With a total solar eclipse soon upon us (August 21st, 2017), it’s almost guaranteed that conversations about “omens” will surface. The simplest way to define an omen, is “a sign that precedes an event.” Dating back further than anyone can remember, human beings have recorded particular experiences and sightings as both highly meaningful and impactful on human life. The impact can be positive or negative or both; omens are often confusing and often their messages are understood after an event has happened. Throughout history, certain people were considered authorities on reading the “signs” to divine their actual meaning. These people were known as soothsayers, mystics, augurs, and oracles, just to mention a few. Even though it’s not always the case, omens usually are considered bad; probably because many ancient civilizations tied them to catastrophes or other horrific natural disasters.
Many omens were associated with animal sightings and the Native Americans gave broad meaning to encounters with certain animals. Also certain Gods and Goddess had close and highly visible connections to animals. In both cases, these animals were believed to be methods for divine beings to communicate with human beings. Anyone coming in contact with one of these divine animals was expected to pay heed to the encounter and look for some changes in their near-future. Some animals are considered more significant than others and encounters with them were often the source of many of the omens spoken about throughout history. The following animals are considered to be significant.
An encounter with an owl can mean many things to different people . One belief is that an owl would appear to their chosen human as a message of warning – meaning something; usually something huge, was coming. Understanding whether that thing is for good or for bad wasn’t always clear. Many cultures associate an owls sighting with death as owls were the guardians of the after-life. Some Native Americans view the owl as a protector and to this day owl feathers are used in rituals to banish evil spirits.
Throughout history, owls have been associated with many gods and goddess. The most powerful of these associations is with Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom in Ancient Greece. When an Owl appears, it’s important that you pay attention; be prepared because it’s certainly very important or even life-changing. If you are a practicing Witch, the appearance of an Owl is a validation that you’re magic is strong, but also a reminder that you should be very careful with any energy that you attempt to summon.
Snakes historically have a VERY bad reputation, primarily because of their link to the Devil in Christianity. The story about the serpent tempting Adam to eat the forbidden fruit has permanently labeled all slithering creatures as evil. Add in the fact that most people are afraid of snakes and you’ve got the complete package. Yet, outside of the Christian interpretation, snakes were seen as something positive. IF you look back to the ancient Greeks, the symbol for healing was the Caduceus; a staff with two intertwined snakes. The snake has a close connection with the ground, and is considered to be powerful in earth magick. The shedding skin of a snake is often looked at as a powerful symbol of renewal or regeneration.
Black cats are one of the most recognized symbols of bad luck, dating back for over 500 years. The reason is not 100% clear, but generally speaking they were considered familiars of witches. All cats were associated with the Devil in the Middle Ages, and in Europe they were all but exterminated during the Black Death plague. Ironically, killing off the cats worsened the plague, which was spread by rats, which cats could have helped to kill. The ancient Egyptians honored and even worshipped cats, and anyone injuring or killing cat would be charged with a crime and punished.
Others believe that the cat is the personification of intuition and if a cat appears out of nowhere and for some reason and you can’t help but notice them, it’s an omen that you have to look inside yourself listen to your heart. Cats are associated with powerful and wise Goddesses like Freya, Bast, and Brigid. Weird cats symbolize your hidden magical and spiritual powers which now you have to listen to; if you encounter a cat acting strangely, then look within yourself for a new emergence. If you are witch, the cat is telling you to be careful the next time you cast a spell; you likely need to get closer with your higher self before you cast more spells. Many people believe the color of a cat has significant meaning. White Cats symbolize fertility and change in romantic affairs, Tabby or Orange Cats symbolize different planes of existence and spiritual travels, and Black Cats symbolize a change of Luck (either for good or ill) and Wisdom. Also strangely enough, cats are associated with the weather and there are numerous “signs” that have been gleaned over time based on cat behaviors.
The Raven, like the owl, is another creature with the reputation of being harbingers of death plus they are associated with dark magic. A raven sighting means that some truth is about to be exposed; a truth which can be good or bad. Raven is the sacred bird of Thoth, Great Egyptian God of Wisdom and Magic. Moreover, Raven is sacred to Apollo (the God of Sun), Hera (Queen of the Gods) and Asclepius (God of Medicine).
If a raven comes to visit you, then magic is imminent. Raven is about renewal, rebirth, repurposing, recovery, and reflection. If a raven comes to you in a dream, take it as an omen and watch for the clues on how you’ll soon have a change of consciousness. The calling of the raven should be a warning that something you are doing isn’t right or you are missing something important. A raven feeding on a carcass signifies impending death.
Keeper of secrets, mystics, bearers of magic, shrouded in mystery, that is the raven.
Springtime itself is represented by a rabbit, as they appear after winter in large number. Rabbits reproduce themselves easily and rapidly and this is why seeing a rabbit is considered to be an omen of fertility and abundance. Rabbits are believed to be really lucky as some believe them to actually be fairies or good witches transformed. When a Rabbit crosses your path a change of luck is coming (mostly for the good) and the message is that you should trust Heavens. This interpretation is closer tied to seeing a white rabbit, since the color white signifies purity.
These are just a handful of the many animal omens that exist, and that’s not including the insect lore. Regardless of your belief system, animal omens are something to be respected. Everything on earth is connected, everything shares energy, and everything relies on something else for it’s survival.