DREAM ADVICE COLUMN: OWL SYMBOLISM
I was in a forest. There was a large, tall tree with its stump raised above the ground. I looked beneath the stump and saw a brown owl, looking at me. Later in the dream I was walking with friends, and expressed what I saw (“I saw an owl!!”). When I looked again, the owl was gone, with roots in its place.
Because the owl is becoming a repeat theme for me, I am wondering the significance.
I have had a challenging year. I was laid off from a (good) job in February, only to take a job six months later with a company for whom I am increasingly realizing I do not belong. In fact, I feel quite bummed about where I landed.
I always feel like I’ve been given a gift when animals appear in my dreams. It sounds like you feel similarly with these recurring owl dreams. Oddly enough, I received a few submissions that had to do with owls, so I hope this post, uh, kills two birds with one stone…?
Owls, being a nocturnal bird of prey, have been fascinating cultures around the world since as early as 3,000 BCE, with common symbolism having to do with clairvoyance, the underworld and wisdom. My personal favorite of all owl lore is the connection between owls and the biblical demoness Lilith. Lilith translates to mean “night-monster,” “night-bird,” and “screech owl.”
Some ancient texts suggest that Lilith and Adam were created simultaneously, of the same dust. She is considered Adam’s first wife, not Eve. Yet when Adam tried to claim her obedience by force, Lilith erupted in a rage and flew away. Lilith, an original femme fatale, went on to seduce men in the night to inseminate herself, spreading evil throughout the land with her army of demon children. With the dawn of feminism in the 60s, Lilith was reclaimed as a cultural icon, personifying female rage and the refusal to be made subordinate.
Keeping its affiliation with the cult of Lilith in mind, perhaps the owl’s commonly understood wisdom is less of a bookish wisdom, but rather a body wisdom. That which by day we like to think we’ve forgotten always seems to return in our dreams. For you, MB, I wonder if your pain of being laid off has gone relatively “beneath the stump” for you. Then, in your dream, when you shared your owl sighting with friends, it was gone, just like an owl vanishes once daylight comes. The thing trying to make itself known to you seems to disappear if you try to look at it too directly. Being laid off is a sort of Lilith situation — it’s a kind of banishment. Perhaps your rage has taken “root” somewhere in your body and the owl is trying to draw your attention to this rejected place.
Eye to eye with the owl, you saw something. What would the owl want to say to you, if it could speak? See if you can dig up some of the roots and face what’s been buried, and you may find the flight you need to land on a new path forward.
*DISCLAIMER: Dreamwork is a collaborative process that relies entirely on the associations of the dreamer to create a dream meaning. Without the dreamer’s input, I can only describe my personal associations and amplify the dream images as they exist symbolically on a cultural level.