"...St. Aggie's might be the closest an owl can get to Hagsmire, the owl hell, without dying."
- —Narrator, The Siege
St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls, or St. Aggie's, is a home for "orphaned" owls, who are really snatched from nests. They apparently planned to control the owl universe, but they were conquered by the Pure Ones. Questions (and, by extension, knowledge in general) were spronk, or forbidden. Their motto was, "When Truth Is Found, Purpose Is Revealed."
Before the Books
During the time of the legends, it was simply known as "The Canyonlands." St. Aegolius was founded at an unspecified time. However, what is known about its past is that one leader of St. Aggie`s died, and that for a year, two owls, Skench, and Ork, a Long-Eared Owl, fought for the title of Ablah General, or leader of St. Aggie's. One day, Ork tried to snatch Bess, daughter of a Boreal Owl named Grimble. However, Grimble killed him with his bare talons. Skench and her first lieutenant, Spoorn, persuaded Grimble to join St. Aggie's. Grimble, not knowing St. Aggie's true intentions, agreed, and for the next few years, he successfully pretended to be moon blinked.Soren, soon after being pushed out of the nest by his brother, Kludd, was snatched by a St. Aggie's patrol and met Gylfie, a tiny Elf Owl. They soon realized the purpose of St. Aggie's, which was to control the owl world. They used a method called moon blinking, forcing young owlets to sleep under the moon's full shine. When owls slept under the moon's full shine, they fell in sort of a hypnotic state, and they became docile and obedient. They secretly resisted, but they were caught, and were subjected to moon scalding. However, they still resisted by reciting the legends of Ga'Hoole, and discovered that one owl, Hortense, or 12-8, was not moon blinked but was sneaking eggs out of St. Aggie's for two eagles to return to the eggs' parents. However, she was caught and pushed off a cliff to her death. It was not discovered until much later that she was caught by Streak, one of the eagles, and taken to Ambala.Later, Soren and Gylfie suspected that Grimble is not truly moon blinked, and they confronted him. He admitted that he was not moon blinked and agreed to helping to teach them to fly away. However, on the night that Soren and Gylfie were about to leave, Skench caught and killed Grimble. However, Soren and Gylfie escaped. A St. Aggie's patrol consisting of Jatt, Jutt, and 47-2 soon caught up to them in Kuneer, but the patrol was killed by the two eagles, Streak and Zan.
Soren and Gylfie, now living at the Great Ga'Hoole Tree, were sent by Ezylryb to return to St. Aggie's along with Twilight, Digger, Ruby, Martin, and Otulissa (together, the chaw of chaws) on a spy mission to find out if Pure Ones were infiltrating the canyons, which had the largest known supply of flecks in the owl world. They were to pretend that they got sucked up to the Northern Kingdoms by williwaws, but found them too disorganized, with dozens of constantly warring clans.
Upon arriving, they were interrogated by Skench and Spoorn, and soon they are given numbers and taken to their pits. Soren met Finny, his old pit guardian, though luckily she didn't recognize him. It soon turned out that she was a cannibal and an egg-eater. Soren later killed her just before he left.
Meanwhile, Otulissa learned that Pure Ones actually had infiltrated the canyons, placing flecks in the eggs' mossy nests, but a group of turnfeathers were taking them back out again. Skench asked Otulissa of the powers of flecks, and she replied with false information. She managed to grant the entire chaw of chaws a post in the hatchery. They managed to escape by turning the turnfeathers and the Pure Ones against one another, and they left in the chaos.
While the Battle of The Beaks took place, Kludd, leading the Pure Ones, conquered St. Aggie's.
Skench and Spoorn were sheltered by the Great Tree for some time. During the Battle of the Burning, Skench and Spoorn, along with former St. Aggie's owls, turned against the Guardians and were killed.
Battle Claws Chamber
Little is known about this area other than that it contains the battle claws harvested from battlefields, and that the owls working there learn to care for the battle claws.
The eggorium is an area where all the eggs that have been snatched are organized by species and sent to the hatchery.
The glaucidium is a "deep box canyon." It has ramps going up the sides for the sleep march .It is here that the sleep march occurs during full shine. This is also where moon blinking occurs.
The hatchery is where eggs from the eggorium are sat on by owls called "broodies" until they hatch. The hatchlings are then given a designated number and taken to a pit.
The inventorium is where all the assorted materials from the pelletorium are organized and brought into the library. It branches off of the library. This is also where Gylfie and Soren learn to fly.
The library contains thousands of flecks and hundreds of books. No one is ever allowed inside other than Skench and Spoorn, the Ablah General and her first lieutenant. It is guarded day and night. It was here that, with the secret help of Grimble, a Boreal Owl, Soren and Gylfie learned to fly and escape from St. Aggie's.
The pits at St. Aegolius are where snatched owls spend their time when they are not on duty or in the glaucidium. There are dozens of pits for owlets but only about two for newly arrived mature owls. Each pit has a pit guardian, whose job is to be nice to the owls and bribe them with treats and naps to put that owl in their debt and, in extension, in that of St. Aggie's in general.
The pelletorium is a box canyon like the glaucidium where owls dissect pellets and take out certain materials that the owl has ingested. There is a strict hierarchy here: newly arrived owls are third-degree pickers, and they pick for larger objects, such as pebbles, bones, and teeth. Second-degree pickers take out feathers and fur, while first-degrees look for flecks, little magnetic metal bits. When Soren and Gylfie were at the pelletorium, their guide was a Screech Owl whose number designation was 47-2. One strict rule is that owlets cannot pick their own pellets. Another rule is that you must line the objects neatly. If an owlet fails to do so, he or she is punished by the most severe methods.
Moon Scalding Chamber
The moon scalding chamber is where the owls who resist moon blinking go. It is made out of rocks and bounces to moon's shine all over the chamber. Owls usually only go there if they work in the eggorium or if they resist moon blinking. As the name suggests, the owls go in there to be moon scalded. The only way to resist is to recite the legends of Ga'Hoole.
Number Ceremony and Specialness
When an owl first arrives at the canyons, it is given a number instead of a name, such as 12-1, 12-8, or 47-2. This is called the "number ceremony." Eventually, an owl will gain a name instead of a number (example: Grimble was once 28-5). This ceremony is called "Specialness."
The sleep march occurs during full shine, when the moon is at its fullest. All owls are forced to march and repeat their names, which causes them to become not names but words with no meaning. At regular intervals, the command is issued for all owls to tilt their heads upward and sleep. This leads to moon blinking, which erases an owl's individuality, and they become mindless slaves of the St. Aggie's owls. Ways to keep from being moon blinked are to think about certain things (such as flying) and not fall asleep and to stay under the shade to evade the moon.
Moon scalding is a process in which an owl is placed in a certain chamber during full shine where the walls reflect all moonlight towards the owls, which is similar to moon blinking, only it is much more powerful. It is rarely used, mostly when an owl is discovered not to be moon blinked or when an owl is being moved from the hatchery or eggorium to another assignment. A way to counter moon scalding is to repeat the legends of Ga'Hoole in your head or under your breath.
Laughter therapy is used when an owl asks a question. The owl is then carried up (painfully) to a ledge, while the owls below laugh at the owl until the air is shaking with laughter. Then the owl in question is plucked and delivered to a nurse while he or she heals.
Owls from St. Aegolius
- Ork, Long-Eared Owl, Asio otus, former Ablah General (Deceased)
- Skench, Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus, Ablah General (Deceased)
- Spoorn, Western Screech Owl, Otus kennicottii, first liuetenant (Deceased)
- Finny, Snowy Owl, Nyctea scandiaca, Soren's pit guardian/eggorium supervisor (Deceased)
- Grimble, Boreal Owl, Aegolius funerus, a guardian of the library (Deceased)
- Jatt, Long-eared Owl, Asio otus, a sublieutenant, warrior, and enforcer (Deceased)
- Jutt, Long-eared Owl, Asio otus, a sublieutenant, warrior, and enforcer (Deceased)
- 47-2 - Western Screech, Otus kennicottii, leader of pelletorium (Deceased)
- Tumak, director of the battle claw repository
- Unk, Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus, Gylfie's pit guardian
- Digger, Burrowing Owl, Athene cunicularia
- Gylfie, Elf Owl, Micrathene whitneyi
- Martin, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Aegolius acadicus
- Otulissa, Spotted Owl, Strix occidentalis
- Ruby, Short-eared Owl, Asio flammeus
- Soren, Barn Owl, Tyto alba
- Twilight, Great Gray Owl, Strix nebulosa
Pure One spies
- Flint, Barn Owl, Tyto alba
- Purity, Barn Owl, Tyto alba
- Hortense, Spotted Owl, Strix occidentalis; infiltrator from the kingdom of Ambala
- St. Aggie's, while they are a part of the Pure Ones forces in the movie and video games, are hated enemies of the Pure Ones in the book series.
- In the video game, the Canyonlands appear to have been a location belonging to the Glauxian Brothers, known as the Perrock Monastery. Hagsfiends overtake it, and the Pure Ones make it their base.
- It is never stated why the Guardians didn't make a move against St. Aggies and its leaders untill The Burning when the Pure Ones took control of it, considering that it was kidnapping owls as well as hoarding a large supply of flecks, plus it was known that the Pure Ones were after it and had spies already there by the time of The Siege. It is possible that the Guardians feared that a full-scale attack on St. Aggie's would leave Ga'Hoole open to capture by the Pure Ones.