counting crows #19

(Omens by Lydia)

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?

About Anna Fonté

Girl in the Hat, aka Anna Fonté, is an author who writes about invisibility, outsider status, everyday monsters, and her attempts to befriend the neighborhood crows. The things she writes want you to look at them.


  1. The contract to arrive in the mail from my new agent!

  2. My last agent was not the right person to rep my book and that became, as it does with all mismatches, immensely evident. I don’t need an attorney agent. I need an editor agent. So, I broke up and moved on. And I am so glad I did.

  3. I don’t think eleven meant they were waiting. I think an omen would be for you to interpret, so eleven is nice and vague and hopeful. Romans said a bird flying to the left was a bad omen. An American Bald Eagle flew across the road in front of my car in Florida (very beautiful!) to the right and it made me feel hopeful, but it was not a good omen. But it was in regard to stuff that worked out fine eventually, so who knows? Not me.

  4. I’m waiting for a politician to tell the truth.


  5. The eleven crows are telling you that it’s time to open to spirit. Your entire post is steeped in knowing that you have a reason for being here, and that purpose has to do with your calling as a spiritual being. You probably have a huge gift for intuitive/psychic activity, which you’re tamping down. You’re waiting, and they’re waiting, for you to open to your gift.


    • I’m open as a window here, waiting for the universe to respond.
      Don’t know why, but this reminds me of a lovely little poem by Margaret Atwood:

      You Fit Into Me

      You fit into me
      like a hook into an eye

      a fish hook
      an open eye

  6. what a lovely post. nine sounds like a good number too. maybe shoo away the other 2

  7. Some cultures find odd numbers to be auspicious and lucky. It all depends on how one looks at things.

  8. Those interpretations of the numbers sound something like Tarot. I wrote out a longish Tarot cheat sheet (but much shorter than books on the subject) to memorize so I could try to do it at parties for a fee, but I need more free ‘brain’ time to do that.

    I’m waiting for the writing to be finished so I can do final tweaking and get to work on the selling. I would say that I have high hopes — but last ditch efforts are something else entirely.

    • Tarot is fun. I like tarot.
      I grew up in a household where things like Tarot and numerology and astrology were sure things. Of course, that sealed the deal on my friendly skepticism.
      Oh, god– the writing is the juicy part. The selling freaks me out. I can’t wait to see how you do it, hoping you’ll share your tips with me!

  9. Peace and Freedom for all in the world Anna… this is what I am waiting for.. I fear the wait will be too long..

  10. I’m waiting for forgiveness!

    (And to impress you, I have changed my Gravatar. This new photo should tingle your maternal instincts.)

  11. I would love to smart and pithy here, but the first thing that comes to mind? I’m waiting to be 30 pounds thinner, because I know that if I could fit into some skinny jeans with cool boots everything else would fall magically into place.

    • Teri! You always sound smart. And I’m with you on the lbs thing, although (scream! shield your eyes!) I wear the pants and boots anyway. Maybe if I waited on my spin bike that would help.

      • Okay. I don’t need skinny jeans. But the -30 lbs would be so awesome. Isn’t is awful how a girl thinks? If my daughter said this I’d have a fit.

  12. Waiting for the muse. Same as it ever was.

  13. It makes me think of 11:11 on a clock
    A time to make a wish…
    those crows are just so mysterious…

  14. raina

    …a flitter a flutter up in the sky,
    and then there were 12…

  15. I’m waiting for some decisions to be made so I can move on auuuuugh!!!!

  16. I’ve read somewhere that crows are highly intelligent and have a sophisticated social system. Who knew? Well, you probably did, since you’re a crow watcher/feeder. I have to say, I’m too old to be waiting for anything. I have to seize each day by the throat and live it hard and fast.

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