Monday

The owl.

Athenian Owl Coin
The owl is a predatory bird of the night.  In classical Greece it was the emblem of Athena and hence a symbol of wisdom (Athens was renowned for its profusion of owls). In Rome, however, the hoot of an owl was known as an omen of death, appearing at the deathbeds of several emperors, and a prophetic bird.  Among the Pimas of North America owls were thought to embody the spirits of the dead.  In Celtic lore, too, the owl was a bird of the underworld, the 'corpse bird.'  In Asia and the Middle East the nocturnal visits of the owl are feared as he can carry off souls, although in some areas of Japan the owl is regarded as beneficent.  It association with darkness led inevitable in medieval Europe to identification with the Devil.

Because of its night vision, the owl is venerated by several Native American groups and in India owl's eyeballs are a delicacy with the power to make one see in the dark.  Owl feathers are a charm to induce sleep, and in some cultures bring about an easy delivery in childbirth.

A pious legend tells how Christ visited a baker's shop and asked for a cake; the parsimonious baker's daughter reduced the size of the dough by half and was transformed into an owl as punishment for her meanness.

Owls can see in the dark but become blind in bright light.  The same is true of many scholars.  They know many unnecessary scholarly trifles but do not know, or want to know, the most important science needed for life -- how you should live in this world.


Post a Comment