I walked out of my house this morning and found eleven crows waiting for me: eleven hooded figures lurking silently on the telephone wire across the street. If I didn’t love crows, I might find this a bit creepy.
Eleven is a strange number. What does it mean? The part of me that believes in magic wants eleven crows to add up to something. The pragmatist in me rolls her eyes and says it means they’re hungry, for crying out loud. But still, part of me holds out for some larger significance.
After all, I have been feeding these crows for years now and I still don’t feel any closer to understanding them. Although I joke about making friends with crows, my crow friends are still not particularly friendly, and they are certainly not pets– they’d never let me get that close. I still can’t even tell one crow from another. After years, I still have no deep understanding or connection.
So maybe the significance has to come from me. After all, people have been “reading” birds for centuries. Many cultures have historically viewed birds as message-bearers from heaven. Tibetans, Romans, and Native Americans, among others, had various methods of augury, some quite complicated. These days, most would probably interpret eleven crows to be a very bad omen, but I don’t agree.
You might have heard the counting rhyme about crows or magpies which goes like this:
One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret,
Never to be told.
Eight for heaven,
Nine for hell
And ten for the devil’s own self.
After searching for “crows” and “augury,” I came across this interpretation of the rhyme:
One: Sorrow, an unhappy event, or a change for the worse. Maybe loss or a death.
Two: Joy, surprise, a change for the better. Sometimes the finding of something.
Three: Marriage, celebration. Sometimes the birth of a female child, other times some significant event around a daughter.
Four: Birth: usually the birth of a male child, sometimes a significant event surrounding a son.
Five: Silver. Something costly. Usually a positive transaction.
Six: Gold. Wealth. Sometimes money. Maybe greed. Occasionally a negative transaction.
Seven: Something of spiritual significance, often a secret.
Eight: Something profound: death, dying, or a glimpse of the beyond. A life-altering journey or experience.
Nine: Something sensual. Passion, or forbidden delight. In some versions this is corruption, in others it is closer to temptation.
Ten: Something extreme. An overwhelming sensation. Something paid in full.
Eleven: Uncertainty. Waiting, wanting, maybe in relation to a spiritual matter.
Twelve: Fulfillment. Riches (though not always of a material sort). A fruitful labor. Something completed. An end to a problem or the answer to a question.
So eleven means waiting and wanting. Eleven crows are and so am I. Aren’t we all?
What are you waiting for?