Ubi Maior - Blessing Card 04
Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, was often represented with a little owl perched on her shoulder. The owl was indeed the animal symbol of wisdom and ancestral knowledge, which for this quality banished from itself the symbolic meaning of negativity and bad luck common in other cultures.
The owl, however, was also one of the most important animals at esoteric level because, due to its ability to see in the dark, it represented the clairvoyance: it was often associated with magicians and seers, as it symbolized the understanding and solution to problems. With its sharp gaze, indeed, the owl could penetrate the dark, coming out of the darkness thanks to the light of its own knowledge.
The most famous “nest” in Rome for this bird of prey is the mysterious House of the Owls, built inside the Villa Torlonia by Prince Giovanni Torlonia jr., with large windows, loggias, porticoes, turrets, splendid majolica decorations and spectacular stained glass windows.
The most famous of these stained-glass windows was the one representing two stylized owls among ivy branches, made by the artist Duilio Cambellotti in 1914, but actually the owl recurs almost obsessively in the decorations and in the furniture of the House. Giovanni Torlonia was a very grumpy and reserved man, but according to tradition he had a boundless passion for esotericism, occultism, magic and divination: it seemed that it was impossible to keep a secret in his presence, because the prince was able to discover secrets in an almost paranormal way, bordering on telepathy.