Great Horned Owl Symbolism & Meaning | Cherokee, Lakota, Native Beliefs

Great Horned Owl Symbolism & Meaning | Cherokee, Lakota, Native Beliefs

Posted By Jamie K Oxendine July 21st, 2011 Last Updated on: December 5th, 2019

First, let me state that in one's desire to learn more about the beliefs concerning owls, I recommend talking with your family members and tribal elders about what certain bird or animal parts may represent within your family, clan, or tribe.

When folks go to a pow-wow that has some people from tribes that traditional beliefs about owls, owl feathers, or owl parts, it may be confusing to understand why some individuals would avoid an individual wearing these feathers.

Therefore, I can offer the following information I’ve learned over the last 30 years or more, from many different tribal elders. Please keep in mind that this is only a partial sample of some of the wide variety of traditional beliefs concerning owls.

Native American Beliefs on Owls

Among many tribes, the owl is to be both feared and embraced. Traditionally, many tribes believed, (and some individuals still hold these beliefs), that certain medicine people (both male and female) could be drawn to that part of spiritual power that would do harm to other people.

Some tribes called them “witches” or the equivalent of a witch in their particular language. These “witches” or medicine people that practiced “bad medicine” were believed to have the ability to shape-shift or transform themselves into an animal or bird. Many of these witches, it was believed, would change into the form of an owl so that they could fly silently through the night to cast spells on people while they were asleep and vulnerable to spiritual forces, or at the very least, spy on people and learn their weaknesses.

Because the average tribal member did not have the knowledge to distinguish a real owl from one that was actually a witch that had shape-shifted into the form of an owl, all owls were avoided in general for safety sake. It was believed that only the holy people, or medicine men, had the special knowledge to tell them apart.

Holy men or holy women among many tribes frequently sought out the spiritual help from real owls in their healing practices. The holy people believed that the owl had very soft and gentle ways, similar to the softness of an owl's feather, and these ways were taught to them in the healing ways.

Therefore, whenever owl feathers were worn by an individual, it often meant that they were a medicine person with healing abilities.

Among many tribes, two of the owls with tufts on their heads, the Great Horned Owl and the Screech Owl, are often seen as the most uncanny and most dangerous of owls. In fact, some tribes believe that individual examples of these owls may not even be real birds at all, but instead are actually transformed witches as described above, or as in some other tribes, the unquiet spirits of the dead.

There are a number of reasons why these two owls, the Great Horned Owl and the Screech Owl, might be seen as particularly powerful. First, they have tufts or horns on their heads, and horns are often signs of spiritually powerful beings for many tribes. Horned water serpents are just one example, which are seen as chief of the underworld powers by many tribes.

So the tufts or horns on these owls likely connect them to underworld powers.

Second, like most owls, Great Horned Owls and Screech Owls are active mainly at night, locating their prey in the darkness, flying on noiseless wings, and communicating with other owls through their weird sounding hoots, unlike most other birds, which are active in the day.

Because many tribes associate night with death and the underworld, it is no surprise that some tribes often associate nocturnal owls with death and the underworld as well.

Finally, specific characteristics of these two owls make them stand out from other owls. Great Horned Owls are one of the largest owls, and can take much larger prey than other owls, such as opossums and skunks, instead of the usual mice or voles, for instance. The calls of Great Horned Owls can also be especially disturbing to some.

Occasionally it utters sounds resembling the half-choking cries of a person nearly strangled, and it is sometimes attracted by a campfire and will fly over it, shrieking as is goes.

Screech Owls, although much smaller than Great Horned Owls, also have ample claims to their weird behavior. First, they come in two color phases, red and gray, and of course red is often seen as a spiritually powerful color among many tribes. They also utter disturbing cries at night, which have been described by some as screeching and by others as wails.

Small wonder then, that many of the positive traits of owls are seen to belong to more normal-seeming species, such as the Barred Owl of the woodlands, also known as the Hoot Owl, as well as the Short-Eared Owl or Burrowing Owl of the Plains.

Both the Otoe and the Ioway had a Hoot Owl Clan for instance, and the Ioway name for that clan, Mankoke, is the same as the Ioway word for the Barred Owl. The Ponca once had an owl sub-clan and the Osage also are said to have had an Owl People or Wapunka Inihkacina although I’m not sure if it was a clan, or a sub-clan.

Among the Cheyenne, contemporary members of the tribe only considered one kind of owl to be a bird, the Short-Eared Owl, which they know as the “snake-eating owl,” an important source of medicine power for doctors or healers. All other owls the Cheyenne class as mista, or “spirits of the night.”

Even the Cheyenne Contraries or Hohnuhke in the buffalo days wore the feathers of the “little prairie owl” in their headdresses, but not the feathers of the Great Horned Owl or the Screech Owl. Among the Hidatsa, it is said that a particular warrior had a guardian spirit in the form of a Burrowing Owl or Prairie Dog Owl, which was said to have protected him from being shot.

Warriors often sought to draw upon owl powers. For instance, Cheyenne warriors attached owl feathers to their shields, or wore them on their arms, to impart the owl's special powers, such as the ability to see in the dark and move silently and unnoticed.

What Is a Native American Round Dance? History, Music, & Meaning

In a similar way, Creek warriors carried owl feathers so that they would have extraordinary night vision in battle. Among the Cherokee, one of four scouts on a war expedition, whose tasks it was to locate the enemy, wore an owl skin and imitated the owl's cry. The Cherokee also observed Screech Owls closely while they were out looking for the enemy because these owls were said to be able to foretell victory or defeat in battle.

Members of many of the warrior societies of the plains tribes, such as the various dog soldier societies, also wore owl feathers or used them on their ceremonial objects, such as the Arikara Young Dogs Society, and the Hidatsa Dog Society. Several tribes had sacred owl bundles that they used while out looking for the enemy, including the Ioway and the Fox tribes.

The owl's predatory prowess was important to hunters also. The Pawnee have several stories of owls who gave some of their power to individuals so that they could become excellent hunters, with the ability to see at night.

Among the Hidatsa, a large Speckled Owl was said to be the chief of the spirits controlling the game, and the bundle used in the Hidatsa Earth Naming Ceremony To call for buffalo it contained the head, two wings, and two claws of a Speckled Owl. The Monomania were also gifted with hunting power from the owls known as the Spotted Fawn Medicine.

In many tribes, owls were seen as most closely allied with medicine men, rather than warriors or hunters. Lakota Medicine Men or Peju'ta Wica'sa respect the owl because it moves at night when people sleep, and the medicine men get their power from dreams at night such as clear dreams like the owl's sight. So many Lakota medicine men wear owl feathers and promise never to harm the owl, or else it is believed their powers will leave them.

Creek medicine men often carried an owl skin or feather as a symbol of their calling. Ponca medicine men also used owl feathers in their healing ceremonies and Ojibwa medicine men placed a stuffed owl near them while they were making medicine, so that it could “see if they do it right.”

The Pawnee used an owl medicine, and among the Pawnee it is said that “the owl is the leading medicine-man among the birds.”

In addition, owls were said by the Alabama, the Caddo, the Cherokee, and the Lakota, to bring prophetic news, either of the future or of events happening at a great distance, to the few medicine men who could understand them.

The owl's association with medicine men can also be bad news for ordinary folks. If a medicine man used owl power on your behalf, great, but if the medicine man of another tribe used his powers against you, then he could be an evil witch or bad medicine man trying to steal your soul. Because witches or bad medicine men were believed to be able to transform into owls, or to use owls to send death or disease, you could never quite be sure if an owl you saw was a real owl, a transformed witch, or an owl sent on a mission by a witch.

The owls most often believed to be shape shifted witches were, the Great Horned or Screech Owls. So among the Cherokee, the same word, skili, was used to refer to both witches and Great Horned Owls.

The Alabama, Caddo, Catawba, Choctaw and Monomania also associated Great Horned Owls or Screech Owls or both with witches, and the Wisconsin Ojibway also link witches and owls. Small wonder, then, that among many tribes, seeing or hearing an owl is believed to be a bad omen, often signaling serious illness or death to come, especially when a night owl is seen during the day, or an owl is found hanging about the home or village instead of the woods.

It is their connections with death, the afterlife, and rebirth that truly mark owls as a force to be reckoned with for most tribes. First, owls are either considered to be embodied spirits of the dead or associated with such spirits, by a very wide range of tribes, including the Lakota, Omaha, Cheyenne, Fox, Ojibway, Menominee, Cherokee and Creek.

Several of these tribes also have stories of an owl being that stands at a fork in the road in the sky, or the milky way, that leads to the land of the dead, letting some souls pass, but condemning others to roam the earth as ghosts forever.

The Fox tribe also speak of a soul-bridge that leads to the land of the dead. They say that there are two paths at the soul-bridge, one is red and one is gray. The red path is followed by men, the gray by women. It has been suggested that this is in reference to the two color phases of the Screech Owl, which are also red and gray.

However, owls were not just connected with death and the afterlife, but also with rebirth through the Calumet Ceremony. Owl feathers encircle the stems of the calumet pipes used for adoption ceremonies among the Omaha, Osage, Kansas, Ioway and Pawnee.

It is said that these owl feathers symbolized deer lungs, and together with the stem of the calumet, which represented a windpipe, they were used symbolically to blow life back into the person being adopted in the Calumet Ceremony.

Lastly, I want to remind readers to use caution concerning the use of owl feathers, since all owls, eagles and hawks, including their feathers and body parts, are protected in the U. S. by the Predatory Bird Act of 1964.

Home » Native American Articles » Native American Culture » Great Horned Owl Symbolism & Meaning | Cherokee, Lakota, Native Beliefs

TAGGED:    owls  

81 thoughts on “Great Horned Owl Symbolism & Meaning | Cherokee, Lakota, Native Beliefs

  1. Richard Marcos says:

    What is the significance of the screech owl to The Crow tribe of Indians?

  2. Truly when someone doesn’t understand afterward its up to other visitors that
    they will assist, so here it takes place.

  3. Eagle Spirit says:

    What is the significance of seeing a Snowy Owl flying over water (in a vision) carrying a rat on it’s right wing,then turning into a fully mature Bald Eagle as it’s flying?
    Also,why are Snowy Owls avoided in M’qmac culture?

  4. My fiancee and myself often sat outside and watched a pair of owls they actually came fairly close, then my mother and fiancee became quit I’ll. Both hospitalized one after the other. When my fiancee was in the hospital. One of the owls followed his truck I was driving came down flew right beside the drivers side( I could off reached out and touched him) for two blocks then turned his head looked at me then flew away. It was thrilling and kinda scary at the same time. Anyone wanna comment…feel free.

  5. Thomas hotema says:

    A guy I work with brought a dead owl to work and left it by our entrance…is he using medicine on me or a coworker?

  6. Darren says:

    I’m Darren I’m texting you I’m half Apache from my Dad & half Jewish I have a eye to eye curse that’s been casted on me long ago as child I need the insight of the great Crowd to give me the advanced vision to see clear and heal my burden off this 45yr old forseeR and I’ll be merciful

  7. I had a dream I was in the woods and a turkey came up and pecked my foot and I shooed it a way and then I saw a owl on the ground in the trees and it flew up and landed on my left arm and snuggled its face in between my arm and my chest and I held it with my rite arm across its back like something cherished.
    I am sure dreams like this are significant but all I have is my own speculation.

  8. YellowBird says:

    i know the Owls are Messengers… we tend to fear the Messenger who brings fearful news, but he is only a faithful friend doing Creator’s bidding… its a difficult task but Owl is not unkind

    Owl is in my thoughts a lot lately… there is a saying running thru my mind “When Owl Calls Your Name”…
    2017 was a year of departures
    2018 will bring more

  9. A friend of mine has a husband with lots of electric fences that go about their property. Due to the warring of some of the neighboring bulls, he set up a very high charge on one particular fence. My friend found a dead Great horned owl that was beautiful. She put it in the freezer for me because I wanted its feathers. What do you recommend I do? I am not Native American, just an artist who has an affinity with Screech owls, crows, birds and animals in general. Should I use the feathers on a reproduction of this bird or smudge sage and let him lie in the woods behind my house? She is going to get him out of the freezer for me soon, so I have really been concerned about this. By the way, since his death, she has lost her father, her brother has gotten deathly sick and she has had health problems. The owl? I do not believe they are bad ‘signs’ or ‘omens’ but he would not be dead if the fence had been so strong. Any suggestions and sooner rather than later, please.

  10. Hi,
    Just seeking insight. After about a year of living in our home in typical suburbia, I FREQUENTLY hear an owl hooting. When I gently mimic, he/she hoots back at me, for quite awhile…usually it’s when I am enjoying moments of solitude in our wooded back yard. Whole neighborhood is fairly wooded…but the owl(s) seem to return here. It’s amazing to me, that he would hoot back to a human mimicking his/her sound-repeatedly. …Has gone on for the last few years now. What could this mean? I should note, butterflies land on me often, and my cat acts like my shadow (I’ve always had dogs). This laid-back cat is chill, but races to my side to snuggle, cries if he can’t guard me in the restroom even. Lol. The whole animal connection has always been there for me, but what do my owl “companions” chatting me up at length mean? Thanks for your insight!

  11. I found this article after sewrching for meaning to a dream I had the other night. I am a very lucid dreamer, and have stories of vivid dreams that have come true and strange experiences that I just never fully understood. The other night i had a dream I was in a space locked with two other people. We were in some sort of danger, but I needed to open the patio doors to meet our spirit animals so they could help us. For some reason I was the only one that could accomplish this safely. Three animals glided in, two were short eared owls the third wasn’t clear to me just yet. I immediately knew which owl was for me and I placed my left arm out and it flew to me. Right after the second owl shape shifted into an orangutan, my eyes were drawn to the third spirit animal which was a paper snake. Prior to reading this I had no clue about the shape shifting reference or the fact that this owl was also called the snake eater / catcher. Any help interpreting this dream I will be so so grateful!


    After today, I’m quite interested in the meaning of finding an injured owl. Mainly a Barren owl.

    My father was setting up trail cameras around our farm to catch the patterns of the coyotes and foxes going after our baby cows. With a baby sheep on the way, we are tightening things up around the house. Having baby sheep in the dead of winter is dangerous with so much snow, so we are trying to address all risk. We care very much about our animals. Even our 200 chickens are happily handled by hand. To most, it looks a like a damn fairy tale most of the time. Anyways, he noticed a Japanese bush with stripped branches in a circle section. Inside was a Barren owl. He went to leave it alone assuming he was just napping. But, looked at the terrain around him. He would have sounded like an elephant coming down the hill. Making it odd that the bird didn’t fly away. My father started to check see if the owl has passed. Starting to walk around the bush, the owl flew up and crashed into the bush next to him. Sprawled out, butt first into a bush. In a split second, he grabbed the feet folding the wings back to the body and hiked out of the woods. One leg was unmistakably injured. The owl didn’t squeal or talk. He just watched as my father held him climbing out of the woods. I grabbed my keys and took him to a near by bird sanctuary. The whole time the bird was calm not fight my father’s touch. It was strange, the feeling we had when he was watching us drive to get him help. The man who started treatment on the bird even mentioned out of all his birds this owl was too calm with us. Even talked once we left.

    It has been over 6 hours now, and my father and I can’t get the look out our heads. Maybe, we are too sensitive, but there something about the way he looked at us. It was as if he was reassuring us, calming us. I have spent hours looking online trying to find out what omen, sign, myth this would indicate. We are from Scotland. We know we shouldn’t have helped the bird. The owl could have removed our fingers. There was a different feeling. It was a careless, dangerous move.

    Do you have any idea what the hell happened?

    • Caroline Smith says:

      This is to Effy, I too picked up an injured owl and all I’d like to say about it is…when I picked the screech owl one wing came completely out and he opened one eye looked and me and i told it its ok baby I am gonna get you help and it just relaxed in my arms and just road to the vet. It was the most spiritual amazing feeling that I cannot describe. I will never forget it nor the look Woodrow gave me….I named it that. Two sad things here Wild life came and took it and said the wing was shattered and they put it down which shattered my heart and soul. I still am not sure that is true but I do know that not even a month later my best friend/sister in law passed away with no warning. I was devastated but knew from my Woodrow she was fine.

  13. Jeff chavis says:

    I think many people here are very out of tune with death for it is not a bad thing as a American Indian creek or Hilabee people of one fire everyone must make that walk if we are close to creator and repent of sins and make things right and keep trying to get better as we walk the road of life why be scared. The lies that owls are witches and that non sense came here from Christians you understand I am shore everyone who’s been to church knows that person that acts as they are close to God but really is scary. All Gods creatures have there place our warriors and hunters carried owl feathers the spirit helps in the hunt and help us get past the armies. The medicine of the owl is really soft and sweet as the Owls live in a circle around the mother the hoots you hear are owls talking concerning food and for safety. I think to many people are full of garbage and they lie on the owl. The Cherokee story was cool but remember the earth is older than most Christians think and this is their pastors fault cause one of Gods days is a thousand of ours so really God made our earth in 7000 years read it in your bible do not trust a man read it for yourself the turtle was the fourth creature that swam deep enough to bring up the mud the four men of all colors were created from that’s why Canada the USA and Mexico is referred to as Turtle Island myths and lies will make you scared but true love of the creator and the medicine wheel and the taking of the flesh of God peyote will give you a positive direction. Much love to all we are all made from same creator there is only one creator not three.

  14. Spirithawk11 says:

    Over the years I believe I have owl medicine. I am Cherokee possibly even Creek. I’ve always had owls ‘talk’ at every place I’ve lived. I have found numerous owl feathers and have often put down tobacco for one when I find them. One night driving home a huge great horned owl was sitting in the highway and flew up right in front of my car. I have a very hard time seeing at night when I drive. Perhaps he was watching me. #birdclan

  15. Carol McRorie says:

    I’m not Native American, but my Husband’s Maternal Grandmother and Grandfather were Cherokee. My Husband passed away April 29th. For the past 2 days while sitting on my porch, I’ve heard an owl hooting. I’ve always thought this meant impending death, but I prefer to think that somehow, this is a message to me from my Husband that everything will be OK.

  16. Kellie Brown says:

    I am on a friend’s phone but on Friday 3/25/16, I was driving and there was an owl laying in the middle of the on ramp to a hey I live close to… I stopped, another person soon stopped right after, named anthony. Anyhow it was an owl and it was berthing well and didn’t seem to be to hurt… well another guys stopped and called animal control, which said everyone get a way it’s dangerous bla black bla…. anyhow it wasn’t dangerous it was very calm… so we couldn’t not reach anyone on a Friday night. After we got traffic around and there were less cars getting on… the owl sat up and looked at me with his green glowing eyes. I felt a connection to that owl and couldn’t leave him to get hit in the middle of the road. So i went against what animal control and the local police station said…. I knew this owl was not d a dangerous to me so I took off my coat and scooped him up and carried him over to the grassy safety away from the cars…. I checked on him shortly after he was still there and alive but I think sleeping or resting but breathing fine…. went by the next norning…. he was gone so I believed he was able to rest and fly off….

  17. Savant says:

    God Bless You Kenneth, He made you who you are supposed to be. Just like me. We are meant to see and live the life of the two people inside of us.We are special because this way ,we can help so many of our brothers and sisters.We see,feel,taste,touch,and hear everything twice.Sometimes a person may not appreciate the people YOU are,tell them who you are. You are a proud Native and they will see it then, as the animals see it always. And, we love you Kenneth, safe journeys.

  18. I love animals used to go to powwows but am only mixed ndn don’t go anymore love the songs and stories my family didnt really talk about it much my but i get laughed at from both sides white and ndn so don’t really fit in anywhere guess Ill fly my own flag once we went to Cherokee NC mueseum they took one look at my mom and let us in for free they take one look at me and want my money. don’t misunderstand I love my heritage but in the spirit world does it matter where you come from.Always wanted to be a blood may god bless us and have pity on us for we are only human. the animals never asked me for my tribal card. animals love you unconditionaly if you know what im sayin animals come to me all my life in dreams and reality because they know your heart be good to each other don’t hate love each other.

    • YellowBird says:

      my experience similar and i completely agree
      Creator sees the INSIDE, Kindness is what matters most, i do believe
      Blessings, brother

  19. Michael Sleeping Badger says:

    There has been no mention of the Snowy Owl. I was always told it carried the spirit of the dead to the spirit land. Can someone contribute further on this teaching? Mike

  20. Jennifer says:

    I was wondering if anyone may have some insight. I am not native american to clear that up. But since this past summer 2014 all of a sudden I have been extremely drawn towards owls. I have always admired them all my life, but lately I feel to have them around me. I started to collect them as knick knacks. One in particular that resembles as a russian nestling doll. It is native american as it is hand painted. I also have a large owl the frequents a large cotton wood tree in my back yard. I have also been dreaming alot about owls also…more,so now that a close relative of mine passed away. I am always looking to add to my collection. I feel protected having them around. I am even to the point to have one as a pet. Does this mean an owl may be my spirit guide?

  21. Hi,

    I have had a great many encounters and dreams about animals…and so maybe this won’t sound so strange. I have had an owl who has been nesting outside of my window for as long as I’ve lived here. I seem to hear him only in great times of stress and the other night I heard a coyote out in the distance yipping and howling and then the owl seemed to answer?? It was the strangest thing I’ve ever heard. The coyote Yipped a bit more and the owl hooted for awhile longer and then it was silent. I have always felt comforted by this sound, but this was the first time I had heard them both. Usually if I am going to be alarmed or warned of something bad happening, I dream of bears…I’m not sure why. But I’ve lost both of my brothers and both times I dreamt of bears…in fact, the first time, the dream I walked past two giant sleeping grizzly bears! Owls have never seemed to bring bad news, so I’m not sure what the coyote means now?

  22. beautiful experiences shared about owls ~ thank you. driving back home from a seminar, we were driving through a blizzard. if you have ever driven in a blizzard, looking through the windshield at the oncoming snow can be surreal. i was doing just this when a gigantic snowy owl flew right up to the windshield and over the car. it’s wingspan was as wide as the care. we made it home safe.

    if i hear owls in the night i greet them back and ask them if they have anything to tell me and i thank them. i appreciate with our winged and other relatives let me know when a family member is ill or someone is to journey to the next world. it saves me from the shock. if you have ever experienced shock in your body from a traumatic event or news, it feels like dying, like the tide of your life is sweeping out and away from you and one is unable to speak or move or eat. it takes a very long time to recover. in a good way ~ light

  23. marlena says:

    A couple of wks after my beloved brother passed on, I was walking my dogs along a path that borders on Cochiti Pueblo land. I came across a great horned owl hanging from barbed wire. The skin under an eye was attached to the barb. I tried pulling the skin up and could not, I found a piece of broken glass and tried severing the skin. I cried and asked for help. I decided to take the owl in my arms, barring all fear of being hurt, lifted it up and the skin came loose from the barb. The owl and I looked each other in eye, its one eye looked damaged. It flew off and I prayed for its recovery and my own.

  24. My entire life until his death, a family member would day “owl witch” every time he got hurt. Sometimes repeating it several times. None of us ever knew what it meant though, and just expected to hearit every time an injury occurred. We are part Cherokee, could this have anything to do w him saying that? What’s the meaning? Any help appreciatd.

  25. Snows Falling on Cedar says:

    I was standing under a very large bridge on the Stillaguamish river today. I heard a hawk in a tree next to the bridge. I thought for a second how cool it would be for it to drop a feather just then. The next thought that came to me was that the only way a feather would float under that bridge, was if it was meant for the person who was to find it. I walked about ten feet away and found a barn owl wing feather. This is the second one I have been gifted by an barn owl.

    My Grandma Billie Jo was owl. She loved them, had little owl knick knacks all over the house. It wasn’t until she passed though, that they started to visit me.

    Two summers ago on her birthday, we were celebrating her life with a bbq. We were telling stories about her and laughing. It was mid afternoon. All of a sudden, we hear this screech through the trees coming at us. A beautiful Barred Owl flew right over us and screeched again, landing in the tree above us. She sat there for a long time watching us talk.

    For the rest of the time I lived there, she would come to the big tree by the house, calling me from the back yard until I came out. I camped at the back of our 5 acres of woods with her and she would sit about 3 ft above my tent. When she would hunt the grove she would keep eye contact and call out to me. It was pretty amazing and I was very sad to leave her when I had to move.

    Last summer another owl would call to me when I was sitting outside in the dusk. That is the other Barn Owl that left me a feather.

    Since this didn’t start happening until after my Grandma passed, I feel like it is her watching over me. I’ve never once had a bad feeling about owls, or had something bad happen that I directly associated with the owls being around me. I have always felt very honored by their attention.

    Here are links to my photos of the Barred Owl and the Barn Owl feather:



  26. Hi
    I also need to mention I have the strong urge to wear one of my owl feathers to pow wow next week
    I’m frustrated the elders are away for the next week and half
    I live in the Niitstapi confederacy/Cree territory

  27. Hi
    Much appreciate all the info!
    Although I’ve never seen a live owl they have been with me all through out my life. I am holder of Eagle and Owl feathers and recently I had a vision(not sleeping but not all the way awake):
    There was loud drumming and singing for a time then it stopped and I was looking at myself and saw my self turn into a blue eyed white owl.
    Owl has been coming around a lot more lately. Obviously there’s something I need to learn

  28. Carol says:

    I was riding in the woods this week and saw a feather. On my way back down the hill I stopped where I had seen the feather and I glanced to my left. I was staring into the eyes of an owl. About 30 feet away there was a second owl! This one owl, the first one I saw is one I have seen several times over the years. Seeing two like this seemed a bit amazing to me.

  29. darlinlm says:

    Just coming into my home; my son and I see a barred owl walking and gliding in our yard. I get out of the car, gather my things and move towards my house. The owl then approaches me, come near my feet, turns and glides off to the right. In it’s departure, a feather is left near my feet. Awesome experience; power and grace. Any thoughts…? Thank you.

  30. Mamabear30 says:

    Last night my boyfriend and I were camping and standing there at the fire I had a owl fly right behind me and his wing touched the back of my neck. Is this bad luck?

  31. When i was younger i remember my mom saying to us that the owl was a messenger. We are lakota sioux but i grew up in texas and have not learned mucb about my culture. I do know however that days before there has been a death in the family i hear see or dream of owls. My sister recently died and 2days before there was an owl in the tree in front of my house. Tonight there was another owl in the same tree. I get very upset wverytimw i hear see or dream of owls because in my personal experience it has brought news of death of close family members. But my boyfriend keeps telling me its a coincide and its just a bird.

    • reneeontheway says:

      jfly I feel they can also be your loved ones who have walked on in Spirit coming to say hi and check in on you, as messengers not only to tell us someone in our life is going to go and we need to start praying for them, whether they are near death and end up living longer, or end up making their Journey to the Heavens on the Milky Way soon after, they are messengers to help us to have a heads up to prepare and pray either way, and messengers in Spirit for our loved ones afterwards too. Much love to you, will pray in my way for your healing and for your sister’s too. I have lost loved ones as well, my heart is with you.

  32. john chase says:

    last year spoted owl in the day I told my friend not to look at it the last time I did family member died this time her father died 3 days later with no warning,then found the owl dead in back yard.last night went to go shopping there he was wounded so I called for help they came the police and animal control never came I went look for him and he flew up and landed in the tree looked at me it was alsome I didn’t feel scared this time I felt something different and input,florida

    • reneeontheway says:

      John I saw owls this past year both in person and in dreams and knew they were the ancestors coming to tell me that my Grandma who I had searched for for years and finally found was going to be walking on soon and to make the most of the time I had left with her, so I did. She died, went home to heaven exactly one year after I met her. We all die, and I work with dying folks a lot, so I do not fear death anymore as I know it is a part of life, and I dream of my ancestors a lot coming to give me advice, I am Osage and Cherokee from her maternal lines. I often see owls before people I know die, sometimes I can see who it is, but sometimes not, but I know they are coming to prepare me to pray for that one’s Journey to the Heavens that is coming, so they are helpers to me to tell me to pray and protect in prayer either way, whether the person dies then or not. I was doing private prayer and ceremony and came out of the woods and literally walked right to an owl wing on the ground and was told in Spirit it is to be made into a prayer fan and only used for private healing prayers in ceremony and to help prepare the ones whose time is come to let go and get ready to go home with the ancestors, as we all will do eventually too. So Owl medicine is not bad if you give it up and over to Creator, it is a gift if used that way. But only in that way.

  33. I’ve been finding Screech Owl and Great Horned Owl feathers for more than 20 years. Been thinking about getting a life sized tattoo of a Great Horned Owl flight feather for my left fore arm.

  34. Tasha says:

    My 3 year old daughter keeps seeing a owl in my master bathroom close to the ceiling. She say look mommy there is an owl and some times its during the day and some times it is at night.This morning she saw it again and my dad told that if she see’s them during the day they are sending a bad message to you and if she see’s them at night they are sending a good message I am trying to figure out if it is true or not.Can anyone please help me with the info on this?

  35. Linda says:

    Thank you Brandon for sharing your thoughts on my dream. It does make sense to me and I will meditae on that.

  36. Salt Valley Sally says:

    I would say Owl is calling you. What you took for a kill turned out to be a rescue. The small bird crawled into Owl’s feathers, though it was a different species. Owl doesn’t care if you have native blood. This was a sacred dream, another way of saying Life has offered you an invitation.

    • Linda says:

      Thank you, Salt Valley Sally, for your thoughtful response to my post. I do not usually publicize something personal, but this dream affected me deeply and I felt this was a safe place to share.

  37. linda says:

    Last nite I dreamed clearly of what could have been a great horned owl in color and size, but the “horns” were small. In my dream it is daytime (which I believe significant) and my brother and I were sitting up high somewhere when I noticed something whitish colored “falling” to the ground. I asked him and he said he saw it too. Then moments later a large owl was flying towards us and up above. Then I put together that it had been the owl diving upon some prey, but I could not tell if it had anything in its talons. Just then the owl came so close I could see a tiny dark colored bird impaled on the outermost talon of its left foot. The little bird was still alive. While the owl was still before us the little bird managed to get free and instead of flying away, it crawled up onto the body of the owl and hid in the owl’s feathers. Then the owl flew up into a very tall skinny pine tree. I don’t remember anything more after that. I only felt amazement and curiosity in the dream. No fear at all. It disturbed me more after waking up which led me to read about owls in dreams. I decided I will believe the positive associations with this vision. I am not close blood relation to any native peoples and do not follow any of those traditions but find it interesting.

    • Brandon says:

      To me this dream has deep meaning. I believe with all my heart that the dream, or vision, has to do with facing your fears and things that you are afraid of. Face your fears and you will learn many new things and new lessons. Lessons that will help you in the future with other fears. Just a thought. Thank you for sharing your story with us 🙂

  38. katherine says:

    Driving home on Poetry Road at precisely 10pm I noticed something unusual dead center ahead. I’m used to an occasional opossum, frog, turtle, snake, toad, spider, squirrel, rabbit, perhaps a fox or trotting coyote. Deep into a magical reality tale read by Michael Nesmith, I approached fast, my left brain trying to compute – what is it – while my driving self forgot to slow the car. It was a tallish lump resembling crumpled embodied butcher paper. I only came up with ‘dog’ and I recalled ‘oh yes, stop the car’ when the top of this mound began to rotate and two yellow glowing orbs appeared. Exorcist….nuh uh….owl! The car halted four feet bumper to owl. Wings expanded huge and slow and great horned owl turned her gaze to the right and like a sleepy dinosaur moved air sideways flapping arising just barely over the border fence. After awhile I realized I was still stopped on this perfectly silent night in the middle of the road, moments from my driveway.

  39. Rachael says:

    Eva, I just wanted to commend you for your actions in rescuing this injured owl, (Spirit), and I hope and pray that he will recover from his injuries. Please let us know how he is doing. Best wishes to you, and thank you for stopping to help this wonderful creature.

  40. Visiting a highschool friend out of state 30 yrs after hs and we traveled to meet another friend. Way home passed owl on rd hit by car. Turned around to check on it. Moved it off rd wrapped in towel and took to bird rescue. Named him spirit. Pray for him as he needs energy rt now and hope his back is not brohen

  41. Salt Valley Sally says:


    Ill doesn’t mean dead. Owl carries warnings true, but seek hope in your friendly neighborhood shaman. There is one wherever you are, probably closer than you imagine.

    Sending you strength through Pomo medicine. My hands are hot so we must have connected.

    Love as always.

  42. Owls have come to me recently. Each time I see them they’re louder and closer. Now I can hear them hoot during the day so they are very close to me. Recently I received an MRI which was abnormal. I have to have further testing. I know I am gravely ill. It’s only a matter of time before the doctors confirm it.

  43. Susan says:

    I had an owl appear to me when I was a child in my bedroom. It looked right at me, stretched his wings then slowly flew across the room through my closed window. I remember it being a great horned owl. Now to the present, my youngest son has also seen an owl in the house. His owl is small and red and has appeared to him twice. So, wondering about the owls that appear in our family. I have cree, swedish, scottish descent, my son the same but add Japanese as well. Nobody died after seeing the owls, no sickness, but interesting that it happened to both of us wide awake and in our homes.

  44. For the past week I have dreamed at least twice of a pale owl that simply stares at me for a long time then stares then flies away with something in it’s talons. My husband is Cherokee ( in large part) and said that his was a bad omen. I went online and other places said that owls can be either bad or good. I am a mutt, and he seems a bit sure. This is not the first prophetic dream for me. I need help interpreting it this time. Will you please?

  45. Rachael says:

    Recently, a dear friend of mine passed away. He was a Cherokee. I was wondering if there is any taboo or meanings if I was to place an owl feather into his casket at his funeral, which still has not happened. My reason being that the owl has strong significance to me personally, and I feel that it represents me. Would this be offensive to the Cherokee people in any way? I would not wish to be disrespectful of my dear friend’s culture/beliefs – I just want to include a feather with a card I have written for him as I believe it symbolises myself. I would appreciate advice on this matter as I don’t want to do the wrong thing.

    • Jennifer says:

      Rachael, sorry to hear that your friend passed away, I wish you comfort for your grief. Why do u think an owl represents yourself? I live in front of a lake and often see and hear different birds; I would hear an owl in the early morning and at dusk, it was comforting to hear. One night, I had a specific dream of a Barn Owl. I have a friend who adores owls and I made her a picture of a sun for a gift, the very next day, I saw the same owl from my dream on t.v, which I think is rare since I hardly ever watch t.v.

  46. Today I was home with my two older kids, as I walked out of my son’s bedroom and looked down the hallway into the living room, I saw a big gray owl sitting on a stan. I stepped back and took a double look but it wasn’t there. I guess I saw it in the spiritual realm. Can someone tell me what does this mean?..Thanks

  47. Brandon says:

    As a cherokee Indian I feel it is also important to share our traditional belief about owls. When the world was being created all the animals gathered and watched as the creator made our great land. The cougar and owl were the only animals to stay awake for the entire 7 nights of creation the the creator rewarded them for watching over the earth. He gave them similar gifts / features. Both are nocturnal, both have large eyes to see in the night, both are able to move silently through the forest and both resemble each other (ever notice how a great horned owl looks like a cat with its feather tufts?). The owl is also believed to give shamans a special connection to the other side to help them with healing and to receive messages from the spiritual realm. Over the years people have adapted the owls meaning to many different things. There is one saying if you hear an owls hoot a death is near. Others compare the wall of an owl to a wise old man so they feel it brings wisdom. Others do in fact say witches or shape shift into owls. They are called skili to us and this is the term used for witches and all great horned owls. To me the owl is a special gift. It is not bad in any way. To see an owl is a blessing. I feel it means there is a message from the other side. Almost as a psychic message saying everything is going to be ok. Hope this helps.

    • Crane Clan says:

      I’m Ojiwbe and have been confused over this topic for years. Throughout my life I have lived by what I have been taught that owls are a bad sign, and brings news of death or sickness. As I have grown older and become deeply involved in a traditional life and learning more and more of old teachings, I find that I have a new view towards owls. Over the last few years I keep finding owls, I knew they were finding me for a reason. One found me tonight, a great big horn owl. Even though my father believes they are a bad sign, he told me to hang on to it. He understands that certain people poses the power to use owl feathers. I’m questioning myself tonight if I am now one of those people who can use owls.

    • Mona Miyasato says:

      Brandon, I was glad to hear your message because it was spot on! It helped verify (not that verification was needed) a message brought from the spirit world by a snowy owl. It had come to me, two of my children and my mom. The owl just stood there in a tree, looking into our eyes in a way I will never forget. It didn’t seem to be an ordinary thing, so I had the experience taken to a spiritual leader to bring meaning to what we had seen. The response was that the owl was my dad coming to say “everything will be alright,” basically what you said. I didn’t like the message the owl brought because it was too general, I didn’t get it. But I got it not too long afterward. My mom got Alzheimer’s and we tried to take care of her. It was a horrible time but now I believe we did the best we could and it’s OK.

  48. Barbie says:

    About two weeks before my father died from cancer, I had a dream about an owl in a tree by my house. I told my dad about it, my sister was also there, so she heard what I said to dad, and I asked him what that meant, he said I would know later. I wasn’t at the hospital when my dad died, but I could feel something was wrong. When I got home my husband came out to the car and told me that dad died, and he also added, that there was also an owl in the same tree right afterwards. I never told my husband about it, before, he always laughed when things happened, but after that he never laughed again, but I told my sister later what happen and we figured that was dad saying good bye. Do you think that was true, its been almost 20 years but I still remember it.

  49. Nancy harris says:

    My sister is a creek Indian often hears owls that sounds like a baby crying yesterday she saw an owl in the yard we had a first cousin pass away this week what this mean she was very frighten

    • Jeff chavis says:

      Sister I am a Hilabee or Creek American Indian in creek culture the owl feathers were carried by hunters and warriors. The myth of a owl concerning death is however a white Christian thing because a American Indian is not afraid to take that walk we know our bodies will return to the earth and our spirit we be in a good place if we love the creator and show respect to the medicine wheel. Your sister has probably listen to people who are really believe in evil lies. All of the creators creatures are good and have their place and in today’s age we know that people get sick because man chose to listen to himself and eat of forbidden knowledge we all must make that walk if we are close to the creator why would we fear. Much love I hope this helps Jeff Chavis PeeDee Indian tribe of South Carolina member of the Native American Church

      • Racheal says:

        My Name is Racheal and i’m 16 yrs old and came from the Mnicoujou tribe in Cheyenne River in South Dakota. It is known as an owl, it is a message for a nearby death. My family is very traditional on things that come to nature. My decendent is an eagle and it is very know to be used for many ceremonies and has helped and guide me through my life and is very know to keep bad spirits away. Tribes should be known that owls are dangerous, and need to be left alone, even if they are injured. Wasichu people are known to be harming animals like this and I know that when I see an owl, my family are known to die. Just two weeks before i’m writing this my very close cousin died and hung herself. There was an owl that had let me know before she died, and not yet has the owl reveal her soul through the milky way near the grave. I have seen good spirits and some bad spirits, but every day I pray to Tunkasila (The Creater, God) by smugding with sage. My dad and I attend to sundance everyear, and last year in 2017 Tunkasila almost took the tree, which devastated us. If I were you people, I would leave the bird alone, even if its injured that message to you will bring no good to you, because the boogeyman will be there after you pass and you will have now way to have someone help you.

  50. Sarah says:

    I’ve seen a owl several times when I was a teenager. I walked home late at night from a friends house a lot on the way home I would see the same owl at the same time at night sitting in the middle of the street. He was watching me his head kept turning. For some reason I was scared, I don’t know why… I saw a owl on the television today an it brought me back to this. No one passed away at the time. My mother was not doing well, but this was before that owl came into my life. She was diagnosed with M.S.. I look back now, I think he was protecting me from something. Once during that time I took my dog for a walk a man tried following me home, I walked back and forth to find out if he really was following me and he was.

  51. Katie says:

    I came upon a screech owl. Adult male, gray and small and looked like it had a broken wing. Eventually was able to get him into a box that I put a towel on the bottom, poked holes in and made dark and warm for him until the Wildlife location was open the next morning. The next morning, I looked into the box. He was standing and minding his own business. Then right before I was to leave my home, I looked again and saw him on his side. His eyes looked into mine and he was breathing heavy with his beak opening and closing and his tongue going in and out. I thought could he be dying?? I said in a calming voice, you’re going to be alright, you are safe. I closed the lid of the cardboard box and off I went to the Wildlife museum. I was there for about 5 minutes, they thanked me for doing all I could to rescue the injured owl…but said he had passed. What does this mean? I believe in signs. This could be nothing and I will go on with life as normal, but to see an owl, to take care of one, have one in your home for a night, and to bring to the wildlife docs to rescue is not typical. I can see saving a cat or dog…but an owl is sooooo odd to find during daylight hours. Please tell me if you know what all this could mean. Thank you

    • That’s pretty amazing encounter !!! I would see it as pretty dang specific really – you had an owl visit you. Period. So- how does that NEED to apply to you currently in your life? How best can you benefit from his visit? Research owl medicine and learn- what resonates at soul level to you? And give thanks :).

  52. Salt Valley Sally says:

    Thank you for this compendium of sacred lore regarding owls and their medicine. Since childhood, an owl spirit has been a guardian and messenger for me. Last fall owls came to my neighborhood for several nights, and when they spoke, I answered, and they replied. Lately my thoughts have been drawn to owls, and yesterday, an owl fetish came into my hands. Best wishes to you and to all our relations.

    • Candace Pfau says:

      I have also had a long ongoing relationship with screech owls. And even a great horned owl visited my woods. But the screech owls became like family. At first I just met a male screech owl. He would come to my woods at night and I would mimic his call and he would answer back and fly down and look at me. Finally we put up an owl house. He brought his female. They had two or three broods of baby owls over three seasons. The baby owls when being trained would fly all around me at night like tame creatures. I even watched the male and female do some sort of ritual in the bird bath before the babies hatched. Finally a man at Wild Birds unlimited told me to not encourage the young owls to lose their wildness. He said, the parents want them to go into the woods to train. So I ignored them and they left with the adults. I feel owls are my totem animal. I don’t fear them. My husbands Mother heard one at night and she said, The night my baby brother died we heard an owl. Owls are good.

  53. I found a great horned owl feather floating over a stream almost out of reach. Suspended in air floating.

  54. 3-4 weeks ago family member Heard a owl screaming in the back of the family home and then people i work with seen a owl at our junction road last week and then the news this week is that one of my family members has a sickness.

  55. terry esposito says:

    Over the years I have had many owls come to me, both day and night. 2 nights ago I came upon one sitting on the road, and it flew up and over me. I felt it was an omen, not necessarily a bad one. I found out today, I may have cancer and need surgery!

  56. Rene Desjarlais says:

    I had agreat horned owl appear in my evergreen tree last fall and he stayed for 2 days and then left. Now on Christmas morning I discovered a fully intact Great Horned owl in a dumpster while walking my dogs. I could not stand to see him there and retrieved him and putting him in my freezer till a friend of mine could do a ceremony for this beatiful animal. Does anyone know what omem may be attatched to this bird?Dec.27 2011

  57. mandybre says:

    I love the great horned owl! Two years ago, I rescued one from a barbed wire fence and managed to get him to a rehabber. He is now healed and flying again free. I keep his picture and a couple of feathers in a frame.

  58. larry blazek says:

    thanks for the information about owls; i have owls living in the trees near my house and often hear them; hawks live in the trees nearby; i sometimes find thier feathers

  59. scotttreaty says:

    Like all of the Bird Nations, the Owl is sacred, The owl is known to be able to alert an individual of coming news or message that is out of the ordinary or unique in nature. The news of a “death” in a family (that a person allegedly seen or heard an Owl just prior) has been misconstrued as “a bad sign” – where, however, leaving this world is a good thing and not something to be feared or considered negative or bad. This stereotype is most likely christian-based or early pioneer “wives tales” in origin.

  60. IyanHoks'ila says:

    Among the Sicangu Lakota, there is a society known as the Owl Feather Bonnet Society, and there is a story that tells when there was a time when some Sicangu Lakota where being chased by the Calvary, they prayed to get away, a person in this group had a dream that the Naca was wearing a owl feather bonnet and they were invisible to the soldiers, so they made one and turn back toward the US Army and when they met them they walked right past them and got away. So the owl feather bonnet society began, the people of St. Francis, SD are those who descend from this group, historical note, before the Catholics came, St. Francis was called Owl Bonnet.

    • Goonabeek says:

      It is a wonderful thing that you did!In my culture(Ojibwe) it is known that when an animal dies it takes 3 days for the silver cord to detach…allowing the animals spirit to go back up into the sky. If an animal is buried or burned before the cord breaks,it’s spirit remains earthbound.If you find a dead wild animal you can smudge it with sage and ask for it’s spirit to go back to the Great Spirit and put the animal back in the wild so nature can take it’s course.
      An owl in particular should never be burned or buried. You prevented this owl from being buried in the dump.

      • Sarah Abeyta says:

        I’ve been having very lucid dreams of spirits trying to take my soul. Every time it’s about to accomplish that, my eyes oppen wide and I hear my name. I’ve been seeing an owl every night at work but none of my co-workers hav

      • Sarah Abeyta says:

        I’ve been having very lucid dreams of spirits trying to take my soul. Every time it’s about to accomplish that, my eyes oppen wide and I hear my name. I’ve been seeing an owl every night at work but none of my co-workers have seen it

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Free Email Series: What to Expect at Your First Pow Wow