Thursday, July 16, 2020

A Fellow Feathered Holobiont

A fellow holobiont. This owl was photographed by Anastassia Makarieva in the region of the White Sea, in Northern Russia. It appeared to be friendly.

Owls have been fascinating as symbols of wisdom to humans since the time when they were sacred to the Goddess Athena. Anastassia sent to me this specific picture after a discussion we had on the meaning of the owl mentioned in an old short story by Vladimir Dudintsev, "A New Year's Tale" (1960) that resonates of meanings still valid today. I discuss this story in a post of mine on "Cassandra's Legacy"

Amont other things, it is curious how the symbology of owls was revisited by Hayao Miyazaki in recent times in his movie "Princess Mononoke"(1997) in the form of the little white creatures called "kodama," Japanese tree spirits. In the movie, kodamas share with owls the capability of turning their heads around, apparently without any bounds. You can see one of Miyazaki's kodamas as the front cover of this blog



  2. Ugo:

    Nowadays, when I observe some specimen of Caine noctua, I try to look past the fine grey down on the toes, to see beyond the white spots arranged in neat lines, like a firework display across its brow. Instead, I try to see the bird whose image the Greeks carved into their coins, sitting patiently at the ear of the Goddess Pallas Athene, silently sharing her immortal wisdom. Perhaps, instead of measuring the feathered tufts surmounting its ears, we should speculate on what those ears may have heard. Perhaps when considering the manner in which it grips its branch, with two toes in front and the reversible outer toe clutching from behind, we should allow ourselves to pause for a moment, and acknowledge that these same claws must once have drawn blood from the shoulder of Pallas."



Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)