Symbols - What does heaven look like
In the UK at least and cetainly in the area from which I came, the magpie commanded a great deal of respect. My grandfather used to ride horses and during any outing in the country, it was traditional to doff your riding hat to a magpie as a sign of respect. They were in some senses both feared and admired. There was also a rhyme we knew as a child which links them with prophecy
One is for danger
Two is for joy
Three is for travel
Four to annoy
Five is for company
Six for an end
Seven good omens
Eight for a friend
Nine tells of love,
that of love come a calling
coming to call or
recall life appalling
I have provided an alternative to this rhyme in the photo, there were clearly quite a few versions around at one time, all however, indicating a prophetic link.
When I broke my achilles tendon by falling down some steps in a garden, as I lay there in some pain, a single magpie laughed - and if you have never heard a magpie laugh you are lucky, it is the eeriest and most spine chilling noise you can imagine. They do not sing, magpies laugh.
So let us get to the symbolism. The magpie takes on the symbolism of all birds. It was a bird chosen for shape shifting and out of body flight by the most powerful shamans of all. Its tail resembles an arrow. The magpie's colours are one of the first reasons why it was so special Black and White and Blue. Black and White are colours that at one time denoted the type of shaman.
- White shamans were the healers and hierophants.
- Black shamans communicated with ‘evil spirits’. Evil spirits are simply the spirit beings of those things that can harm us – the spirit beings of viruses and bacteria and poisonous plants for example. So it was a dangerous job.
They were also able to foretell the future - prophets, and undertake exploration of the spirit realm and give accounts of their journeys there. Again both are potentially dangerous.
In effect, any shaman who used the magpie as his emblem was both a black and a white shaman. He or she could go out of body, heal and also act as hierophant. It meant that the person was very powerful. Magpies have a tendency to attack smaller birds and kill them and in days gone by the shaman's death prayer was all too real. If you doubt the existence of death prayers read the observation on Death prayers used by the Kahuna. Who knows, in some countries like Rumania where these traditions have not died, the death prayer may still be used.
The magpie is also an extremely intelligent bird. Another reason to fear it, as a powerful very clever shaman is a dangerous individual if crossed. In this respect it shares much of the symbolism associated with the Crow. And in cases where the shaman has, as it were, gone to the other side, the magpie starts to take on symbolic associations with the carrion crow.
It also has a great linking for Eggs, in real life the eggs are of other birds, it both pecks them open and steals the insides as well as killing whatever little bird happened to be living off the contents.
Oh yes, and there is one other important aspect to a magpie, they like jewels.
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- Alice in Wonderland - Ch 03 - A Caucus race and a long tail #011107
- Churchill, Winston - Among the Romans not a bird #021563
- Communicating with two crows, a magpie, a collared dove, a pheasant and an assortment of little birds #021611
- Constance Oliver - Magpies in Picardy #013133
- Lyall Watson - The Lightning Bird #011368
- Vignoli, Tito - On birds #007112
- Yu Xuanji - Late spring #015047