Owls are mystical creatures of the night, and when you encounter one, it’s hard to shake the feeling that you’ve experienced something profoundly magical.
An owl’s hoot usually carries an important spiritual message, so if you hear one, you should take the time to interpret it correctly – and to help, in this post we discuss the question, what does it mean when you hear an owl?
Owl symbolism according to different cultures
Before we look at what it means if you hear an owl hooting, it will be useful to take a moment to think about the symbolism owls have had according to various cultures around the world.
Native American beliefs
Although different Native American tribes have a range of varying beliefs, animals and the wider natural world are almost universally seen as having deep spiritual and symbolic meaning.
For this reason, it is no surprise that an animal as mystic and mysterious as the owl features in the beliefs of several tribes – although the beliefs can differ significantly from tribe to tribe.
Some tribes see owls as an evil omen that heralds bad luck, misfortune, bad weather or even death. For example, the Cherokee have beliefs of this kind, associating owls with death, witchcraft and misfortune.
Others see owls as foretelling important spiritual events – this can mean death, but in the metaphorical sense, which also leads to spiritual transformation and rebirth.
In some tribes, children are told that owls can hunt humans and that they can steal people’s souls – this is a traditional kind of lesson for children in some Native American societies that teach them to behave properly.
Finally, some tribes see owls as what’s known as a “psychopomp”, a guide that accompanies the souls of the departed to the other side.
So in short, in Native American culture, owls are feared and revered in equal measure.
In Ancient Greece, the goddess Athena was associated with owls and was often depicted with them. Athena was the goddess of knowledge, so seeing or hearing owls was considered a good omen that foretold good luck or wealth.
The owl was seen as a symbol of wisdom, and it was also a guardian for troops, representing victory over enemies on the battlefield.
In ancient Greece, hearing the hoot of an owl was a sign of good luck. And it can also bring guardianship and peace to the troops, so law enforcement departments also like to use the owl as a symbol. Law enforcement agencies usually had officers on night duty. They carry owls in their related merchandise designed to be given to police officers who are on duty at night. For police officers, the owl is the patron saint of the night. Therefore, police departments, usually give them owl related items such as custom police challenge coins, custom patches, etc.
Unlike in Greece, in Ancient Rome, the owl was seen in a much more negative light. It was often seen as predicting poor weather or death – and owls are known to have appeared before the deaths of important Romans such as Julius Caesar, Augustus, Marcus Aurelius and Agrippa.
Once, the city of Rome even had to undergo a lustration, a kind of purification ritual, because an owl was observed in the Capitolium.
In Ancient Egypt, owls were feared but also worshipped. This is because they were believed to be connected to death and darkness – but they were also related to the afterlife.
According to certain Arab beliefs, owls were bad omens and evil spirits. An old folk story tells that owls can fly into houses and carry off children.
In China, owls are believed to be connected to disease and death, and according to one belief, when an old person hears an owl, they should begin digging a grave.
In traditional Chinese feng shui however, the owl represents strong yang energy and has potent protective capabilities. According to these beliefs, the owl is a positive omen of good luck and abundance.
This means it is a positive emblem to hang in your house, although you shouldn’t place it in areas of peace and tranquility. It is more suitable for places like offices, and when placed by windows, it can deflect harmful negative energy from outside.
Modern spiritual meanings
In modern spirituality, the owl combines many of the old beliefs about owls with more modern thinking, giving this bird a whole new level of symbolism.
One important signification is that owls are related to setting limits and boundaries. They defend their territory fiercely, and part of owl symbolism relates to defining boundaries.
Nowadays, owls are seen in more of a positive light than a negative one – they are seen as being wise creatures, and the idea that they are bad omens is less common.
However, seeing or hearing one can awaken deeply spiritual feelings in some people, so it’s easy to understand why some people can also be afraid of their powers.
Owls are also related to new beginnings, and in modern spiritual symbolism, this is an important aspect of what the owl represents.
Whereas in some cultures, owls foretold literal death, now more people choose to see this as meaning the end of one phase in their life and the start of something new.
What does it mean if you hear an owl hooting?
Because owls come out at night, seeing or hearing them is quite uncommon, and when you do hear an owl hooting, it can be an eerie experience, leaving you with the impression that you have witnessed something profound and meaningful.
However, understanding what hearing an owl can mean is not always easy, so here are some of the most common interpretations.
1. Wisdom and knowledge
If you hear an owl, the message intended for you could be related to wisdom and knowledge – it could be about using your intellect to solve problems in your life rather than relying on your gut instincts.
Are you facing a difficult situation in your life at the moment that you don’t know how to resolve? Then hearing an owl could be a sign encouraging you to think rationally to find the solution instead of allowing your emotions to guide your choices.
2. Change or transformation
As we have seen, owls have been seen as ill omens that foretell death in many cultures, but if you hear one, it could be more related to change, transformation and rebirth than a premonition of a real death.
Sometimes we can be afraid of change. This is natural because we never know what the future brings, and often, it is easier to cling to what we know.
However, change and evolution always bring new opportunities, so we should welcome change and face it with courage.
Are you facing a big change in your life – or is there a decision you need to take that will bring change with it?
Perhaps you are thinking about changing your job, maybe you considering leaving a relationship or it could be that you are pondering a move to a new city.
However, whatever it is, hearing an owl hooting is a reminder not to be scared of change, and if you are looking for guidance in making the decision, there is a good chance that hearing an owl was the confirmation you were looking for.
3. Female energy and intuitive power
Owls represent female energy and intuitive power, and hearing an owl hooting can be an indication that you should trust this side of your being when making an important upcoming decision.
Allow things to run their course, accept what happens and allow your intuition to show you the best path to follow.
4. Setting of boundaries
We mentioned before that owls can symbolize the setting of boundaries, and this is an important message that hearing one can bring.
It could be that somebody is getting too close to you, bringing unwelcome or negative energy. If that sounds like it could be true – and you hear an owl hooting – it could be a clear sign to you keep that person at a distance.
Alternatively, just as the correct interpretation can relate to spiritual boundaries, it can also relate to physical ones. Perhaps somebody is making unwanted advances towards you, maybe at work or in another situation.
In this case, the owl could be telling you to set clear boundaries for that person and to tell them that their advances are unwelcome.
5. Escape from a toxic relationship
Related to the setting of boundaries is the possibility that an owl’s hooting is a message for you to escape from a toxic relationship.
If you are in a relationship that is making you unhappy or preventing you from growing and developing as you should, maybe it’s time to be honest with yourself and end that relationship.
It can often be difficult to make that kind of decision, but you will know deep down that it’s what you need to do.
If this interpretation resonates with you, you should think deeply and search within yourself for the correct answers – and if your intuition tells you to leave the relationship, you should take courage from the owl’s hoots that this decision is the right one.
6. Number of hoots – India
An interesting interpretation of what a hooting owl means come from India and tells you to count how many hoots you hear.
One hoot foretells a death, but two hoots predict success. Three hoots tell you that a woman is going to marry into the family soon while four is a warning of unrest. If you hear five hoots, on the other hand, it tells you that you are about to embark upon a journey.
7. Hooting during the day
Since owls are creatures of the night, hearing one hooting during the day is extremely unusual – and for this reason, it can also be an extremely important spiritual message.
In general, it can be taken as a positive sign, and it often predicts that a major event is about to take place that will change your life for the better.
However, sometimes it can also be a message telling you to re-evaluate your life since you may need to make that major change for yourself.
8. Hooting at daybreak
By daybreak, owls are usually no longer active, so it’s also unusual to hear them hooting at this time. If you do hear one, it is also a positive message and usually one of hope and peace – it may be a premonition of an enlightening event in your spiritual development.
9. Hooting during the “witching hour”
It’s most common to hear owls hooting during the night, but the hours from around 2am to 4am are a special, mysterious time of the night when most people are asleep, and this is why this time is known as the witching hour.
If you are awake then and you hear an owl hooting, you can be sure that it is communicating directly with you since it is unlikely that anybody else is around, so you should take notice.
This is also a time when it is easiest to connect with the spirit world, so the hooting of the owl may be a message from a departed loved one trying to make contact.
10. Hooting in a dream
If you dream of a hooting owl that you can’t see, it may tell you that you are holding on to something that you need to let go. It may be a person, a possession or a situation, but by letting go, it will allow you to grow in new ways instead of always clinging to the past.
How to interpret hearing an owl hooting
If you hear an owl hooting, there are quite a few ways to interpret it, so how can you understand the true meaning of what you heard?
To interpret an owl hooting, you should consider where you were and how you felt at the time, and you should also think about the kinds of issues you are currently dealing with in your life.
If you have one particular question that you need to answer and are looking for spiritual guidance on, then when you hear the owl, it is likely to be a response to that issue.
How did you feel when you heard the owl? Did you feel happy or confident? If you did, it probably means you are on the right path and the decision you are about to make is the right one.
However, if it scared you or made you upset, you should proceed with caution since the path you are on may not be the correct one.
Many possible interpretations
Hearing an owl can leave a deep impression on many people, and it can be hard not to think that the experience has a deeper spiritual meaning – and in most cases, it almost certainly does.
To find the correct interpretation for what you heard, think about everything that’s going on in your life at the moment and apply the experience to that. Then, through deep thought and meditation – and by trusting your intuition – the meaning of what you heard will be revealed.