home esoterica Original binnallofamerica.com Audio the United States of Esoterica merchandise contact


Grey Matter

Lesley is also a columnist for UFO Magazine. Check it out !

Bookmark and Share


Skeptics and Owls (with Some Cats Thrown in for Good Measure)

It happened to cross my mind, while I was thinking of the Flatwoods Monster episode of MonsterQuest and the fact that Joe Nickell seemed to blame just about the entire incident on an owl (as he does with just about any paranormal creature or alien) that it is kind of synchronistic that owls are often blamed by skeptics or rather debunkers or scientific fundamentalists. After all, even though owls are known creatures and scientists can study them, they are believed by many cultures to be supernatural.

In a sense, debunkers are just replacing an unknown "paranormal" creature with a known creature thought to possess paranormal powers.

Though we might be used to hearing good myths of paranormal owls from Native American stories, that they are wise, helpful and can see the future, not all owl myths are good. In fact, actually most of them are not. Even in some Native American cultures, owls are thought to bring sickness and death.

One Roman myth is that witches transform into owls and come in the night to suck the blood of babies. Others believed that owls were messengers for witches, that they danced on graves together and if you hear an owl hoot it means a witch is approaching.

It was also believed by the Romans that the hoot of an owl predicted a death. Julius Caesar's death was said to be predicted by an owl. Owls are thought by many cultures to be harbingers of death and, as such, they are not kindly looked upon.

As I recall, my grandmother, who was from rural Kentucky, also thought of owls as a harbinger of sickness and/or death.

It is kind of odd that creatures such as Mothman are blamed on owls (as the "reasonable" explanation) when they either could be and have been considered harbingers of death. Not much difference in the basic lore, the only differences being that one is an unknown creature and much larger than an owl.

Owls also seem to be associated with ghosts. Here are a couple bits of lore I found about at a site devoted to owl superstitions:

- If an owl nests in an abandoned house, then the dwelling must be haunted. An owl is the only creature who can abide a ghost.

- If an owl hoots during a burial service, the deceased is bound to rise from the grave and haunt the living.

The only animal I can think of that probably has as many or more superstitions about them is the cat. There are small towns (not even really towns, more like settlements), here in New Mexico where the people still believe cats to be witches and I think the lore of owls is pretty much the same.

Of course, during Halloween, all of us probably see lots of images of witches with owls or cats. So the lore of the association between witches, owls and cats continues.

Anyhow, I wonder if it ever crosses the debunkers' minds that in some cultures saying a creature was only an owl is just as bad or maybe even worse than some unknown supernatural creature?

  • Check out Lesley's Blog HERE

    As well as her Beyond the Dial blog