Magpie Symbolic Meanings
When we observe the magpie’s behaviors in nature, we can pick out many strong symbolic messages.
Among her many common attributes, here are a few magpie symbolic meanings:
Quick List of symbolic traits of the magpie:
The magpie’s speech is symbolic of communication and creative expression. When we hear the magpie speak it is a message to us that we might need to listen to what is being spoken to us – listen with more attention. The chatter of the magpie is also a symbolic message that we may need to speak our minds more clearly….speak up, express our opinions, be creative with our spoken words.
The magpie’s obsession with shiny things is symbolic of our tendency to chase after false ideas or perceptions. When the magpie comes into our lives it is often a reminder that we may have to re-evaluate our priorities. Are we chasing after unsuitable desires? Are we serving a false ideal? Are we putting materialism ahead of matters of the soul?
The magpie builds its home in the thickest “V” of trees. Forks or V’s in nature are symbolic of gateways or paths into the spirit realm. In this fashion, the magpie asks us about our level of spiritual perception. Specifically, the magpie asks to keep an open mind in matters of the spirit. She also asks us where our spiritual foundation is and encourages us to open the gateways of higher (spiritual) vision.
Her plumage is also symbolic. With striking colouration, the magpie is symbolic of flamboyance, expression, and glamour. When we see her, we do a double-take because her appearance commands our attention. This is a message for us to not hide ourselves away from the world. The magpie beckons us to reveal our brilliance (physical and otherwise) to the world. We are each composed of incredible beauty and grace – the magpie is a reminder that we must express these attributes outwardly in a glamorous display just as she does.
And just when we get to know the symbolic meaning of the magpie, she eludes us and leaves us guessing what she’s all about. In nature she has been known to be shy and reclusive – yet in cities she is noted to be extremely sociable with humans. Typically, she is a scavenger…but she has also been witnessed taking down small birds and rodents – acting as a bird of prey (which is not her classification).
These and other oddities in her behavior are symbolic of illusion and perception. The magpie’s message her is that not all things are what they appear to be, and we should not set our judgements in stone. Further, this aspect of the magpie is a message that we do not have to be bound to perceptions. In other words, we may want to consider departing from our habitual behaviors and avoid being type-caste into a specific role.
In ancient European cultures the magpie is said to predict omens, and there is a type of divination based on the magpie according to an old riddle. I’ve forgotten how the rhyme goes, but gist of it is according to how many magpies are seen the following will be one’s fate:
- One magpie indicates danger
- Two equals joy in union
- Three means good journey
- Four magpies means new beginning
- Five equals company coming
- Six indicates an ending
- Seven magpies is a good omen, carry on with your plans
- Eight magpies suggest a wait period, do not continue with your plans
- Nine magpies speak of love will coming to call on you, or a return of love to your life
Magpie symbolic meanings take on a brighter note in the East, where the Chinese regard the magpie as a good luck symbol, joy, marital bliss, sexual happiness, and long lasting fortune.
When the Chinese hear the cry of a magpie it is said to be an announcement of the arrival of friends and family (click here for other symbolic meanings of Chinese animals).
The ancient Roman’s viewed the magpie as a creature of high intellect and reasoning powers. She is also an attribute of Bacchus, the God of wine.
In Native American animal lore, the magpie was also viewed as having intellect. However, more often than not she was faulted for trickery and her intelligence was typically used in deceptive schemes. She cannot be judged too harshly thought because her tricks are always played out with a light-hearted, good-natured intention.
As you can see, the magpie symbolic meanings are as diverse and colorful as the magpie herself. Her messages are many, and she gives them to us with a free and happy heart.
(magpie on elk back)