Lucky Thirteen, Unlucky for Some – Black Cats and other Halloween Tales Unmasked

Unlucky 13 and Emotional Response

This is my thirteenth hub and my logical side of the brain tells me there is nothing to fear. Superstitions are simply false notions that something may or may not happen given a certain circumstance or event. On the other hand the inbuilt emotional response - on this my thirteenth hub - is to rush right through it and hope that no-one notices. The ‘no-one’ being the powers that be who give weight to the superstition about the number thirteen being unlucky.

Unlucky 13

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Where Did it all Begin for the Superstitious?

Given that most superstitions have been passed down through the generations from mother to daughter, it would seem they should carry some weight. But from a completely unemotional attachment, there is little substance to many of the favourites. The following are merely a few of the foundations for bad luck and, where possible, how to counteract them.

Lucky 13, Unlucky for Some

The most widely recognised explanation for the unlucky 13 principle is due to the number of disciples seated at the table of Christ for the last supper. Jesus was purportedly the last dining member to be seated but was crucified the next day. The myth continues through to the 11th century when at a banquet of Norse Gods, thirteen deities in total, one was killed by an arrow made of mistletoe. Thirteen is also the number of steps used for someone to walk the gallows to their death.

Black Cat Crossing Your Path

In some cultures black cats are accepted as good omens, Scottish Lore, for instance would have us believe a strange black cat on your doorstep signifies great things coming your way. The Japanese promote the virtues of the black cat and yet other countries revere the mystique that may be traced to ancient Egypt. The goddess Bast, was said to become as one with the spirit of the black cat. To win favours households would gather many black cats in the hope that the goddess would impart prosperity on the family.

None of this tells of the bad luck coming from a black cat crossing your path and there seems little verification in the history of the cat to suggest there is any foundation in this one. If you're still a bit nervous when kitty runs out in front of your car, turn your hat backwards and mark a big X on the windscreen.

Break a Mirror Seven Years Bad Luck

This one comes from the Romans, the first to create the glass mirror. Their belief was the reflection captured the soul hence broken glass broken soul. It takes seven years for a soul to be repaired and in those days there was no way of repairing a mirror. There was an alternative though and that was to grind the mirror to dust. Without the reflection there was no damage to the soul.

My first seven year stint for breaking a mirror came when I was seven. Another at nine and one in my teens. I was a naturally clumsy child with a superstitious grandmother. She never explained why I would get 21 years of bad luck in total but I believed her and spent most of those years in the garden looking for a four leaf clover.

 

Wind Traveler
Wind Traveler | Source

The Good Luck Vibe for Superstitions

I could go on and on and I will for a bit, because there are those superstitions that have an up side or the ones that were used as the stepping stones to bring good luck.

Itchy Right Palm

Itchy palms are supposed to be lucky and bring wealth. Right receiving, left leaving. There is very little information on where this superstition started but there is plenty on whether it is the right hand or the left that says if you can expect to receive money. A woman from Thursday Island swore that it meant something good if either hand was itchy but not necessarily anything to do with money, perhaps a visit from a long lost friend or family member.

Kissing Under the Mistletoe

Druids in the 19th century are believed to have associated mistletoe with many magical properties including fertility. It is said to kiss under the mistletoe brings good luck but luck turns against anyone who avoids it. Maybe the Norse God killed by the mistletoe arrow shunned the kissing ritual the previous Christmas.

Aussie Superstition She'll be Right Mate

Given that it is coming up to Halloween and given that I live in Australia where we do not follow the tradition I feel quite safe. Except, as I was dusting the window that frames our entrance way, the glass eye from Turkey that has watched over us for many a year, slipped from my hands and shattered at my feet. But it’s alright. I made sure I slung a pewter of salt over my left shoulder, or should that be my right?

No matter, I did both and remembered to put salt on the shopping list for tomorrow. Because here in Australia, otherwise known as the lucky country, even if you’ve lost your lucky rabbit’s foot we live by the Aussie philosophy. You might have heard the saying, she’ll be right mate. And it probably will.

Copyright © 2010 Karen Wilton

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Comments 16 comments

attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

My two daughters celebrate Halloween by throwing a large party at our place while we are shipped off on holiday to Lorne. A seaside resort two hours drive away. They really go to town, dressing up and decorating the house with ghoulish things. I'm not superstitious at all but it was interesting going into the history of this topic. Cheers Karanda.


Karanda profile image

Karanda 6 years ago from Australia Author

Attemptedhumour, I try not to be superstitious but sometimes, going back to the grandmother, I hear all her sayings reverberate in my head and still can't bring myself to walk under a ladder and would never put new shoes on the table. Halloween is a great time to go to town, glad your daughters enjoy themselves.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

Karanda,

Your sense of humor really shines through in this. It felt as though we were having coffee and discussing our Grandmothers.


Karanda profile image

Karanda 6 years ago from Australia Author

Onegoodwoman you are welcome to stop by for coffee anytime, I'm sure we could talk all day about the things our Grandmothers taught us.


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California

Very informative. I am already looking forward to Christmas and mistletoe and definitely do not want to get shot by an arrow. So will kiss everyone under the mistletoe. Oops, second thought. Well, will just have to wait and see who's under there with me!!

I wouldn't say I am superstitious, but yes I am. I really get into synchronicity and I know a lot of people think that is so much BS!! And I know I drive my friends nuts sometimes with all the coincidences I see. You know I go in to rob the bank and the teller is wearing a white buttefly necklace, a sign from my mother, that I am in the right place at the right time!!

Well, this was a lucky thirteen hub. Well written, informative, you actually posted a picture ofa black cat, and a calendar with Friday 13th on it, and doesn't appear that anything awful has happend yet. If my computer blows up, however, I will let you know.

Well, thanks for a very informative hub. I like all that history stuff. Good to read interesting hubs from down under or in reality are you folks really on top?

Take care

Vern


Karanda profile image

Karanda 6 years ago from Australia Author

Hey Vern, sometimes we're on top other times down under depends on the axis doesn't it? Never was good at geography. Researching for this was a lot more difficult than I expected. It seems different cultures have developed their own take on all the familiar superstitions and what may be unlucky in my world is lucky in someone elses.

I say go with the sign from your mother because everyone knows butterflies are lucky. At least I can't remember ever hearing a bad word about them.


Ginger Meow profile image

Ginger Meow 6 years ago

Awesome hub Karanda, and lets hope no one misses it. You have some really interesting information on superstition. I have always thought that the ideas behind some of them were just common sense, like you'll get bad luck from walking under a ladder. Probably because something will drop on your head! Great work, Thanks!


Karanda profile image

Karanda 6 years ago from Australia Author

Too true Ginger Meow, commonsense for so many of the superstitions and why is it bad luck to put new shoes on the table? Does this mean it's okay to put dirty old shoes on the table? Mm, very superstitious indeed.


Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

Great look at superstitions Karanda, knock on wood! I have been raised by many superstitious people so this is all familiar to me. I have very itchy palms sometimes so I'm going to start looking for the $$$'s to roll in!

Ben


Karanda profile image

Karanda 6 years ago from Australia Author

Glad you enjoyed it Ben. Of course, knock on wood! I'd forgotten about that one. I'm very confused about the itchy palms, it seems no two people can agree on which hand should be itching for the good luck or cash coming in.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

Brilliant hub written in a natural style Karanda.

I am one who will say that superstitions mean nothing to me . I don't believe in nonsense like that !!! As if!!!!

Then comes the test ; some painters's ladder is taking up all of a pavement.

Do I walk under?

or

Do I walk round

this ladder?

Take a guess Yes that's it , so much for my empty words.

Thank you for sharing this with us Karanda it's brilliant.I'm givng it an awsome and a vote up.

Take care my friend.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 6 years ago from Oakley, CA

Fascinating hub. I've heard most of the explanations before, but have never heard the superstition about shoes (new or otherwise) on the table...except for "get your feet off the table--who knows what you may have stepped in!"... and that has nothing to do with superstition. LOL

I agree about the black cats--they are marvelous. We had a black kitty, and she was the sweetest, most loving kitty...it was bad luck for her, though, I guess...she passed away at only 4-½ years old from a mystery illness. :-(

13? A friend of mine says it's very lucky--the day his son was born. It's all in your perspective.

And as for ladders, well, I've heard variations on that superstition, but the modern version is safety--in case the person on the ladder drops a tool. Well, now--the tool is far more likely to go out away from the ladder behind the worker than it is to navigate its way between the rungs, so I say, it's much safer to pass underneath!

Great hub! Reminds me of one of my poems in which I combine all of this stuff. ;-) Cheers--and thanks for stopping by my hub and leaving comments! You have a new follower.


Karanda profile image

Karanda 6 years ago from Australia Author

DzyMsLizzy thanks so much for stopping by to check out my hub and leave a comment. And what a comment it is. Funny how the superstitions start and no one really knows where they've come from but...it's been there forever so it doesn't get questioned.

The thing about ladders, you make so much more sense than the superstition. I guess we just need to walk well clear at all costs.


Karanda profile image

Karanda 6 years ago from Australia Author

Aw gosh BadCompany, didn't think I'd ever see you on one of my hubs. Yes, we Aussies are laid back but we still believe in superstitions. Found a five cents the other day and thought about that, find a penny, had no luck for the rest of the day but still won't walk under a ladder.

Guess you're not all bad after all, that you even picked up on the new profile pic, well done you.


DjBryle profile image

DjBryle 6 years ago from Somewhere in the LINES of your MIND, and HOPEFULLY at the RIPPLES of your HEART. =)

Hey, I love this! It made me laugh, and gained insights at the same time. You always have so many ways to make me keep on reading your hubs! I am so lucky to meet you at HP. =) All the best!


Karanda profile image

Karanda 6 years ago from Australia Author

Gee thanks DjBryle, can you see me blushing? Such encouragement will only go to my head and I'll be writing hubs daily before you know it.

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