The Superstition & Truth Behind Magpies

Written by: Jamie Ward
Reading time: 2 mins
Last updated: March 17, 2021

According to Christianity the magpie bird represents the devil because one was sat on Jesus’ cross when he was crucified.

Magpie Facts

There’s always been a number of tales and myths surrounding Magpies… but what started them all?

Have magpies always been seen as an omen of bad luck?

And where did the famous Magpie Rhyme come from?

Read the facts here!

Magpies in History

Magpies in History

The Magpie used to be seen as a very important and an interesting mythological bird in history, before the Christians came on the scene.

It was said that at the Magpie represent the Devil, as when Jesus was crucified on the cross, both a Dove and a Magpie came to sit on the cross.

The Dove caught the tears of Christ, where as the Magpie didn’t.

The Church also started the famous rumor that the tongue of a Magpie contained a drop of blood from the devil.

From this rumor came the idea of cutting the tongue of a Magpie off, to release the drop of the devils blood.

It was then said that the Magpie would then be capable of Human speech.

The Rhyme

The Rhyme

One of the most famous things about Magpies is the rhyme that records the myth that seeing magpies predicts the future.

It is not clear whether this myth was actually believed or not.

There are many different variations of the rhyme, but the most common version, and the version that I grew up with, is below

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 a surprise you should be careful not to miss.
Eleven for health,
Twelve for wealth,
Thirteen beware it’s the devil himself.

If you know a different version from the one above, please say so in the comments below, and we’ll add it to the post.

Leave A Comment


  1. Bart Springer March 17, 2020

    Thank you for the poem. When I met my wife she used that poem for the number of times she would sneeze. 4 or 5 times was good.

  2. Angelica October 13, 2014

    One for sorrow. Two for joy. Three for a girl. Four for a boy. Five for silver. Six for gold. Seven for a tale never to be told. Eight for a wish. Nine for a kiss. Ten for a bird that you wont want to miss. Eleven for a love. Twelve for a scar. Thirteen and you better drink that blood.