The Magpie Rhyme

We have all seen it. We have all heard it. We have all sang it:

One for sorrow,

Two for joy,

Three for a girl,

Four for a boy,

Five for silver,

Six for gold,

Seven for a secret,

Never to be told,

Eight for a wish,

Nine for a kiss

Ten for a bird

You must not miss.

Whilst the above version is the most recent of the well-known magpie rhyme, there are numerous other versions out there. You may be more familiar with the original written by John Brand in 1780 or the extended version written by Michael Aislabie Denham in 1846. Regardless of which version you have grown up with or now read to your children, each of the published versions of the magpie rhyme all share one commonality: fictional.

For the man who saw one magpie this morning on his way to work may believe he is condemned for sorrow until sorrow arrives. Thoughts of being laid off at his job, of his marriage ending, of his child falling ill. Now the man's whole day is ruined - always thinking of how and when sorrow will greet him. But what if the man spots two magpies, is he automatically joyful? No, of course not. The man could spot one magpie and then see a beautiful rainbow. The man could spot two magpies and then trip over and sprain his ankle.

Have you ever stopped to consider how miserable the writer of this rhyme may have been during the time of writing it? He may have written it in selfishness to escape from his own unsown wounds and anguish. Perhaps the world was full of sadness during this time and the writer was happy but felt lost, so he turned to sadness to be found. Or maybe the world was happy and the writer was not, and he felt the need to repent against the world by acting miserably. Who knows, perhaps the writer was just drunk. Perhaps not. The important thing to remember is that you do not join in with neither the sadness or the joy of the world, the important thing is that you go on feeling how you feel naturally at the time of feeling - as an individual, not being swayed here nor there due to the sighting of one or more magpies.

Other believers may spot a dead bird lying on the ground and believe it to be an omen. What nonsense this is! A dead bird does not represent an omen - it simply is what it is: a dead bird. Some people get so absorbed in the world of superstition that they forget real life. Stop plastering your own and your child’s mind with useless information. Why deceive your own child into buying into something false instead of teaching them the truth? The magpie rhyme and others alike own no meaning and own no truths - they are non-sensical. Teach your child something real. The rest is hocus-pocus.

When you next see a magpie or group of magpies, instead of reciting the rhyme in which has been drilled into your mind from a young age, begin to appreciate the magpie for what it is: a beautiful black and white bird with subtle blue feathers - a living thing, a divine creature. Look at the magpie, listen to its chirp, hear it sing, watch it fly. There is everything but sorrow to experience here.

Thanks for reading.