Ah the owl, a hugely popular tattoo design in recent times being mainly favored by old school and neo-traditional enthusiasts but also tattooed in pretty much any style imaginable!
I think the first thing to mention about the meaning behind owl tattoos is the obvious one that everyone thinks of, wisdom. Owls are constantly seen as being these wise old birds that sit there on a branch looking like they know it all. Owls are in fact pretty damn stupid.
The reason they are seen as being smart may well be something to do with the fact that they look like they should be intelligent but there’s a bit more to it than that. The earliest evidence of the owls connection with being a brain box is found way back in ancient Greece. Owls were strongly associated with Athena who was the Greek goddess of wisdom and foresight. So yes the owl does definitely represent wisdom although in actual fact they are pretty stupid and the foresight bit leads me nicely onto my next point.
Owls have got a seriously good set of peepers on them. This makes them a symbol of perception, and of course, foresight. This is further enforced by the fact that the owl can turn its head 270 degrees making it pretty hard to sneak anything past an owl.
Now obviously owls are nocturnal and they do make that creepy owl sound at night. In ancient cultures, anything that came out at night was pretty much considered to be a bit of a git. So the owl was portrayed somewhat of a poor light in the past but not to the point of bats for example. Also no one really even thinks about that anymore so I wouldn’t worry about that one when deciding if you should get one tattooed or not.
As they do well in the dark however they can be considered another symbol of doing well during dark times in your life. The owl would more likely symbolize making it through bad times using foresight and knowledge rather than something like faith or strength for example.