Monday, October 19, 2015

Are We Naturally Superstitious? by Emma May Buckingham 1906

ARE WE NATURALLY SUPERSTITIOUS? by EMMA MAY BUCKINGHAM 1906 (from the book _Modern Ghost Stories_)

For more go to Supernatural Horror in Fiction Literature - 350 Books on DVDrom (Lovecraft), and Forgotten Tales of Ghosts and Hauntings - 100 Books on CDrom

THE wisest amongst us would probably be astonished at the number of tolerably well educated people who believe in prognostics, dreams, superstitions, old saws and "unlucky days." There are thousands of men and women, to-day, who think, as their grandmothers did a century ago, that it forebodes ill-luck to see the new moon over the left shoulder-that it is wrong to start on a journey or commence a new piece of work on Friday; while the majority of the people in our rural districts, learned and unlearned, place great stress upon the signs of the Zodiac. Their
planting, sowing, grafting fruit trees, transplanting, weeding, reaping, mowing, pruning vines, and setting their fowls, must be done during certain phases of the moon-"when the sign is right." Mothers wean their babies, cut their children's hair, and pick their geese, only when the moon is new. Housewives boil soap, or plant flower and vegetable gardens, also, when the moon is in a certain quarter; while their husbands and brothers fish, shear sheep, and do a hundred other things, according to the sign-lore of their ancestors. Certain events occurring in the "old of the moon,"-such as births, are said, by the above-named class, to cause ill-luck. There are hundreds of intelligent people in our cities, as well as in the country, who will start and turn pale at the sound of the death watch or the howling of a dogwhile tens of thousands believe that to dream of blood, of losing teeth, of crossing a muddy stream, of talking with, or, seeing friends who have long been dead, or absent, is a fore-runner of death, the loss of a friend, or! of certain disaster.

Others believe that to forget something and go back after it, is the sign of a fast coming accident; while fifty per cent of our housekeepers see trouble looming up ahead of them whenever their bread cracks open in the middle, or a looking-glass is broken, or a picture falls from the wall; no matter how old or moth-eaten the cord may have been which had held it.

One of the most sensible old ladies I ever knew, in other things, was in the habit of saying: "My right eye-brow itches. There is a man coming here;" or, "My left eye-brow itches. Some women is coming to-day to see me." Or, "My ear rings dreadful loud. We shall hear of a death soon." She would say; "My nose itches-I shall be angry at someone before night;" and, "My left ear burns-somebody is talking about me!" And when I would laugh at the dear old soul, and try to reason her out of such nonsense, she would declare that she "never knew such signs to fail!"

Many intelligent people believe that it presages disaster to meet a hearse. They tell us that, "it is wrong to watch a friend out of sight, after one has said good-bye." An educated lady says:
"Plants will not grow if you thank the donor for them; neither will seeds." A goodly number of the world's most enlightened inhabitants look with apprehension at an approaching comet [Thousands of Europeans believe that the late comets and red-sunsets foretold the recent plagues, earthquakes, and the war in the Far East] for, according to the popular belief, comets have predicted war,
plagues, and national troubles in all the ages of the past.

We know that astrology, witchcraft, sooth-saying and miracles are now considered exploded ideas-things of a past era-yet, there are many in our own land and times who say that people are possessed of good, as well as evil spirits. There are others who have faith in the charlatans who profess that they can pray fire out of burns, and "pow-wow" away diseases. Fortune-telling still lives in all civilized countries. We daily hear of faith cures and miraculous interventions, in spite of our boasted civilization.

The Chinese believe that the souls of the dead come back and partake of the good things which their surviving friends set out for them on holidays and anniversary occasions; while the army of spiritualists, with their mediums, seance seers, and "spiritual-clairvoyants," tell us that they hold communication with the spirits, of those who have departed from this earth-life, continually.

The murderer, who sees the ghosts of his victims; the engineer, who nightly imagines that the spirits of those whom he has killed, accidentally, appear to him, and the ghosts of unkind words to the dying, or, of lost opportunities to do good, are not the only shades that our poets sing about. One of the most intelligent writers of the nineteenth century said:

"There are more ghosts at table than the host's invited;" and it is true.

Many people believe in warnings, that is, in premonitions of death. They will tell you that they always hear unaccountable noises before the death of dear friends. We all know that, at times, the wisest and most skeptical among us approach very near the border-land of the unexplainable, if not supernatural. Mysterious sights and sounds and appearances, as well as experiences have occasionally defied reason herself and put our credulity to the hardest tests imaginable. Are we all more or less superstitious? Did not the great Napoleon Bonaparte believe in his "star of destiny," also, in "unlucky" and "lucky days?" The origin of "bad signs" dated back to antiquity.

The spilling of salt on the table is considered a very bad omen, because it is emblematic of friendship and hospitality; and spilling it is a sure sign of a quarrel, or disrupture of friendly relations. The seating of 13 at table is currently believed to be an omen of death to one of the guests, even in this twentieth century.

For more go to Supernatural Horror in Fiction Literature - 350 Books on DVDrom (Lovecraft), and Forgotten Tales of Ghosts and Hauntings - 100 Books on CDrom

No comments:

Post a Comment