Monday, October 31, 2011

Feelin' down on your luck? Superstitions explained

By: Lynzi Acree

Halloween will be here before you know it, so you might want to brush up on your superstitions in case of paranoia. Superstitions are defined in most dictionaries as “an irrational belief in the existence of unseen forces which control fate.” Even though superstitions seem timeless, they do have origins. Here are those of some popular beliefs and the story of where they originated from:

The number 13: This notion pops up all over history. There are many theories as to why it’s unlucky. One such theory is that, in the Bible, Judas “the Betrayer of Jesus,” was the 13th member at the Last Supper. In Egyptian society, the number 13 was lucky because it symbolized death, for them meaning the glorious afterlife. Other cultures corrupted the number and it’s meaning with their fear of death.

Black cats: The Egyptian Goddess Bastet was believed to be a black cat. Christians in the Middle Ages wanted to wipe all traces of other religions from society, so early American settlers told young children and the uneducated that black cats were disguised demons and should be killed. They also killed women who owned the cats, thinking they were witches.

Spilled salt: Salt was thought to purify and drive away evil spirits, which were known for lurking behind your left shoulder, waiting for a chance to wreak some havoc. When you throw the spilt salt over your left shoulder, you drive the evil spirits away.

Walking under a ladder: There are two versions of this superstition. One belief is that the ladder forms a triangle which represents the “Holy Trinity.” If you walk through it, you violate the space and are believed to be in a league with the Devil. The other version is that hangmen used a ladder to hang a person from the gallows, and if you walked under the ladder, death would notice you.

Breaking a mirror: Your reflection in a mirror is symbolic of your soul. According to the pagan Romans, breaking the mirror, and therefore the reflection, damages the soul and brings spiritual suffering for seven years. Why seven years? The Romans believed that every seven years your body was rejuvenated.

Knock on wood: Pagans thought good spirits lived in wood and trees. By knocking on wood or touching it, you were “remembering” them and they would protect you from bad fortune.

For more detail and more superstitions you can visit:
http://sangi.sanguinarius.org/creative/OriginsOfPopularSuperstitions.pdf

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