My encounter with an owl!

A barn owl

A barn owl

About a week ago, as I was returning from an evening out, and turned a corner to my street, I saw a large and unusual bird perched on the telephone wire above. I stopped my car immediately — thank goodness there was no car behind! — and looked up and saw this 1ft tall owl with its round white face, creamy underbelly and brownish back looking out into the night.

I opened my car door and looked at it and tried shooing it away. It heard my shoos and cocking its head, stretched its neck and round face down towards me and, I think, it saw I wasn’t a rat and looked away like I didn’t matter! I was fascinated that I saw a bird people rarely see, and an owl at that! I looked at it a little while longer and realising that it wasn’t bothered by me, I went on my way home.

I googled owls and identified it as the barn own. (See picture) I was thrilled that I saw an owl not in captivity. When I move around I notice birds. While driving, I have seen eagles flying in circles on the wind over the Federal Highway, over Sungai Besi and over the wooded area near the golf course in Kelana Jaya. I slow down traffic as I decelerate to get a good look at the raptor. But, I don’t stop because the hoots get me to drive on!

But, once, I did see an eagle on a high branch of a tree in the park near my house. I was walking by and saw this magnificent bird tearing away something with its beak. I saw its strong thick legs and scary talons. I had stopped to look. The bird saw me; our eyes locked then it looked away, and continued thrashing its meal while I went on my way.

Both the eagle and the owl have characteristics that I have. Some people say I am wise like an owl, although, I think I just have intuitive knowledge of things most people miss. It is something I have known of myself for a number of years, long before this encounter with the owl. I can also soar to the high moral ground like eagles can soar to great heights. While I have the attributes of these great birds, as a person, I am most like a cat! So, if you want to know me better, just study your cat. Haha!

Owls are creatures of the night. They are said to know things of the night without actually seeing them. They “see” in the dark. I, too, can “see”. If I examine an issue long enough, I can see through the charade, mask or deception, especially through the murkiness of emotional and mental deceit. As I read about owls, I was quite surprised to discover that seeing an owl is a sign that one has this ability!

Because they “see” in the dark which others can’t, owls are also associated with the spirit world and in some cultures it is a bad omen to see or be visited by an owl.

I asked my students — refugees from different parts of the world — what was the significance of seeing an owl in their cultures. Those who came from Syria and Iraq said it was a bad sign to see an owl. The refugees from Myanmar, however, said that it was a good sign. In Myanmar, people put pictures of owls on the doors of their homes to ward off evil spirits. They also buy lottery tickets when they see owls!

In Malaysia and in some other countries, seeing an owl usually means death of a relative. So far, there has been no such death! In my readings, I found out that in some interpretations, while it is agreed that owls mean death, it does not mean death of a person but rather death of something, the end of the past. Hmmm … . That’s true. One major issue in my life has “died”, ended.

Anyway, I don’t believe in superstitions, although, I do believe that there are powers in the other world which do manifest in human reality. Superstitions aside, I have my own interpretations of the significance of seeing that owl. Again, it is an intuitive understanding, nothing based on anything I know.

Firstly, I consider it a privilege that I saw an owl — a bird one rarely sees. But, I saw it.

And, it was a positive encounter. I was not afraid of the bird and the bird wasn’t afraid of me. It was like a meeting of kindred spirits, of beings with similar roles in our respective worlds who met in a chance encounter when both worlds merged in one brief moment.

For some reason, and contrary to popular belief that it is a bad sign to see an owl, I felt it was an auspicious event, a good thing that happened and a portent of something unique. It’s just a feeling.

Maybe, I should just go and buy a lottery ticket!

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