I keep seeing lone magpies everywhere. One for sorrow, two for joy. I can’t remember the last time I saw more than one, if I’m honest. If I’m being really honest, this unsettles me hugely.
I don’t know why. I’m a scientist. The world works like this. All of my beliefs cohere together and yes, God makes scientific sense within that to me. Or rather he would if I had a better grasp of various things that have been explained to me and made sense to me in the past but I’m not terribly bright, so I can’t remember. But what I don’t understand is where do all these superstitions fit in? Where does wearing a specific pair of purple pants to any exam or interview I ever do, for luck, make sense? Or the lucky piskie necklace my mother gave me for the same purpose? Or the earrings I only ever wear for job interviews? Or the silver cross necklace which I still wear every single day? If I’m going to need ‘luck’ on a given day I make our black cat walk across my path before I leave. And I make up superstitions on the spot sometimes, trade-offs. If I do this, then desired/undesired event A will or won’t happen. It’s just a comfort blanket, a lot of these things, but I do, for some reason, believe those things. And I don’t know why.
Meanwhile, those magpies. There’s a rhyme you’re meant to say when you see a lone magpie. I can never remember it. This seriously worries me.
EDIT: later. I was sent a link by a good friend to the Wikipedia article on the subject which doesn’t mention the rhyme to which I referred to (for lone magpies) but does have a large selection of variants of the rhyme about magpies. I think the most common is probably
One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret that’s never been told.
However there are regional variants which add extra lines or bring different things – the devil, kissing, the true love you’re missing, bogey pie, and so on. Very interesting. Also if you scroll up a way it also goes through how you’re supposed to greet Magpies in order to allay bad luck or bring yourself the good luck promised by their number. But there was definitely a rhyme you should say to a lone magpie, which isn’t in the article. Hrm.