Have you ever
taken a few extra steps to avoid walking under a ladder, crossing
a black cat's path, or stepping on a crack? If so, there are many
people out there who feel the same way as you.
you're not that superstitious, but you can't help but avoid certain
situations because they have been passed down to you from your
family. Many core beliefs and attitudes, like our superstitions,
tend to be culturally based. In fact our superstitions tend to
define growth and evolution within our cultural frameworks. Almost
every culture is driven in some senses by the superstitions and
beliefs held by the group. Our Superstitions say a lot about who
we are, how we feel and think about our world.
can be broken down into three broad categories: Predictive, Causative
superstitions are when people believe that a particular superstition
will predict an oncoming event, such as a black cat predicting
bad luck or a woman who catches the bride's bouquet at a wedding
being the next to get married.
superstitions are based on someone actually doing something
to make something bad happen. For example, breaking a mirror is
said to bring you seven years of bad luck. Also, if you open an
umbrella inside a house you will receive bad luck. In this case
opening the umbrella isn't said to have predicted bad luck, but
to have made the bad luck happen to the person who opened it.
superstitions generally combine predictive and causative superstitions.
If you spill salt, you will receive bad luck (which is a causative
superstition). However, if you throw some of the spilled salt
over your left shoulder, you will avert the bad luck. You have
converted or negated the negative superstition!
surprisingly, there is an abundance of superstition and lore regarding
deaths, ghosts, ghostly phenomena, and anything associated with
the dead. Superstitions have given us one way to explain what
seems to be inexplicable, and to protect ourselves from the ruthless
whims of fate.
below are just to give you an example of various cultural superstitions
and beliefs. Who knows, maybe you might decide to use some of
them in your own efforts to contact ghosts, put a spirit to rest,
or protect yourself from wandering souls.
- In England,
a large black snail appearing on the doorstep of a home may
be the spirit of a deceased family member
- If a bee
enters your home, it's a sign that you will soon have a visitor.
If you kill the bee, you will have bad luck, or the visitor
will be unpleasant.
- In certain
African tribal societies, a white bird flying into a prayer
hut bears the spirit of an ancestor who brings blessings.
- The cry
of an owl symbolizes death. Where it builds a nest, ghosts will
haunt for as long as the bird stays.
- The crowing
of a rooster signals wandering ghosts that it is time for them
to disappear until nightfall
- A bird
that flies into a house foretells an important message. However,
if the bird dies, or is white, this foretells death.
- If a black
cat walks towards you, it brings good fortune, but if it walks
away, it takes the good luck with it.
One's bad, Two's luck, Three's health, Four's wealth,
Five's sickness, Six is death.
- Throw back
the first fish you catch then you'll be lucky the whole day
fishing, but if you count the number of fish you caught, you
will catch no more that day.
- A frog
brings good luck to the house it enters.
- The bright
scarlet ladybug is a luck-bringer, probably because it is traditionally
associated by its color with fire. It is a sign of good fortune
if one lands on a person's hand or dress. It must, however,
be allowed to fly away of its own accord, and must not be brushed
- A big black
moth in the house means a deceased one is just visiting reincarnated
through that moth.
- A wish
made on the first robin of spring will be granted.
people probably don't kill spiders because it has been unlucky
since a spider spun a web over baby Jesus to hide him from Herod.
a Ghost or Spirit
- Tie seven,
fourteen, or twenty-one knots into a rope, while naming the
soul you wish to restrict. Bury this outside the home to keep
that spirit out, or burn the rope to release the spirit into
- In Malaysia,
sacred water combined with incense is said to expel the grasshopper
a possessed person and blowing on his or her head banishes the
unwanted spirit and returns the human spirit to its body. This
tradition also comes from Malaysia.
- If someone
is possessed with the spirit of sickness, have him or her drink
coconut juice, followed by a bland diet for at least one week.
This person should try to maintain emotional and digestive balance
from that time forward to keep the malevolent spirit away.
- In the
sixteenth century, a common recipe for banishing unwanted spirits
was to fast, pray and drink wine mixed with holy oil, and carry
appropriate religious charms or relics.
dill mixed with salt, fennel, and mullein all around the area
in which the ghost or spirit is believed to reside.
frankincense and myrrh may not completely banish spirits, but
it helps to give them peace and rest.
- Hang a
garlic wreath over your doorway. Whenever a spirit plagues you,
bite a piece - then toss it away from the house. This carries
the spirit with it.
knot grass by the waning moon. Take this to the area where the
ghost abides and tie one knot in it. Bury this to confine the
spirit to the grave.
a person's shadow in a specific location prior to his or her
death will prevent the spirit from leaving that spot.
- In Denmark,
there is a tradition that you can pin a ghost to a location
using a wooden post. If the post is pulled up, however, the
ghost will be freed.
the eyes of the dead before burial keeps their spirits from
- In Greece,
dancing around the burial site of an enemy was a way to keep
that person's spirit from returning for revenge.
- Wash the
threshold of your house immediately after a dead body is removed.
This keeps the spirit of that person from returning.
the burial site, always place a cross of iron. This will keep
the spirit of that person in the grave.
wrapped their mummies in sweet spices so the soul smelled pleasant
to the guardians of the next world, who would then allow the
soul to enter its new existence.
the body with things that it loved in life - a few coins, some
good wine, and so on. This brings contentment to the spirit.
- In Spain,
to guarantee that the soul rests peacefully, people at the wake
danced seven times around the body.
- In India,
placing a sprig of basil in the coffin provided the spirit with
a peaceful journey.
- Open all
the doors and windows in the area where the person died so the
spirit can have quick passage.
- If a person
did not receive a proper burial or cremation, give him or her
one. This will stop a haunting.
from the Dead
is a protective talisman against spirits. This may be due to
its association with iron.
- Plant house leeks
on your roof. The Latin name for this plant, sempervivium,
means "ever living", and the dead cannot bear its
- Cover all
your mirrors immediately after a death. This keeps a spirit
from using them as a portal or getting confused.
- Jump into
running water, or cross it. A spirit cannot follow you there:
moving water represents life.
- The Aztecs
considered jimson weed a sacred plant that would protect from
ghosts any area in which it grew.
and other light sources drive away malevolent spirits.
- In the
Middle Ages, people left candles near their beds to drive away
- On Hallows
specifically, people carried turnips with candles inside - the
original of the Jack-o-Lantern - for protection.
- Place a
sprig of rosemary inside a seashell. Bind it within, using a
read thread. Carry this with you as an amulet against ghosts.
- Hang rowan
and St. John's Wort over the doorway of your home, and no malicious
spirits can enter therein.
- Write the
letters AGLA in the center of a hexagram and carry this token
with you. The hexagram repels evil spirits and misfortune. Cabalists
used this formula to banish spirits.
and nettle worn or carried as an amulet will protect the bearer
from evil spirits.
in fennel water, or drinking it, protects one against the spirit
- In Greece,
growing violets in or round a home was considered an effective
ward against wandering spirits.
or Attracting Ghosts
- A child
born at midnight, known as a chime child, has the gift of sight,
as does the seventh son of a seventh son.
- Mayas of
the Yucatan draw a chalk line from the grave to the hearth of
the deceased's home. The spirit can then find its way back to
visit, whenever it wishes.
- If you
know a spirit's true name, you can evoke it.
are more readily seen and contacted at midnight (the time in
between day and night), and on the anniversary of their death.
- The veil
between worlds grows thin, and ghostly activities increases,
during New Year's celebrations, and on festivals for the dead
- Halloween is both.
spell books say that burning a mixture of aloe, musk, saffron,
vervain, and pepper in a cemetery will allow you to see the
spirits that reside there.
- In the
Middle ages, some felt that washing a clean piece of steel in
mugwort juice would summon a spirit.
born on Christmas will be specially blessed: they will never
see a dreaded spirit.
- Write the
name of the spirit you wish to evoke on parchment, and burn
it wile repeating sacred words to help draw the spirit to you.
- A clock
that stops inexplicably.
- A clock
that chimes randomly between the hours.
- The presence
of a "winding sheet" on a candle. This is a long sheet
of wax, melting off one side of the candle and looking like
a cloth. (Winding sheets have also been said to signify the
presence of a ghost.)
- Bees swarming
down the chimney.
- Birds flying
into a house or banging against the windows.
- An owl
hooting persistently, near the home.
- A lone
raven flying over the house.
* Please keep
in mind that Haunted Hamilton does not endorse or recommend these
as practical approaches. They are folklore and cultural superstitions,
and should be practiced with much caution.
and Beliefs: How our superstitions shape the world:
of Common Superstitions:
Ghosts Spirits and Hauntings, 1999