Superstitions, Omens, & Myths
What is Superstition?
According to Webster's dictionary, superstition is n. any belief that is inconsistent with the known laws of science or with what is considered true and rational; esp., such a belief in omens, the supernatural, etc. Halloween is traditionally the time when common superstitions, folklore, myths and omens carry more weight to those who believe.
Bad fallacies far outweigh the good, especially around Halloween, when myths run rampant. When it comes right down to it, many people still believe that omens can predict our destiny and misfortune, particularly for the worse.
Bad Luck Omens
- Black Cats
Black cats have long been believed to be a supernatural omen since the witch hunts of the middle ages when cats were thought to be connected to evil. Since then, it is considered bad luck if a black cat crosses your path.
- Broken Mirrors
An ancient myth our ancestors believed was that the image in a mirror is our actual soul. A broken mirror represented the soul being astray from your body. To break the spell of misfortune, you must wait seven hours (one for each year of bad luck) before picking up the broken pieces, and bury them outside in the moonlight.
In the days before the gallows, criminals were hung from the top rung of a ladder and their spirits were believed to linger underneath. Common folklore has it to be bad luck to walk beneath an open ladder and pass through the triangle of evil ghosts and spirits.
If an owl looks in your window or if you see one in the daylight bad luck and death will bestow you.
At one time salt was a rare commodity and thought to have magical powers. It was unfortunate to spill salt and said to foretell family disarray and death. To ward off bad luck, throw a pinch over your shoulder and all will be well.
Sparrows are thought to carry the souls of the dead and it is believed to bring bad luck if you kill one.
- Unlucky Number 13
The fear of the number 13 is still common today, and avoided in many different ways. Some buildings still do not have an official 13th floor and many people avoid driving or going anywhere on Friday the 13th.
Good Luck Superstitions
To bring good luck, the horseshoe must lost by a horse and be found by you, with the open end facing your way. You must hang it over the door with the open end up, so the good fortune doesn't spill out.
Another origin of the 'lucky horseshoe' is the belief that they ward off witches. Witches, it was once believed, were opposed to horses, which is why they rode brooms and pitchforks instead. By placing a horseshoe over a door, the witch would be reluctant to enter.
- Four Leaf Clover
Clover is believed to protect humans and animals from evil spells and is thought to be good luck to find a four leaf clover, particularly for the Irish.
- Rabbit's Foot
These lucky charms are thought to ward off bad luck and bring good luck. You mush carry the rabbit's foot on a chain around your neck, or in your left back pocket. The older it gets, the more good luck it brings.
Two people are to pull apart a dried breastbone of a turkey or chicken and the one who is left with the longer end will have their wish come true.
Common Myths and Folklore
- If the flame of a candle flickers and then turns blue, there's a spirit in the room.
- If a bird flies through your house, it indicates important news. If it can't get out, the news will be death.
- If you feel a chill up your spine, someone is walking on your future grave.
- A person born on Halloween will have the gift of communicating with the dead.
- A bat in the house is a sign of death.
- If a bird flies towards you, bad fortune is imminent.
- If your palm itches, you will soon receive money. If you itch it, your money will never come.
- Crows are viewed as a bad omen, often foretelling death. If they caw, death is very near.
- Many Romans wore lucky charms and amulets to avert the "evil eye".
- If a person experiences great horror, their hair turns white.
- A hat on a bed will bring bad luck.
- Eat an apple on Christmas Eve for good health the next year.
- The superstition of knocking on wood for good luck originates from pagan beliefs in regards to trees.