Then why did you send me that email curse?
I realized today, a head-banging lousy Monday, that I might be reaping some of the bad luck promised me from these internet chain letter threats disguised as angels that my dearest friends have been emailing me for the past few years. The ones I didn't forward...I delete them. Oh, at first some primal voodoo instinct compelled me to try to think of who I could forward them to without offending. Sometimes I'd write a little disclaimer: "need all the help I can get today", or "you're It". Eventually I had a list of people I know and like well enough, but are not really close, and therefore are safe bets to hurl these vicious fear-mongering missives through cyber-space at with impunity. (C'mon, you've done it, too...) But there are sooooo many of them. And I also began to wonder if I really was discarding chances to gather riches and windfalls. Business hasn't been that good, so maybe it's not the economy but the fact I drop-kicked those nasty little sprites and flowery messages out of my inbox like they were infected with the plague.
But what I really got to thinking about was why, with all the educated and erudite email buddies I have, are they compelled to second guess both fate and physics and pass on so much juju-spiritus-sanctu-Druid superstition? Are they embarrassed to show this weak little chink? I am. But I do confess to it and I'm trying to remember where I learned it.
I grew up with hints and tints of superstitions. I'm sure in school I picked up some eerie sorts of brain twisting fears and childhood games. Step on a crack, break Mom's back. Walk under a ladder and it will haunt your fortunes for seven years...oh that's the mirror breaking curse. What happens if you walk under a ladder again?
It has something to do with the Christian Trinity, disrupting the triangle symbolism...or some such. So it seems even the God-fearing are superstitious about things outside the realm of God. Is there a saint of construction equipment?
There is a standard set of American superstitions, but I was truly blessed to be raised in the U.S. by British parents, and so I got to learn and beware of a full second set of potentially hazardous-to-my fortune superstitions.
Stock up on Good Luck
What are your superstitions?
Of course the British are very fond of umbrellas, sensible people that they are. But what ever lead a whole culture to believe it's bad luck to open them inside a structure...like your house? Why not just say, "SIR! You're going to break that chamber pot if you open that unweildy contraption in here!"? It's like poor judgment and carelessness morphed into Bad Luck.
And according to the English....never put a hat on the bed. Period. It's just bad luck. But why? No one seems to know. Some say it goes back to a time when people believed evil spirits lived in the hair,(well,somes days I do have hair imps.....). Perhaps the Old Ones not understanding static electricity, thought the evil was transferable to bedding and linens. Did the evil spirits look kind of like lice, bed bugs and fleas? I'm just speculating here.
Peacock feathers, according to my Mum, should never be brought inside. BAD luck. I think this must be why the counter-culture died, and hippies no longer walk the earth. No one told them about the peacock feathers. But then how does that explain that many Asian cultures view peacock feathers as auspicious, a good luck item. And they have a very old culture. What to believe?
Mum also told me a few years ago, and a few years too late for me apparently, that lilacs are unlucky to have in the house. And every spring I was bringing armloads into the house from the four huge lilac trees in my yard. NOW she tells me. This odd superstition is supposed be a throwback to the time when lilac's powerful sweet scent was used to mask the smell of a dead person lying in the house....like before embalming. I guess they thought death was attracted to the smell, and was somehow catching? I wonder, since lilacs are seasonal, what did they use the rest of the year when someone died and was displayed for the family and friends to see (oh yuk). And does that mean there are other insidious smells that could be linked to death and that we should be afraid of?
And last but not least.... Mum says it's bad luck to give someone a purse or wallet with no money in it. She says it invites poverty, so you should tuck a penny inside the gift...but you might want to account for inflation, or your friends will think you're cheap. A fiver would be nice. If I understand this superstition correctly, it's a dual opportunity superstition.... good luck if you do; bad luck if you don't. I think I'd like it better if it went: Put a twenty in the purse or wallet before giving it, and the recipient will never want for cash. At the very least it would probably ensure some of you men out there don't get the obligatory wallet every Christmas. Or if you do it won't be so useless.
It's clear that every culture has some taboos and superstitions....what about your superstitions and what silly little fears and phobias were you taught as a child?
Good luck, or bad luck superstitions. Do you know their history.... why and how they came to be? And what do YOU do with those threatening emails from fairies?