By Chloe Roads
This assortment investigates the origins of our such a lot fascinating out of date superstitions, a lot of which we nonetheless locate ourselves abiding by means of at the present time. 1000's of the ideals handed down in the course of the generations have their foundations in our ancestors' efforts to beat back evil, which they blamed for problem, disease and injustice in occasions whilst existence was once, as frequently as no longer, 'nasty, brutish and short'. Black Cats and Evil Eyes units those superstitions of their ancient and social context, explaining how worry of the satan, demons, evil spirits and witchcraft drove humans to arm themselves with rituals and talismans to repel darkish forces and make allowance them to reside lengthy and fit lives. In studying lots of our universal superstitions, this booklet illuminates the customs, ideals and practices that hyperlink us to an old, and sometimes darker, human previous.
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Extra resources for Black Cats and Evil Eyes: A book of old-fashioned superstitions
The human survival instinct tells us to seek a solution if our lives are threatened and our bodies naturally equip us with the ability to fight or flee. For our ancestors living in an age without proper sanitation, a guaranteed supply of basic food and clean water or modern medicine, so many of the menaces they faced were utterly beyond their control. They couldn’t fend off the waves on a sinking ship, outrun the plague or fight the frost that would ruin the harvest, so they searched for other ways to save themselves: sailors cutting off their hair as an offering to the gods so that the sea would spare them; medieval Londoners applying dead pigeons to buboes in the desperate hope of curing bubonic plague; a farmer leaving fertile land uncultivated to protect a swallow’s nest in case disturbing it caused his family to starve.
As with many old-fashioned superstitions, this one confers symbolic meaning on the physical world. Rivers divide bodies of land and the bridges that spanned them were seen as a kind of no-man’s-land, belonging to neither bank and representative of separation. To part company from a friend on a bridge and each to set off for opposite banks of a river was therefore to risk being parted for ever, just as the land had been. The motives for adhering to this custom weren’t simply the mirroring of nature; what really drove their reluctance to part ways over water was their fear of the Devil fuelled by folk tales.
The king was arrested by Cromwell’s troops the very next day and was beheaded two years later. THE NUMBER THIRTEEN There are few superstitions still so widely and publicly observed as the belief that the number thirteen is unlucky; high-rise buildings are constructed without a thirteenth floor, aeroplanes rarely have a thirteenth aisle and you’d be hard pressed to find a hotel room with the number thirteen on the door. The source of our distrust is held by most to be biblical: at the Last Supper, when Jesus told his twelve apostles that one of them would betray him, there were thirteen at the table and Judas was said to have been the thirteenth guest.