Monday, September 19, 2011

Wise Owl : A Woodland Indian Myth

There is an old saying, "wise as an owl". People are always saying that, but the truth is, owls were not always wise.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, the Everything-Maker was very busy, making all the animals and all the plants and all the rocks and caverns and everything else that covered the earth.

Owl had not yet been made. He hadbeen given a voice. And two eyes. And a head and a body and strong wings. Owl was waiting his turn to be formed. "I want a long neck like Swan," Owl told the Everything-Maker. "I want red feathers like Cardinal and a beak like Hawk."

"Yes, yes," mumbled the Everything-Maker. "Whatever you want. But you must wait your turn." The Everything-Maker looked sharply at Owl. "Your eyes are open again. You know that no one is allowed to watch me work. Turn around and close your eyes. I have no time for you now. I am busy creating Rabbit."

The Everything-Maker turned his attention back to Rabbit who was shaking with nervousness. "And what do you want, little rabbit?" the Everything-Maker asked encouragingly.

"Long legs and ears," Rabbit spoke softly. "And fangs. Could I possibly have a fang or two? And claws. I would dearly love to have claws!"

The Everything-Maker smiled. "I think we could manage some claws and fangs." He smoothed Rabbit's long legs and ears.

"Silly Rabbit!" Owl hooted loudly. "Why don't you ask for something useful, like wisdom?"

"This is your last warning, Owl. Be quiet and wait your turn."

Owl twisted around and glared at the Everything-Maker. "You have to do it," he hooted. "You have to give us what we ask. I demand wisdom!"

tawny owlet, originally uploaded by Dru Marland. This owl is so cute.

"I warned you, Owl!" shouted the Everything-Maker. He shoved Owl's head down into his body, which made Owl's neck disappear. He gave Owl a shake, which made Owl's eyes widen in fright. He pulled Owl's ears until they stuck out from his head.

The Everything-Maker snapped his fingers. "I have made your ears big, the better to listen. I have made your eyes big, the better to see. I have made your neck short, the better to hold up your head. I have packed your head with wisdom, as you have asked. Now, use your wisdom and fly away before you lose what I have given."

Owl was no longer a fool. He flew quickly away, pouting and hooting.

The Everything-Maker turned back to Rabbit, smiling gently. "Claws," he reminded himself. But Rabbit was gone. Rabbit had hopped hurriedly away, too afraid of the Everything-Maker to stay for his fangs and claws.

As for Owl, Owl knew if he angered the Everything-Maker again, he would lose all that he had gained. Even today, Owl only comes out at night, when the Everything-Maker is fast asleep. As for Rabbit, his claws and fangs are waiting. Perhaps someday ...

From the above story, we can see that the Owl had learnt a very important lesson, and this quote is so apt for it:

A wise old owl sat on an oak; The more he saw the less he spoke; The less he spoke ; the more he heard; Why aren't we like that wise old bird ~ Edward Hersey Richards.
I came across this quote, and thought I would write about the Owl, and get to know more about this bird from my blogger friends too.

I know in many parts of India and maybe in many parts of the world too, an Owl is looked upon as dumb, stupid and brainless, but I have read many stories, (this is just one of them) where an owl is said to be very wise, quiet, and always listening ..... I always felt, if only we could be like an Owl, we would not only be happy but also let others be happy too.

Tell me, what is your view about Owls, do these qualities inspire you?


  1. What a great story, well told, Rama! Owls are protected in our forests. We can't log where they live. Maybe not wise but lucky?

  2. Wpnderful tale Rama. Just love the owl and their arrival at the farm is always a healthy sign for me.

  3. Owl!!! YIKES!. But this owl in the pic is so cute and they are wise too as you say. So no more YIKES!!!

  4. BTW - the picture on your blog header is stunning.

  5. Really enjoyed that story about the owl Rama, haven't heard that one before:) Love your new header too, brings back memories of our trip to the Grand Canyon several years ago. We rented an RV and hubby, my brother and I had a fabulous time driving around:):)

  6. Very interesting story.
    In Hindu mythology owl is considered as the vehicle for goddess Mahalakhsmi and hence auspicious.If we see an owl when starting out on an important errand, it is considered a good omen.It is also believed that if it builds a nest in our garden and shouts in the night,lot of wealth would accrue.
    Owl is considered intelligent though in Northern parts ullu is used in derogatory terms.
    Be that as it may,the teachers in my parts use it against dull students like ஆந்தை மாதிரி முழிக்காதே.

  7. Wow ,what an interesting tale !Enjoyed it thoroughly . Here is another fun fact about owls - A group of owls is called a parliament, wisdom or study.

  8. A very nice read! The blog header of GC looks awesome!!so beautifully captured.

  9. In north OWL is always a derogatory word and is considered inauspicious also if found around home, as there is a saying in hindi..ullu bol rahe the..meaning there was quietness of a cemetry. but in maharashtra, I used to find a pair of owl everyday coming in my back yard, and my neighbour told me that it is very auspicious and brings each to his own.

  10. loved the message and the story and that owlet is so cute.

    but I have heard that the sight of owls bring bad tidings, though i am not too sure about it or have I heard something wrong?

  11. Rama,

    For some reason I feel you posted this story before and I have commented. But this version seems to be a little longer with some variation.

    Did you post it before too?

    In Northern India, calling someone 'owl' is an insult as owl is considered useless creature. I also think people who just listen are NOT considered intelligent and looked down...especially at the work place. People who talk more gets the attention.

    Personally I think we need balance of listening and talking. Speak up when it is required but don't babble. :)))

  12. loved your blog header picture- tell me how you did it? I'm experimenting with different headers myself.

    Also- great story! I definitely need to listen more and talk less :)

  13. Rama..great story...nice to read. never heard before and Loved your header pic... It reminds of my trip to grand canyon..

  14. damn! The comment I wrote did not go through. Anyway, the owl just like the donkey and the dog is used in a derogatory manner. But, I take these stereotypes with a pinch of salt just like I would other stereotypes.

  15. Loved the header pic! Superb play of colors!

  16. What a good story thanks for sharing ..

    The picture of grand canyon is WOWOWOW


  17. WOW! Thats some story. I have always wondered why they say "Wise as an owl" and also use "ullu" as abusive in Hindi. I guess its just our way of looking at things. Silence is Golden...the night owl is definitely an inspiration for me. :)

  18. I am so glad that you did this post on owls.. A must read Rama..
    and the canyaon pic is MAGNIFICENT!

  19. Thanks everybody. I have heard only good things about owls, lizards cats etc. I somehow feel we are all created by God and there is something good in each one of us, we only have to look for the goodness.
    I also don't believe that certain grahas are not good, for I feel we all go through periods in our lives for our own good, to learn something from them.
    Thanks everybody again for liking my header picture: GC can really throw such beautiful colors during sunset. Whereas in the afternoon this same place could look quite pale and dull.
    This again is a wonderful creation of God.

  20. nice story.
    if we wish we can learn something from everything but the task is difficult.

  21. What a great story! Thanks for this post Rama.
    Love the new blog header...gorgeous :)

  22. OWL pic is sooo cute...thx 4r the infrmn abt owl... quite interesting haa

  23. interesting story.....

    and yaa, the blog header is really beautiful...:)

  24. Hi Rama I never knew this story very interesting I think owls are cute I especially love Harry Potters owl

  25. omg it is sooo sweet really want to have him in my hands,

    only for once i saw it form close its eyes are very different then others,

    one of its habit shows its intelligence that he awakes during the night when everything is calm and attentive

  26. Hi Rama,

    My first in your blog. Very interesting this post. Listening is not always an outstanding trait in humans too. We miss out on a lot of things because we fail to listen well. And the other reason for this is.... we are so full of "I" "Me" and "My". Self and ego is a stumbling block to knowledge, progress, enlightenment, and wisdom.

    I enjoyed this post very much. Thank you for this pleasure. Have a delightful day. God bless you and your family.

  27. A cute story, enjoyed it thoroughly. This part of the world(Assam), we believe owls are extremely knowledgeable and can caution you of something good or bad much before time. People believe there are two types of owls, one brings misfortune, while the other, wealth.

  28. It would be illogical to call these stories Mythological.

    Firstly, the word mythology comes from the word "Mythya or Mithya" from Sanskrit which means a lie or deception. Hence from the beginning you are adding some thing very wrongful to begin with.

    It has been an Abrahmic ploy to warp history , and people keep using the subtle manipulation which will destroy the foundations of Vedic civilization.

    Its best you become more aware of the destruction happening around you.


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