Barn Owl Symbolism & Meaning.
Are They Good or Bad Luck?

Are you curious to know why Barn Owls have heavily been associated with symbolism in many cultures? Keep reading to find out more about these birds.

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David A. Swanson

October 17, 2021

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What’s This Post About?

Coming across this ghostly-pale bird may get you a little excited because they are not often seen during the day or around the human habitat. They have a beautiful combination of white, brown, and grey plumage covering their entire body.

But this beautiful bird has a lot of mysticism and symbolism attached to it just because of its appearance and odd plumage.

Interestingly, this owl was assumed to symbolize something just because of its dark hollow eyes. However, at present, the barn owl has been observed to go about their routine as ordinary birds do, which is interesting considering the myths attached to it.

The symbolism for barn owls is connected to how they live their lives. Since these owls remain hidden during the day, people think they symbolize wisdom, silence, and mystique. Although there is no substantial evidence supporting the myth that they are bad luck, most cultures see barn owls as an evil omen.


What Does Seeing A Barn Owl Symbolize?

These elusive birds of the night are painted as mysterious creatures because of how they are perceived in different cultures. They are often associated with witchcraft, darkness, and supernatural encounters in many cultures.


But does that mean seeing a Barn Owl means anything? Well, spiritually, yes. However, science does not support any of the claims that say owls represent certain things since barn owls are just like any other bird, except they have a different sleep cycle.


Barn owls and owls, in general, are often associated with death in many cultures.

Back in the day, when people did not have resources to research the bird, they gave it its own meaning and attached symbolism because they did not have enough knowledge about the bird to rationalize their nocturnal nature and sleeping habits.

Now that people know how owls behave naturally, they have forgotten about the myths and stories. Except people belonging to different cultures still hold the belief that they symbolize something mysterious.

Keep on reading to get familiar with how other cultures perceive this nocturnal bird.

Barn Owl Symbolism In Christianity

In Christianity, the barn owl was seen as a symbol of wisdom concealed by darkness and evil. It essentially hinted at what was hidden behind the cloud of darkness, meaning that there are important lessons to learn from darkness when it passes.

Theirs is deep wisdom veiled by the darkness that can teach us a lot about our moral strength.


Native American Barn Owl Symbolism

In the Native American culture, the barn owl was seen as a symbol of death, transformation, and rebirth associated heavily with future and spiritual foretelling, mystical signs, and the mystery that hid behind obscurity.

Egyptian Symbolism Of Barn Owl

In ancient Egyptian culture, owls have long been seen as a symbol of darkness and supernatural wisdom protected from those who do not deserve to receive this knowledge. Their dark qualities were celebrated because they were said to link with the unknown mystery of the hereafter.


Chinese Symbolism Of The Barn Owl

In the Fend, Shui Chinese culture, owls represent wisdom, protection, knowledge, and intuitive insight. Their positive presence is associated with good omen and increased security, which can fend off negative energy from one’s home.

Although there are many loopholes in the symbolism associated with barn owls, some people still stay firm in their beliefs. But it’s safe to say that the help of new scientific research has given barn owl a new fresh start free from its symbolism.

Are Barn Owls Good or Bad luck?


These nocturnal birds of great mystery are often seen as good or bad luck in different cultures. But a reminder we’d like to give you is that luck does not correlate with a sighting of a specific bird.

In fact, science has long proved these superstitions wrong by concluding that owls are just nocturnal birds that are most active during the night due to their nature and sleep cycle.

That said, let’s move on and explore why they may be considered good or back luck by some cultures.

Unusual Sleep Cycle

Barn owls are notorious for their unusual sleep cycle. They are nocturnal creatures and stay up during the night looking for food and small mammals to prey on. As a result, they are not seen very often during the day, except for abandoned barns and houses where they roost and rest.

This has given them a reputation of being obscure and mysterious, so they are mostly considered bad luck in most religions and cultures.

Dark Hollow Eyes


Barn owls look quite different from other species of owls; they have dark eyes. Due to how their eyes appear, it gives them an eerie aura that surrounds them. So, when people see them at night, they often get scared, especially when the bird looks right at them.

History Of Being Associated With The Witches

Owls and barn owls have long been associated with witchcraft and magic. It is said in most cultures that when you hear an owl hoot, that means a witch is trying to reach you. Although there is not enough evidence to support this superstition, it is still discussed among many.

Found Mostly In Abandoned Houses And Barns

Since barn owls prefer roosting in spaces far away from the urban hustle and bustle, they are found mostly in abandoned houses and barns. Unfortunately, for several people, this implies the presence of an evil spirit within the home or the area where it’s located.

Some Common Myths About the Barn Owl


Although it’s pretty clear that barn owls are just regular birds acting on their internal instincts, there are quite a few myths out there that associate them with death, wisdom, and at times, evil spirits!

Keep on reading to learn more about these intriguing myths that will surely blow you away.

Myth #1: Legend of Banshee

This popular myth originated in Ireland back when people were not familiar with the barn owl’s sound. It was said that Banshee appeared and roamed outside the houses of those who were about to suffer a painful or violent death.

Although it was rarely sighted, it was believed that a wrinkly older woman would wail outside their door at night, especially if the homes were close to forests or open wooded areas.

However, according to realists and skeptics, the eerie tale was nothing more than a superstition, a story people were told to instill unrest and fear of going outside during the night.

Later the tale was debunked, and the real source of the wailing sound was uncovered—it was actually just barn owls’ and vixen’s call in the night since both the creatures are nocturnal and primarily active during the night.


And if you have ever heard a barn owl’s call, it sounds almost like a screech which can be confused with a wailing sound of a woman.

The Banshee is described as an old elderly woman with an ugly appearance draped in white or grey clothes with silver hair. It was said that the woman would turn into a crow or a weasel, animals associated with witchcraft and magic in Ireland.

Myth #2 Newuks Myth

The Newuks, a California group of Native Americans, believed that brave and righteous warriors became great horned owls after dying. Evil men, on the other hand, were said to turn into barn owls.

Myth 3: Tales from Different Cultures

There are also terrible tales about owls in multiple cultures: in Africa, for instance, it was believed that Barn Owls are sent by wizards to murder people or are demonic spirits predicting catastrophes

In Argentina, they were known as devil’s sisters, the reason for this belief is unknown, but it had something to do with how this bird screeches in the night.

In Sicily, they were strongly associated with deadly diseases and death for all of these reasons; they have been hunted, tortured, and killed.

Myth 4: Bar Owls Represent the Greek Goddess of Wisdom


Although there are quite a few harmful myths associated with the barn owl, some other myths believe that the barn owl is a good spirit. They can bring positive influence in one’s life when sighted. They represent the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena, and still symbolize many other institutions and coins.

They are also believed to be the guardians of women who pass away. This myth originates from Australia.

Myth #5: The Indian Mythology

In Indian Mythology, the barn owls are considered vessels (vahanas) of Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity. Some believe that an owl sighting during the Diwali holiday to be exceptionally fortunate, while others go to extraordinary lengths to gain the good fortune that comes with the barn owl.

Based on this belief, owl sacrifices are conducted in North India to earn more financial stability.

Myth #6: The Iberian Peninsula Myth

Back in the day, it was believed that the barn owl drank oil from the lamps that lit up the churches, leaving priests and saints in total darkness during the nighttime. This made them believe that the bird hated the light and loathed it to the extent that they would put out the lamps simply because they couldn’t stand it.

There is a Spanish saying that refers to the myth mentioned above. It says that the barn owls were hunted, killed, and hanged right outside the church entrances to keep them from coming back and stealing oil from the lamps.

One common myth found in almost all cultures is the vocalization of this bird. It is believed that their calls are announcements of deaths, and there is a baseless belief that if someone hears an owl screech for several nights, they might end up losing their life.


Keep Reading!

Isn’t it bizarre how people in olden times came up with such assumptions and associations for a simple bird like the barn owl?

Their mysterious, ghost-like appearance does warrant some intrigue, but to link it to good or bad luck is wrong. These birds are living creatures who may have a significance of some sort in certain cultures and religions, but to claim that they control your fortune is far stretched!

Owls have long been used to symbolize wisdom, death, and mysticism because of how they look. Especially barn owls, their pale plumage makes them stand out among other birds, and their eerie hollow eyes give them a cold eerier appearance.

Still, to soothe your worries, they are just simple birds with an irregular sleep cycle.

If you’re fascinated by what you’ve learned about owls, you should then read this post to discover whether crows are good or bad luck, along with some of the common cultural myths and superstitions associated with them.

Are Crows Good or Bad Luck? Cultural Myths & Superstitions

Are you trying to find out whether crows are good or bad luck? Keep reading to find out more about some common cultural myths and superstitions.


David A. Swanson Picture

By David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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David A. Swanson Picture

David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!



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