A possible omen on my way to work this morning. Seems like a bad one, doesnt it?
A possible omen on my way to work this morning. Seems like a bad one, doesn't it? bk

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On my way to work this morning, I saw a dead bird. And I would like to know what it means.

There are two main theories about where the word "augury," meaning divination via bird-related matters—eating, flying, shape of guts in—comes from. One holds that the word is descended from the Old Latin augos, or "increase," related to the word "augment." As in, the ancient priests would fiddle around with birds and magically make more crops. The other holds that the word comes from the Latin avis ("bird") plus garrire ("to talk").

I prefer the latter theory mostly because the idea of talking guts is more exciting than an extra helping of wheat. (But then, I'm not a farmer dealing with droughts and irrigation shutdowns. If I were, an augos of wheat might be more excitement than I could bear.)

Anyway, what I want to know is the augurial significance of this morning's dead bird—which wasn't just dead but pulverized (from the Latin pulverizare, "to reduce to powder or dust"), apparently by repeated drivings- and walkings-over. Its body now seems fused to the pavement.

Is it an omen?

Penny Lighthall of the website Pathway Connection ("Guiding you through the Ups and Downs of your busy life") said:

Because of family commitments, will ill family members, and starting a new business. I ask that you refrain from sending in new requests. They will not be responded to.

Fair enough. Luckily for me, she'd already answered a question about finding dead birds on the sidewalk:

These beautiful animals are actually messengers from the Divine, Spirit, Universe, God, whatever name you choose. The message is not one of doom and gloom, you are not going to die in the next three days, it is not a “forerunner” of death and destruction. It represents a death, but it is a death of something you have been focused on. It could be the death or “end” of a bad relationship, or a bad financial situation, or a behaviour pattern you have been wanting to break, etc. And with all things that end, the way is then clear for new opportunities to come into your life.

That sounds not-too-ominious—then again, according to The Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, the sight of a dead bird (apparently called a "zent"), was "considered a particularly ominous sign of disaster by various groups."

Random online mystic vs. Egyptian wisdom from the hoary (Old English har, "grey," no relation to Horus) mists of time.

It's a tough call. What to do, dear Slog?