Barn Owl Folklore

Barn Owl in Bluebell Wood

The Barn Owl has lived in the corner of our imagination for as long as it has caught the corner of our eye.  That silently floating white figure, the round head, the dark eyes, the piercing shriek, No wonder it is called the Ghost Owl, the Church Owl even the Death Owl.

…But one man’s ghost is another man’s angel. Given how widespread barn owls are throughout the world it is hardly surprising that it figures in many of the world’s mythologies and these seem divided over whether the Barn Owl is a good or bad omen.  Owls frequently embody wisdom and protection as well as being a harbinger of death and disease and many rural societies have persecuted them in spite of the beneficial pest control they perform. In India the Barn Owl is the "vahana" or transport of the Hindu Goddess of Wisdom, Lakshmi, in Japan it is a demon, in Tangiers Barn Owls are the clairvoyants of the Devil. Many societies see them as benevolent spirits after death helping souls reach heaven.

Whether you find it terrifying or terrific – you can’t fail to be impressed when a Barn Owl glides into view.