Animal, Insect, and Bird Omens and Their Meanings
Fate, Omens, and superstition are very closely related. In the past, we didn't have the knowledge that we have today. Science was a thing of the future. Medical health was, quite literally, a case of trial and error.
Not knowing that germs, viruses, and diseases originated with bacteria caused the population to be completely bewildered at why they were suddenly struck down by these unknown illnesses. Many superstitions were born as a result.
So, why are we so superstitious? There are many footballers who will only wear the same shirt (even if it's dirty) to make sure that they win their game. Others touch the mantel above the tunnel entrance, and then kiss a crucifix that they are wearing. Of course, there are many people who will just laugh at such silly superstitions. However, I bet they still won't walk underneath a ladder!
Whether you call it superstition, fate, God's will, or just habit, there are many omens and signs out there that people around the world still believe in.
Human nature is such that we have always found ways to try and bring good luck to ourselves and those around us. Many of the Omens below could possibly have started out as coincidences, such as a plague of locusts descending on a village, a spider bite, or even a flock of birds falling from the sky. These stories would have been passed down through the family and incorporated into the myths and legends of the time. It's hard to know where these animal omens originated, but many people believe them to this day.
12 Omens About Animals
- Bats: Bats are symbolic of bad luck, especially if they cry while flying.
- Cats: A black cat may be good luck or bad. Back in the old days, the cat's meaning was said to depend on whether you had done bad deeds or good deeds before you saw it. To kill a cat was meant to signify a coming disaster. If one leaves your home, then disaster will strike. Maybe this was because cats have a sixth sense and know when something bad is going to happen to the house.
- Dogs: Dogs are not really a sign of bad luck, unless you walk past one and it howls at the moon.
- Goats: Goats are a sign of good luck.
- Hares: If a hare crosses your path, it's bad luck.
- Hedgehogs: Hedgehogs are symbolic of good fortune, especially if you meet one going in the opposite direction.
- Horses: A piebald is a good omen. However, if you see its tail first, then bad luck will befall a friend. This omen probably started because someone stood behind a horse and got kicked.
- Mice: Seeing a white or brown mouse is good luck, especially in your love life. A grey one, however, is said to bring bad luck.
- Sheep: A flock of sheep is really good luck.
- Rats: Rats are good omens, if white, but bad omens if they are black.
- Pigs: Pigs are bad omens, especially if you meet one immediately after getting married.
- Squirrels: Squirrels signify that happiness will be found soon.
What Birds Foretell
Even today, in this age of science and technology, we still have the same subconscious fears that make us superstitious. Maybe one day we will be confident enough in our world to set aside these signs and omens, but I doubt it. Humans are symbolic creatures, and I believe we need these signs to hang onto. It's part of our psyche and, let's face it, it makes the world an interesting place! Humans and birds have had a special relationship for thousands of years. These omens demonstrate just how important birds were to people in the past.
13 Omens About Birds
- Crows: Crows are a bad omen, especially if you see one to the left of you.
- Cuckoos: If you hear a cuckoo, it foretells good luck (especially if heard in the right ear).
- Doves: Doves are a happy omen (particularly for those about to wed).
- Gulls: Gulls are said to portray the death of a friend. You do not want to get touched by one (unless you are on a boat, then seeing one land near you is good luck).
- Hawks: Hawks signify that powerful enemies are about to threaten you. This is especially pronounced if you see the bird to your left. The left side is, and has always been, the sign of the devil
- Kingfishers: Kingfishers signify that a big scandal threatens your happiness.
- Magpies: Magpies are an omen of bad luck, even death (especially if seen to your left). Seeing two is very lucky. It signifies that good luck will appear within three days.
- Owl: Owls are always bad luck. If he hoots three times, be extra careful.
- Robins: Robins represent good luck.
- Sparrows: Sparrows are a sign of bad luck (except if they are seen by people who are in love).
- Swallows: Swallows predict very good fortune (especially in early spring). If they build a nest under your room, it's even better luck. It's bad luck if you kill one.
- Wagtails: Wagtails signify that you will be fortunate (especially if approaching from the left side).
- Wrens: Wrens are omens of good luck. However, you should never hurt or frighten it, or you will likely find yourself in peril!
Insects and Prophesy
To counteract the bad, we had to find a way to make good luck happen; thus, omens were born. The strange thing was that, even though it was through pure instinct, many people did actually "hit the nail on the head," so to speak. Certain plants were prayed over and picked under a full moon. These plants' medicines were actually more potent at that hour. These plants were very helpful to our species. Also important were the insects that pollinated these plants. There are many omens regarding them as well.
8 Omens About Insects
- Ants: An ant nest near your home is good luck. However, to be bitten by one means arguments and quarrels will soon come.
- Bees: If they are inside your house, then bees are a sign of good luck.
- Cockroaches: If seen in a strange place, then their presence foretells the death of a friend.
- Crickets: Crickets are very good luck. However, if they leave the house or garden, then bad luck will follow.
- Grasshoppers: Grasshoppers are a sign of good luck. If you see one, then very good news will follow.
- Ladybird/bugs: These are thought to be good omens.
- Spiders: Spiders are bad luck all around. If seen in the morning, then grief will come. If seen in the afternoon, then anxiety will follow. If seen in the evening, then you will have bad luck with money. Never kill one, as this brings bad luck. To see a spider spinning its web signifies that people are plotting against you. If it's found on your body, then it's good luck.
- Wasps: Wasps foretell a danger caused by jealousy.
What Is an Oracle?
Definition: A priest or priestess who acts as a medium, whom prophecy or advice was sought from the God or Gods. Also, a place at which such advice or prophecy was sought thereafter.
Back in the day, many tribes of people would choose a particular person, usually a woman, to be their oracle. In other words, the oracle could either be a person or a place. Either way, oracles existed for people to try to understand what was happening to them.
What Did Oracles Do?
- Most Oracles were very clever people. They would use the world around them to understand Signs and portents.
- For example, they would understand such things as weather patterns, therefore giving advice on whether it was safe to travel at a certain time, or would the gods be bringing down torrential rain.
Most people would think the information came from the gods, when really it was a case of trial and error, luck, and reactions within the surrounding world.
How People Defined a Good vs. a Bad Omen
Human nature being what it is, people realised that there must be a reason for their bad luck, but couldn't find a way to express it. So, religion and fate took the brunt of the blame.
There is hardly anything that moves, flies, or crawls that has not, at one time or another, served as a sign of a good or bad omen. Throughout time, human behavior has had a superstition stamped on it. For example, people often place their beds at a certain angle to attract good luck.
For riches to come to the family, the bed should be placed facing east. For a long life, south, and so on. Even stranger, money was supposed to be coming your way if you sneezed to the right!
If you picked up a pin then good luck would come to you. And if you met the same person twice in one day on your travels then you would get the same good luck. How that one works I have no idea, but you get the point.
These could be anything from cloud patterns, a breeze blowing a certain way or even birds flying low in the sky. Sometimes the signs would, in fact, show something that today we would see as real science at work.
For example, if we see flocks of birds falling from the sky, we would realise that that particular flock could possibly have bird flu. Or, as in a recent case of doves dying in Italy last year which had flown too high and frozen to death due to hypoxia.
In the past, the locals would see this event as a sign of bad luck, but not really know why or what was going to happen. We all know the story of Pompeii, where the local populace believed that the volcano was a warning from the gods. Of course, these days we all realise that it is a natural occurrence.
To live with so much superstition must have been hard. Each step that was taken must have been like walking blindfolded through a dark room with holes in the ground. But we have to realise that the signs, oracles, and omens were also a comfort to the people. Knowing that the gods were keeping an eye on them was a way to keep them grounded and safe at a time when the world around them was a strange and terrifying place.
More Superstitions From Around the World
What Does It Mean?
Never say "Happy Birthday" too early.
Celebrating or congratulating someone on a birthday early brings bad luck, at least in Russia.
Never stick your chopstick straight up.
Poking chopsticks down into your food is a big no-no in Japan. The utensils look like the unlucky number four, which means death.
Don't go right home after a funeral.
A Filipino tradition called "pagpag" says that people never go straight back to the house after a wake. Otherwise a bad spirit might tag along.
Whistling indoors invites evil.
Whistling while you work may be an issue in Lithuania, where it's forbidden to whistle indoors because the noise is believed to summon demons.
Don't place two mirrors opposite each other.
In Mexico, and elsewhere, facing mirrors open a doorway for the devil.
Don't cheers with water.
A German superstition declares that, if you cheers with water, you're actually wishing death upon the people you're drinking with.
Avoid sleeping with your head to the north.
According to Japanese superstition, sleeping with your head in this direction is bad luck because that's how the deceased are laid to rest.
Itchy hands have financial repercussions.
In Turkey, an itchy right hand means you'll come into some money. However, an itch on your left means you'll lose money.
Stepping in dog poop isn't necessarily bad.
Stepping in dog poop is actually considered good luck in France, that is, if you do it with your left foot. It's bad luck if you step with your right foot.
Knitting outside can prolong winter.
In Iceland, you should keep the knitting inside the house. There's a local superstition that doing your needlework on on your doorstep will keep the temperature cold.
Don't get a haircut on Tuesdays.
In India, getting a haircut on a Tuesday will cause bad luck.
A fascinating book that kept me reading through the night.
Learn how to spot the tell tale signs of animal Omens.
And there are chapters on animal Totems and Spirit guides, which show a fascinating spiritual connection between animal and human.
One word? Fantastic!
Questions & Answers
There has been a family of hawks living In a tree above my house and lately has been attacking my family members scratching them deeply in their heads causing them to bleed. I was never attacked until yesterday but it did not scratch or claw at me. It just seemed to fly low hitting me in the side of my head and then. What does this mean?
I would imagine that on a practical level the birds are probably protecting babies in the tree. Your family maybe getting to close to them. On the other hand it maybe that you have fed them too much and they now swoop down to try and take food. That has happened to my town. We have red kites and they have been taking food from people's hands and scratching them. Of course it could be an omen.
© 2012 Nell Rose