Merry we meet  -  Merry we meet  -  Merry we meet


Welcome to





Animals and Witchcraft

(The Witches Familiar)

Robin Redbreast


The European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

Written and compiled by George Knowles

The European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) is a small, plump, migratory songbird closely related to thrushes.  The Robin is affectionately known as “Robin Redbreast” and is undoubtedly one of the best-loved garden birds of Great Britain.  His fame is perhaps due to his visible re-appearance at Christmas-time hopping and singing around our gardens where he lives in close proximity to humans.  The Robin is Britain’s national bird.  After a survey conducted through the pages of The Times in 1960, the Council for Bird Preservation conferred the title “Bird of Britain” on the Robin in 1961.

European Robins are widely distributed and can be found in countries all across Europe and as far as central Siberia.  They are also found in parts of Asia, North Africa, Turkey and the Azores.  The North American Robin (Turdus migratorius) also belongs to the thrush family, but is generally larger and slimmer than its English counterpart, while in Australia and New Guinea there are several other unrelated songbirds also known as Robin.  In England, Robins are normally territorial and will stay in the same area throughout their lives, but some are known to migrate short distances and return in winter close to Christmas-time.


The North American Robin (Turdus migratorius)


The European Robin has a grey-brown coat with a distinctive orangey-red throat and chest (hence the familiar name “Robin Redbreast”) trailing down to a white belly and under-tail.  They are generally small and plumpish birds growing only to about 12-13cm (5-5½in).  Both the male and female have the same coat and colouring, while their young are mottled with greys, browns and buff colours.  Robins like to build their nests in sheltered places, such as in hollowed out tree stumps or holes in the ground, into which they use moss, roots, twigs, grass, rags, paper and feathers to form cup-shaped nests.  They will also make use of any undisturbed planting pots and other suitable containers found lying about in gardens.



During the late winter or early spring, male Robins will seek out their own territories, usually an area of approximately half a hectare, which he defends against all other Robins.  Perching himself on the edge of his territory he will declare the area his by singing.  Short bursts of singing are followed by short silences, during which he listens for neighbours and potential rivals.  If a rival approaches he will sing louder in warning before flying out to challenge the intruder.  If they meet and often they do, he’ll puff out his red breast and hop around in a ritual display of threatening behaviour.  If that fails to keep the rival away, he will then aggressively attack the intruder, which can result in serious injury and even death.  Such attacks account for up to 10% of fatalities in the adult Robin population.

Robins have a trilling clear voice and both male and female will sing throughout the year.  The male makes use his singing skills to attract females, but at first he will drive them away, and only if she persists will she be accepted.  The pair will then form a bond, which is strengthened in courtship by the male feeding the female (or as Shakespeare puts it in his play The Two Gentlemen of Verona:  “Win her with gifts if she respect not words”).

Robins are generally ground feeding birds, their main food source being flies, insects, spiders and worms, and in winter - berries, soft fruit and seeds.  The paired Robins will begin to breed from April to June each year, during which time the female will lay five to six yellowish, light-brown speckled eggs, and incubate them for 14 days before they hatch.  Both parents feed their young until they are able to fly, which is normally after 12 to 15 days.  The paired Robins will usually produce two broods each year, although occasionally they may even produce a third.

Male Robins have an average life expectancy of 1.1 years, which is probably due to their aggressive attacks on rival birds.  However, if they can survive past their first year, they can expect to live much longer.  One such has been recorded living to the age of 12 years.  The Robin's main predator is the domestic cat, which kills 15 times as many Robins as do his other predators, the Sparrowhawk and Owl.  Another main cause for such a low life expectancy is severe weather conditions.  Low temperatures in winter make the ground very hard, this followed by heavy snow falls can make the Robin's natural foraging for food difficult.  In extreme conditions this can lead to fatalities and a significant drop in their population.

Scientific classification:

The European Robin is classified as:  Erithacus rubecula, the American Robin as Turdus migratorius, the Indian Robin as:  Saxicoloides fulicata, the Pekin or Chinese Robin as:  Leiothrix lutea, the Australian Scarlet Robin as:  Petroica multicolour and the African/Asian Magpie Robin Copsychus saularis.  The Magpie Robin is also the national bird of Bangladesh.



Indian Robin  -  Chinese Robin  -  Scarlet Robin  -  Magpie-Robin



The Robin has long been associated with Christmas particularly in Great Britain.  During the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) with the introduction of the world’s first unified postage stamp – the famous “Penny Black” in 1840, the Royal Mail postal service in Britain rapidly expanded to include the general public.  As a consequence of this reform, there was a steady increase in the public use of the service necessitating the employment of a growing army of letter carriers, thereafter renamed postmen.


Illustration of a Victorian postman and post box by artist Peter Jackson.


Initially the postmen were servants of the Crown whose national colour was red, and so the first postmen in Britain wore a bright red liveried uniform, as such they were given a common nickname and became known as “Robin Redbreasts”.  At that time and until well into the 20th century, postal deliveries were made 364 days of the year, which included Christmas day, and so the Robin, the Postman and the gifts he brought became associated.  Many old Christmas cards depicted Robins delivering the mail.


Christmas Card from 1934 - Printed by Raphael Tuck & Sons Ltd


Folklore and Myths:

The Robin throughout history has been variously associated with charity, compassion, good luck, bad luck, fire and death; as such he has become a legend in the folklore of many countries.  Many stories about the Robin attempt to explain the origin of his red breast, the most common being associated with the birth and death of Christ.  One such story relates that when Jesus was crucified on the cross, a Robin flew down and removed a thorn from the crown on his head to relieve some of his suffering.  In doing so, the blood of Jesus stained his throat and chest, and ever since his breast has remained red.

In a similar story concerning the birth of Christ, a Robin flew into the stables where the baby Jesus was born.  Seeing Mary and the boy child sleeping, the Robin noticed a nearby fire had almost gone out, and while fanning the embers back into flame, he burnt and singed his breast feathers.  Mary blessed him for his courage, and when his feathers grew back again they remained red in recognition of his efforts.

Because of his red breast and this association with fire, like the Raven in mythology, the Robin is said to have brought fire from heaven.  As such, in folklore, Robins are considered holy birds, and are beloved by gardeners for they remind him of paradise and the legendary Garden of Eden.  A similar myth has it that the Robin was a storm-cloud bird held sacred by Thor, the god of Thunder in Norse mythology.

In the old folklore traditions of Great Britain, if a Robin pecks at your window or enters your house, it is likely a death will soon occur there.  Likewise, if a Robin flies into a house through an open window, it was taken as a sign of death being present.  This idea is thought to have come from an old 16th century folktale called “Babes in the Wood”, which implies that if a Robin finds a human corpse, it would cover the corpse with moss, leaves and flowers, effectively burying it.

First published as a ballad by Thomas Millington in Norwich 1595, the “Babes in the Wood” tale has been reworked into many forms:


Thus wandered these poor innocents,
   Till death did end their grief;
In one another's arms they died,
   As wanting due relief;
No burial this pretty pair
   Of any man receives,
Till Robin Redbreast piously
   Did cover them with leaves.

This from a 1765 poem by Thomas Percy (1729-1811).


It was said to be extremely unlucky to kill a Robin, and the hand that does so will continue to shake thereafter.  If a farmer causes the death, he should expect his barn to catch fire or his cow’s milk to flow the colour of blood.  It was a common belief in both Britain and Ireland that whatever tragedy befalls the Robin, the person who caused it would suffer the same consequence.  If a person destroyed the nest of a Robin, he should expect a death in his family within a year, or a fire to destroy his house, or lightning to strike it and damage it.

Breaking the eggs of a Robin will result in something valuable of your own being broken.  To see a Robin sheltering in the branches of a tree indicates that rain is on the way, and to see one chirping on an open branch indicates that fine weather is coming.  You should make a wish when you see your first Robin of the season, and make sure to do it quick, for if the bird flies away beforehand, you’ll receive no good luck for the next twelve months.

Another association of the Robin with death is in a pagan belief.  In Celtic traditions, Yule is the time when the Oak King triumphs over the Holly King.  The Holly King represents the death and darkness that has ruled since the onset of Samhain (Halloween).  At the time of the Winter Solstice, the Oak King is reborn and begins a new cycle of life and lightness.  A similar version of the Oak King versus the Holly King theme is the killing of the Wren.  The Wren is the little King of the Waning Year, and is killed by the Robin Redbreast, the new King of the Waxing Year.




Penguin Hutchinson Reference Library Copyright (c) 1996 Helicon Publishing and Penguin Books Ltd

Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2006. © 1993-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Encyclopædia Britannica 2005 Ultimate Reference Suite DVD. Copyright © 1994-2003

Encyclopedia Mythica:

Plus too many more to mention. 


Written and compiled 25th December 2008 © George Knowles

Best wishes and Blessed Be


Site Contents - Links to all Pages


Home Page


A Universal Message:


Let there be peace in the world  -   Where have all the flowers gone?


About me:

My Personal PageMy Place in England / My Family Tree (Ancestry)


Wicca & Witchcraft


Wicca/Witchcraft /  What is Wicca What is Magick


Traditional Writings:


The Wiccan Rede Charge of the Goddess Charge of the God  /  The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) /  The Witches Chant The Witches Creed Descent of the Goddess Drawing Down the Moon The Great Rite Invocation Invocation of the Horned GodThe 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief /  The Witches Rede of Chivalry A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality


Correspondence Tables:


IncenseCandlesColours Magickal Days Stones and Gems Elements and Elementals




Traditions Part 1  -  Alexandrian Wicca /  Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) /  Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) /  Blue Star Wicca /  British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) /  Celtic Wicca /  Ceremonial Magic /  Chaos Magic /  Church and School of Wicca /  Circle Sanctuary /  Covenant of the Goddess (COG) /  Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) /  Cyber Wicca /  Dianic Wicca /  Eclectic Wicca /  Feri Wicca /


Traditions Part 2 Gardnerian Wicca /  Georgian Tradition /  Henge of Keltria /  Hereditary Witchcraft /  Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) /  Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) /  Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition /  Nordic Paganism /  Pagan Federation /  Pectic-Wita /  Seax-Wica /  Shamanism /  Solitary /  Strega /  Sylvan Tradition /  Vodoun or Voodoo /  Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /


Other things of interest:


Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology) /  Esbats & Full Moons Links to Personal Friends & Resources Wicca/Witchcraft Resources What's a spell? Circle Casting and Sacred Space  Pentagram - Pentacle Marks of a Witch The Witches Power The Witches Hat An esoteric guide to visiting London SatanismPow-wowThe Unitarian Universalist Association /  Numerology:  Part 1  Part 2  /  Part 3A history of the Malleus Maleficarum:  includes:  Pope Innocent VIII  /  The papal Bull  /   The Malleus Maleficarum  /  An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum  /  The letter of approbation  /  Johann Nider’s Formicarius  /  Jacob Sprenger  /  Heinrich Kramer  /  Stefano Infessura  /  Montague Summers  /  The Waldenses  /  The Albigenses  /  The Hussites /  The Native American Sun DanceShielding (Occult and Psychic Protection)  The History of ThanksgivingAuras  - Part 1 and Part 2 Doreen Valiente Witch” (A Book Review) /   


Sabbats and Festivals:


The Sabbats in History and Mythology /  Samhain (October 31st)  /  Yule (December 21st)  /  Imbolc (February 2nd)  /  Ostara (March 21st)  /  Beltane (April 30th)  /  Litha (June 21st)  /  Lammas/Lughnasadh (August 1st)  /  Mabon (September 21st)


Rituals contributed by Crone:


Samhain / Yule Imbolc Ostara /  Beltane Litha Lammas Mabon




Tools of a Witch  /  The Besom (Broom) /  Poppets and DollsPendulums / Cauldron Magick Mirror Gazing




Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar and Totem Animals) /  AntelopeBatsCrow Fox Frog and Toads Goat / HoneybeeKangarooLion OwlPhoenix Rabbits and HaresRaven Robin RedbreastSheep Spider SquirrelSwansUnicornWild Boar Wolf /  Serpent /  Pig /  Stag /  Horse /  Mouse /  Cat /  Rats /  Unicorn




In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar.  For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following:  Birch /  Rowan / Ash /  Alder /  Willow Hawthorn /  Oak /  Holly /  Hazel /  Vine /  Ivy /  Reed /  Elder


Sacred Sites:


Mystical Sacred Sites  -  Stonehenge /  Glastonbury Tor /  Malta - The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni /  Avebury /  Cerne Abbas - The Chalk Giant /  Ireland - Newgrange /


Rocks and Stones:


Stones - History, Myths and Lore


Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:


Apophyllite  / Amber Amethyst Aquamarine Aragonite Aventurine Black Tourmaline Bloodstone Calcite Carnelian Celestite Citrine Chrysanthemum StoneDiamond  /  Emerald / Fluorite Garnet /  Hematite Herkimer Diamond Labradorite Lapis Lazuli Malachite Moonstone Obsidian Opal Pyrite Quartz (Rock Crystal) Rose Quartz Ruby Selenite Seraphinite  /  Silver and GoldSmoky QuartzSodalite Sunstone ThundereggTree AgateZebra Marble


Wisdom and Inspiration:


Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill I Talk to the TreesAwakening The Witch in YouA Tale of the Woods I have a Dream by Martin Luther King /


Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:


Murdered by Witchcraft The Fairy Witch of Clonmel A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) /  Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife /  The Story of Jack-O-Lantern The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) /  The Two Brothers - Light and Dark


Old Masters of Academia:


Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagoras





A "Who's Who" of Witches, Pagans and other associated People

(Ancient, Past and Present)


Remembered at Samhain

(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)


Pagan Pioneers:  Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others


Abramelin the Mage /  Agrippa Aidan A KellyAlbertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” /  Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” /  Alison Harlow /   Allan Bennett - the Ven. Ananda MetteyyaAllan Kardec (Spiritism) /  Alphonsus de SpinaAmber KAnn Moura /  Anna FranklinAnodea JudithAnton Szandor LaVey /  Arnold CrowtherArthur Edward Waite /  Austin Osman SpareBalthasar Bekker /  Biddy EarlyBarbara Vickers /  Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel /  Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke Cecil Hugh WilliamsonCharles Godfrey Leland /   Charles WaltonChristopher PenczakChristina Oakley Harrington Cornelius Loos /  Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" /  Dion Fortune /  Dolores Aschroft-NowickiDonald Michael Kraig Doreen ValienteDorothy MorrisonDr. John Dee & Edward Kelly /  Dr. Leo Louis Martello /  Edain McCoy /  Edward FitchEleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” Eliphas Levi /  Ernest Thompson Seton /  Ernest Westlake /  Fiona Horne /   Frederick McLaren Adams - Feraferia Friedrich von Spee /  Francis Barrett /  Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca /  Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft /  Gwydion Pendderwen Hans HolzerHelen Duncan /   Herman Slater - Horrible Herman /  Heinrich KramerIsaac Bonewits Israel RegardieIvo Domínguez Jr. /  Jack Whiteside Parsons - Rocket Science and Magick /  James "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches /  Janet Farrar and Gavin BoneJean Bodin Jessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” / Johann Weyer  / Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" /   Johann Georg Fuchs von Dornheim  -  the “Hexenbrenner” (witch burner) /  John Belham-Payne John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" /  John Gerard /  John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred /  John Michael Greer /  John Score /  Joseph “Bearwalker” Wilson /  Joseph John Campbell /  Karl von Eckartshausen Lady Gwen Thompson - and "The Rede of the Wiccae" /   Laurie Cabot  - "the Official Witch of Salem" /  Lewis SpenceLodovico Maria Sinistrari Ludwig LavaterMadeline Montalban and the Order of the Morning Star /  Margaret Alice MurrayMargot AdlerMichael Howard and the UK "Cauldron Magazine" /  Margaret St. Clair - the “Sign of the Labrys” /  Marie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" /  Marion WeinsteinMartin Antoine Del Rio Matthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” /   Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" /  Michael A. Aquino - and The Temple of Set /  Monique WilsonMontague Summers /  Nicholas CulpeperNicholas RemyM. R. SellarsMrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" /  Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning GloryOld Dorothy Clutterbuck /  Old George PickingillOlivia Durdin-Robertson - co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis /  Paddy SladePamela Colman-SmithParacelsus /  Patricia CrowtherPatricia Monaghan /  Patricia “Trish” TelescoPaul Foster Case and the “Builders of the Adytum” mystery school /  Peter Binsfeld /  Philip HeseltonRaven GrimassiRaymond Buckland /  Reginald Scot /  Richard BaxterRobert CochraneRobert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" /  Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” /  Rossell Hope Robbins /   Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) /  Rudolf SteinerSabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" /  Scott CunninghamSelena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" /  Silver RavenwolfSir Francis Dashwood /  Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough"S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” /  Starhawk /  Stewart Farrar /  Sybil LeekTed Andrews The Mather Family - (includes:  Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) /   Thomas AdyT. Thorn CoyleVera ChapmanVictor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" /  Vivianne CrowleyWalter Brown GibsonWalter Ernest ButlerWilliam Butler YeatsZsuzsanna Budapest /  



Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete.  If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below.  Many thanks for reading  :-)



While I have taken due care and diligence to credit all sources where possible, this website may contain copyrighted material which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner.  My use of making such material available here is done so in my efforts to advance our understanding of religious discrimination, the environmental and social justice issues etc.   If you wish to use copyrighted material from this website for purposes of your own then you must obtain permission from the relevant copyright owner yourself.

Any queries please contact me at email -


My online email discussion group:


Dove of Peace

Help send a message of peace around the world!  The Dove of Peace flies from site to site, through as many countries as possible.  It does not belong to ANY belief system.  Please help make a line around the globe by taking it with you to your site, by giving it to someone for their site, by passing it on to another continent or to the conflict areas of the world.  May trouble and strife be vanquished in it's path.