Superstitions

by

Cheryl Ness

Senior High Division

 

Superstitions have been with us for a thousand years ormore. Since the primitive man was on this earth, there have been many strangeand mysterious things happening to man that troubled and frightened him.Primitive man believed these troubles were caused by good or evil forces,which could be controlled if he only had the power to do so. These scaryincidents became known as superstitions.

Some of the more common superstitions people believe intoday are: Their beliefs in good luck charms, such as, a rabbit's foot,or horseshoes, or the idea that if you opened an umbrella indoors, thenyou would have bad luck. Even if you stepped on sidewalk cracks, or leta black cat cross your path, you were in for bad luck. Many people believethat if you wish on a falling star it will come true. Two of the most commonare: That a person's destiny is influenced by the position of the starsand the time of birth, and Friday the 13th is believed to be unlucky.

It is believed that magic has a lot to do with superstitions.The people in Africa who are followers of the "voodoo" magic believethat an evildoer makes an image of a victim out of wax or clay. Then heburns, buries, or pierces it with thorns or pins. After this is done, hebelieves that he injures the victim and causes his death. Witchcraft andmagic has become stronger and is being used more in Africa today that itever was. Although the doctors in Africa are well dressed, and have theirown offices, their prescriptions and anti-sickness charms contain the sameingredients today as they did many years ago. "Some of the ingredientsused in their love potions and anti-sickness charms are herbs, bat wings,snake skin, ground up animal bones, hippopotamus and lion fat, and monkeygrease." (1)

Not only does witchcraft and magic exist in Africa, butit also exists in the United States, Canada, England, and Europe. Many schoolsand colleges in the United States are offering courses in witchcraft. Oneform of this being taught is Astrology.

Astrology has been around for over three thousand years.More than fifty million people in the United States are into Astrology.And, many of these people are so involved in it that they won't leave theirhomes until they have found out what their horoscope reads, and just whattype of a day they are going to have. This is one superstition that hasbeen carried down throughout the years. People feel that it may not be safefor them to leave their homes at all, if they first don't read their horoscope.

Another type of superstition was the protection of charms.Charms were described as being objects credited with power to protect aperson from evil forces. There was no one special charm for getting ridof evil. People used to use metal, stone, and even formulas. They coulduse anything that they believed would bring them luck. Even today, peopleuse good luck charms. Two of the most commonly used types are the rabbit'sfoot, and amulets. Amulets are things worn around the neck to ward off evilspirits and doers. (2) This was usually done when a person had some kindof illness. They would tie just about anything around their necks that theythought would drive the evil spirits out of their bodies.

At one time it was also believed that evil was transmittedby the eye. So, folks would use charms to counteract the effect of thisevil eye. One type of charm that was used to counteract the effect was animage or design of an eye. By using this, the evil effects were supposedto be thrown back to its source.

Some charms also keep away evil spirits. One example ofthis is the horseshoe. Many of the older folks have different superstitionsabout the horseshoes. Some say that if you find a horseshoe, you must returnto your home at once, without talking to anyone, and hang the horseshoeover your door, with the prongs hanging up. This way the luck that the horseshoewill bring you, will stay in the horseshoe. The superstitions about thehorseshoe have been handed down from one generation to another. And theywill still be handed down since this is one of the oldest superstitionsaround.

Many old people have superstitions about the sick, andmedicines used to cure them. Some folks believe that the different partsof plants are good for medicines. The tops, middle portions, and the rootsof the plants are for diseases of the head, chest, and legs.

Walnuts were supposedly useful at one time or another.They were supposed to be good for curing diseases of the brain, becauseone kernel of the walnut has the form of a brain, and the shell resemblesa skull.

In the old days, some people thought that an inflictedwound would best be treated by treating the weapon that inflicted the wound.The would was healed by putting salve on the weapon.

Many of the people who believed in such superstitions recoveredfrom their ailments, but in order for them to have gotten better they hadto believe in these ideas a lot. They had to convince themselves that theway they were treating themselves was the only way to get better and survive.

Many people believe in superstitions because they hopethat some kind of influence lies within their reach, and destiny of life.

(1) Baldwin, Gordon C. - Schemers, Dreamers & MedicineMen, Page 15

(2) Webster's Dictionary, Page 25

 

Bibliography

Baldwin, Gordon C. - Schemers, Dreamers and Medicine Men,Copyright 1970

Ness, Mrs. Francis, St. Vincent, Minnesota

World Book Encyclopedia, #18, Copyright 1971cis, St. Vincent, Minnesota

World Book Encyclopedia, #18, Copyright 1971