Sunday, February 23, 2014
I came upon the Egyptian god Khu in this Norman Mailer novel and I thought, "Wait! Does this book already have an owl in it?" Because (I think) Mailer referred to Khu as a "night bird," and "Khu," I convinced myself, sounds like what an owl says. Eh, more like what a pigeon says, now that I bothered to say it out loud just now. And I know there are pigeons in Egypt because my mother-in-law used to cook them. But are there owls in Egypt? I was too lazy to ask. I did get out my DICTIONARY OF ANCIENT DEITIES, which is a thing I have lying around. And it described Khu (Khou) as a "crested bird." So then I got the bright idea of checking the index for "owl." There were eight listed pages with owls on them, making the DICTIONARY OF ANCIENT DEITIES a book with at least eight owls in it. And I am going to tell you about all of them. But first I would like to remind everyone that the Cosmic Owl (pictured), voiced by the great character actor M. Emmett Walsh, is one of the deities on ADVENTURE TIME, a fact not mentioned in the DICTIONARY OF ANCIENT DEITIES for several obvious reasons. Mentioned, however: Athena is also known as "Glauk-Opis ('Owl-faced')" and (next page) "She is often depicted as a maiden in warlike array attended by the owl and the serpent, both emblems of wisdom." Everybody knows that! But did you know that Blodeuwedd ("Also known as Flower Face" - aw!) was punished for a misdeed by being turned into an owl? It's a story of love and betrayal which I am too tired to tell you. On page 114, "In the branches sit Cronus's sea-crows and and Calypso's horned owls and falcons." It took me a while to find them. There are at least 15 gods and goddess on page 114, split between two columns, and the print is small and tightly spaced. I was reading about "the blood-thirsty bat god Camazotz" and was sure an owl would pop up in that story, but it didn't. Next we find Chia, who, like Blodeuwedd, is punished by being turned into an owl. Boy, that sure was a popular punishment! It doesn't seem that bad. If Chia "became displeased by a man, he had to dress as a woman to avoid being punished by her." Cool! We find that "Durga, the invincible destroyer" is also known as Karali or Kausiki ("Like an Owl")... I should probably (why?) mention that she is the third death goddess so far on our list - from all over the world! - to have the owl as her symbol. "Indra is symbolized by the bull. One of his symbols is the owl, indicating power." And finally I give you Pueo-nui-akea. "Owl god. Guardian. He is an owl god who brings life to the souls who are wandering on the plains."