Myths & Magic

Myths & Magic

Four Leaf Clover

I know a place where the sun is like gold, 
And the cherry blooms burst with snow, 
And down underneath is the loveliest nook, 
Where the four-leaf clovers grow. 

One leaf is for hope, and one is for faith, 
And one is for love, you know, 
And God put another in for luck— 
If you search, you will find where they grow. 

But you must have hope, and you must have faith,
You must love and be strong – and so –
If you work, if you wait, you will find the place
Where the four-leaf clovers grow.

~Ella Higginson

There is a plethora of internet resources that offer explanations and meanings for four (or five, or six) leaf clovers. Here are a few of our favourite myths and magical facts about this rare lucky charm.

  • The leaves of four-leaf clovers are said to stand for faith, hope, love, and luck.
  • If you’re lucky enough to find a five leaf clover, that leaf stands for wealth, and a sixth leaf is said to stand for good fortune.
  • Most claim the odds of finding a four leaf clover are 1 in 10,000, although there have been studies that say chances are closer to 1 in 5,000.
  • A Swiss study discovered that the likelihood of finding a five-leafed clover was one per 24,390 three-leafed clovers, and the chance of a six-leafed clover was one per 312,500 three leafers.
  • A genetic study at the University of Georgia concluded that any more than three leaves on a clover are due to a genetic mutation in the genome of the common clover species, white clover (or Trifolium repens). This genetic mutation also means you can normally find four leaf clovers growing together.
  • The fourth leaf can be smaller or a different shade of green than the other three leaves.
  • Shamrocks and four-leaf clovers are not the same thing; the word ‘shamrock’ refers only to a clover with three leaves.

Myths & Legends

Four leaf clovers appear frequently in centuries-old legends as symbols of good luck. In the early days of Ireland, The Druids (Celtic priests) believed that when they carried a shamrock, they could see evil spirits coming and have a chance to escape in time. Four-leaf clovers were Celtic charms, presumed to offer magical protection and ward off bad luck.

Children in the Middle Ages believed if they carried a four-leaf clover, they would be able to see fairies, and the first literary reference to suggest their good fortune was made in 1620 by Sir John Melton. He said, “If a man walking in the fields find any four-leaved grass, he shall in a small while after find some good thing.”

A Christian legend tells the story that Eve brought a four leaf clover with her when she was expelled from Paradise. Anyone lucky enough to be in possession of a clover with four leaves has consequently a piece of the blessed Paradise.