In modern Scottish and Welsh languages, the owl, by the etymology of the word alone carries negative connotations of death and darkness. To the Welsh, the Owl is a night predator. The only bird capable of defeating the falcon and then only at dusk, its time of power. The Owl symbolizes death and renewal, wisdom, moon magick, and initiations.
Their Goddess Arianrhod shapeshifts into a large Owl, and through the great Owl-eyes, sees even into the darkness of the human subconscious and soul. She is said to move with strength and purpose through the night, her wings of comfort and healing spread to give solace to those who seek her.
A star and moon Goddess, she was also a deity of reincarnation and karma. The Mother aspect of the Triple Goddess in Wales, her palace was Caer Arianrhod (Aurora Borealis). In Celtic folklore it is considered both to be sacred and to have magical powers.
In Greek mythology the Owl was a creature sacred to Athena, Goddess of the night who represented wisdom. The Owl sat upon her shoulder revealing unseen truths to her, lighting up her blind side, enabling her to speak the whole truth.
The Ainu in Japan trust the Owl because it gives them notice of evil approaching and mediates between the Gods and men. The Zulu and other West African nations consider the bird a powerful influence in casting spells, and think that using parts of the owl give great strength to a person involved with magical incantations. In the Middle East, China, and Japan, the Owl is considered as both a bad omen and an evil spirit. For Christians the Owl traditionally signifies the Devil, powers of evil, bad news, and destruction. In the Old Testament the Owl is an unclean creature that stands alone as a figure of desolation. In an Australian Aboriginal myth the Owl is the messenger of bad news but in the Americas, the Cherokee honour the bird as sacred because of its night-time vision, and wish to draw that power to themselves to see in the dark.
The Owl can see that which others cannot, which is the essence of true wisdom. Where others are deceived, Owl sees and knows what is there. As a symbol of the Goddess, Owl represents perfect wisdom. They bring messages in dreams. The Owl is the bird of mystical wisdom and ancient knowledge of the powers of the moon.