Throughout history and across many cultures, people have regarded Owls with fascination and awe. Few other creatures have so many different and contradictory beliefs about them. Owls have been both feared and venerated, despised and admired, considered wise and foolish, and associated with witchcraft and medicine, the weather, birth and death. Speculation about Owls began in earliest folklore, too long ago to date, but passed down by word of mouth over generations.
Folklore surrounding the Barn Owl is better recorded than for most other Owls. In English literature the Barn Owl had a sinister reputation probably because it was a bird of darkness, and darkness was always associated with death. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the poets Robert Blair and William Wordsworth used the Barn Owl as their favourite “bird of doom.” During that same period many people believed that the screech or call of an Owl flying past the window of a sick person meant imminent death.
The haunting and mind-bending art of Daniel Ljunggren.
Art by Julie Dillon
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