Wednesday, November 09, 2005


This morning I was standing at the window and a magpie flew into view and alighted on the roof of the church opposite. “Bad luck,” I thought, knowing that seeing one magpie is a bad omen while seeing two is good. The magpie took off again and flew out of view; a few seconds later another magpie flew into view from a different direction and also landed on the church roof. I was puzzled by this. Two magpies are good luck, but does it count if you don’t see them together? Should I count my sightings as a good sign, or are they in fact double bad luck (which would better suit my mood right now anyway)?

I looked for magpie lore on Wikipedia, and this is what I found there:

The magpie is a common component of European folklore.

In the British Isles a widespread traditional rhyme records the myth that seeing magpies predicts the future, depending on how many are seen. There are many regional variations on the rhyme.

Wikipedia offers three versions of the rhyme; this is the one with which I am most familiar:

One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
And four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret never to be told.

Wikipedia also included a practical quote from Terry Pratchett:

There are many rhymes about magpies, but none of them are very reliable, because they are not the ones the magpies know.


Ludovic said...

its also good luck if a bird poops on you.
I personally I also think it is good luck if you see someone who has their clothing caught in a car door. What's so wrong with schadenfreude?

Max said...

So Ludo, you would then say it's even better luck if you merely witness a bird crapping on your friend?

opgupb said...

It is because of posts like this that I rue the day Deavastat'n D de-linked this blog from his. Curse him!!!

Anonymous said...

If you have no Magpies to see is that good or bad luck??

Anonymous said...

You my friend, are a royal nut job!
I also bet, that you belive in a GOD.? Am I right? ,,,,,,Now,, let us pray...... Achooh!!!