I’ve been working on a study of the Animal and Plant Wisdom from the 12  endangered species shown in Joanna Powell Colbert’s  Gaian Tarot Justice Card.  Eventually I plan to pull these together into a comprehensive tarot spread concerning living justly, in the mean time I have been pondering and reflecting on each plant and animal and searching for the wisdom questions they might hold for me and others.

I’m starting here with Spotted Owl.  Read, ponder, reflect, enjoy.


I’ve  had some incredible experiences with owls, including the Spotted Owl.  This bird is rarely seen and few have had the fortune to come across it or even hear it.  As a kid and young adult I spent a great deal of time in the old growth forests of Oregon, where these birds live.  Though I don’t recall coming face to face with one, as I have with other owls, I do recall with striking clarity the times I have been standing amongst the majestic elders of an old growth forest and heard this owl call.

The spotted owl needs old growth to thrive.  And as most are aware, old growth trees are in high demand, bringing some of the highest dollars per tree in the forestry industry.  And so, we have the conflict that was brought to the forefront of most of the western world not too long ago.  The Spotted Owl became the target species of environmentalist trying to stop the harvest of old growth forests and in turn the Spotted Owl became the target of many an outraged forester who felt his livelihood being threatened.  Whether you side with the forester or the environmentalist, this issue is not as black and white as many would like to have it seem.  And that’s coming from an environmentalist.  An environmentalist with a family history of foresters.

The food on my mother’s table as a kid growing up in a logging town in Oregon was the result of trees being cut down, roads being built and spotted owl and other species habitats being slowly or quickly in some cases stripped away.  I remember, as my inner environmentalist was budding, having conversations with my mother about these very issues.  I learned that, though it would be nice for it to be black and white, these issues never are.  Finding balance and harmony in a world that often struggles with change of any kind is not an easy thing.

The Spotted Owl is not a quickly adaptable species, unlike the Barred Owl who has moved into and beyond the territory of the Spotted Owl.  The Barred Owl, a close relative to the Spotted Owl, seems to have the ability to live and even thrive in a wide range of habitats, including the second growth that grows up after old growth forests are replanted.  They even live and successfully raise young in the small parks and preserves in major cities.  The Spotted Owl however seems to be less versatile and is thus in more danger of extinction due to habitat loss, and where the Barred Owl has moved into these areas as well, they are in competition for resources.  Many people look at the Barred Owl in a poor light due to this, but really, I wonder if that is short-sighted.  Perhaps nature takes a longer view.  As things change on our planet species evolve, cross-breed and change over a long period of time to adjust to those environmental changes.  Only with human action, these changes are happening at a far greater rate than perhaps many of the species can handle.  Will the Spotted Owl have a change to evolve to handle the loss of its prime habitat?  Time will tell.

Personally I believe we have cut more than enough of the old growth forests and that the remaining should be left alone.  We, as a species and as a culture have ways of creating livelihoods and resources that should free us from the idea that these incredible forest habitats should be cut down for any reason.  But humans are slow to adapt as well, especially when it comes to the bottom line, livelihood, and changes in the way we live.  So will these last remaining precious habitats be saved?  Again, time will tell.  I can only hope so.  What is done is done though.  There is no going back.  No magic wand powerful enough to restore what is lost forever.  What counts is what we do now and in the future.

As humans it is easy to judge, rant, philosophize, choose sides, point fingers and so on.  But for the owls, they have to just keep going, doing what they can with what is available and leaving the future to the future.  And there in is the key to what I believe is, in part, the wisdom of Spotted Owl:  Living each day, using what is available to you, and only what you need to thrive.  Keep on keeping on and trust Mother Nature to work out the balance, she’s got eons of experience at such matters, and if we are willing to stop and listen to Her wisdom perhaps we can learn how to find balance in our own lives.

So the questions for Spotted Owl are these:

How can I learn to find balance in my life, where I take no more than I need to thrive, and concern myself with no more than what is before me in each moment, so that I can live more justly for the good of all?

How might I evolve or change to better live in this changing environment?

How can I facilitate deep listening and seeing to hear and see the wisdom of Mother Nature.

What wisdom do I need most to live justly?

You can see more picture of the Spotted Owl and hear its call at http://www.owlpages.com/owls.php?genus=Strix&species=occidentalis



  1. For me, the Spotted Owl is a reminder that I share my world with more than I can see or even hear. If I am not willing to save place at the table for all, how can I expect my own place to be saved?

  2. jeanmurphy16

    Good points about environmental issues not being black and white. In this case, I think we’ve compromised enough on old growth forests. If every few years we compromise and give up a little, eventually there will be nothing left. You’ve come up with some great questions to ask in a tarot reading when Justice and Spotted Owl appear in a reading.

  3. Jean has a point. Compromise works in situations involving infinite resources. How many times can we give away “half” before there’s nothing left (or what is left is so small that it is no longer what it was.

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