I love (and rescue) black cats, so it's safe to say I don't believe I'm in trouble if they cross my path. There are many reasons black cats came to be associated with magic, witchcraft, and the occult, and I've gone into further detail in this post.
Another "unlucky" symbol I can't accept (because it's the date of my birth) is the number 13. There are a whole host of reasons for the fear of this number, many of them stemming from different religions. I take a deeper look into Triskaidekaphobia in this post.
I thought I'd research a few more well known "causes" of bad luck for my October Paranormal Postings series. Many of these superstitions date back to ancient times, so tracing the exact sources can be tricky. Sometimes several factors seem to combine to create the belief or behavior.
One example is the belief that walking under a ladder brings bad luck. One theory is that this dates back to ancient Egypt, where triangles were considered sacred (think pyramids). A ladder propped against a wall forms a triangle; walking through would desecrate the triangle. The Christian religion, with its concept of the Holy Trinity, also contributed to the idea that violating a triangle would be unlucky. Finally, some sources point to the use of ladders in the gallows. To walk under the ladder was to be caught in the hangman's line of vision.
Do you cringe if you spill the salt? At one time, salt was a very valuable commodity, so spilling salt could have indeed been truly unlucky. If you consider our word "salary" comes from the Latin word "salarium", which means salt cellar, the value of salt throughout history becomes even more evident.
Another explanation involves the Last Supper, during which Judas Iscariot--the betrayer of Jesus--apparently spilled the salt. In the painting The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, Judas is the second to the left of Jesus; his hand is clutched around a bag (of silver, most likely), and his arm has knocked over a cellar of salt. You can better see the detail in this copy of the painting. Judas is the only one with his elbow on the table; the spilled salt is near his wrist.
|Da Vinci's Last Supper by Giacomo Raffaelli Attribution: Alberto Fernandez Fernandez, Wikimedia Commons|
The way to possibly ward off the bad luck associated with spilled salt is to scoop some up and throw it over your left shoulder, into the Devil's eyes. This stems from a belief that the Devil stands behind a person's left shoulder.
Breaking a mirror is said to carry a whole seven years of bad luck. I don't put a lot of stock into most superstitions, but I admit the thought of breaking a mirror makes me nervous. Like salt, mirrors held a great deal of value at one time--they were both expensive and rare. Breaking one was a loss, and the guilty party might well be considered rightfully unlucky. Another explanation goes back to the idea that a person's soul is revealed in their reflection; breaking a mirror would then equate to breaking one's soul.
If you enjoyed this post, you might want to check out my post on the Origins of Halloween as well. Please note that the giveaway associated with that post is over, but I will have plenty more coming as I prepare for the release of HAUNTED SOULS!
|An ex-boyfriend and|
a dangerous ghost await
Claire in GULL HARBOR
Happy haunted reading!