Their eyes detect subtle movements making them highly responsive to minute changes in their environment. They adjust in an instant from telescopic to microscopic focus. Owls’ eyes are fixed, but their incredibly flexible necks create the illusion that they have eyes in the back of their heads. This is a reminder to be flexible in one’s perspectives. Like other birds of prey, owls’ third eye lid movs from side to side to cleanse their vision. This symbolizes the need to cleanse “The doors of perception” (Aldus Huxley) to achieve clarity of vision. As nocturnal predators, owls’ incredible night vision is legendary. Night has forever been a symbol of the darkness within, the unseen and possibly the unconscious (Carl Jung).
Their acute and discerning auditory perception stems from the asymmetrical positioning of their ears, with one ear larger than the other. This enables owls to use “acoustic location” (similar to bats’ use of echo-location). Symbolically this can be seen as the ability to develop a strong inner voice as well as the ability to hear the whispers from the Spirit world.
Owls’ impeccable vision and hearing are symbolically linked to the gifts of clairvoyance and clairaudience – the ability to hear and see what other’s don’t, what is hidden in the shadows and the “unseen” world. People practicing “owl medicine” can detect the subtleties and motives of other people’s behaviour as “Owl people have a unique ability to see into the darkness of others’ souls and life”. ⁽ⁱ⁾
Owls fly silently, slowly and smoothly, facilitating a silent hunt which symbolize strength in silence and stillness. An owl swallows its prey whole, head first. It then expels the indigestible bones and fur. Symbolically this can be seen as energetically digesting information, but wisely eliminating the unbeneficial and unhealthy aspects, representing discernment (ability to judge well) in what we accept (or refuse) into our lives.
Source: Animal Speak, Ted Andrews, 1993, p. 175
Image Credit: Aman Sharma
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