As it is the effort of this website to bring awareness, I thought it was only fitting that I collect some understanding behind some of the most popular superstitious beliefs, whether you choose to believe in some, none or all of them, it is always better when we understand these beliefs better. when we do … Read More
As it is the effort of this website to bring awareness, I thought it was only fitting that I collect some understanding behind some of the most popular superstitious beliefs, whether you choose to believe in some, none or all of them, it is always better when we understand these beliefs better. when we do so we may perhaps add more or less validity to them. As it is the month of October, we tend to see some these superstitions heightened as it is also the month of Halloween. I hope knowing about the origins will be of interest to you. As always, I welcome any comments or additions to this list.
Walk under a ladder, bad luck
The superstition arises from early Christian teaching that an object with three points represents the Holy Trinity: God, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Because not all Christians believed in the trinity, walking under the ladder would be bad luck for the person who does believe in it. Walking under a ladder, while believing in the Holy Trinity, would send the message that you do not respect it, thus aligning yourself with Satan. Such an act used to be so dangerous, you could be label a witch. In case you are confused where there are three points, it is precisely when the ladder leans on a wall, forming a triangle.
Black cats, bad luck
The belief is exactly if a black cat crosses your path. The superstition arises from the middle-ages in Europe when black cats began to be associated with so-called witches. As you may have heard, there was a hysteria in the middle-ages about women practicing black magic, black cats as other stranded coloured cats were being cared for by old ladies. It so happened that many of those old cat caring ladies were often accused of practicing black magic and labelled as witches. Furthermore, the myth carried when the believed transform into the idea of witches changing form to black cats. This belief was carried in the United States, during the witch trials in Salem, where many witches were believed to have this power. Black cats thereof have retained some of this belief by some, as a cursed creature which can rub some of its curse if so it happens to cross your path.
Knock on wood
To knock on wood or touch on wood is an act that wards off unlucky consequences. The belief is that one can also touch wood three times after talking about something lucky or superstitious. The origin of this belief dates from Irish folklore, which states the act of touching wood would send a thank you to a leprechaun for some good luck. The belief transcended to part of Christian belief, in that the touching of wood was associated with the Cross. The belief also became part of Jewish folklore when many Jewish people were forced to built wooded-built synagogues for refuge during the Spanish Inquisition and later came up with a specific knock code to be let in.
The belief of Friday 13th being an unlucky or cursed day dates back from Biblical times, directly with the Last Supper and Judas, the apostle said to have betrayed Jesus, and the crucifixion of Jesus believed to have fallen on a Friday, which also came to be known as “hangman’s day” and was a source of anxiety in those times. Therefore, as the power of Christianity grow, so did the belief in Friday 13th being a bad date, since the link had been made with one of the saddest times in Christian belief, that is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ himself. It should mention that other beliefs, such as the 13th floor, the unlucky number 13 all related and stem from the same roots.
Lucky number 7
The number 7 has references throughout history, whether it would be religions, cultures and ancient civilizations. Most coincide that the number is of good luck. Before the invention of telescopes, there were three visible stars on the sky, the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. This could possible explain why many ancient cultures adopted seven gods or deities. This is perhaps the reason why the Greeks consider the number seven extremely lucky. In Pythagorean math, the number seven is also called the perfect number. In Hinduism, the main chakras, or energy centers in the human body, are seven. The Arabs believed in seven holy temples, the Japanese believed in seven lucky gods that bring good fortune. In the bible, there are references to the number seven, one particular about how God created the world in six days and how the seventh day was a rest day or Sabbath. King Solomon’s temple took seven years to be built, every seven years is a holy year in the Hebrew Torah. There are more references, but I think it is now pretty clear why the number seven is held to such regard.
Good luck horseshoe
This belief is about the horseshoe as a good luck artifact. This belief dates back from the time where blacksmiths had an important role in a community. A particular blacksmith was named Dustan, and another man he believed was the devil. It is believed that the devil came to Dunstan and requested he put horseshoes on his feet (hoofs). Dunstan recognized this man as the devil and nailed the horseshoe on the devil’s hoof. Seeing that the devil looked to be in great pain, Dunstan chained him and released him only when the devil promised to never enter a place that a horseshoe hung over the door. Dunstan consequently came to be known as Saint Dustan and prior to that was the Archbishop of Caterbury in 959 AD.
Wish upon a shooting star
The belief is if you spot a shooting star, you are granted a wish. The belief originates in Europe, when the Greek astronomer Ptolemy, around AD 127-151, wrote that the Gods occasionally, out of curiosity, or even boredom peer down at the earth from the between the spheres, and therefore stars sometimes sleep out becoming visible as shooting or falling stars. Since during this time the gods are already paying attention to us from up above, it is the most auspicious time to make a wish.
Spilled salt, bad luck
The belief is, you spill salt that will bring you bad luck. The belief originates from ancient times, as salt was used in early rituals and practices. In many cultures, salt was believed to be a powerful magical substance. Often times, salt was an expressive trading commodity, and spilling it was considered wasteful and frowned upon. In Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous “Last Supper” painting, Judas is portrayed as having spilled the salt. Furthermore, there is another Christian originated belief that the good spirits exist on the right-handed side and the devil seats on the left-hand side of God. Therefore, if you spill salt, it is important to throw the salt over our right hand over our left shoulder to keep the devil off and bring the bad luck behind us.
Opening an umbrella indoors
The belief is that opening the umbrella indoors will bring bad luck. It is not clearly stated where the belief initiated, but is some have traced it back to the Egyptians. Back then, and yes umbrellas are that old, umbrellas were used to protect people from the heat of the sun, not only from rain, they were also believe to ward off from evil spirits who might do hair. Therefore to open an umbrella indoors meant to offend the God of the sun. The Egyptians also believed that the Egyptian goddess Nut (pronounced Nuit) enveloped the sky like a huge umbrella. The shadow that surrounded those novelly protected by the umbrella was considered sacred, if someone other than the nobility stepped into this shadow, it was considered sacrilegious.
BONUS: Lucky rabbit’s foot
There are a number of animal and animal parts that are often taken as amulets because of the believe in the luck they bring. The particular belief in the carrying the foot of a rabbit is believed to have arisen from ancient totemic beliefs that humans descended from animals, and particular tribes trace their origins in specific animal species. A specific tribe worshiped its animal ancestor, and therefore carried parts of that animal as protective totems. In 600 BC, the Celts associated rabbits with good fortune, the whole rabbit, not only its foot. According to the Celts, since rabbits lived in the burrows or deep underground, it meant they were in direct communication with the gods and spirits of the underworld. It is no wonder, we see the symbolism of the rabbit in the tale of Alice in Wonderland, as the one that takes Alice to a magical world. Sources used: http://list25.com/25-strangest-superstitions-ever/2/ http://www.wisegeek.org/why-is-it-considered-bad-luck-to-walk-under-a-ladder.htm http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/09/why-black-cats-are-considered-bad-luck/ http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/09/130912-friday-13th-thirteenth-superstitions-phobias-nation-culture/ http://psychiclibrary.com/beyondBooks/lucky-number-7 http://psychiclibrary.com/beyondBooks/horseshoe-superstition http://the-shooting-star.com/2008/11/09/wish-upon-a-shooting-star/ http://psychiclibrary.com/beyondBooks/umbrella-superstition http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/12/rabbits-foot-considered-lucky/