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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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.:  Yellow Ochre, Quinacridone Red, Cobalt Turquoise, Ultramarine (Green Shade), Terra Cotta, and Indigo. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
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25 thoughts on “A Myth Of Magpies

  1. 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!!

  2. 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.

  3. How beautiful is your magpie and gem!! this time of year saddens me as much as I like the 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 😊☺

  4. 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. 💜

    1. 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. 🙂


  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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. 🙂


  8. 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.

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