Pop Culture Owls and Athena

All these owl-themed decor items are from this season's offerings at West Elm.  I shamelessly adore West Elm.

All these owl-themed decor items are from this season’s offerings at West Elm. I shamelessly adore West Elm.

A Facebook acquaintance of mine recently made the comment that “you can’t swing a cat without seeing some type of representation of an owl now days […] And with the War on Women that’s heating up…I’m just wondering if Athena is not being brought forth as a symbol and to help fight this BS that is happening to all women right now?”

I think my friend has struck upon a very curious connection.  It definitely is no secret that American pop culture has been obsessed with owl items for a few years now.  Heck, my treasured birthday gift from my best friend two years ago was a Kotobuki owl mug (you can collect an entire parliament in Kotobuki’s tea ware).  It certainly is nice to think that this motif is some sort of howling cry from our collective unconscious to turn our minds to Athena.

But, you know, if this is the case, I think our penchant for owl-ware extends beyond just the war on women.  Athena is a goddess of wisdom–but, more importantly, she is a champion of discernment.  That discernment is what allows us to build healthy civilizations founded on laws of logic and justice.  That discernment gives us the courage to advocate for the rights of all, and to only enact violence (warfare) in the pursuit of just causes.

Many people today sort of pat our society on the back and congratulate it for being such an advanced, progressive one.  And we do have a lot to be proud of.  Our society certainly does have more egalitarianism than many in bygone eras.  But we’re certainly not perfect.  We still fight the War on Women.  Issues of race, class, and creed can bar many from enjoying the same social privileges as others.  We fight and fight and fight amongst ourselves over myriad injustices…and it is all the more sad because we truly know better.

Maybe the flood of owl imagery is our collective unconscious screaming at us in an attempt to remind us of that deeper knowledge and to bring it to the forefront of our lives.  If that takes slapping owls on mugs and candles and endless bric-a-brac, well…I suppose it couldn’t be for a worthier cause.

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