Scott County Historical Society
Scott County, Virginia

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Mildred McConnell's Scrapbook Articles

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Superstitions Of Our Forefathers

By OMER C. ADDINGTON

     A superstitious belief or practice results from ignorance or fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance. Someone once said that a superstition was an unscientific belief.

     Our forefathers lived in constant fear of their environment. They could not explain the workings of nature. They believed everything was caused by evil spirits and the things they did brought good luck or bad luck. Most of all, they could not understand infectious disease, they had no idea of their causes. They had no idea that bacteria I and viruses were everywhere on their hands, in their food, water and in the air around them.

     It is not hard to see why our fore fathers turned to superstition in an effort to explain the many strange happenings in the world in which they lived. Medical science had not been developed to explain the cause of disease. Is it any wonder that our forefathers turned to superstition and witch doctors for prevention and relief of disease.

     Superstitions came to Southwest Virginia from many different countries of Europe and some were thought up here in the Appalachian mountains. That is why we have so many superstition beliefs for the same sickness or disorders.-To cure the whooping cough in a child, cook an owl and feed him the broth.

-To prevent a child having the whooping cough, hang an adder stone around its neck. (An adders   stone was a precious stone popularly believed to draw out poison)

-To cure the whooping cough in a child, cook an owl and feed him the broth.

-To cure a child of whooping cough, pass it under the belly of a donkey three times three.

- Pass a child with rickets through a cleft (split) ash tree and a cure is certain.

-Put scissors or an ax under the bed to cut the pain of childbirth. Be sure scissors are closed.

-To stop foot cramps turn your shoes upside down before going to bed.

-To cure a sty, rub the tail of a black ca t over the eye.

-To prevent a cold, smell your socks when you go to bed, the right one first. I heard this one when I was just a child. Told by a great Uncle who was a Confederate Veteran (Harlen Elliott) .

-To cure the thrash (thrush), have someone who is the seventh son of a seventh son to blow in the child's mouth.

-To cure the thrash, let the child drink water from a pregnant woman's shoe. (Thrush is a fungus infection in young children).

-A dirty sock worn around the neck will cure sore throat.

-If you tie· an onion to a bed post, it will keep away colds.

-If you carry a buckeye in your pocket or purse, you will not be bothered with hemorrhoids, also it will help to prevent headaches.

-To cure the shingles, cut off the head of a black hen and let the blood drip on the affected part. (My mother told me that her mother did this when She had the shingles) .

-Club moss gathered on the third of the new moon is good against all diseases of the eye. -To cure warts, prick them with a gooseberry thorn.

-If a snake bites a person, kill the snake and apply it to the bite, this will stop the poison.

-When you cut your hair, do not let a bird use it to build a nest, it you do you will have a headache. (I heard this one when a child, from an old man).

-A nail driven into an oak tree will help the toothache.

-Onions are good to put in sickroom.

-If a lady carries an acorn it her pocket or bag, she will be blessed with perpetual youth.

-If a pregnant woman drinks from a cracked -cup, her baby will be harelipped.

-If you use sap from a grape vine, it will grow hair on a bald head.

-Do not let a cat near a sleeping baby or it will suck their breath and suffocate them.

-If three people take part in the making up of a bed, there is sure to be sickness and death in the house within a year.

-If a crow flies over a house and "Caws" thrice, someone in the family will die.

-Bird eggs hung up in a house will bring bad luck.

-If a white tablecloth was dropped when making the table, theres sure to be sickness and death in the house within a year.

-If a crow flies over a house and "Caws" thrice, someone in the family will die.

-Bird eggs hung up in a house will bring bad luck.

-If a white tablecloth was left on the table over night the household will soon be in need of a shroud. (A shroud was a burial garment).

-If you carry a shovel through the house a grave will soon be dug.

-Sweeping a house at night will bring bad luck. Sweeping, first thing in the morning, sweeps out evil spirits.

-It is bad luck to kill a toad, it will cause the cows to give bloody milk .

-The eyes of a murdered person retains the image of his murderer.

-It was considered good luck for a person to be born with red lips. They would live to be very old.

-If you break bread in anyone's hand. you will have bad luck.

-If a person should put on any piece of wearing apparel wrong side out, he should wear it so, for to change means bad luck.

-If a girl makes her own wedding dress she will not live to wear it out.

-If you pull a pigs tail you can break a spell of bad luck .

-A cowlick on the forehead of another is said to indicate the death of their owner.

-If you find a red ear of corn, you will have good luck in love and health. (At an old time corn shucking, the person who found the most red ears of corn received a prize, sometimes this was a bottle of brandy, whiskey or wine.

- If a hen lays a soft-shell egg, do not eat it" but throw it over the house and you will throw your bad luck away.

-If a bird flies in and out of an " open window in a room, someone in the house will die.

-If a bride goes to sleep first on the marriage night, she will be sure to die first.

-If your cheeks burn, it is a sign that someone is talking about you.

-If a cat sneezes, it is a sign of rain.

-If you hear a turtle dove, run into the house and turn over three times and you will have money all year around.

-Never spend money on Monday, lest you spend to freely all week long.

-If a spider deserts their web for sheltered crevices, rain iscoming.

-If soot falls down a chimney, the weather is going to be bad.

-Thunder causes milk to sour.

-Kill a black snake and hang it over a fence and it will rain in that area.

-If you killed a lightning bug, the lightning will kill you during the next electrical storm.

-If cattle bunch together, it is a sign of rain.

-If corn shucks itself out on the stalk, its an open winter.

-When ants are usually busy, foul weather is at hand.

-When many bees enter and none leave the hive, rain is at hand.

-You should sew your crop from north to south rather than from east to west.

-If a snake crosses your path, you have an enemy.

-If a baby smiles in its sleep, it is talking with the angels.

-The girl who catches the brides bouquet will marry within a year.

-If a measuring worm crawls over you, it is taking your size.

- Hair, beard, fingernails an toenails grow after death.

-All cattle low and knell on old Christmas Eve. (Old Christmas came on January 6).

-Cucumber seeds planted on Saturday will produce bitter cucumbers.

-When hogs are butchered when the moon is waning, the bacon will shrink and the meat will not take salt.

-Plant potatoes in the dark moon in March.

-Harvest all crops when the moon is waning.

-Make a wish on a new moon and it will come true.

-Cut a cross on top of bread to keep the devil out so the bread will rise.

-If you cut off both ends of a loaf of bread, you will have bad luck.

- If you burn egg shells in the fireplace the hens will stop laying.

- f two knives are crossed on a table there will be a quarrel.

- It is good luck to have two clocks in the house set at different times to confuse the devil.

-Love letters should not be mailed on Christmas.

-If an unmarried person sits at the corner of the table they will not marry for seven years.

-If cattle are scattered all over the field, it is a good time to fish.

- If you start on a trip and return to the house before you complete your trip, sit down before you start again or you will have bad luck.

-If you sing before breakfast, you will be crying before supper.

-If you don't put your right foot forward when you leave the house, bad luck will come.

-If the first person who comes to your house on New Year's Day is a man, you will have good luck.

-If the first living thing you meet when starting on a journey is either a woman or cat, you will have bad luck.

-When you leave a house, close the back door before you open the front door, or you will have bad luck.

-If you watch a departing visitor completely out of sight you will have bad luck.

-When a rooster struts up to a door and crows, the housewife may expect a stranger.

-If a rooster crows at a certain hour for three nights in succession, it means bad luck.

-If a cat is sitting with her tail to the fire, it means bad luck will come.

-If a black cat crosses your path. make an X or tie a knot in a string to prevent bad luck.

-If you hear a whip-or-will it's time to plant corn.

 

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