Owl tattoos are among the more mystical and spiritually eclectic tattoo designs. They have long been associated with gods and goddesses from every known pantheon. In Greek traditions, the goddess Athena is often identified by a sigil that includes an owl. In Hinduism, the goddess Lakishmi has an owl as her avatar. The list goes on from there.
Meanings of owl tattoos
Owls are also closely associated with concepts like experience, intelligence, wisdom and tradition. The Greek goddess Athena is, herself, the symbol for foresight and wisdom, making the owl a fitting symbol that defines her. The huge, penetrating eyes of the owl also make it a symbol of vision, understanding, clarity and discernment. The hypnotic nature of the owl’s gaze has led many primitive cultures to believe that it can see beyond the physical and is able to peer into the very soul of whatever creature upon which it sets its attention.
The species of owl used in tattoos is generally up to the discretion of the wearer, while specific images may require a specific species or physical traits to convey the intended message. Choose an image that you feel best conveys the message you wish to send with your tattoo. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to species.
Among many other meanings and interpretations, wearers of owl tattoos often choose the design to convey messages of:
- Foreshadowing and Prophecy – Owls are often seen as harbingers of things to come.
- Spiritual or Personal Transformation – This plays to the themes of personal vision, experience and wisdom.
- Liberation – Personal freedom or conquering of personal demons is often symbolized in the owl.
- Discipline – Owls symbolize stillness, stealth, focus and quiet. People who master these skills or strive to master them often identify with the owl.
Symbolism of owl tattoos
Ancient Celtic and Druidic cultures revered the owl for its sorcerer’s abilities and also saw it as the keeper and guardian of the souls of the deceased. In certain traditions, owls were thought to be bad luck because of their association with death. The same sentiment holds true in Native American traditions. The cry of the owl (or even just seeing one) was believed in many cultures to be a sign that death was near.
In a more positive light, owls also represent that which is veiled in mystery and signify acceptance that, while we may never have the answers to all of life’s questions, it is important to seek to gain knowledge and wisdom in all aspects of life.