A barred owl touched down silently in our yard earlier this week and didn’t seem to mind having us as an audience for a couple hours.
The visit was special because I’ve felt a connection with owls at various times throughout my life. There is a baby picture of me that I always thought resembled an owl. Several years ago, I had a dream about an owl and spent some time reflecting on owl symbolism. It was when I was pursuing a teaching career in a bleak job market, and I was struck by how owls know what they want, and how they become very quiet with senses heightened and pursue their target swiftly, silently, and effectively. Some words that came to mind were: vision, hunter, wisdom, intuition, and discernment. That kind of energy seemed like an antidote to the self-doubt I was experiencing and brought to mind a quote from Paulo Coelho’s novel, The Devil and Miss Prym:
“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate, and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.”
Some time after that, I remember waking up and wondering if I still had a need for “owl medicine.” I was working part-time as a library shelver at the time, and when I arrived at work that morning, the most prominent book on my first cart of the day was an oversized photo book about owls! (Working as a shelver was an intensely spiritual experience on numerous occasions!)
Traditionally, the owl is associated with feminine wisdom, insight, intuition, death, and the spirit world. However, rather than rely on superstition, I like to connect with the energy of a life form and learn what I can from experiencing its essence directly. By doing this, the plants and animals I encounter become my teachers. I also tend to research the subjects I observe, to expand my knowledge of the natural world – and then share my knowledge and experiences with my students.
Needless to say, I was excited when my husband pointed out the owl (who caught the attention of a pair of cardinals in this photo) perched on the wigwam frame in our yard.
I spent a long time photographing and observing our visitor on this gray, motionless sort of afternoon. When I put down my camera to sit and connect with the owl’s energy, the impressions that came to mind were: patient, present, confident, and aware. I couldn’t tell if the owl was male or female, but it was intensely aware of its surroundings. When the owl fixed its soulful eyes on me, the gaze was steady and penetrating but not at all fearful. There was a deep sense of calm alertness.
Every now and then, the owl would hunch into a hyper-alert stalking pose, and we expected it would strike any moment upon an unsuspecting rodent or bird.
But then it would ease back into what seemed like pure awareness.
Even now, as I look at photos of this barred owl, my breathing becomes deeper and slower, and I feel more centered. I am grateful for the time I had connecting with owl energy. It was a first for me and quite a powerful experience.
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