Wis­dom and lore

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE -

Owls are one of the few birds to have been found in pre­his­toric cave paint­ings.

They have long been as­so­ci­ated with life and death and to­day there are still many cul­tures that sur­round owls with myths. In an­cient Greece, owls were seen as a sym­bols of good for­tune and the idea of the owl as a wise bird may have come from the bird’s as­so­ci­a­tion with Athene, the god­dess of wis­dom.

Ro­mans, on the other hand, be­lieved they were omens of im­pend­ing doom and it was con­sid­ered bad luck to see one be­fore a bat­tle. Many fa­mous em­per­ors in­clud­ing Julius Cae­sar and Au­gus­tus sup­pos­edly had their deaths pre­dicted by a hoot­ing owl.

In In­dian folk­lore, the num­ber of hoots are be­lieved to be able to fore­cast the fu­ture, whether it be death, good for­tune or ar­riv­ing guests.

In Ti­bet they are seen as di­vine mes­sen­gers while some Na­tive Amer­i­cans see owls as pro­tec­tive spir­its of the re­cently de­parted, or even the em­bod­i­ment of gods.

Closer to home though, and the de­pic­tion of the ‘wise old owl’ is per­haps most recog­nis­able.

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