A Wise Word:

Witchcraft is all about living to the heights and depths of life as a way of worship. --LY DE ANGELES

Friday, August 14, 2015

Good morning, Mr. Magpie

I was only four or five years old the first time a magpie was pointed out to me.  Staring at those cobalt blue wings gleam in the Montana sunshine, all I could do was wonder at its beauty.   When I opened my pint sized mouth and commented in admiration, I was instantly shut down.  Magpies were "bad" birds.  (According to cattlemen, magpies are the scourge of the range preferable only to coyotes.  Because they will occasionally nibble a raw brand or preen the back of a cow so intently as to cause abrasions, most ranchers will shoot at every magpie they see.)  Feeling shamed to admire such a creature, I turned away from this bird who had instantly intrigued me and over the years nearly forgot about them.
Illustration by National Geographic
Recently, when we moved to Bozeman, I once again fell in love with magpies.  In our new neighborhood, magpies are as plentiful as children which is saying a lot.  People here still grumble and call them "dirty," but I no longer care.  The magpies are my friends.  Superman and I both make a point to speak to them on a regular basis and Miss Busy loves to yell "pie-pie" as she tries to coax them in for a closer inspection.  We have also had many hours of entertainment watching through the living room window as they play, fight, steal, and gather material to build their rather messy nests.

This past month, I have begin noticing that the magpies seem to pay a lot more attention to my porch than to those of the neighbors.  They pluck drying garment from my rail, uproot small plants, leave perfect beak shaped bite marks in my mother-in-laws tongue, and rearrange the decorations on my table.  At first, I chalked it up to knowing that they were safe in my space, but then they started leaving gifts. 

One night about a week ago, I heard a clattering out on the porch.  Considering it was a rather stormy night, I shrugged my shoulders and blamed it on the wind tossing around my mop bucket.  The next morning, I found a resin skull that usually sits on the table thrown back against the rail in the opposite direct that the wind would have moved it.  In the space usually occupied by the skull were two small rocks confirming who the culprit(s) had been.  Then a few days later, I went out in the morning to find a perfect magpie feather sitting in front of my garden shoes. 

As a result of all these goings on, I have made it a point to learn more about magpies.  The more I learn, the more fascinating they become.  In this past week, I have learned: magpies have a long association with witches and the occult, are known to hold "wakes" for fallen comrades, and that a magpie is the only non-mammal who can recognize themselves in a mirror.   They are also resourceful, attracted to human company on their own terms, and take on long term projects. 

From a magickal standpoint, magpies often symbolize a person who could experience more if they would only trust their limited occultic knowledge and the possibility of learning and/or experiencing the supernatural in a less than conventional manner. Folk lore also teaches that witches can turn into magpies, that's one bit of knowledge I'd like to gain.  As with most magickal symbolism, there is also a warning.  Those who relate to magpies run the risk of all alternative learners and relying on incomplete knowledge.  The lesson I personally take from this is: use what knowledge you have, but continue to learn and grow.  Pretty timely advice.