Owls and the Dead

owl ghost blue

Did you know the association between birds and death, including and especially OWLS, goes back to ancient times? In his thesis, “On the Relationship between Birds and Spirits of the Dead” Christopher Moreman gives us some fascinating facts, some of which I plucked out (pun intended!) for us to enjoy:

Birds Embodying Spirits of the Dead

That birds are often believed to actually embody spirits of the dead themselves “is a widespread and extremely ancient belief”…

… in Northern India, owls and bats might embody “the malevolent dead”…

…Some Pima Indians believe that at death the soul inhabits the body of an owl; an owl’s hooting portends death as it calls out for a soul to embody…

…Virginian folklore describes the cries of owls as “ole folks talking”…

…Various kinds of birds embody spirits of the dead in Brazil and Paraguay and among the Asabano of Papua New Guinea…

…The North American Osage describe various spirit worlds, the highest of which is populated by birds embodying human souls…

…In Sweden, ravens crowing at night are the souls of murder victims hidden in
the woods …

…while in France, ravens and crows are the spirits of corrupt priests and nuns… 

…A pre-Islamic tradition that has survived in some parts of the Arab world explains that a murder victim will return as a white owl, screeching for vengeance…

…The Egyptian soul, called Ba, is depicted as a bird with a human head. Human-headed birds also appear among the ancient Greeks as sirens, or soul-birds…

…The owl, for instance, appears most commonly as a death symbol. “The owl’s natural characteristics, its sudden pounce on its victims, its eerie cry, its preference for darkness, and the carrion smell of its nest made it the sinister messenger of the death goddesses” …

from “On the Relationship between Birds and Spirits of the Dead”
by Christopher Moreman

Mmm lovely. And here I was thinking it was just a silly ghost story! Thank you Mr. Moreman for all the research!


OWL MANOR – THE DAWNING
COMING SOON

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