Hoot, Hoot—Musings on Owls

Andrea here, musing on owls today. Perhaps it’s because the shortest day of the years is close, and owls are nocturnal—a creature of the night. I’ve always found them a fascinating bird, not only in the wild, where I find their plaintive hoots alluring (though they usually prove elusive from sight.) I also love their depictions in art, where their mystery and aloofness seem to inspire fascinating visuals, from ancient times to the present day.

Since ancient times, owls have been a symbol of wisdom and vigilance. I first became really aware of that when I was in college because the owl appears in so many decorative stone carvings on the buildings around campus. From serious to silly, owls are tucked away in nooks and crannies, adorn the walls or peer down from rooftops. It was great fun discovering them.

I’ve also enjoyed seeing their stature in ancient Greek art. The owl is the symbol of Athena, the goddess of Wisdom (as well as  War, Weaving and other crafts) It was said in ancient lore that the owl sat behind Athena so she could see the entire Truth. Its images appears in sacred sculptures, coins and mosaics and many other artforms throughout the city of Athens and Greece.

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