Words to the Wise: Sharing Life, Lessons, and Observations

Words to the Wise is a collection of stories, observations and insight drawn from my own experience both in the past and in the present, together with my perspective on what I may have learned in the process. Occasional poetry and astrological insights will be included when appropriate. I welcome comments, suggestions and thoughts of all kinds and am happy to respond.

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Pennies, Feathers, and Omens


I know others do this too: whenever I see a penny on the ground I pick it up, and depending on whether the penny is heads of tails I keep it or give it away. I was told tails meant it was to be given away, heads to be kept. When we lived near a brook I used to throw in the pennies to make wishes. This is a common superstition. When I just looked it up on the Internet I discovered it comes from the ancient idea that to do so was to make an offering to the spirit of the water and thus to receive help to achieve what was wished for.

Feathers are something else that I always pick up. Not only are they pretty they are said to be messages from those have passed on that all is well, and that perhaps the individual is thinking of the finder. After my son Robin passed on I kept finding feathers everywhere. It is also true that certain Native American tribes consider feathers from particular birds to be sacred objects. The best place to find them is a beach; there gull and other bird feathers are usually to be found in plenty. I once quite a collection; when we moved, I gave them to a friend to use in her various craft projects. 

In days gone by the flight of birds was used to predict good or ill fortune. In Ancient Rome this was called augury, and the augur took the auspices, which meant watched the birds for signs of good or ill fortune. Stephen's grandmother thought birds were an omen of death. Perhaps this belief stemmed from the ancient idea of prediction by the bird flight. Ominous has come to mean scary instead of as reflecting the implication of an omen. In some cultures the whole idea of prediction has negative implications. According to the Internet this practice is more than several thousand years old. Superstitions can endure.

The subject of superstitions has fascinated me since I was very young. I wrote a paper on it for an assignment in the eight grade. Yet even though I pick up feathers and pennies and make wishes by throwing pennies into water, I firmly believe that we make our own luck--not by practicing superstitions in order try to make it happen but by doing what seems right and good when the occasion arises. The choices we make at certain moments can make a great deal of difference in the outcome..

The saying that what goes around comes around seems to me to resonate as truth. It could be that my belief is influencing my opinion yet even if that were to be true it seems to me that one can only benefit by doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. There is one codicil I would add: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you if you were they. In other words, think about what the other person might really prefer rather than what you believe they might when you are doing unto. When you do this you are fulfilling the true intent of the good result that you can earn by remembering to do unto others.



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Tagged in: Augury Luck Pennies
Practical mystic and poet Tasha Halpert writes a column called Heartwings Love Notes for a Joyous Life, as well as a monthly astrology column for the internet. She writes a weekly perspective column for the Grafton News called Good Earthkeeping.  Her poems and essays have appeared in Quest Magazine, For the Love of Life, Heart and Wings, The Unicorn, and other publications. She is staff poet and storyteller for the Unicorn, and a regular part of Granny Moon’s Morning Feast. Her book Heartwings: Love Notes for a Joyous Life is available; She has another in preparation: Up to my Neck in Lemons, as well as a poetry chapbook: Poems and Prayers. With her writings she hopes to be of help and comfort and perhaps even entertaining.  With her husband Stephen she lives in Grafton and is the mother of 5, grandmother of 7, and great grandmother of 2.  


  • Melissa Rashid
    Melissa Rashid Wednesday, 17 May 2017

    Very wise advice...I will remember that.

  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert Wednesday, 17 May 2017

    Thanks, Melissa, you are most kind. Wishing you every joy, Tasha

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