's appearance at night, when people are helpless and blind, linked them with the unknown, its eerie call filled people with foreboding and apprehension: a death was imminent or some evil was at hand. During the eighteenth century the zoological aspects of Owls were detailed through close observation, reducing the mystery surrounding these birds. With superstitions dying out in the twentieth century - in the West at least - the Owl has returned to its position as a symbol of wisdom.


Owls in Greek & Roman Mythology

In the mythology of ancient Greece, Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, was impressed by the great eyes and solemn appearance of the Owl. she honored the night bird by making him her favorite among feathered creatures. Athena's bird was a  particular species of owl  known as Glaucus Often referred to as the "owl of Athena" or "owl of Minerva",  seen as a symbol of wisdom because the owl is capable of seeing even in the dark and of vigilance because the owl is awake at night. Athena's relationship with the owl was very close. It is said that the goddess took the form of the owl when she traveled on the Earth.

 This Owl was protected and inhabited the Acropolis in great numbers. It was believed that a magical "inner light" gave Owls night vision. As the symbol of Athene, the Owl was a protector, accompanying Greek armies to war, and providing ornamental inspiration for their daily lives. If an Owl flew over Greek Soldiers before a battle, they took it as a sign of victory. The Owl also kept a watchful eye on Athenian trade and commerce from the reverse side of their coins.

in early Rome a dead Owl nailed to the door of a house averted all evil that it supposedly had earlier caused. The Custom of nailing an Owl to a barn door to ward off evil and lightning persisted into the 19th century.To hear the hoot of an Owl presaged imminent death. The deaths of Julius Caesar, Augustus, Commodus Aurelius, and Agrippa were apparently all predicted by an Owl.

In Roman Mythology, Proserpine (Persephone) was transported to the underworld against her will by Pluto (Hades), god of the underworld, and was to be allowed to return to her mother Ceres (Demeter), goddess of agriculture, providing she ate nothing while in the underworld. Ascalpus, however, saw her picking a pomegranate, and told what he had seen. He was turned into an Owl for his trouble - "a sluggish Screech Owl, a loathsome bird."  


Owls in English Folklore

Folklore surrounding the Barn Owl is better recorded than for most other Owls. In English literature the Barn Owl had a sinister reputation probably because it was a bird of darkness, and darkness was always associated with death. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the poets Robert Blair and William Wordsworth used the Barn Owl as their favorite "bird of doom." During that same period many people believed that the screech or call of an Owl flying past the window of a sick person meant imminent death.

The Barn Owl has also been used to predict the weather by people in England. A screeching Owl meant cold weather or a storm was coming. If heard during foul weather a change in the weather was at hand.


Another traditional English belief was that if you walked around an Owl in a tree, it would turn and turn its head to watch you until it wrung its own neck.

Among early English folk cures, alcoholism was treated with Owl egg. The imbiber was prescribed raw eggs and a child given this treatment was thought to gain lifetime protection against drunkenness.
Owls' eggs, cooked until they turned into ashes, were also used as a potion to improve eyesight.
Owl Broth was given to children suffering from Whooping-cough.

Odo of Cheriton, a Kentish preacher the 12th Century has this explanation of why the Owl is nocturnal: The Owl had stolen the rose, which was a prize awarded for beauty, and the other birds punished it by allowing it to come out only at night.

In parts of northern England it is good luck to see an Owl.

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.It should be clear that the owl was honored as the keeper of spirits who had passed from one plane to another.  In this light the owl was ruler of the night and seer of souls. A misunderstanding of this necessary relationship gave the owl some negative associations with death.


Native Americans associated the meaning of owl with wisdom, foresight, and keeper of sacred knowledge. This may largely be due to the fact that the owl is a great foreteller of weather conditions. Also its ability to see at night is legend among the Native Americans, and this attribute would be invoked during ceremonies when an oracle of secret knowledge was required.

Similarly, West African and Aboriginal Australian cultures viewed 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).

 

Lion Animal Symbolism


A quick-list of Lion symbolic meanings:

Strength, Courage, Power, Royalty, Dignity, Authority, Dominion, Justice, Wisdom and Ferocity


As a zodiac symbol - those with the sign of Leo likely possess some lion's personality traits such as:

  • Intuition
  • Self-confidence
  • Fiery
  • Territorial
  • Controlling
  • Passionate
  • Generosity
  • Loyalty

The symbolic meaning of lions in England is shown in heraldic art where it is a common emblem of English sovereigns because of these lion-like traits:

  • leadership
  • strength
  • royalty
  • courage
  • honor

In Egypt, the lion represented the ferocious heat of the sun and was seen in the likeness of Sekhmet who is the Egyptian goddess known as the Eye of Ra. She is the power that protects the good and annihilates the wicked.

Lions usually lived on the edges of the desert, and so they became known as the guardians of the eastern and western horizons, where the sun rose and set.

It was the lion-god Aker who guarded the gateway to the netherworld through which the sun passed each day and so, since the sun rose each morning and set each evening on the horizon, the lion was associated with death and rebirth. In this regard, he was portrayed on funerary couches or biers, as well as embalming tables. The Great Sphinx at Giza, with the body of a lion, was also associated with the horizon. Aker and also the god Ruty could be depicted as a double lion god and called, "yesterday" and "tomorrow".  On the roofs of temples, lions' heads became gargoyles rainspouts, probably because it was thought that the lion stood on the temple roof absorbing the evil rainstorms of Seth and then spitting them out down the sides of the building.

In ancient Greece, lions were identified with Dionysus, Phoebus, Cybele, and Artemis because myth indicates lions drew the chariots for these gods and goddesses. Here, the symbolic meaning of lions revolved around protections and they were viewed as guardians of the dead as well as guardians of palaces, doorways, shrines and thrones. They were also ultimate protectors of hearth and home.


The fact that it is a nocturnal creature means that the lion is a symbol of authority and command over subconscious thought (as night is an ancient symbol of the subconscious - or dream states).

It’s interesting that the lion is considered by many ancient cultures to be a solar animal symbol, however it is primarily a nocturnal creature, conducting its hunting activity mostly at night. Further, the lioness is considered a lunar animal.

This serves as a symbolic message of balance and sound judgment. In that the lion shares the world of both night and day, the lion bears a message of prudence to us. In other words, the lion asks us to not overdo in certain areas of our lives. Rather, keep an even mind and an overall balance in our life activities.



In Hinduism, the lion is an avatar (embodiment or personification) of Vishnu.

In Buddhism the Buddha sits upon the lion as a throne of consistency, strength and wisdom.

In alchemy, the symbolic meaning of lions is associated with the highly idealistic and prized attributes of gold.


Those born under the sun sign Leo are fiercely independent, confident and in control.

They are creative and influential forces and have the internal power to make positive (or negative) changes in their lives and the lives of others around them.

 

Lions as dream symbols indicate we may feel as though we are being preyed upon, or we are in a position to defend ourselves. Dreaming of lions may also be a sign of our need to get in touch with our emotions, and tame them if necessary.

In esoteric studies, the lion makes its appearance in the Tarot where it is illustrated in the Strength card of the Major Arcana.

When we observe the lion in nature, we detect an easy strength and a natural dignity. The lion is born powerful, and power comes naturally to it. There is no false bravado as the lion has no need of it.

When the lion comes to us it is a sign for us to step into our natural birthright of power. Each of us is born powerful and divine. The lion reminds us of this.

Other messages the lion shares with us:

  • Hold your head high – even in times of conflict – conduct yourself with dignity
  • Stand tall, remember your birthright of power
  • Perhaps it’s time to show your authority (not in a dominating way) but lead others with a loving heart
  • It may be time to defend something that is dear to your heart – defend it fiercely if you must.
  • Have courage, have faith.


 

Scorpion Symbolism and Meanings

 The symbol meaning of Scorpion, much like its appearance, can be little foreboding. That is, if we do not have the inner eyes to see the beauty and complexity of its symbolism.

Below are a few facts on the symbol meaning for Scorpion along with some cultural history and background.

A summary of symbol meaning/associations for the Scorpion are as follows:

  • Transition
  • Death/Dying
  • Sex
  • Control
  • Solitary/Being Alone
  • Treachery
  • Passion
  • Protection
  • Defensiveness
A potent message the Scorpion chooses to express is that of protection and/or isolation. In fact, they themselves are quite solitary - part of the reason why they symbolize In fact, many people with the Scorpion as their totem tend to have brief spells of passion with a partner only to end the relationship and spend long periods content to be alone.

The Scorpion will mate in an exotic, dance of passion and control. The Scorpion sex dance is one of beauty, control, and calculation.

The female allows her new offspring to ride on her back until they shed their first exoskeleton - then her offspring leaves her - all of them going off to their lone, solitary lives - another example of intensity in relationship followed by isolation.

Defensiveness/control/protection is evident in the Scorpion's appearance - which seems to say "Do not trifle with me." One look at this magnificent creature says "back off!" does it not?

As another symbol of protection - we can consider the venomous tip of the scorpion which numbs its prey as well as makes its prey chemically digestible for the Scorpion. Whether the Scorpion intends to eat the victim of its sting is irrelevant because its sting will most certainly protect the Scorpion in order for it to live another day.

In Samaria, the Scorpion is associated with the Sun, and ancient writings depict Scorpion-men guarding (protecting) sacred gateways leading to ascension, pleasure and enlightenment.

Death symbolism comes into play in Greco-Roman mythology where Artemis (Diana) used the Scorpion to sting Orion's foot, which caused his death. Afterward, Zeus (Jupiter) made the Scorpion a zodiac sign among the stars.

There are some species where the venom is actually the antidote for its sting (like cobras). In Egypt and Tibet this is seen as an omen, and the Scorpion is made into an amulet - signifying protection and warding off evil. In Africa, the Scorpion is also seen as a healing sign - its venomous oil used for medicinal purposes.

When we consider the message this incredible creature has for us, we must first consider its outstanding features, which are the Scorpion's natural protective/defensive mechanisms. For example, consider the Scorpion's hard exoskeleton as a line of defense. Also consider its sharp potentially damaging pinchers - not to mention its venomous stinger.

Therefore, as a symbol meaning, the Scorpion represents protection. When the Scorpion makes an appearance in our lives, it is beckoning us to consider the following:

  • What needs protecting in my life?
  • Am I being overprotective?
  • Am I being defensive? Why?
  • Am I afraid of being vulnerable?
  • How do I feel about control in my life? (too much, too little)

Although the symbol meaning for Scorpion can appear a little harsh at first glance, when we really contemplate the Scorpion in all its wonder - then compare these meanings against the events in our own lives, we will inevitably find a common ground and learn some timely lessons from the Scorpion too.