What are signs of wisdom

Symbolism: owl, bird of wisdom and corpse bird

In our culture today, the owl is understood as a symbol of wisdom. Because this bird can see in the dark, it has long been believed that it can produce light with its eyes. This light, which the bird draws from itself, penetrates through the eyes as well as through windows to the outside. Since wisdom is also associated with light ("the light of wisdom" which the wise man draws from himself and which the environment cannot give him), the transference to the owl-birds is obvious and ascribed this quality to them. The picture shows the tomb of a scholar on which books have been added to the symbolism in this sense.

The owl was also considered a symbol of wisdom by the Romans and Greeks and was sacred to Minerva / Athena. And the Indians of North America saw in the owl the wisdom and also the ability to foresee the future.

In addition to its importance as a bird of wisdom, the owl is a bird of darkness and death in the mysticism of the ancient Egyptians. In a similar meaning, the night birds are assigned to the Sumerian-Babylonian demon Lilith. In distant China, the owl is a symbol of calamity, crime, horror and for ungrateful children. It represents death on Chinese urns. The Japanese also saw death and a bad omen in the owl. The owl was also known to the Etruscans as an attribute of the god of darkness and night, and to the Hindus it is a mark of the deity of death. The Mexicans interpret darkness and death with the night bird.

In Christian symbolism (art), owls are symbols of the powers of darkness, loneliness, grief, devastation and bad news. The owl also represented the Jews who preferred the night to the light of the gospel. For the Jews themselves, the owl is a symbol of blindness.

In our folk mythology, people were afraid of the nocturnal call of the owl because it was associated with the death of a person. Anyone who heard the screech owl call, had to fear the death of a relative or a neighbor. Cause and effect are exactly the opposite. In earlier times it was still a custom to keep deceased relatives in the house. At night the room was lit with candles and, if necessary, someone held the wake. The light naturally attracted nocturnal animals, since before the invention of electric light the settlements in rural areas were in complete darkness at night. This is how the tawny owl reacted in the dark hours to the lighted window and let out its call, which earned it the name "corpse bird" or "night witch". This rumor must be deeply rooted in us, because the call of the screech owl still causes discomfort for many people.