The Owl of Athena

I had a mystical encounter with an owl, considering I believe  a washer winked at me this is not a surprising revelation.

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Once upon a time, in a place …..Let’s say, I was young, and I was a waiter that made between 100 and 2oo hundred dollars cash a night in 1987. I paid no taxes on tips and had no responsibilities in my life outside of a job, rent, and my cat. The money I made was more than plenty.

But one night I made less when I felt I deserved more.  As I walked home  thru the Uof I campus I argued in my head with the man that didn’t pay me what I was worthy of. I bitched to myself about the 100, rather than the 200 dollars in my pocket. I tromped through the snow glaring at my feet as I huffed in the cold. My body was anger. When I crossed Linn Street I came up against the big church there for which I had, and still have no particular feeling.  In the flat cropped hedges that surround it sat an enormous owl. When I saw the owl, my mind immediately heard this admonishment,

“Never accept the worry and the angry of money into your body.”

I stopped dead. The owl sat still.

It spoke to me. I heard it. Period.  And that voice changed me.

I worked as a waiter for a long time after that , and I got a lot of bad tips, but never again did I relate money to my personal value, never again did  become the angry the owl  had warned against.

This was a great gift, from whom, I don’t know.  The owl sat outside a church, so perhaps the father god? It was an owl, the emblem of goddess wisdom, could have been the mother god. Or was it my own divinity, my consciousness, coming to me in exactly the guise I needed, to hear the message?  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter.

I chose to have the owl of Athena tattooed on my shoulder as a reminder of this epiphany  life  granted me because I  am entertained and consoled by the foibles and insanity of the Greek pantheon, but what I am choosing is metaphor– depth, and the recognition and celebration of our inability to absolutely know. I believe this is the great lesson.  I learned it from an Owl.

The Master keeps her mind
always at one with the Tao;
that is what gives her her radiance.

The Tao is ungraspable.
How can her mind be at one with it?
Because she doesn’t cling to ideas.

Tao te Ching

Has a life changing epiphany ever come to you from an unusual source?

© 2013 Abby Smith, Writer

17 thoughts on “The Owl of Athena

  1. Years ago I lived in a 100 year old farmhouse “back in a holler” in rural Appalachia. I fed the birds and delighted in all the different ones that frequented my seed bowl. On my daily walk out to fill it I’d keep my eyes on the ground as they often left me feathers. I prized each find, and collected them lovingly.

    After a year or so I believed I had a feather from every type of bird except the male cardinal. How I wanted one red feather! I talked to him, I bargained. I told him how if he left one for me I’d cherish it. And always I kept my eye peeled for that flash of bright red on the ground.

    Three years into it, always diligent in my watching for it, I opened my kitchen door one morning to find a feral cat I also fed had left me the remains of a male cardinal on my porch. Oh! I never, ever wanted to get a feather this way! But here they were. And I immediately saw that each feather is not bright red. Rather they are edged in red/orange, and the inner color is pale brownish gray. When they overlap, only the red edges show, making it appear the entire bird/feather is red. I knew immediately I most likely had passed over a feather near the feeder, not seeing it because I thought I knew what I was looking for (solid red).

    I call it the Lesson of the Cardinal: If you assume you know how something will appear you will might miss it completely when it arrives. Stay open, and assume nothing.

    Great lesson from Owl. I’ll remember that as well. Thank you for sharing it.


  2. I have had a similar life changing experience. All my life, for as long as I can remember, I have had an aversion to mushrooms. Then on one particular occasion on a night out with friends, I tried some mushrooms, and was surprised to discover that they tasted really good. Now I like mushrooms.
    I have yet to arrange to have a mushroom tattoo inked upon my person, but am considering various body parts for suitability.

    • cool story David thanks for sharing it, I have a ginko leaf tattoed on the top of my foot(long story)see Marvin Bell’s These Green Going to Yellow for details, perhaps your mushroom would be comfortable on the ankle near it’s natural habitat, paz, Abby

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  5. An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a friend who was doing a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me lunch because I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to discuss this matter here on your web site.

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