Great Horned Owl

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A Quick-List of Symbolic Owl Meanings:
  • Wisdom
  • Mystery
  • Transition
  • Messages
  • Intelligence
  • Mysticism
  • Protection
  • Secrets
Nocturnal Animal Symbolism Includes:
  • Dreams
  • Shadows
  • Otherworldliness
  • Secret knowledge
  • Psychic awareness

Symbolic meanings for the owl are:

  • Intuition, ability to see what other do not see
  • The presence of the owl announces change
  • Capacity to see beyond deceit and masks
  • Wisdom 
  • The traditional meaning of the owl spirit animal is the announcer of death, most likely symbolic like a life transition, change


Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl 

This Owl is a fierce protector.
It is the lunar opposite of the Red-Tailed Hawk (who represents the Sun).
Gives the ability to adapt to constant changing environments.
The harbinger of Spring.
Does not have a good sense of smell and may impart this trait to its totem people.


Owls, which have been called cats with wings, are the silent hunters of the night.

Their downy feathers and the front edge of their wings have a fringe which silences their flight.

The wings are substantially bigger than their actual body making their slow smooth flight all the easier.

These birds also have a third eyelid which moves from side to side to clean their vision.

An owl’s eyes are fixed in the socket, however to be able to see all around, their incredibly flexible necks can rotate 270 degrees in any direction.

An owl’s vision and hearing work harmoniously enabling them to eat their body weight on a daily basis.

Owls know when to move silently and when to be still, which makes them the keepers of secrets.

These solitary birds don’t feel the need to proclaim their presence to anyone until the timing is right.

Owl comes to us when we need to open our eyes, and study the situation at hand.

If we watch and listen with our inner selves we can figure out what is happening behind the scenes,

and confront those who are trying to deceive us at the appropriate time.



If the owl appears in your life thank it for its willingness to guide you through its shadowy realm to the other side of promise and joy.


Owl Totem

Owls have been revered in many cultures as symbols of wisdom, knowledge, and unique vision. Unfortunately, they have also been feared and misunderstood by many other cultures who see them as omens of death and destruction. Due to their eerie nighttime call, they have been associated with banshees and goblins etc. Owls tend to be nocturnal, their large eyes and ability to almost fully rotate their heads give them keen night vision which makes them particularly fierce predators.

Great Horned Owls (the most common in the Americas) are easily recognized by the large tufts of feathers that look like “ears”, but are not. Despite their large size, they fly silently and attack with stealth. Owls are associated with mediums, psychics, clairaudience, clairvoyance, and vision quests/journeying. Owl people are usually very psychic and in tune with or able to communicate with different dimensions and experience alternate realities. They don’t fear death and darkness and tend to embrace it as part of the continual cycle of life.

Personal Reflection…

When owl comes to visit you it is because you are being challenged to open your “inner eyes and ears” and expand your perceptions of “reality”.

Owl people are often inclined towards metaphysical careers, philosophy, and new thought.

Owls are usually heard calling at dusk and at dawn.

People with owl totem also embody this twilight aspect, with the unique ability to pick up on realities that others often don’t perceive themselves.

Owl people are considered to be “walkers between worlds”.

Spirit of Great Horned Owl

Role: Extractor of Secrets

Lesson: Timing

Element: Water

Wind: West The Quest Within

Medicine: Clairaudience


Great Horned Owl – Totem Sister to Red-Tailed Hawk

The large eyes of the Owl appear to miss nothing as they glimmer into the night, and indeed their vision is amongst the keenest in the animal kingdom, the rods and cones of their eyes designed in such a way as to allow in the smallest amount of light in order to penetrate through the veil of darkness in search of prey.

This uncanny vision has earned the Owl the reputation of being able to pierce beyond the veil that separates the physical world from the spirit world, a reputation that as a Animal Totem is well deserved.  Yet in filtering out the light from the darkness, Owl reminds us that both exist simultaneously, and that it is up to us to recognize both.

For the two-legged beside whom Owl flies, the implication of the Gift of such penetrating sight is highly significant, for there will exist the ability to see beyond the masks that are worn by Others to the true face beneath.  This ability may also be nurtured to give the Owl Soul greater insight into the lessons which exist cocooned within every encounter and experience they face while on the Earth walk.

What the Owl individual does with information received via higher “sight” or intuition, is dependent upon both that person’s level of maturation as well as upon other Primary Totems.  For instance, if one has Owl as their Power Totem yet also has Lynx as a Mission Totem, then the knowledge and insight indicated by both of these Spirit Animals will be kept private and shared in subtle & unobtrusive ways with the person who the information has been gathered about, if spoken at all.  On the other hand, if the Mission Totem of the Owl individual is Black Panther, then the information garnered will be spoken directly to the individual involved, then perhaps later utilized as an example to Others regarding the lessons inherent in that “knowing.”

When the Owl soul is not sufficiently mature, or there exist underlying and unresolved issues, the information gained can be either used against the person who has been “sussed,” or the personal details may be shared with others who have no business in knowing such details.  Though most Owl individuals are strictly confidential by nature, there are a few that can`t seem to resist sharing what they know freely despite a breach in confidence.

Yet for the Owl individual that is operating from Higher Intent, their code of ethics and confidentiality will guide them through the decision of whether or not, and how much, of the information received is meant to be shared with the one whom they have unmasked.  These are the souls that constitute some of the finest clergy and therapists, as their insight into human behavior and penchant for confidentiality and respect of privacy engender deep trust in those whom they have been sent to assist.


It has long been believed that the Owl and the Hawk are closely connected and enjoy a symbiotic relationship.  Each has dominion over a territory and share that realm, the Hawk akin to the Sun god Apollo who rules the day, with the Owl the counterpart of the Moon goddess Artemis who rules the night.  In fact, most owls are nocturnal (meaning they are awake and active during the night) and Hawks are diurnal (active during daylight), so this mythological correlation is not far from reality.

During the day, the Hawk flies throughout the territory, keeping the boundaries free of encroaching threat and trespassers while hunting for food.  Hawk`s patrol of the territory is relinquished at dusk as he journeys to sleep, while Owl awakens to begin her night duties.  In this manner, though they seldom (if ever) directly interact, Owl and Hawk are never the less closely linked to one another and their environment.

Each distinctive member of the Owl family is thought to be a counterpart of the Hawk family, for Great Horned Owl, the counterpart is the Red-Tailed Hawk  By looking at this member of the Hawk family, one with Great Horned Owl as a Totem may also gain some further insight as some of the keywords that apply to the Hawk will also ring familiar for this Owl as well.

In the Red-Tail, the Kundalini energy is a powerful energy source that flows through that beautiful raptor.   Some envision the Kundalini as a powerful sexual energy, yet to view its potential only thus, is to limit its true breadth and power of this fundamental energy, for it is then keeping that energy coiled at the base chakra (sexual center), rather than encouraging it to reach further and higher.

At the time the energy is awoken, it begins to rise up through the other six energy centers (chakras).  As it passes through each of these chakras, the lessons, issues and areas of our lives which are symbolized and or governed by these energy centers, are opened for our acknowledgment through the process of Conscious Awareness.  Thus, when the Kundalini has completely uncoiled, its energy unfurled along the length of the spine and flowing easily through all seven energy points to emerge through the top (or Crown) Chakra, a state of Enlightenment is experienced.

Likewise for Horned Owl, the Kundalini energy may not be quite so strong or of such focus, yet there will none the less exist within the Owl Soul a deep sensuality that will need to find free expression.  If this sensuality has been repressed due to early environmental conditioning, then there is a good likelihood that the individual with this Totem is not fully expressing themselves in other areas of their life as well.  If such blocks from expressing themselves can be removed, the Great Owl Soul will truly begin to unfurl under the Light of self-acceptance and personal freedom, giving the soul wings with which to fly to newer heights of Self-Expression and releasing a deep power that will otherwise lay dormant, one of the key lessons that the counterpart of Hawk can bring to these wise souls.

Harbinger of New Cycles

Birds and Raptors are recognized in Earth Medicine as Messengers with the type of message and method through which these messages arrive, being unique to each specific breed.  With the Great Horned Owl, it is believed that he/she arrives as a messenger heralding Change and New Cycles.  Perhaps it is her close connection to the Moon with its constantly shifting and changing cycles that is at the root of this particular Medicine, but the fundamental power of this Owl`s ability to alert us to Change and Growth is highly significant when one learns to hear and listen to, the messages this beautiful and wizened creature brings.

When one is blessed to have Great Horned Owl as one of their Primary Totems (Power, Theme or Mission), there will be an emphasis placed upon cycles and new beginnings.  Frequently throughout the life of these individuals, circumstances will thrust upon the two-legged change that will often initially arrive (or be seen) as “forced.”  In reality, the changes occur as part of the process of growth and learning, a part of the process of continual renewal and rebirth, key components to New Cycles.

If the Owl Soul resists such change, the consequences may be quite profound and often very painful, and this arrives to teach the Owl individual the importance of relinquishing control and embracing in faith, the change that is so much a part of their Earth walk.  In this way, each transition that later occurs in the life of these sensitive and perceptive individuals may then be embraced and seen for the opportunities of growth and evolution that they truly offer, rather than seen as a threat to their basic security.  If this soul can tap into that intrinsic part of their fundamental nature that is excited and stimulated by such change, then they begin to realize their potential in a much broader and deeper sense and are willingly able to let go of models of behavior, thinking and feeling that have out served their usefulness, and step into the light of a new day.

Once the one beside whom Owl flies embraces, with an eager and open mind/heart, the changes they will frequently face, this ability to recognize such transitions as a fundamental cornerstone of new life may be transmuted into assisting Others through their moments of upheaval and accelerated growth.  This ability may be honed into one of intuitively picking up on when new cycles are beginning, and to then assist themselves (and their fellow humans) through the moment of transition that exists in the golden doorway which separates the old from the new.  In this manner, the Owl soul fully embraces the Medicine of Harbinger of New Cycles, and aligns him/herself with the beauty of their Life Path.


One of the physical characteristics that easily distinguishes the Great Horned Owl from other members of the Owl family, are the tufts of feathers that resemble ears or “horns.”  These remarkable feathers that sets this Owl apart, are the reason for the Great Horned Owls namesake.

It has not been clearly established whether these feathers are merely adornments to attract mates, or if they serve a biological function such as increasing and/or filtering sounds as they travel through the air and to this beautiful birds ears.  Regardless of their function (if any), these feathers create a signature appearance for the Great Horned Owl that is also closely linked to his/her Medicine of Clairaudience.

For the two-legged beside whom Great Horned Owl flies, there will be an inherent focus on communication in all forms, but as good as these individuals are at speaking and writing, they will also make excellent listeners.  These souls are the best of friends, providing a listening ear and excellent advice that is based in their own rich experiences.  Likewise, music is deeply stirring to the Horned Owl Soul and they can often elicit healing experiences for themselves by listening to some favorite music, or (if there are other creative Totems that travel beside them) they will be gifted themselves in musical endeavors.

This responsiveness to sound is a reflection of the Horned Owl`s elongated head feathers that resemble ears, and hence much of life is processed through what these individuals hear.  Often, they will pick up subtle voice inflections and tones that will alert them to when another is attempting to deceive them though the process may be so quick and automatic that they may not even be aware of this acuity.

Another form that this ability to “tune in” takes on is Clairaudience.  Where a Clairvoyant can often see other realms, alternate futures and realities, spirits and all manner of that which unseen to the average two-legged eyes, a Clairaudient will have the ability to hear messages that will elude Others.  This ability may be somewhat startling for those Owl individuals who develop this talent later in life, rather than are born with it, as often the Gift will arrive out of as a result of an accident or a by-product of delving into spiritual and mystical philosophy.

In the instances where the individual has been born with this talent, there is not so much trauma attached to the talent, but for those to whom the blessing of Clairaudience comes later in life, naturally the emergence of this gift can be quite alarming.  Much stigma has been attached to individuals who “hear the voices” of departed relatives, spirit guides and others who speak across planes, with accusations ranging from “fantasy” to schizophrenia being leveled against individuals who are often fearful of coming forward and acknowledging such unique abilities.  So long as no medical or psychological factors are the key behind the sounds and voices heard, the Great Horned Owl would do well to acknowledge and heartily embrace this Gift, for it has been given by the Great Mystery for a reason.

If the talent has remained thus far dormant, then it may be that the Soul beside whom Great Horned Owl flies still receives messages, yet instead of “hearing” the words spoken, the messages will arrive in the form of vivid dreams and strong intuition.  By embracing this talent with a humble acceptance and enthusiasm to be of service to his/her fellow two-legged, the Great Horned Owl soul matures fully into their unique and mystical heritage.


Owl As Totem

The following information was written in two parts. The first is from our upcoming book on the shamanic essences and part two was more detailed information that was written to the Mornstar2 list.

Owl Medicine – Part one

Owl sees and knows the truth. It’s ability to navigate through the darkest night and bring back nourishment for itself and others is the foundation of this essence. When you have lost your way, owl essence will guide you back to your proper path and wisdom.
Expanded Definition – Death and rebirth, releasing that which has outlived it’s benefit and usefulness in your life, actual physical death transition, can be placed in a bowl of water and used to help earth bound Souls find their guides and loved ones. Clearing a home or land of negative energy. Starting over in a new life or releasing the ties that kept you bound to the old one. Enhances clairvoyance, clairaudience, communication from one’s Master Guides and Totems.
Owls have long been associated with both death and wisdom. In Greek mythology an Owl was sacred to Pallas Athene, the Goddess of wisdom, because it sat on her shoulder and lit up her blind side. Their association with death comes from their peerless ability as hunters of the night, they are able to navigate through the most densely forested areas in order to seek out and capture their prey. Crows will mob Owls when they are near their territory for they know that when night falls, Owl becomes a formidable predator that will return to the Crow’s nesting areas in search of a tasty Crow dinner.
Yet even so, the Owl provides a vital function in keeping bird, rodent and insect populations in check; too many of any species is detrimental to the balance of all. So it is with other things in our own lives, for if we have too many possessions, too many projects, too much of anything, it limits and restricts our ability to move freely through the different areas of our lives and the resu lt is stagnation which leads to the death of joy, happiness and abundance. Owl medicine then becomes crucial in helping us to clear out that which is no longer needed or wanted. What may seem like a death to us in the giving up of something may be for another the birth and manifestation of a dream. We are most likely to lose our way when we become enmeshed in the “shoulds” and “must haves” in life, most of which come not from our inner selves but from the opinions and beliefs of those around us. We can spend so much time listening to others about what we should want ( and the commercials on the telly and radio are prime examples of this!) that we ignore what we really want. We find ourselves spiraling downwards into the darkness because we have become so busy thinking we must pursue this or hunt that, most of which provides very little, if any, real nourishment.
Think for a moment what your life would be like if you were able to jettison anything that did not speak to you on a Soul level. What would remain? What then would you “hunt” because it provided for you on all levels? That is what Owl medicine teaches us to do. We find that as we begin to move through the process of what we truly want, clearing the old to make way for the new birth of the Self that is close at hand, we find that other obstacles, limitations, fears and anxieties also begin to “die” in our lives. They no longer have the hooks to remain attached to our energy fields and without our support, they must die.
Owl knows that all apparent manner of death is in fact a liberation into a new life. Something must first be cleared away for anything new to be born. When a person moves, leaves a job or relationship, has a baby, adopts a new animal friend, something in the old way of life had to die for the new to be created. At the time it may seem incredibly painful because we have been taught that death is an ending, not a new beginning, and that what is in the process of being born is always more beneficial than the old. The pain and grief is extended and heightened when we try to hang on to what was because we believe that is the best we would ever have. The unknown can seem dreadfully forbidding, how will we cope, who will be there if we stumble, what if we fail?
Owl can take us beyond those thoughts and fears, for Owl sees far into the future and knows that even after the darkest night there is a new dawn that is approaching. It is as inevitable as babies crying and of buds bursting forth from plants in the spring. From every death something new must emerge for life is ever renewing itself. The Crow that was taken by an Owl last summer may reappear the following spring as a nestling. The Berries that were eaten by a Bear one year may reappear the next as a bird, an ant or a human being. All of life is interconnected and we are all part and parcel of the same fabric that wends its way through the stories of our own life and death. Death then becomes not a loss but a new adventure to be explored with great abandon and joy.

Chakra – Root, Crown
Essential Oil – Rosemary, Lime, Cinnamon
Chant – Ti mah su
Planet – Pluto

Other Supportive Measures – Write a letter to a loved one who has passed over or light a candle for them for 7 consecutive days. Look back at some of the “deaths” in your life, how have they helped you to become the person you are today? Join a discussion or support group for death and dying, study the planet Pluto in your natal chart and note what deaths have occurred through the house where it is found and also the house where Scorpio is found on the cusp or contained within it. Hold a releasing ceremony, symbolically burying or burning anything you no longer want or need in your own life. Make up your own ritual for this and follow your own inner knowing or call upon Owl to help show you the way.

Owl Medicine – Part Two

Owl medicine can help a person to extract secrets, to see that which is hidden in the darkness and is very powerful for soul retreivals for this reason. Many shamans, psychic healers and mediums have owl medicine either as a primary totem or can call upon one as needed. They can see clear through to the core reason for any type of imbalance and then they can spot the proper medicine needed to heal the imbalance.
Owls are also fabulous at keeping rodent populations under control. In Eastern Oregon for example farmers have begun encouraging Barn Owls to nest on their property because of their ability to out do the family cat in keeping rodents under control! So Owl medicine can also help us to keep the pests in our own lives at bay and keep them from becoming overly destructive. In healing this medicine can become very important as in cases of Cancer where they “pest” in this case the cancer cells, are multiplying so rapidly they threaten to destroy the fabric of the body physical. In actual fact, the body contains numerous cells and virus’s and bacteria’s that if not kept under control would kill us within days and yet in the proper numbers are actually highly beneficial to the body!
So too are rodent populations needed in order to maintain balance in the world. Owl knows what is needed in the proper amounts and what needs to be released, the way in which the Owl Medicine person does this though depends on the relationship they have with their own Owls and what the Owl suggests to them as the proper balancing measure.
Owl people also need to get a certain amount of daytime/solar energy via the sun, yellow crystals or flowers and so forth lest they become out of balance with the nocturnal side of their nature. It can be easy for Owl people to want to shun the daylight as they tend to be more comfortable at night, and yet they too need the balance that the solar world provides. They might feel overly exposed when out in the daylight and thus it helps them to wear a talisman or shield of some sort where they feel they are protected from the energies of others as often they are extremely sensitive and psychic.
If you need to know the truth of something, ask an Owl person or one who has Lynx or Bobcat medicine! All three tend to see what others do not or cannot and are very reliable and accurate in what they pick up about a person or situation. The Owl person, though, is far more likely to tell you what they see, the Lynx and Bobcat person usually keeps many things to themselves.
Other raptors such as Hawks, Eagles and so forth are associated with Owls as well because they frequently share the same territory although there is the odd skirmish now and again. Owl people frequently find that they may have to stand their ground in life when they find themselves challenged by someone else, yet if they are coming from what they know is true, that always does come to the forefront in the end! Owl people also do tend to be very wise, often beyond their years because they do see far more than many others do. They tend to be mystical, rather magical people and often are highly interested in magic and ritual at which they are extremely gifted! Merlin had an Owl for example, this is why he was such a wonderful Magician, VBG!


4 thoughts on “Great Horned Owl

    Loren Womeldorff said:
    January 4, 2015 at 12:49 pm

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    Mollyanne said:
    September 11, 2015 at 7:41 am

    The best information I have received yet about my totem animal. I appreciate all the effort the writer took for providing me these facts that spread much enlightenment. Thank you so much!

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