Whether in a dream or in real life, hearing an owl hoot can often seem very ominous. Then again, depending on the situation, it can also sometimes feel inspiring. This isn’t surprising given how deeply rooted owls are in most cultures’ ancient fairytales, mythologies, religions, and spiritual traditions.
Still, how do you discern exactly what your own dream, vision, or real-life encounter means? As usual, the crumbs that can lead us to the right answer are spread all throughout history, culture, our personal psychology and views, as well as the numerous details of the particular situation you find or dream yourself in.
So, let’s examine what does it mean when you hear an owl below and give you the 10 most likely spiritual interpretations you should consider first.
What does it mean when you hear an owl?
The perceived spiritual meaning of these feathery creatures can seem all over the place, depending on which cultural lenses and which historical period you’re looking through. This doesn’t mean that the interpretation of hearing an owl’s hoot is subjective, however – rather, it is to say that the meaning should be understood through your cultural views.
This is especially the case for dreams of owls hooting as dreams are literally just messages from your own subconscious mind. Even with real-life encounters, however, the same interpretations apply. So, here are a few examples based both on cultural differences and on some of the more common possible details of the situation.
1. You need to look for a wiser approach to your problems
Probably the most common interpretation of owls today is as a symbol of wisdom and spiritual enlightenment. This understanding largely stems from the Age of Enlightenment when people started to understand more and more just how wise these creatures are, as well as how beneficial they actually are for the environment and for pest control.
Even in ancient times, however, there were still those who saw the owl as a sign of good luck and wisdom. In ancient Greek culture, for example, owls were associated with Athena, the goddess of wisdom. In fact, the scientific name of the European Little Owl to this day is Athene noctua.
So, from this point of view, hearing an owl’s hoot, seeing an owl watch over you, or even finding an owl’s feathers can all be seen as supernatural signs that you’re either being gifted with wisdom or you need to look for more wisdom to deal with the issues you’ve been having as of late.
2. There are better days ahead
Another view that was widely believed by the ancient Greeks is that an owl hooting during the day is a sign of good fortune. The rationale for this was that owls are mostly nocturnal animals, so, if one was watching over you during the day that was seen as extraordinary. The same was also perceived for midnight hooting, however, even if to a lesser degree.
3. Beware of death and disease
Many saw owls in the exact opposite manner, however, and continue to do so to this day. The Romans, Arabs, and Chinese all saw owls as evil spirits who brought nothing but illness, misfortune, and negative energy. For them, an owl hooting near you – or especially an owl screeching – was a categorical bad omen.
For example, the Chinese had a saying that if you hear an owl hooting near you in the middle of the night you might as well start digging your own grave, that’s how assured and significant your bad luck was going to be.
The Romans, in particular, believed that an owl’s hoot predetermined the betrayal and death of Julius Caesar, with many saying that the deaths of Marcus Aurelius, Caesar Augustus, and Agrippa, were also predicted by owls’ hoots. The Romans even had a superstition that nailing a dead owl to your door would ward off evil!
Of course, such incidents are hardly proof of anything – owls hoot all the time and people pass away every second of every day too. This does go to show just how negatively the people of many societies viewed owls, however, and how this has informed a lot of cultural perceptions and concepts.
4. There’s witchcraft about
Off to the other side of the Atlantic, there were lots of interesting Native American beliefs about owls too. The Cherokee natives, for example, associated owls hooting and screeching with signs of witches and witchers performing their mystical acts in and around the tribe.
This wasn’t necessarily associated with negativity, however, as witches and witchers could act in the tribe’s interest as often as they did against it.
5. You’re hearing a voice from the beyond
Other Native American tribes saw owls differently too. The Navajo and Sioux natives, for example, saw owls’ hoots as messages from beyond the grave. They thought an owl’s hoot was actually the soul of a long-dead relative or friend speaking out and trying to share a piece of wisdom with the living.
That, or it was an evil spirit of someone who had passed away, trying to curse you from beyond the grave – either way, it was an ominous message that shouldn’t be ignored.
6. An owl’s hoot in the morning signifies the passing of danger
Putting aside symbolism and metaphors for a second, owls are predators first and foremost, and they are nocturnal predators in particular. So, it’s perfectly natural for them to hoot, screech, fly about, and hunt during the little hours of the night.
What’s more, the majority of owls’ prey, especially around human settlements, are pests such as mice, rats, and others. In fact, barn owls, in particular, are famous as a very good pest control tool.
In that sense, hearing an owl hoot as the sun rises in the early morning can be understood as a greeting from a friend who has just finished their job on their night shift and is now leaving you a pest-free property to do with as you please. All of this, if we are to put our metaphor and symbolism hat back on, can be seen as a sign of a positive transformation and the passing of danger.
7. Something weird is afoot
Another way to look at it would be that owls hooting during the day are unusual and therefore weird and potentially bad. In that sense, this should serve as a warning that evil spirits or some other negative forces may be stalking you and you should be more careful.
What exactly those evil forces would be can vary and would usually depend on your life’s circumstances – the owl in and of itself doesn’t point toward any particular adversary.
8. You have a guardian angel watching over you
Back on the flip side, an owl sighting during the day can also indicate good luck by the same token – it’s a rare and weird occurrence. So, it could very well be that you have a guardian angel who is watching your back and providing guidance from a distance.
Whether that’s the case or the precious interpretation is more likely will depend on a case-by-case basis. If you’ve been hearing owls in your dreams, the tone of the dream can point you in the right direction but even that can be difficult to interpret at times. In any case, you’ll probably need quite a bit of introspection to arrive at the right interpretation.
9. Life goes on
The sounds of two owls hooting, whether it’s during the day or night, is a pretty literal sign of life moving on. Such a duet is typically due to the owls mating, after all, and that always has a very clear meaning, whether it’s owls, pigeons, or any other creature.
10. The Universe has a message for you
Like most other birds, the owls can also be seen as messengers of the gods or destiny. As such, owls hooting right outside your window during the night or in the morning is very likely a sign that the universe has something to tell you and it’s pretty urgent or important.
What exactly that message is, however, we can’t tell off such limited information – you’ll have to look into the details of the dream or situation and do some interpreting and soul-searching yourself.
All in all, hearing an owl hoot can mean a lot of things, whether it’s in your dream or while you’re awake in the morning, deep in the middle of the night, or around midday. The meaning is almost always significant, however, which is why a correct interpretation is very important.
Fortunately, arriving at the correct understanding is often easy – sometimes it can be done even just by paying attention to the tone and connotation of the dream or the situation you’re in.