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History of Superstitions ~ #Paranormal Posts #Halloween

Some of my most popular posts have discussed the origins of certain superstitions--specifically, ones that are considered bad luck.  A superstition is a long-held belief or behavior with no rational basis.  As a fan of all things spooky, I like to research the history behind the more sinister superstitions we hold, especially around Halloween, the season that embraces the paranormal.  Of course, many of these superstitions date back to ancient times, so tracing the exact sources can be tricky...and it doing the research, it definitely appears that often times, several factors seem to have combined to create the belief or behavior.

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 have an entire post dedicated to more lengthy details, which I'll link below, but the idea that cats had magical powers dates back to ancient times; some cultures worshiped them, while others feared them.  Being nocturnal animals, they are out at night, gracefully slinking about in even total darkness.  And the color black in particular is associated with sinister forces.  Some believed witches could turn into cats to avoid capture, or that black cats served as their familiars.    

These are my 2 black kitties, Jinx and Max, getting into the Halloween spirit...
(cats are real, crows are just decoration!)

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, and I take a deeper look into Triskaidekaphobia in another post, which I'll also link below.  Many of the reasons stem from different religions: in Christianity, for example, Judas Iscariot (a figure also associated with the spilling of salt superstition discussed below) was the 13th--and last--person to sit down at the Last Supper.  According to Norse legends, the god Loki was the 13th guest to arrive at a banquet, and he then killed another god.  Historically, there were 13 steps to the gallows, covens were made up of 13 witches, and XIII is the card of death in a Tarot deck.       

Another well-known superstition involves 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'd like to read further details on why people fear black cats, check out this post.  And for more on the reasons people fear the number 13, click here.  

An ex-boyfriend and
a dangerous ghost await
Claire in GULL HARBOR 
And if you're looking for a new read that will help get you ready for Halloween, try a steamy romance mixed with a haunting mystery!  I have three ghost story/romantic suspense novels that fit the bill...both Silver Lake and Gull Harbor have been #1 Kindle Bestsellers.  My latest release, Haunted Souls, was a Top 3 Read of 2016 at Read Freely and is on SALE for 99c for the ebook for a few more days!  While my novels are not horror, they are intended to give you a few chills up your spine, but the steamy scenes help balance that out!  But I have a less spooky option as well, a Young Adult Paranormal Romance which involves supernatural secrets and forbidden love, so for revenge, romance, and a rogue fallen angel, check out Divine Fall.

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Halloween!

The Season of Fixing Problems
Dancing with the Pharaohs