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Magpies and Mirrors: Letting go of superstition.

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

Magpies and Mirrors: Letting go of superstition.

I wrote this article after seeing a post on a friend's Instagram feed. My friend suggested they were due seven years of bad luck after smashing a mirror. I added a comment to say that they had just created more mirrors and that there was no such thing as bad luck.

Many years ago, I was incredibly superstitious. I would mentally save up pairs of magpies in this imaginary bank of magpie good luck. One day, whilst driving to work, I decided that being superstitious wasn't helping me.

One particularly challenging role in the Armed Forces found me questioning who I was for several months after I had left that position; it was this job which helped me drop my magpie superstitious habit.

Whilst working at a recruit training establishment, I was promoted in post from Corporal to Sergeant. This promotion was expected. However, I should have moved locations to start afresh.

I won't bore you with everything that happened while I was serving there; suffice to say it was a pretty toxic environment. In my brand-new position, I was on a steep learning curve; however, I was keen to learn from all those around me.

If you were to inquire with fellow service personnel and civilians who had experience working at an Army training facility, I believe the consensus would be that it was a demanding environment to work in. Personally, I found training young soldiers who came through our training team was the easy bit; of course, as you would expect, the job had its challenges.

The tricky part was managing the hierarchy; they were supposed to lead us and support the training. In most cases, they were there to improve their careers rather than to mentor and help those below them.

I could write examples of things I saw and experienced while working there and back them up with first-hand stories from military and civilian personnel, but I won't.

The point of this article is to talk about superstition; we Brits are pretty superstitious. I was really superstitious. If it isn't ladders or random Fridays, it's something else.

Whilst driving to work one day, that feeling of dread followed me. I would have paid good money not to go to work and face another day of worry. As I slowed down to show my identification card to the security guard, I spotted a magpie on their own; of course, I immediately swivelled around to try and spot another one. Which, much to my relief, I did. There was another magpie to add to the good luck bank; I had dodged some lousy luck. It then occurred to me that my imaginary good fortune bank must overflowing. I wondered when it might be my turn to catch a break. As I waited in line to be checked through, another thought slipped into my mind: these magpies weren't working for me. In fact, at the time, my life revolved around the idea that my luck might change due to how many black and white corvids I saw. It seems preposterous now, but that's how much my scattered brain worked then.

Since dropping the superstition habit, life has become much more straightforward. As the saying goes, the harder we work, the luckier we get.

Luckily, we have come to the end of this little article; if you are trying to drop your superstitious habit, good luck with that...

Let me know about your superstitious beliefs. Are you superstitious? Has this article helped you?

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