Magpies Bringing Good Luck, Birds and Beasts in Welsh folklore and mythology, a tale from Llanwnog Wales
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Category: Birds and Beasts
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Title: Magpies Bringing Good Luck


The magpie was considered a bird of ill-omen. No one liked to see a magpie when starting on a journey, but in certain parts of Montgomeryshire, such as the parish of Llanwnog, if the magpie flew from left to right it foretold good luck; in other parts, such as Llansantffraid, if seen at all, it was considered a sign of bad luck.|However, fortunately, a person could make void this bad luck, for he had only to spit on the ground, and make a cross with his finger, or stick, through the spittle, and boldly say—| “Satan, I defy thee,”|and the curse, or bad luck, indicated by the appearance of the magpie, could not then come.|The number of magpies seen implied different events. It was a common saying:—|One’s grief, two’s mirth,| Three’s a marriage, four’s a birth;|and another rendering of the above heard in Montgomeryshire was:—|One for bad luck,|Two for good luck,|Three for a wedding,|Four for a burying.|Another ditty is as follows:—|One’s joy, two’s greet (crying),|Three’s a wedding, four’s a sheet (death).|As stated above, one is grief, or bad luck, if it flies from right to left, but if from left to right it implied success or joy. So these various readings can only be reconciled by a little verbal explanation, but “four’s a birth” cannot be made to be an equivalent to “four’s a sheet,” a winding sheet, or a burying, by any amount of ingenuity.|Should a magpie be seen stationary on a tree, it was believed that the direction in which it took its flight foretold either success or disaster to the person who observed it. If it flew to the left, bad luck was to follow; if to the right, good luck; if straight, the journey could be undertaken, provided the bird did not turn to the left whilst in sight, but disappeared in that direction.


Find information on "Magpies Bringing Good Luck", and Birds and Beasts, in Llanwnog Wales. Celtic and Welsh mythology and folklore in the Walesdirectory.co.uk.