For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth.
My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread.
By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin.
I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert.
- Psalm 102, The King James Bible
Few animals hold as ambivalent a place in human culture as the owl. Almost universally a symbol of night and its mysteries, they’re often portrayed as portents of sorrow and death. During the Middle Ages in Europe owls were linked with sloth, sexual vice, and any “who have given themselves up to the darkness of sin and those who flee from the light of righteousness” (Bubo, Aberdeen Beastiary), but also with Christ, who “loves the darkness of night because he does not want sinners – who are represented by darkness – to die but to be converted and live” (Night-owl, Aberdeen Beastiary). Owls’ nocturnal lives also associate them with magical sight, dreams, and wisdom, and in many cultures they are powerful spirits, affording protection in this world and a tangible, living connection with the world to come.
Onyx gemstone engraved with owl, bowl, and poppy. Imperial Rome, 1st-3rd century CE.
In this Roman onyx gemstone the owl references sleep and death – it sits on a bowl, probably for a sleeping draught, containing a poppy, the opium-producing flower that was also symbolic of death.
Kwakiutl cedarwood owl mask. Tom Patterson, British Columbia, 1983.
Many indigenous communities in North and Central America have revered owls. “One of the Pawnee four sacred birds, the owl’s powers were linked with darkness and night. The Kiowa believed that the shaman became an owl after death. The Ojibwa called the bridge over which the dead pass the “Owl Bridge” and buried owl feathers with the dead to facilitate their journey… in Mesoamerica owls were closely associated with liminal passages into the underworld abode of the dead. Owl images appear on cave walls, and owls appear on mirrors, which, like caves, act as thresholds between the natural and supernatural worlds” (Werness, The Continuum Encyclopedia of Animal Symbolism in World Art, p. 306).
Masks are particularly important to First Nation communities of British Columbia, where they are connected with beliefs about the transformational nature of humans and animals. The example above was carved by Tom Patterson, a member of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth tribe of Vancouver Island.
Metal vessel in the shape of an owl with other human and animal figures. Bengal, India, 20th century.
Owls are often associated with feminine powers, from the wisdom of Athena to the witchcraft of early modern Europe. In Hindu mythology an owl serves as the Vāhana, or mount, of Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune and prosperity.
Sweden’s submarine war against Germany – Rear-Admiral confesses to armed robbery 2014 04 15
On April 8, 2014, Swedish combat forces stormed the HQ of German submarine builder Thyssen’s offices in Sweden and walked away with blueprints for the next generation submarine A26.
Immediately after the event, the head of security at Thyssen was fired.
Aside one or two initial reports about what in effect was an armed robbery, a blanket of silence has been put ...
Black Ring Above England: New Evidence 2014 04 15 New explanations for the ’black ring’ as seen in England this week have been submitted by members since we highlighted the case.
[Experts baffled after strange black ring appears in sky above England]
As otherworldly a phenomenon it seems to be, it’s almost certainly due to very worldly reasons.
Officials are still stumped as to the origin of the ring as recorded by ...
Sars Research Lab Loses 2,000 Tubes of Killer Virus 2014 04 15 A prestigious research institute in France said it had lost thousands of tubes of samples of the deadly Sars coronavirus.
A routine inventory check at Paris’ Pasteur Institute revealed that 2,349 tubes containing fragments of the virus responsible for the deaths of 774 people in 2002 were missing, the centre named after French chemist Louis Pasteur said.
The institute was quick to ...
10 odd facts about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination 2014 04 15 It was 149 years ago tonight the President Abraham Lincoln was shot while watching a play at Ford’s Theater. Lincoln died the next morning, and in the aftermath, some odd facts seemed to pop up.
Why wasn’t General Ulysses S. Grant in the theater box with Lincoln, as scheduled? Where was the President’s bodyguard? How many people were targeted in ...
Dag Hammarskjöld Assassination: Plane may have been shot down 2014 04 15 Newly declassified 1961 cable called for grounding of Belgian mercenary hours after UN secretary general crashed in Africa
Hours after a plane carrying the UN secretary general, Dag Hammarskjöld, crashed over central Africa in September 1961, the US ambassador to Congo sent a cable to Washington claiming that the aircraft could have been shot down by a Belgian mercenary pilot.
In the ...