Awa Pia: The Night Owl Grandmother

dark great mystery owls samhain Oct 27, 2022
Agto Nugroho

"I honor the Night Way People, the Dark Lodge People and my medicine is Owl. My wisdom is the teachings of the beings that do not come out in the daytime. There are many nocturnal animals that see at night and there is not a darkness that is so dark that they cannot see through. They carry wisdom and it is the knowledge of the light of the dark. The reason why they can see in the dark is just the way their bodies are. It is just the way that their hearts are because these animals a long time ago were given a gift from Creator to be night vision people." ~Grandmother Awa Pia as channeled by Judith Moore in Visions of Wisdom: Messages From the Spirit Council of Thirteen Grandmothers


In honor of Samhainwinter's gate, the deepest down, the darkest everything, the fertile void, the waiting wombI thought I would share a little from my on-going apprenticeship with Owl. The grandmother spirit, the physical feather, the night way wisdom of Owl has been working on me for many years now. With great luck (or serendipitous delight), last spring I spotted an Owl outside my kitchen window and this was the conversation that ensued:


You see all those fretful Songbirds down there, moving from bush to bush? Here I sit. I am a hunter of live prey. When I swallow, I become downy fur, trembling veins, a precious heart galloping madly towards the smiling viscera of death. If dying is so common, why is it such a mysterious, troubled thing among you? There is no thought in this act, only quantum instinct, archaic wholeness, and the exquisite heartbeats of fluffy owlets every spring. 


The sun goes down and still you watch me. 


Soon I will wear the shadows of midnight silk. My ancestors' heads swivel backwards, learning from the past so that we can adapt into the future. The dark forests are disappearing and still we persist day and night, pressing northwards, westwards, taking over the territory of those weaker, even merging with them. You humans might call me invasive. I am not one of those picky eaters whose doom is dependent on one kind of fish or mouse. I gift mineral-rich packages of nails, teeth, scales and rough fur to the earth, bone-zombies left to be merrily reincarnated under the roiling soil. 


Oh please, give up your relentless efforts to understand every private riddle and secret chamber of this world. You do not need to have all the mysteries perfectly pinned down, contained, and forced into the light. There are many realms you have been warned to leave alone: a horse’s intuition, the divine timing of spring ephemerals, and my owl’s sight, sharp as a stiletto, bent on tearing apart every comforting interpretation, every half-truth, every romantic, naive, trivialized idea of nature’s benevolence. Take your scientific studies of the rods in my eyes and all the other thousands of things you think you have figured out and let it be pulverized into midnight-dust by the Unknown.



This is Owl country, make no bloody mistake about it. Barred owls to be specific. The very first day I set foot on this land, there was an Owl waiting in the big White Pineㅡmiddle of the morningㅡjust to make sure I knew whose place this was. 


Their voices come most nights and yet seeing one of these shadow-hoppers is still a celebratory occasion. You must be skilled with the periphery. While I was prepping dinner this evening I happened to catch the briefest flash of striped wings through the window. Out came the binoculars and sure enough, staring right back at me were portals of avian wizardry, entire undiscovered kingdoms waiting in black-hole eyes.


May I bare my jugular to the well-oiled switchblade of the Unknown. May I get to the deepest heart of the matter. May I respect the necessary elusiveness; the underworld goddesses do not like to be cornered while they do their reconfiguring. I don’t want to have an agenda, I just want to pay attention, particularly to the dead bits, the ugly ones, the discarded baby teeth, the single moth wing dried in the corner, the unopened milkweed husks. 


In the car I pass a bloodied squirrel curled in prayer, its spine bitten by a metal maw. It blinks when I am not looking. Walking through the forest, I discover a lone deer tibia picked clean, its stone hoof still attached. When I turn my back, I feel it hopping away, making one-footed prints in the snow. Dead or alive, invasive or native, villainized or adored, the circle continues: Barred Owl, Buckthorn, Garlic Mustard, Spongy Moth, Zebra Mussels, Loosestrife, Emerald Ash Borer, Alewife, Japanese Knotweed, on and on. The bees are impartial. Their love is emergent, fresh, a feast for all. 


At least an hour has passed and the Owl has not budged. Even the noise of pulling the gravel-crunching trash barrel down the long driveway does nothing. I wasn’t trying to be obnoxious; it was just trash night. Standing outside now offers me the realization that the branch the Owl has chosen gives the most boundless view of the sun setting. An old sky glistens with a child’s delight. Good call friend, I think. I wouldn't have moved either. I know you have wild places to get to, but just stay here with me for a moment. The world wants to eat us whole, joy, shadow, and all.~

Blessed Samhain everyone, and may this night way wisdom continue to come forward!