To See the Antisemitism of Medieval Bestiaries, Look for the Owl

On March 24, 2020, I published my first piece for Aeon Magazine. I am genuinely happy about how this piece turned out. It might be my best piece of writing so far, if I may so myself. A big thank you to Pamela Weintraub, the editor who I worked with for helping me unlock it.

Enjoy!

To See the Antisemitism of Medieval Bestiaries, Look for the Owl.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The owl watches you from the raised seat on the medieval misericord in Norwich Cathedral in the east of England. Surrounding the owl are birds with feathers like the scales of a pangolin. The birds are focused on the owl. The owl pays them no mind.

The motif of this scene would have been familiar to the woodcarver who made it and to the abbey monks who leaned against it during the long hours of Mass. But the associations the people of the Middle Ages made when they saw the scene on the misericord seat were different from how we would interpret it today.

Please click here to read the rest of the article.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

Quirky History: A Hootenanny with Owls in Medieval Margins

On November 9, 2016, I published the following post on Quirk Books.

Quirky History: A Hootenanny With Owls in Medieval Margins

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It’s #wolwednesday, the day of the week when we celebrate the animal that #wolwednesday’s originator author Sam Sykes calls the most perfect creation in nature, the furious and ruthless feathered bag of wisdom and anger—the mighty wol. Or, as it it is known to the rest of the world, the owl.

We’d like to highlight this weekly day of celebration by taking a closer look at owls in medieval manuscripts. Because, as we all know, the owls are not what they seem.

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If you’d like to read the post in its entirety, please click here.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.