The magpie may seem like an innocuous yard bird, but this striking little winged fellow carries quite a treasure trove of connotations.

Nimble and articulate, obsessed with shiny objects (the finer things in life, really) and possessing an equally rich cultural context, the magpie is well worth acquainting one’s self with in search of the perfect tattoo totem.

Early Europeans believed the magpie to be a carrier of omens, both good and foreboding, according to a fabled numerical order: one magpie meant trouble was coming, two magpies meant joy, three a good journey, four a new beginning, five for company on the way, six to mark an ending to something, seven a sign to go on with one’s plans, eight as a signal to slow down and not jump into anything, and nine for the arrival of love. What number would you say you connect to the most?

Eastern Chinese tradition regards the magpie as a symbol of good luck in all matters of life, from relationships to one’s profession, and Native Americans similarly believed the magpie to be a mark of cleverness and cunning–though always on the light-hearted side. With so many significant meanings and values, it’s no wonder the magpie makes for exquisite tattoo inspiration. Whether you wish to commemorate a specific “number of magpies” event in your life or have taken a shining to some of the magpie’s qualities, there is no better aviator to fly alongside of.


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