Berit Kjos

The Legend of the Guardians

The Owls of Ga'Hoole

A review of this mystical book series for children and youth

by Berit Kjos
October 26, 2010

The owl as a symbol: "Cherokee shamans viewed Eastern Screech-Owls as consultants on punishment and sickness. The Cree believed that the whistle-sounds of the Boreal Owl was a summoning call to the spirit world.... In Africa the owl is associated with witchcraft and sorcery. Australia, China, Greenland, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia and Sweden all have cultures or mythical traditions that give spiritual significance to the owl."[1] Carl Teichrib, "The Wise Old Owl"

"There shall not be found among you anyone who... practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead...." Deuteronomy 18:10-11

Halloween comes and goes, but the Ga'Hoole owls -- with their legends, divination, ghosts, and "hagsfiends" -- call for an all-year warning. These guardians fit right into the world's history of pagan myths and mystical "seers," and their adventures make their occult suggestions all the more alluring to young readers.

Like our world's mythical tales, the owls' treasured 'legends' involve spiritism, magic, murder, and hope-filled illusions. And like today's 'New Spirituality,' their beliefs are twisted into enticing heresies that match 'human' cravings and mock God's truths.

Since this book series is full of references to "Glaux" (the name of their god), some readers may even equate these "noble" tales with Christian parables. Without faith in God's Word and knowledge of His warnings, few are prepared to discern the deceptions. Enticed by the dark, scary thrills, many will gladly accept the lies.

A glimpse of the storyline

Soren, a newly hatched Barn Owl, would soon face plenty of challenges to his faith, life, and liberty. Even before he could fly, he was pushed from his nest by his older brother, Kludd, who planned to kill him as part of a ritual requirement for initiation into the league of the "Pure Ones." Soren survived the fall, but was quickly abducted by cruel strangers skilled in mind-dulling brainwashing ("moon blinking") of fledgling owls.

Soren and his best friend escaped and eventually found their way to the great Ga'Hoole tree and its enlightened community of owls. But foes like Kludd and his mate, Nyra, continue to shatter their peace. Kludd's gifted son Nyroc (who changes his name to Coryn) escapes his parents and the murderous Pure Ones. His exceptional psychic powers lead to amazing victories for the Ga'Hoole community.

Meanwhile, the captivated reader becomes more and more familiar with the dark forces behind those mystical triumphs. Evil seems increasingly normal, while God's timeless warnings are dismissed as old-fashioned and intolerant:

"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness.... Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!" Isaiah 5:20-21

It's easy for readers to identify with these fictional owls. Their values, rituals and relationships fit right into the multicultural training in American schools today. In today's post-Christian world, God's unchanging Truth has been twisted into enticing deviations that reflect both our changing times and our human inclinations. No doubt Scholastic, the U.S. publisher of the Harry Potter books as well as The Guardians of Ga'Hoole, had something to do with the "timely" message of the books.

The quotes below (1) provide a simple glossary of the strange terms used by Ga'Hoole owls and (2) show the dangerous spiritual alternatives to our God-given guidelines. These occult attractions now beckon children and youth across America and far beyond.

Glaux (god)

  • "Why, for Glaux’s sake?!" [8,113. The first number refers to Book 8 in the series. The page number follows]
  • "By Glaux, I do swear..." [6-Prologue]
  • "...all of us are descended from the Great Glaux." [3,17]

Scrooms (ghosts or spirits of the dead)

  • "A scroom, my dear, is a spirit that cannot rest until its work on Earth is finished."[7,54]
  • "Eglantine knew she was dreaming, but it seemed so real.... Would her mum and da [sic] be there? ... Soren said they were dead. He had seen their scrooms, the spirits of dead owls." [5, Prologue]
  • "'They’ve come, Eglantine.'...Their parents’ scrooms had come back to them. Two pale misty shapes.... Then it was Soren’s voice she heard. 'Is it the unfinished business that you first told me about in the Spirit Woods?' ‚   'Yes.... Glaux bless, it is finished.'"[6-204]
  • "[Nyroc] had flown from those flames as hard and as fast as he could and soon found himself being guided by a good scroom toward a strange ghostly forest. He hadn’t known that there were such things as good scrooms."[8,1-2]

Hagsfiend (devilish spirits of the dead) & Hagscraft (witchcraft?)

  • "'Ha-ha!' '...the mask exploded in harsh clanking laughter that made Nyroc’s gizzard shudder. So his mother had been right. He would be haunted by his father’s scroom wherever he went for the rest of his life. He was almost too weary and scared to think.[7,145]
  • "I have heard rumors, however, that Nyra has been killed.... 'Yes, her scroom, or some say it was a hagsfiend, was spotted...." [8,62]
  • "There was the charred skeleton of an owl, still lashed to the stump of a burnt stake. 'This is hagscraft!' Soren said in a hoarse whisper."[14,104]

Psychic Power or Medium

  • "I willed myself not to read what you were thinking. It was hard but I just exited your mind." [8,31]
  • "It began to swirl in vague shape. 'It’s a mask! A metal mask.’ ...Nyroc had stepped out of his own body and was hovering over the lake, and yet when he looked down, his talons were dug firmly into the pebbles of the beach. Could he be in two places at once? Impossible! But inside his head he could hear a voice, a voice he did not recognize, calling to him. 'Come here, lad. Come here.'... He saw something like his own shadow moving out from him. It was going toward the swirling shape."[7-145]

Starsight (Visions and Divination)

  • "Soren possessed a rare ability: starsight which was a kind of dream vision in which he could see the future, or things that were happening in some distant place."[14,88-89]

Mystical Trance

  • "There was something spooky about his mum [Nyra].... She seemed to have gone into some sort of a trance. She began to speak in a scratchy singsong voice."[7-54]
  • "...the rabbit broke out of his trance and turned to look at Nyroc....'I’m a mystic of sorts,' the rabbit said. "I see certain things where others don’t....I read spiderwebs." [7-172]

Flame Reading or Fire Sight (a form of divination)

Note: The popular Disney movie, Pocahontas, illustrated this "fire sight" well. Its natives cared for the land and communed with its spirits. Kekata, the tribal shaman, provided spiritual protection as well as guidance. The ghostly visions and images shown in his magic fire warned the tribe to shun the "white" newcomers who "prowl the earth like ravenous wolves."

  • "Why do I see these things?" [Nyroc] asked. "...why would the Pure Ones do what I see in these flames?" [7-71]
  • "He remembered his first vision in the flames of the fire.... Beneath the hisses and snapping noises of the fire, he had heard low growling sounds and he had seen strange shapes rising in an unknown landscape with weird creatures loping across it."[7-177]
  • "...the coals... seemed to breathe like living creatures. Coryn’s fire sight was so powerful now that he did not need flames. The coals offered shapes and images as clear as the ones he read in fire. And what he saw first in these coals was the face of his mother, Nyra....There was a wolf figure near her. He wore a headdress of bones."[8,146]

Ritual sacrifice

  • "...he must not under any circumstances be allowed to go through with the murderous initiation ceremony of the Pure Ones. That a natural flame reader would be trained to murder was unthinkable. Such a power turned to evil would endanger the future of the owl universe."[7-50]

Ritual book burning

  • "Within that gloom they could see a circle of owls standing around a small fire. The owls’ faces were bathed in the glow of the fire and their shadows danced across the pools of light behind them." [14,56]

Glaumora (Heaven), hagsmire (hell) spirit trails, and reincarnation

  • "...the scroom of Strix Struma dissolved in the night to find her spirit trail to glaumora."[8,203]
  • "...after following the spirit trail of stars and resting for a while in the soul cave, a gnaw wolf’s spirit could come back as anything it wanted to be."[8,112-113]

Belief and Redemption (faith, and Positive Thinking)

  • "They did not hear Grimble, as he lay dying, chant... an ancient owl prayer: 'I have redeemed myself by giving belief to the wings of the young. Blessed are those who believe, for indeed they shall fly.'" [1,162]
  • "...believe in your dream.... Hear the voices in the distance. And believe "” they will not lie."[6,153-154]
  • "...all the owls of the great tree that night believed....They believed that there were many kinds of truths, those of science that could be proven through the brain, and those of legends that could come true in the hearts and gizzards of all owls if they only believed.... Glaux bless you for your belief in legends."[8,203]

Owl science versus occult manifestations

  • "Hardly scientific," Otulissa sniffed. ‚   "It ain’t science, ma’am. It be more like magic from the old times, the ancient times." Otulissa was about to say that she didn’t believe in magic, but a short time ago she hadn’t believed in scrooms, either. And now here she was in this Glaux-forsaken place...." [8,137]
  • "Since the haunting by Strix Struma, Otulissa, who had not believed in scrooms before this, was driven by her inimitable scholarly curiosity to make a study of ghostly manifestations. She took from the library shelves a book she had never previously deigned to even look at: Paranormal Activity in the World of Owls Since the Time of Hoole.... But as she read it, things began to make sense, especially when she compared it to her own experiences with Strix Struma’s scroom."

The world of the occult is no playground for our children -- not even in their imagination. From the beginning of recorded history, human minds have been drawn to the thrills and powers of dark forces and mystical manifestations. Though God warned His people to shun such evil, few seemed to heed His Word:

"...the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Genesis 6:5

"...they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart..." Jeremiah 11:8

"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh [human nature] will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." Galatians 6:7-8

"...the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desire... they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things..." 2 Timothy 4:2-5

"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ..." 2 Corinthians 10:4-6

Those who do take a stand for Truth in the years ahead will probably face hostility. The following chart may help your child give wise answers:

You are INTOLERANT "You should be more tolerant of different beliefs and lifestyles." "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness...." Eph. 5:3-11, 15-17
...ARROGANT "You believe your religion is better than ours." Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6
...NARROW-MINDED "You're not open to other spiritual traditions." "...the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other." Deut. 4:39
...IGNORANT "You don't understand the need for multicultural unity and understanding." "They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." 2 Tim. 4:3-4
...OLD-FASHIONED "Your religion doesn't work any more." "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrews 13:8

"The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;

My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies."

Psalm 18:1-3