Rachel Owlglass

From Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable:

Eulenspiegel, Till. The name (owl-glass) of a 14th-century villager of Brunswick round whom gathered a large number of popular tales of mischievous pranks and often crude jests, first printed in 1515. The work was translated into many languages and rapidly achieved wide popularity. Till Eulenspiegel is the subject of the picaresque novel Ulenspiegel by Charles de Coster (1867) and of a symphonic poem by Richard Strauss, Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks (1895). [1]

From Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend:

Hero and title of a 16th century German chapbook, a collection of satirical tales pointed at certain class distinctions of the period and region. Till Eulenspiegel, son of a peasant, was born in Brunswick somewhere around the turn of the 13th-14th century, and died at Mölln in 1350. The tales recount a long series of jests and pranks showing up the superior wit of the clever peasant (often under the guise of thick-headedness) over the typical townsman: tradesman, shopkeeper, innkeeper, even priest and lord. The jokes are scurrilous, sometimes cruel. [...] [H]e has been known to every German schoolboy since the Middle Ages as a personification of peasant wit over bourgeois dullness and smugness. [2]

From The White Goddess, by Robert Graves:

"Owls are most vocal on moonlight nights in November and then remain silent until February. It is this habit, with their silent flight, the carrion-smell of their nests, their diet of mice, and the shining of their eyes in the dark, which makes owls messengers of the Death-goddess Hecate, or Athene, or Persephone: from whom, as the supreme source of prophecy, they derive their reputation for wisdom." [3]

According to ancient Celtic myth, when the Love-goddess Blodeuwedd (another manefestation of Venus, the Virgin, Athene, &c.) attempted unsuccessfully to have Llew Llaw Gyffes (a god sometimes associated with Apollo or a Sea-god) slain, she was turned into an owl as punishment. Graves continues:

"When Blodeuwedd has betrayed Llew, she is punished by Gwydion who transmogrifies her into an Owl. This is further patriarchal interference. She had been an Owl thousands of years before Gwydion was born--the same Owl that occurs on the coins of Athens as the symbol of Athene, the Goddess of Wisdom, the same owl that gave its name to Adam's first wife Lilith and as Annis the Blue Hag sucks the blood of children in primitive British folk-lore." [4]
"The Sirens ('Entanglers') were a Triad [...] living on an island in the Ionian Sea. Their wings were perhaps owl-wings, since Hesychius mentions a variety of owl called 'the Siren', and since owls, according to Homer, lived in Calypso's alder-girt isle of Ogygia along with the oracular sea-crows." [5]
"The poet is in love with the White Goddess, with Truth: his heart breaks with longing and love for her. She is the Flower-goddess Olwen or Blodeuwedd; but she is also Blodeuwedd the Owl, lamp-eyed, hooting dismally, with her foul nest in the hollow of a dead tree [...]" [6]

From Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend:

"As the bird of Athena (companion and attribute) the owl was auspicious in classical Greece; old Greek vases associated with the worship of Athena depict owls with breasts, and vulva represented by a circle. But in Rome the owl was a bird of ill-omen and its hooting presaged death.
"In European and American folklore in general, the owl is also a bird of ill-omen whose hooting is an omen of death.
"In India, owl's flesh is regarded as an aphrodisiac, but eating it will turn a man into a fool. Eating the eyeballs, however, enables one to see in the dark. In medieval magic and medicine, owl feathers laid on a person would cause him to fall into a soothing sleep. [...] The Wends say the sight of an owl would cause a woman to have an easy delivery." [7]


  1. Brewer, Dr. Ebenezer, Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, Harper & Row, Publishers, 1817; revised by Ivor H. Evans, 1969, p.384
  2. Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend, edited by Maria Leach, Funk & Wagnalls Company, New York, 1950, p.1114
  3. Graves, Robert, The White Goddess, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 1948, p.211
  4. Graves, Ibid., p.315
  5. Graves, Ibid., p.418
  6. Graves, Ibid., p.448
  7. Funk & Wagnalls, Ibid, p.838
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