I’ve noted previously that the Ancient Nords, during the rule of the Dragon Priests, worshiped nine animal gods – six shown as male, and three as female. The Owl is said to represent Jhunal, Nordic god of wisdom and knowledge, and the creator of mathematics and language.
Interestingly enough, Jhunal appears to have fallen out of favor at some point; he is absent from the modern Nordic pantheon, replaced by Julianos of the Nine (Eight) Divines. Jhunal is also barely mentioned in written record, aside from a brief description in Varieties of Faith in the Empire, though Vivec does mention him in Sermon Three as one of the eight known worlds.
Unlike many of the supposed “same god, many names” examples that I’ve mentioned in other Elder Scrolls-based posts, Jhunal being Julianos makes a great deal of sense to me: both are hermetic gods, both have the same bailiwick, and Julianos appears just as Jhunal disappears. Add in the fact that the Nords are quite loyal to their gods and reluctant (mostly) to replace them with Imperial stand-ins, and it makes me wonder if this is a case of the Imperials borrowing from the Nords instead of the other way around.
I’m fond of tying things together, and categorizing them, and so it should surprise no one that I went looking for owls in Ancient Egypt and, of course, found them. The owl is found in hieroglyphs, specifically as the letter m (Gardiner sign G-17: owl-in-profile ), and is one of the uniliteral signs. Despite Gardiner calling this owl an ‘Eagle Owl’, the lack of tufts make me think it is a Barn Owl, and Newberry’s article “The Owls in Ancient Egypt” backs me up on this, as do the images below:
While I’ve mentioned that I have no intention of adding Julianos to my personal pantheon, I can’t help but think of the owl as his symbol, and the fact that I am sure that Julianos is a deity in service to ma’at makes me think that some worship of him, and some representation of him, wouldn’t go amiss…but I’ll have to ponder that further. For now, though, Owl as the Ancient Nords used it stands strong as a representation of language, mathematics, wisdom, and magic, and can be used by modern pagans in that vein.