Posted by: helens22 | April 3, 2011

Owl (Búho) Darshan

It’s dusk, towards dark on our last night at the Loma. Earlier in the afternoon, my son and I took a long walk to say goodbye and take it all in one more time. As we passed the búho area we slowed and looked, but no owl eyes, no swiveling head, no flash of flapping wings, greeted us. Our friend from the area told us that búhos live in tunnels during the day—he’s seen three. They used to live right behind where our house is now, but with the construction and disturbance of people and machinery, they moved over a few hundred feet to the area where my son spotted them several times.

One time I too saw the búho – flat, exaggerated owl eye surrounds, with a strikingly white connected line of ‘eyebrow’. The búho faced down towards the valley; we stood uphill of it. Without the slightest movement of body, the búho alternately lined his head up with his forward-facing feet, and with us behind him. Very striking he was—the white streak across his forehead and the Cirque de Soleil neck. And then suddenly, the sound of flapping, the surprisingly wide wing span on a smallish body, and the búho was gone down the hillside, meeting the approaching darkness.

Anyway—I’m now standing right by our house in the semi-dark with my friends. We’re discussing the details of some repairs to our house to be done after we’re gone. A bird calls in the distance, up the hill from us. “Búho!” my friend says. Again the call. Is it really, I wonder, trying to distinguish it from the other bird call I’ve heard at dusk and sometimes dawn. But this is different—less strident, two-noted, quiet, yet stirring. We listen and then go back to the discussion at hand.

A rushing sound of wings spread wide, movement of the air above our heads, Búho! gracing us with her presence, passing directly and low over our heads and then off down the hillside in the gathering dark. A visitation—we all feel it. A blessing—that’s how I experience it.

Our love, appreciation and desire for connection make her flight overhead feel like a gift—an acknowledgement and deepening of the connection we’ve been feeling. We gratefully drink in her presence.

But might it have more significance? I’d been telling my son how owl is the totem for seeing what others don’t see and that it sometimes comes in warning about that which is not as it seems. I wonder if there is also a message for me being offered—to look into what is obscure, to look deeper somehow. “All is not as you see it. Look again, look with owl eyes, look into the dark. Look all around you”

I remember the screech owl who called outside my Michigan window several years ago. At the time I was cooking up a collaborative plan with someone. It seemed like a good idea, but when the owl’s eerie cry rang out in the pre-dawn, I could feel the warning: “Look again! Reconsider! All is not as you see it now.” And I did that. I took a different path, and in doing so felt that I’d been protected by heeding the owl’s call.

I go into the dark now and look around to see if there is something hidden which I need to see. Nothing strikes me immediately, so I wait to see what will unfold. And unfold it does. As I return home from Ecuador old dysfunctional patterns of behavior seem to seize me in their talons. I’m caught in the grip of old feelings of unworthiness, failure, despair. At the same time, something new is growing and expressing itself. I’m finding ways to give voice to and share my experiences and understanding gained over many years in ways that delight me.

I feel like a battlefield where the old is trying to massacre the new at every turn. The new, however, is not fighting. Instead it is marching steadily away from the battlefield. The new gets knocked down and is sometimes wounded, but it keeps moving in the direction of its calling, undaunted. It doesn’t try to defeat the old; it just keeps moving away—away from the conflict, away from the dream of war and glory—gathering strength with every step forward.

The old calls up tremendous storms, lightning, hail, thunder. The old calls up torrential rains, out of season winds, even a tornado or two. The old wants anything but that I see in the dark, that I see through it to my true self. The old puts on a good show—it’s very convincing, truly awesome. It shadows and hounds me, and a tenacious critter of the dark grabs onto my pant leg and won’t let go. Yet the new keeps marching forward and I find myself drawn to follow, running to keep up, slowed down by the dangling beast, but not stopped.

I follow a trail of guidance, ‘coincidences’. Little by little the knowing comes, and the helpers I need are assembling to remove what must go so I can move forward unencumbered. From despair, I feel my heart shifting little by little to a lighter place. As governments fall and change in the outer world, I feel a shift of power within me. There is carnage, but the outcome of freedom becomes more and more likely.

Seeking to know more about the owl who flew over us, I do a modern pilgrimage via Google, to be richly rewarded by images, videos and a welcome and unexpected ally – the baby owls. Their energy is sweet, funny – hilarious even. Laughter cuts through the conjurings of the dark, showing them to be the illusions that they are.

I read more about how our owls have their young in burrows in the ground. They carry the power of both earth and sky, mother and father. And from many sides at once comes the call to balance these energies within me. As I stand on the cusp of my own son’s fledging and flying into adult life, as I review my own shortcomings and strengths at living out the role of mother, a new note is being sounded—self-forgiveness and unity. Self-forgiveness for not meeting the expectations of my judging mind, self-forgiveness for losing faith in the perfection of life, self-forgiveness for forgetting who I truly am and allowing the dark illusions to sway my behavior and vision of myself and of my son.

And unity—not a unity that destroys differences, but a unity that makes all differences complimentary, part of the whole, of the one Life. A unity that allows differences to embrace each other instead of battling each other. A unity that draws from both the powers of earth and sky, feminine and masculine.

Is this the emerging gift from that flight of the owl over our heads? Is this the energy of owl helping me to look into the dark, to see what I had not seen before? I have certainly felt in the dark much of these weeks. And yet, I find myself increasingly grateful. Unity and self-forgiveness are immense gifts, way beyond any I would have imagined. I look again at the owl eyes – so fierce and penetrating in the adults. It takes those kinds of eyes to see into darkness and penetrate its mysteries. I look again at the baby owls, so fluffy, innocent and comical. Lightheartedness is certainly a necessary and most welcome friend in the dark. As I find myself transforming, I thank my friend, the búho, for accompanying me and helping me to take advantage of this journey into darkness.



  1. Elegant piece on owls, sons, family, friends, laughter and love; unity and grace, forgiveness and forebearance. Love your writing, Helen. Hope this is one of many essays in a book about your time in Equador. Wonderfully written piece!

  2. Thank you Helen, for this beauty in Springtime renewal ~ Your expressions are support for all our transformative processes. Much love and thank you for your tenderhearted strength and generous heart ~

  3. I love the owl pictures – did you draw them?
    Another wonderful story – it reminded me of the time I had a Great Grey Owl land in front of me only about 5-8 feet away. I sat on the cold ground (it was autumn in Alberta) and watched it undisturbed for about 1/2 an hour while it sat on the fence post in front of me. When it looked at me I swore it could see everything inside me, and that is not a feeling that leaves you.
    The owl is also a harbinger of death in some cultures, and it occurred to me that for you it was as you stated a death of your old way of living, thinking and your perceptions of success. Also I sense it was saying farewell, it knew you would be leaving. It will be waiting for your return.
    Be strong in your choice for this beautiful new life-it is absolutely the right choice. It makes me so happy to hear of your adventure.

  4. Beautiful, and also the artwork!

    I saw an image of a little owl face while sitting with a candle last night.

    And this also reminds me of a dream that was accompanied by screech owl sound in the waking world. Something to work with in a writing class, or just in general!

  5. That was a beautiful piece Helen. Thank you! I agree with one of the earlier posts, that you should be compiling these stories for a book.
    We are in the Bahamas right now for 10 days…another Wonder of God’s. Yesterday we were sailing and a pod of over 50 dolphin frolicked, jumped and zoomed around us. My kids were tickling their bellies and laughing with them. Wish I knew what that message was….
    Love to you and your family, Karen.

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