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Superstitions...

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  • Superstitions...

    I really don't like crossing on the stairs. Why? Because it makes me feel I'm there, on the gallows, mounting the steps with the dead one passing me.. or vice versa.
    Superstitions are powerful messages, aren't they, from concurrent pasts and times and places?
    Why do I always spit off bridges into running water? (was I a soldier in Dick Crookback's army?)
    I wondered what your superstitions are, at least the ones that seem to summon up more than those which merely placate the gods of routine observance... and whether they talk to you in the same way they do to me.

    xxx

    "Born on Friday 13th"

  • #2
    I tend not to walk under ladders for health and safety reasons but otherwise I don't have too many superstitions, although my parents passed a few onto me, like not putting shoes on the table or opening umbrellas indoors and chucking salt over your shoulder when you spill it. Personally I think it's a lot of tosh. Having said that it's alarming to note how many actors and directors final films have had something to do with death, either in the title or subject matter. Then there's examples in music - Eddie Cochran and Three Steps To Heaven etc. Spooky!
    'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

    Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

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    • #3
      These are harmless rituals which people who are in some way self-employed -- actors, writers, even racing car drivers -- tend to allow themselves. There's always a chance that the rituals have become so important that to ignore them is to 'change your luck'. It's not superstition in the exact sense, but it is a reliance on familiar habits.
      I have forgotten all my mother's many superstitions, though I don't walk under ladders, throw salt over my shoulder and am inclined not to open umbrellas in the house (I didn't know about shoes on the table -- oo-er! -- which no doubt has something to do with not introducing disease near to where you eat food). When I visited my mother her carpets were a minefield of metal. She believed it unlucky to pick up knives you had dropped. I believe it's unlucky to pick up dropped knives with the right hand and tend automatically to pick them up with my left. There again, I'm inclined automatically to eat with my right hand only when in Muslim countries. I think I'm very easily influenced. :)

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      • #4
        Mike, here's a link to the 'shoes on the table' superstition:

        http://www.oldwivestales.net/QandAarticle1028.html

        Loved the comment about your mum not picking up the dropped knives.. :)
        'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

        Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

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        • #5
          My grandmother was full of surperstitions/old wives tale's. Kicking a can was definitely taboo, as was opening an umbrella indoors, and new shoes on the table. One thing that puzzled me though was a dislike of pearls. I could never work out if this was a superstition or something personal. She would wear a pearl necklace but pearl earrings were a no-no. She just would not tell me. Does my head in!
          You see, it's... it's no good, Montag. We've all got to be alike. The only way to be happy is for everyone to be made equal.

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          • #6
            Um. I think there are superstitions that tap into the bloodstream of atavistic memory, and others that are handed-down rituals/observances whose lost function is to ward off or otherwise placate demons of one kind or another.
            I'm not obsessively superstitious, and I don't go about jangling with lucky charms, but I think it's interesting to think about why some of them still seem to exert a hold on many of us.
            NB.
            Pearls. They're said to bring unhappiness when "set" rather than "strung" because they have a tendency to shrink, and therefore to drop out of their setting and get lost. So they become a bad omen as a token of love or fealty set into e.g. a ring. Then, too, they are said to resemble tears, especially if worn as "drop" (=dangly) earrings. So that's a no-no as well. All in all they're regarded as a deeply ambiguous symbol.

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            • #7
              oops, somehow managed to post this thrice, sorry. Can't find delete on the edit option, either.
              :oops:

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              • #8
                Um. I think there are superstitions that tap into the bloodstream of atavistic memory, and others that are handed-down rituals/observances whose lost function is to ward off or otherwise placate demons of one kind or another.
                I'm not obsessively superstitious, and I don't go about jangling with lucky charms, but I think it's interesting to think about why some of them still seem to exert a hold on many of us.
                NB.
                Pearls. They're said to bring unhappiness when "set" rather than "strung" because they have a tendency to shrink, and therefore to drop out of their setting and get lost. So they become a bad omen as a token of love or fealty set into e.g. a ring. Then, too, they are said to resemble tears, especially if worn as "drop" (=dangly) earrings. So that's a no-no as well. All in all they're regarded as a deeply ambiguous symbol.

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