Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The owl was regarded by Aztecs, Mayas,and Algonquins as sacred to the lord of the dead.

The Aztecs and the Symbolism of the Owl

The owl was regarded by Aztecs, Quichés, Mayas, Peruvians, Araucanians, and Algonkins as sacred to the lord of the dead. “The Owl” was one of the names of the Mexican Pluto, whose realm was in the north,106-1 and the wind from that quarter was supposed by the Chipeways to be made by the owl as the south by the butterfly. As the bird of night, it was the fit emissary of him who rules the darkness of the grave. Something in the looks of the creature as it sapiently stares and blinks in the light, or perhaps that it works while others sleep, got for it the character of wisdom. So the Creek priests carried with them as the badge of their learned profession the stuffed skin of one of these birds, thus modestly hinting their erudite turn of mind, and the culture hero of the Monquis of California was represented, like Pallas Athene, having one as his inseparable companion (Venegas).

As the associate of the god of light and air, and as the antithesis therefore of the owl, the Aztecs reverenced a bird called quetzal, which I believe is a species of parroquet. Its plumage is of a bright green hue, and was prized extravagantly as a decoration. It was one of the symbols and part of the

 name of Quetzalcoatl, their mythical civilizer, and the prince of all sorts of singing birds, myriads of whom were fabled to accompany him on his journeys.