A Myth Of Magpies

Magpie Stealing Jewelry Shiny Objects Gemstone Necklace Watercolor Painting Illustration

For our prompt of “Gem” today, I thought about one of my sketches from last month when I drew my very first magpie. Not only had I failed to ever sketch one, I didn’t know that much about this bird. So, of course, I had to learn everything about them that I could in the few little minutes that I had. And, I remember reading about the stories that surrounded them regarding their propensity to steal shiny objects. This idea of magpies persisted for hundreds of years and became quite a popular notion in stories. More recently, scientists have discovered that this isn’t quite true at all. Indeed, not only do they seem to dislike shiny objects, they’re actually a bit afraid of them. They’re afraid of things that are new. Also, the color blue for some reason which was never fully explained. While it’s nice that after so many years, the magpie has been vindicated for being a felon, those stories still exist as part of something that can, many times, be even more interesting, known simply as lore.

I love folklore and enjoy hearing all of those stories. Some stories may be so wild that they’re just fun to think about and others have been around so long that we often don’t even realize whether they’re true or not. Our ability to tell and retell stories is one of the greatest features of humans. It was once the only way to pass down history, even if that history was a bit questionable as it was told again and again. That’s what makes lore so interesting. Sometimes, it can’t be proven or disproven and that creates a bit more mystery. And while facts are always wonderful, they’re sometimes dull compared to what our imaginations can conjure. This ability to invent ideas is quite an exceptional talent. And truly, it’s one every person possesses, not just an elite few. Like most things, the only thing that separates us is rarely ever talent, and more often just a bit more persistence.

And, I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but another week has zipped by once more and it’s already time for another lovely weekend. Not that I’m complaining, of course, as it’s my favorite time of the week. Yet, as we head into autumn and my absolute favorite time of year, I’m equally fine with the days passing a bit more slowly so I get to enjoy them properly. As many of you know the holidays come with food and gifts and fun traditions that Philippe, Phineas and I share. And I’m fine with taking my time and enjoying each precious moment to come. Though this year, things are very different and there’s much chaos going on as well. For me, the best way to deal with all of that is to simply focus on things that haven’t changed in years. It’s comforting to relish in those best bits of the past that were delivered in stories that I’ve heard since my youth. Stories that I don’t have to fact check, but can simply enjoy for what they are, like a myth of magpies.

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Magpie Stealing Jewelry Shiny Objects Gemstone Necklace Watercolor Painting Illustration Sketchbook Detail
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25 Comments
  1. Mary Roff 4 weeks ago

    Love the colors you used in the feathers, Charlie! Rather nice gem he has there too. Have a great weekend!!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Mary! 😃💕Hope you’re having a fabulous weekend!

  2. Karen Fortier 4 weeks ago

    Fantastic Charlie! Enjoy your weekend!

  3. writerleenda 4 weeks ago

    Charlie I thought stealing shiny objects was attributed to crows or ravens. I thought magpies just nattered like an annoying relative. I doubt they could even carry something as heavy as a chain with a metal object on it!!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      hehe! Magpies stealing is more part of European lore. Actually, it was wild as after I sketched this we watched an episode of Paddington Bear where he was a detective and the culprit? A magpie! lol 😉

  4. Sandra Strait 4 weeks ago

    One of the things about folklore and myth is that people didn’t think the way we do now. That’s one of the reasons I like the annotated books, because they shed a little light on that. Above and beyond just enjoying the stories and the worlds they create, I like to try and discover what the stories actually told the people they originated with. It’s often much different than what we gain from them.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      So true! It’s so wild to see the history and realize it was a very different story to the people who first heard it! 🙂

  5. Priscilla DeConti 4 weeks ago

    How beautiful is your magpie and gem!! this time of year saddens me as much as I like the holidays..it also signals cold and dark days and nights…yet I do have some things to help me get through and the fun sun will be back before we know it! Enjoy your pizza and weekend 😊☺

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Priscilla! 😃💕 Yeah, I never mind the dark at first… but after Christmas? I’m over it already and ready for spring!

  6. Marisela Delgado 4 weeks ago

    Great painting, Charlie! I laughed at magpies being vindicated felons! haha You know, there is nothing more comforting than being safe and sound inside one’s home, far from the chaos outside. I love going out into my backyard with my plants (sometimes to fight Miss Sassy Squirrel), knowing that I am safe in my small bubble. Enjoy your night and pizza! Now you have me thinking about pizza again! haha haha Thanks again, Charlie, for being so sweet. 💜

    • Mugdha 4 weeks ago

      Hello Marisela,

      Thank you so so much for those incredibly kind words. They really mean the world. I’m sorry if I came across as having been going through something very tragic – that’s not the case. Like Charlie, Im someone who likes to see the bright side of things and then every few months, there are days when everything seems sad. And I simply don’t know what to do about it. That’s what was wrong. But thanks to you and Charlie, am feeling brighter again. You are in my prayers as well. Thanks a ton again, from your friend in Mumbai, India! I hope to be able to meet you in person someday. 🙂

      Love,
      Mugdha

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Marisela! 😃💕 Yeah, that safe bubble is not to be underestimated during this time! And the pizza was sooo good! Hoping for gumbo tonight! hehe

  7. Lisa 4 weeks ago

    There are other birds that have been accused of taking shiny things. I wonder if those are also false stones. When I was a little girl I once stole a pair of earrings from the Five and dime. I must have felt guilty because I gave them to my Grandma for Xmas. I never got caught, but I never took any thing that didn’t belong to me again.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      I was wondering the same about the other birds. Not sure if scientists have let them off the hook yet. What a story! Yeah, I think the guilt for taking even something small is enough to stop as a kid for most of us! 😉

  8. Gary Middleton 4 weeks ago

    Nice doodle, Charlie. Magpies are beautiful birds. Their calls are a bit rasping though. Over here they are partially blamed for the decline of songbirds, accused of stealing eggs and chicks from nests.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Gary! 😃💕 Yeah, they seem to get a bad wrap no matter what! hehe

  9. LoriCtoo 4 weeks ago

    Lovely gem all together! Thanks for todays lesson. It is always interesting to wonder why they “study” some things. I guess otherwise, we would never know. 😉 Happy first Saturday of Fall! My favorite time of the year also!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕 Yeah, I’ve no idea why some things get studied sometimes. But now we know! Hope your weekend is going great!

  10. Mugdha 4 weeks ago

    Hello Charlie,

    Lovely Doodlewash and an even lovelier post! You taught me something new – I didn’t know that magpies disliked shiny objects. So thank you for that yet again. And I love folklore too! Now I know that you like folklore, if I come across something very interesting, I’ll remember to share it with you. There is a lot of lore surrounding art and food in my part of the world – two things you like. I hope you have a lovely lovely weekend my dear friend. 🙂

    Love,
    Mugdha

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Mugdha! 😃💕 Yeah I adore folklore… sometimes the stories ring truer than facts for how people really think and believe. Hope you’re having a fantastic weekend my friend!

  11. shawnthompsonart 3 weeks ago

    Nice painting of a Magpie, I never heard that about shiny objects, but somewhere along the line I got the impression that crows did that. Maybe it was my Grandfather that told me that crows would steal shiny objects like rings and jewlery, but I heard it somewhere. Crows and Magpies are related I believe.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Shawn! 😃💕 I think crows were more popular in the States…. magpies were a European legend!

  12. shawnthompsonart 3 weeks ago

    Oh yes, it was definately my Grandfather who told me about crows and shiny objects. He raised a few crows as a kid.

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