"'S co-aoise mise do'n daraig,Bha nafhallain ann sa choinnicli, 'S ioma linn a chuir ini romham,'S gur mi comhachag bhochd na sroine."
(Ancient-ness upon me is that of the oak . . . whose mossy roots spread wide: many a race have I seen come and go: and still I am the lonely Owl of Srona.) – Donald Finlay, 1590.
The lonely owl that drifts through the night of our dreams in the Celtic tradition is the totem bird of the crone Goddess, and it bears her name; Cailleach oidhche (pron: Kayl-uck oheeche). As such it symbolizes the powers of darkness, hidden wisdom, detachment, metamorphosis. The owl is a hunter, dwelling in the shades of moon-light, perceptive, silent and swift. Throughout many cultures it is feared for its connection to death, its haunting voice is reminiscent of the lament of mourning. To encounter an owl at midnight might be a prophecy of loss or bereavement, but certainly she are a reminder of life, age and the eventual scythe of time… the harvester of souls.
Others connect the owl, particularly the snowy or Cailleach Bhan (pron Kayl-uck ban) or ‘the Auld white wife’ with storms, thunder, lightening, hero’s and love maidens. On the Island of Arran she was believed to be the herald of both the morning star or Reul na Maidne and the evening star or Reul na Fheagair; opening the gates of life and light, and later closing the curtains of the day with patience and serenity.
Whatever the belief, it is certainly a mystical experience to be walking out at night and feel the soft, silent flutter of an owl flying above our head… an almost imperceptible rush of power like muted lightening, and then gone… into the velvet mist of darkness, like a whispered prayer in the wind.
The Colorado Raptor Education Foundation was created in 1980 to promote environmental literacy, preserve injured or un-releasable raptors (hawks, eagles, falcons, owls), increase nature awareness and promote respect for wildlife. They actively train, educate and hold regular programs and seminars around their conservational efforts: