It’s stated that superstition is a form of layman’s magic. In a bygone age beset by marauding devils and sorcery, people were constantly on the look-out for possible harbingers of ill-fortune and fate. As a result they looked no further than home for remedies against the evil forces.
Let’s start this off by taking a look at chimney-sweeps, blacksmiths and ladders. But also bearing in mind that life amongst the superstitious can be quite complex.
The chimney-sweep, thought by many to be some what of a local hero, even made it up to the folklore status in some areas.
He was regarded as a bringer of good luck due to his connection with the fire and hearth. A grimy faced sweeper is also a sought after guest and weddings and a much appreciated pedestrian who should be greeted with a bow. Some even say you should spit and make a wish when you see one. But hopefully not in his direction!
However, as always with these sorts of things, there is a down side.
All that has been said counts for nothing should a sweep walk away from you when you happen to across him. Then take that as bad news will soon follow the meeting. A clean sweep is, unfortunately, depleted of all his lucky powers.
So, whom should you look out for, a sweep or a blacksmith?
Well either either I would imagine. As blacksmiths are said to be lucky too. This is also due to the connection they have with fire and as horses were once the chosen beast of the gods, providing fertility and virility, this has been passed over to the smithies.
This leads us on to the subject of horseshoes. Everybody is well accustomed to the facts that horse shoes symbolised luck.
Especially those cast from the near hind leg of a grey mare.
The best are those with four nails down one side and three down the other, seven being an auspicious number. Be sure to nail the shoe with its points upwards or the luck will pour out of it.
One of the most adhered to superstitions in modern day is that of walking under ladders.
Ladders are sometimes seen as the route to heaven and those propped up over a path could be in use by a number of spirits. The ladder also forms a triangle, an ancient symbol of life and thought to represent the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Anybody who breaks the triangle of this holy trinity does so at their own peril!
Of course, it may not always be possible to avoid passing underneath a ladder. Should that situation arise, then you can remedy the event by crossing your fingers, spitting over your left shoulder or stay completely silent until you see a four-legged animal.
Another superstition that still survives is the lesser known, third light.
The fear of the third light has numerous roots. Most likely is the possibility of offending the Holy Trinity. In the Russian Orthodox Church three candles were lit by the priest from one taper at funerals which helped to protect the service from ill-fortune.
During the First World War soldiers in the trenches who had a match alight for long enough to ignite three cigarettes were likely to be shot by an enemy sniper.
Knives have also played a part in beliefs. In fact any metal object is said to have the power to ward off witches. In the real olden times, a knife plunged into the door of a home was thought to protect the family from witches and fairies. Yet, if knives were ever crossed, then you can be sure that an argument would soon arise. Should you wish to pass on a knife or knives as a gift, don’t forget to include a coin to ensure the friendship between yourself and the receiver remains intact.
Love and marriage are subjected to volumes of superstitious lore, I wont go in to all of them here.
It’s bad luck to have a pig or lizard cross the path of a bride, to break something at the wedding feast or for the bride to see herself in the mirror whiles she’s wearing her gown – this could prevent the wedding from happening at all. The bride should leave her house right foot first, and hope that she does not encounter a funeral procession.
English lore also states that the bride may well be given a black cat, or any effigy symbolising one, for luck. But in Belgium, Spain and America the black cat is seen as the symbol of very bad luck.
In : History
Tags: ancient ritual curse hex charms charmed symbols superstition
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