Owl, along with Maneki Neko (lucky cat) are often seen in shops and homes in Japan as they are said to bring good luck, fortune, health and love. The pronunciation of the Japanese word for owl is “fookuroh” or “fukuroh”. The entire word itself contains two characters with very distinct meanings. Kuroh means hardship while fu itself means “not”, so if they are combined will give the meaning of “no hardship”.
Being one of the most popular lucky charms in Japan, the Japanese lucky owls make a wonderful gift for friends and family in the country. Each lucky owl with different colors may symbolizes different meaning such as white for happiness, yellow for peace, pink for love, black for health, red for good luck, gold for wealth and green for dream. Today, owl is portrayed throughout Japan in artwork, charms, clothing and other popular items.
In many countries, owls have been associated with wisdom, magic and heightened senses. Plains Indians even wore feathers of owl to protect themselves from negative spirits, and in some cultures the bird was seen as a sacred guardian of the afterlife. The owl was attributed to the goddess of wisdom, Athena, in Greek mythology. And since the bird was used on Greek coins, it also became associated with wealth. In ancient Egyptian, Hindu, and Celtic cultures the owl symbolic meaning revolved around guardianship of the underworld and as a protection of the dead.
However, these birds also had a bad name in medieval Europe as it was considered a symbol of witchcraft and black magic. They believed owls were actually witches, priestesses and wizards in disguise. Some people also regard the owl as a symbol of mystery, foresight, mysticism, and keeper of sacred knowledge. In Poland, it was believed that unmarried girls who died will turn into doves and those who died married will turn into owls.
In India, owl’s meat was used to cure rheumatism and the eye broth was for seizures in children. The meat was also believed to be an aphrodisiac. There were beliefs about events predicted by the number of owl hoots – 1: death, 2: success, 3: woman will soon married, 4: disturbance, 5: imminent travel, 6: guests arriving, 7: mental distress, 8: death, 9: wealth.
Although considered by the Chinese to be an inauspicious bird, owl pictures or figures can be used to increase the Yang energy (positive or masculine side of Yin Yang) in the environment. Many Chinese do not like the bird because the word for owl “mao thow ying” is the same character or word as ‘killing a person and placing the head on a pole”. They also do not like the hooting or sound that the bird makes. In Chinese phonetic meaning, the sound gives the expression for digging of a grave.
In feng shui, owl can be used to change the flow of chi in the environment. Some people place it in their garden to stimulate the Yang energy or use it to improve their feng shui home office (to ward off evil spirits). Other recommended places to display these items are somewhere near your main door or your active back door, as well as any window facing a spooky or busy street. These feng shui-ed owls will act as watchful guardians not letting any mischievous or lost spirits get into the house – always let the owls facing towards the outside of your house.