Esoteric Encyclopedia

Esoteric Encyclopedia Entry of the Week: Augury

“Augury” is a practice from ancient Roman times, where one interprets omens from flight patterns of birds. When the individual observer, known as the “augur”, interprets these signs, it is referred to as “taking to auspices”.

According to Wikipedia:

“‘Augur’ and ‘auspices’ are from the Latin auspicium and auspex, literally “one who looks at birds”,[1] Depending upon the birds, the auspices from the gods could be favorable or unfavorable (auspicious orinauspicious). Sometimes bribed or politically motivated augures would fabricate unfavorable auspices in order to delay certain state functions, such as elections.[citation neededPliny the Younger attributes the invention of auspicy toTiresias the seer of Thebes, the generic model of a seer in the Greco-Roman literary culture.”

Certain birds carry particular messages, and the list below is some of the more popular interpretations of the “auspices” of these spirits (via:Augury)…



Buzzards warn of danger caused by hidden enemies and those who have a predatory nature.


Two crows seen flying over a house indicated a wedding in the future.


A dove or any white bird is a harbinger of bad luck. But for lovers, the dove means love, happiness, and a joyous married life.


A duck in flight is a good sign, particularly for those who are in trouble or unhappy.


Eagles are often indications of bad circumstances to come. Appearing over a plain, it is an omen of death.


Any flight of migratory geese or ducks means travel or news. If they were seen flying toward the moon, loneliness or news of death approaches.


Anyone who sights a hawk should be on guard againt those who are more powerful. If the bird was hovering on the left hand side or directly overhead, the omen is dramatically increased.

Kestral or Falcon

Most birds of prey, like the kestral or falcon, are considered unlucky, threatening a sudden upheavel. If seen or heard on the left, it is even more unlucky. Birds of prey hovering on the wing warn of underhanded treachery.


Seeing a kingfisher is an omen scandal and gossip resulting in public embarrasment.


A kite warns of robbery, extortion, and financial losses for the person who encounters it.


Magpies are especially usefull in augury. One alone means bad luck; a pair means love and friendship. One old maxim said : One for sorrow. Two for mirth. Three for a wedding. Four for a birth. Five’s a christening, six is death, Seven’s heaven, eight is hell, And nine’s the devil his one self.


The Peacock is associated with the goddess Juno, queen of the heavens. Meeting one is a happy omen, and if it spread its tail for you, happiness and proserity are predicted. On the other hand, it is unlucky (especially among actors) to have a peacock feather inside. It symbolizes the evil eye.


A white pigeon seen flying about a house is an omen of an engagment or marriage for one of the inhabitants in the near future.


No matter if it is seen or heard on the right or the left, a quail is a fortunate omen.


One raven by itself is lucky, while two mean misfortune in the future, and three bring evil. When ravens desert the countryside and settle within towns, pestilence and famine await the inhabitants.


Robins, aside from being Spring’s harbingers, also predict the weather with their song. To see one near a house or in the garden is a sign of good fortune to those who dwell within.


Rooks, like magpies, are a rich source of material for augury. If they congregate on dead branches, there will be rain before nightfall. A good day is indicated by their choosing a living branch. If they fly far away from their nests in themorning, there will be no rain. Aerial twists and dives mean bad weather is coming.


A white rooster is not a lucky sign, for trouble abides in whatever home it approaches slowly.


Seagulls flying far inland indicated a tempest at sea, but one alone means bad news is coming. A traveller seeing a seagull settle on any part of a ship that they are travelling or about to travel on, can expect a happy journey, but to be brushed by a gull’s wings while in flight or if the gull flaps the wings in a person’s face, someone close will die.


The Sparrow is generally an unfortunate omen, but it favors lovers.


A very lucky bird, the stork is sometimes encouraged to nest on housetops.


Swallows indicate poor circumstances. Flying low, they indicate a spoilt crop, while flying high is a sign of drought. To see a swallow in early springtime before they have become abundant is a very fortunate omen however, and if one builds a nest in the eaves of a house, success and good luck are promised to all that inhabit it. Killing a swallow, especially one that has nested in your house’s eaves, foretells calamity for all who abide there.


A Vulture foretells the death of an acquaintance or friend. If more than one of these is seen together, it indicates the number of days that will lapse before the death omen is fulfilled.


A Wagtail is a lucky sign, especially if the little bird is walking towards you from the left.


The Woodpecker is another fortunate bird, and to encounter one is an omen of success.


Sighting a wren promises good luck, but if you harmed or frightened one in any way (or to take its eggs or young from the nest) you are sure to bring calamity of some sort upon yourself.

To learn more about augury/bird divination,click here.

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