Whether you believe in it or not, superstition plays a role in all our lives. Each of us uses it to one extent or another and I wouldn’t believe anyone who said they didn’t.
Even things like saying ‘touch wood’ when telling someone you’ve not had a cold all year, or filling in a lottery ticket with your special set of numbers and refusing to change them just in case, is down to superstition.
Superstition and rituals have been around since the middle ages, throughout every culture, and their roots were often steeped in religion
There is a superstition for almost everything; from clothes to furniture, food, animals and body parts. Yes, I did say body parts! There are superstitions for the head down to the feet, and all the bits in between, including moles and dimples. A dimple on the chin – devil within.
Did you know that a mole on the nose denotes great lechery, whilst a girl with a mole on her breast will be irresistible - I bet she will be, especially if she goes around showing it!
I didn’t see myself as particularly superstitious, but now I think about it, I do cross my fingers or say ‘touch wood,’ and I say hello to a solitary magpie. I also don’t like crossing on the stairs, and will step out into the road to avoid walking under a ladder. Stupid really isn’t it?
I remember reading many years ago, that it was unlucky to put your left shoe on before the right, so, from that moment on, I have always put my right shoe on first. It’s automatic now, I do it without thinking
We all know that if you put an item of clothing on inside out, it is good luck and you shouldn’t change it because you will change your luck, but did you know that you should put a coin into the right hand pocket of a new suit or dress? But what if the new dress doesn’t have a pocket, then what do you do?
There are a few strange superstitions too. How about this one? It was believed that by wearing earrings and painting the lips, it prevented the devil or evil spirits from entering one of the five orifices. The mind boggles.
There are hundreds of interesting superstitions; lots of which we are familiar with. Remember that well-known one about salt? If you spill salt, you should throw it over your left shoulder? But do you know why? Well, that is where evil spirits are supposed to dwell - on the left side of our bodies; so by throwing salt over that shoulder - and into their eyes - it banishes them. For a long time salt has been thought to protect us from the supernatural.
Some of you may know about breaking the shell of an empty boiled egg to stop the devil or bad luck getting in, but do the bread bakers among you know that you should make a cross on the top of the loaf to protect you from evil? Or that a loaf will not rise if there is a dead body in the vicinity?
I hope none of you live next door to a funeral parlour!
There are numerous animal superstitions, and superstitions about items of furniture. There’s the obvious one about not breaking a mirror, but have you heard that if you sing in the bath, it will lead to sorrow before suppertime, or that when rising from your dinner table, if you upset your chair, you have lied at some time during the conversation. And anyone who lays down on a table, will, apparently, die within the year. Charming.
Have you noticed how all these superstitions are about warding off bad luck, and foretelling doom and gloom? I wonder why.
I would prefer superstitions that say things like - if you cross on the stairs you will receive a pleasant surprise, or if you stir with a fork you will stir up good luck.
What about, if a black cat crosses your path, you will win the lottery? That sounds much better to me
It’s not hard to understand why people all those years ago believed that doing or not doing something would bring them bad luck. They dwelt in a time when living conditions were bad and people died young from all sorts of terrible diseases. They were very religious, afraid of the unknown, and believed in witchcraft and evil spirits; and not being very knowledgeable, they needed something to blame when things went wrong. Maybe a lot of superstitions were made from fear and ignorance.
Of course, we are more knowledgeable nowadays, yet superstition still has its place in modern society. From the person who carries a talisman or mascot around with them, never goes out on Friday 13th, doesn’t walk under ladders, or on cracks in the pavement, and makes sure they don’t do anything deemed unlucky, to those who do simple things like crossing their fingers or not opening an umbrella in the house.
Superstition comes under other guises too. Feng Shui is practised in many places
I have heard of companies who have their whole offices Feng Shuied. It is believed that by having the desks and chairs in a certain position, the walls painted in particular colours, and round edged plants placed in strategic places, the employees will work better and be happier. In the home, placing your bed in a specific direction means you will get a better night’s sleep, and there are supposedly things you can do to increase your wealth, health and improve your relationships.
I’m not convinced. If it works, why isn’t everyone doing it?
It’s an ancient Chinese practice, to do with balancing yin and yan, and of trying to promote a healthy flow of chi energy, but doesn’t it also sound like a form of superstition? For instance - you shouldn’t have dried flowers in the house because they bring misfortune, a red sofa in the lounge can apparently cause heavy work pressures and troubles, and if your kitchen faces north, well look out because it may bring you bad luck. I know there is more to it than that, but it sounds like superstition to me.
I guess we’d all like a bit of good luck in our lives, and would prefer not to do anything that may bring us bad luck; so if we feel that by avoiding a certain situation - not walking under a ladder - we are preventing it, and that makes us happier, where’s the harm?
Well, this morning, I put my t-shirt on inside out, found a four-leafed clover in the garden, sneezed three times before breakfast, and found a penny in the street. So I‘m off to buy a lottery ticket; keep your fingers crossed for me ☺