The very first night I slept out here at my farm, sometime in mid-December, 2011, was a night i’ll never forget (see First Night With a Lover blog). I was on an air mattress in a sleeping bag and my head was in the West. The minute I laid down, a barred owl hooted just outside and I could tell she was close. Owl is feared in many Native cultures as a bringer of death. If someone heard an owl, it was an omen that soon they, or someone close, would be transitioning physically out of this life. Owl medicine is perhaps one of the most complex of all the totems. In addition to being the “bringer of death” it symbolizes deep inner wisdom and the ability to see the 360 degree truth of matters, especially when they are hidden. Owl flies in perfect silence, like the grim reaper, and its night vision is impeccable. Check out this amazing experiment showing just how quiet owl is compared to a pigeon and a falcon. This spring I was sitting on my porch enjoying the quiet night, and a large shape flew just over the roof a few feet above me. Twice. I heard nothing. It was like mother nature’s stealth bomber. Owl’s silence, coupled with its amazing night vision, makes it deadly for some in the night. So when they hoot, they make their presence uncharacteristically known. No wonder it has been so revered, and feared.
When I built my first medicine wheel in the woods, to honor the Divine Feminine, one of the first objects I placed on the alter was an owl shaped piece of wood. It faced the west, just like my head that first night. Within a year I had found four dead owls. Last Fall during a dark time of the soul (see Dancing in the cycle of life), sitting on my deck after dark, I heard five owls in the woods (three barred and two great horned). I have been surrounded by owls since I moved here. I see them in broad daylight, hear them often at night and see their droppings in the woods. Everywhere I look, I see owl faces: in the trees, on the ground, and sometimes even in the clouds. As I type this, one hoots in the woods.
I have never been afraid of owl medicine though, because to me, death is a part of life. In the woods, something lives and something else dies every single day. Owl is a reminder to take inventory and see what needs to go, so that something else can live and grow. If I am full (especially of old stuff that is no longer useful), there is no room for anything new, or anything to grow. I am asked by owl to be vigilant and constantly cull that which no longer serves. She is a reminder that the pruning of life is healthy. We are all familiar with her question”who?” To me she also asks “what?” What is it time to let go of.
Moving out here on to the land has been so full of new experiences, because there is room for them, and owl has helped me keep my space clear. During that first sleep at the farm, I awoke in the middle of the night and had a sense that my head was in the wrong direction. I wasn’t sleeping well, and intuitively knew that my head should be in the East, the direction of the rising sun, and not the West as I had started out the night. My experience with this land is about new beginnings, new ideas, new energies, and a new way of living. That new way is all about harmonizing with everything I encounter. And through all these encounters, owl has been a constant reminder. I am strangely comforted by her voice in the middle of the night. It is as if she is telling me that all is as it should be. Because I cleaned house, something new is being born in my dream-time and she is by my side, cheering all the way.