Bird Poop and Luck: The Myth
July 19th, 2007
Poop. Pronunciation: [poop]
-verb (used without object)
2. to defecate
[Origin: it seems to have appeared in its current form in 1735, and was developed from the word "powpen" or "popen", which meant to blow or sound a horn.]
Bird. Pronunciation: [burd]
1. any warm-blooded vertebrate of the class Aves, having a body covered with feathers, forelimbs modified into wings, scaly legs, a beak, and no teeth, and bearing young in a hard-shelled egg.
2. a fowl or game bird
[Origin: appeared before 900 AD as "byrd" and "bryd"]
Understanding these simple definitions is crucial to getting to the heart of one of the most ridiculous, mind boggling, irrational myths of all time.
The Myth: Getting pooped on by a bird is good luck.
Extensive research (lots of google-ing) has led me to one important conclusion.
The amount of luck present in any particular poop is directly influenced by the type of bird doing the pooping.
A. The Raven
The Raven is generally considered good luck because of its high intelligence. The larger the quantity of Ravens that poop on you at one time, the larger the amount of your luck. If a person gets pooped on by Seven Ravens or more, that person should be jumping up and down in glee...a great day! Getting pooped on by only one Raven, on the other hand, is not so lucky. This is all apparent in the following Folklore Rhyme:
“One Raven for sorrow, Two for joy, Three Ravens for a girl, Four for a boy, Five Ravens for silver, Six for gold, Seven Ravens for a secret never to be told.”
Another variation of this rhyme continues past Seven: "Eight for a Wish, Nine for a Kiss, Ten for a Time, of Joyous Bliss"
The Raven's good luck image comes partly from it's association with Heaven. Looking Ahead Under "Riddled Avians", It Says "Heaven Offers Truth". In Beowulf, the Raven is proclaimed as having communication with the Heavens: "They slept until the black raven, the blithe hearted proclaimed the joy of heaven."
(it should be noted, however, that I have no clue what "Blithe" means)
On the other hand, seeing a Raven isn't always considered good luck. It really all depends on the circumstances. As any person may correctly assume, seeing a bird suddenly fall dead from mid-air is a very ominous sign. This is especially true when it concerns the Raven. In Babylon, in 323 AD, it is said that as soon as Alexander the Great stepped foot into the city, a flock of Ravens fell dead from the sky. A few weeks later, Alexander, predictably, was dead. Coincidence? I think not.
But don't go hating the Raven for causing the death of Alexander the Great. These same Ravens were also the cause of prolonging his life! It is said that Alexander was guided through a desert by two Ravens sent from Heaven.
There are many more Raven myths and rhymes: If the Ravens ever leave the Tower of London (the tower houses over 900 of them), England shall fall...the government actually keeps tame Ravens on the ground of the Tower just in case! If a Raven's eggs are stolen, a baby will die. In Wales, a family will prosper if a Raven perches on their roof. In Scotland, a Raven circling a house predicts the death of someone within (obviously). In a Native American Legend, the Raven is depicted as the creator of living creatures by dropping pebbles into the ocean. The Legendary Arthur of Camelot is said to have turned into one. In Western England, some locals used to tip their hats to Ravens in order not to offend them.
B. The Owl
Despite the Owl's modern image of an astute and extremely wise creature, most myths associated with the Owl concern Evil tidings.
Some North American tribes believed that witches could assume the bodies of owls and fly around at night. In Africa, owls were thought to kill for witch doctors. In Celtic myth, the Owl was considered a bird of Darkness...or the "Corpse Bird". In Vedic legend, the god of the dead (Yama) used the owl as a messenger. The Aborigines in Australia believe the Owl is a messenger of the evil god Muurup, who eats children.
But don't worry if an owl has pooped on your head. There are a few...granted, only a very few...myths that depict the owl in a positive light. In Greek Myth, the Owl is said to be a husband of the goddess of wisdom, Athena. Who wouldn't wanna be pooped on by Athena's man!?! Also, if you know someone who has a problem with alcohol...no problem! Just offer them a few Owl eggs on a plate. Owl eggs were believed to be a cure for alcoholism in some parts of Europe.
C and D: The Crow and the Magpie
The two birds that you DO NOT wanna be pooped on by, are the Crow and the Magpie. These are bad, bad, bad birds!
A French saying states that evil priests became crows, and bad nuns became magpies. There is an ominous rhyme that goes: "A crow on the thatch, soon death lifts the latch." This rhyme came into effect if you saw a single crow perched on your roof. Much like the "black cat superstition", to have a single crow cross the path before you was bad luck. However, if you saw another, then the bad luck was canceled out: "Two crows I see, good luck to me." The Greeks used to say, "Go to the Crows!" much the same way that we say "Go to Hell!"
Magpies are ominous birds that foretell the future, according to the size of the group that they travel in. Magpies are believe to be cursed by God for not mourning properly and not wearing all black during the Crucifixion. In Scotland, Magpies are thought to be so evil that each has a drop of the devil's blood under its tongue.
Here are some helpful tips on how to protect against crows and magpies:
1. if you are unlucky enough to see a crow or magpie on the road, all is not lost. All you have to do is cross yourself, raise your hat to the bird, spit three times over your right shoulder, and proclaim "Devil, Devil, I defy you!". Of course, if you don't have a hat, then your out of luck.
2. if you live in an area were magpies are common, it would be best for you to carry an onion with you at all times.
In Summary, getting pooped on by a bird does not necessarily mean good luck. It's very important to look up and see what kind of bird has left you this present. A Raven or an Owl is more often than not a good sign. Magpies and Crows, on the other hand...just remember the onion.
If you get pooped on by a sparrow...it just means that you've been pooped on by a sparrow.