Tattoo symbols/The owl

Updated: Oct 13, 2018

This nocturnal bird is not the most beautiful, not even the most popular. But conversing about spirit animals or strong spiritual symbols... the owl is one of the most significant.

It is historically connected to magic and mystery, death and spirituality.


This correlation between the owl and death is the reason in many cultures they consider the owl to be a bad omen for every viewer. It is said to be a messenger of death, but the truth is that the owl's energy is about closure as well as transition. A form of death that scares as all, although necessary in order to evolve in life.


Owl's cultural history

Ancient Greeks considered the owl to be the bird of Athena, daughter of Zeus and Goddess of Wisdom and Strategy.

Romans believed a dead Owl nailed to the door of a house turned away all evil that it had earlier caused. To hear the hoot of an Owl presaged imminent death. The deaths of Julius Caesar, Augustus, Commodus Aurelius, and Agrippa were apparently all predicted by an Owl.

Egyptians honoured the owl because it was the bird that protected the dead until they reached the underworld. It even represents the letter "M" in hieroglyphs.

In modern Japanese culture, owls are used as lucky charms. In the past they were said to predict the weather.

In African tribes the owl is connected to wizards, black magic and sorcery.

In Hindu mythology, the owl is the vehicle of Goddess of wealth and prosperity Lakshmi. It is said that like the owl cannot see during the day so does the person that pursues money and fortune. Nowadays, in Hindi calling someone an "owl" is equivalent of calling him a "fool".

Native American tribes thought the owl to be a protector against harm and their feathers were ritually worn to keep away evil spirits. For Apaches it was an omen of death. For other tribes they were the keepers and protectors of the afterlife. For some every owl was the soul of a departed, and if you killed the owl, you did the same with the soul!


The truth is that like all animals owls have many different species, and each one of those a different meaning as well. e.g. the Snowy Owl usually stands for elegance and awareness and Barn Owl connects with the spiritual realm.


Did you know?

- Owls have their eyes fixed in their heads in order to achieve a binocular vision. So in order to look around they have the ability to rotate their heads up to 270 degrees!
- Owls have a spectacular hearing.
- Owl's flight is completely silent.
- Owls live up to 30 years!

Owl as a spirit and totem animal is connected with wisdom, messages from our higher self, spirituality and empathy. They invite us to encounter our true nature and face our fears.


The owl is the one that sees all even when all nature is sleeping. Connected to the moon, it carries a mystery and awe.


Owls and tattoos

The owl is not very common tattoo choice, it's not the rarest either. Owl tattoo designs apply in every design genre available. Tribal, realistic, mandala, traditional, neo-traditional, old-school, maori, japanese, watercolour... you name it. It has a recognisable shape that makes it very easy to associate with the simplest lines and in the same time it gives you the opportunity to work in a very detailed design if you please.

Usually people chose to put the focus on the eyes of the design, and that makes sense. The eyes of the owl staring in the darkness have a magnetic power.

Owls can be chosen as a single design, big or small, and placed in almost every part of your body. Just keep in mind that if you chose a detailed art design, you might consider a placement that won't change a lot with time, like a sleeve or back piece.

Mandala owls are very popular and quite impressive.


So, why have an owl tattoo?

Pick an owl and place it on your body if you believe you are connected to this animal. You may have dreamt it many times or maybe it just attracts you when you see it around (in paintings, logos, photos etc). That means that the owl is trying to communicate it's beautiful qualities with you, which you probably have but you are not aware of. The owl will help you see and connect, observe without being identified with what you see. The owl calls us to hear in the silence, get in touch with the things that we prefer to hide.

Place the owl on your feet to watch your steps and give you wisdom on your path. Enhance your feminine or masculine awareness by placing it either on the left or right side of your body.


Chose the chest and heart area to open the heart's intuition eye. In the solar plexus area it will give you strength to achieve and independence.


If you want to enhance the spiritual quality of the bird, then pick a design with spread wings. Colours tend to help on that direction as well.


For men it is a wonderful alternative to emphasise your strength and independence, wisdom and intelligence.


Wear an owl if you want to feel connected to the spiritual realm, if you need more magic elements in your life or as a reminder of someone who has passed but always guides and protects you!



Concluding, I picked some typical owl tattoos from pinterest to help you decide and get insired!









Check out my tattoo page and message me for a custom design that we co-create with love and enthusiasm! Like our facebook page to stay in touch!

About Mandira Antar


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