this little fella was given to me by my Italian fella for my birthday. Apparently owls are considered lucky in Italy, and according to ancient Etruscan legend you need to keep one in the house to ‘protect you’.
I’d been kind of noticing a profusion of owls popping up in homeware and gift stores over the last couple of years, replacing the usual kind of table props like ceramic apples, and doves and twin pears. It slightly registered at the time, ‘what’s with all the owls?’ but only imperceptibly. And then this festive season there seemed to be an explosion of owls – on cards, wrapping paper, bloody everything. It was a bit like ‘whoah, we’ve hit the collective consciousness here’, so what’s it all about?
Well I’ve done some digging. Starting with the Etruscans (who preceded the Greeks + the Romans), it looks like the owl was the symbol of the moon Goddess Menerwa. The owl was also sacred to Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom + learning who became known as the Goddess Minerva in Roman times, ruling over music, art, poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, craft and magic. Fairly busy lady, then.
Further back in the mists of time, the ancient Egyptians, Hindus and Celts revered the owl as a symbol and guardian of the underworld. Not in a drastically spooky kind of way, but as a companion of souls finding their way to the next life. In Native American, West African and Indigenous Australian cultures the owl is considered a keeper of sacred knowledge. And then, of course, you’ve got the recent phenomenon of Harry Potter – OWLS AHOY!
So back to where I’m going with all this – what’s with all the owls suddenly surfacing in the collective consciousness? Crikey, all you have to do is type in ‘owl trend’ and see what comes up on Etsy. And here’s a piece on owls in fashion and why they’re so ‘hoot’ right now.
“The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk” said the well-known 19th-century philosopher, Hegel. Meaning that an epoch or an era can only be understood when it has entered its closing phase or is actually completely over and can be viewed with the clarity of 20:20 hindsight vision.
I’m going to hazard a wild guess here, with absolutely no qualifiers: a resurgence of balance at the dawn of a new era perhaps? if so, bring it on.
[postscript: this now just leads me to ask what was with the apples, doves and pears before the owls? hmmmm]