Tree gods, and spewing our souls . . .
Not superstitious? Well, maybe so, maybe so, but…have you ever felt a qualm about raising an umbrella while inside the house? Wished upon-a-falling-star? And before we became both wise enough not to smoke, did you know people who would never light a third cigarette on one match, but would toss the match aside, light another, while shaking their head and murmuring “Three-on-a-match, you know.”
So, where did they start? Course, no one can be sure, but researchers in ancient lore believe wishing-on-a-falling-star originated with the Star of Bethlehem, and while That Star didn’t fall, its light most certainly did, o’er all the earth, too.
The three-on-a-match fear came into being during the Crimean war when the men realized that if a match remained lit long enough for three ‘smokes’ to be lit, it also gave the enemy time to zero their guns on the target.
Knocking-on-wood dates back to the Druids whose gods lived in trees, and so when they wished for good fortune, they knocked on the trees to alert the Druids of their needs, just as we knock-on-wood to ward off disfavor today.
An interesting side-light of this tree superstition is our Christmas trees. In the darkest days of winter, when the sun was in evidence only short hours a day, the ancient Druids retired to the forest and prayed to the tree gods to let the sun linger longer.
And, ya know what? They were right, for immediately afterwards the sun slowly did light the sky for a longer time each day. This was also, it’s said, for the beginning of a tree being taken to the house in the deep of winter for ‘worship’.
Friday is considered the unlucky day of the week and when it coincides with thirteen, it’s murder. Adam and Eve ‘fell’ on a Friday, the Flood came on that day and so did the confusion at Babel. the death of Christ, and there were thirteen at the Last Supper.
And the result is so strong that people bow to it today, and many a high rise building has no 13th floor. Of course they go from the Twelfth floor to the Fourteenth, but the busy people who use those buildings today, don’t stop to count, they just know their apartment or business is not cursed with being on the 13th floor.
No less a personage that Winston Churchill, the man who saved the Free World during WW !!, refused to travel on Friday the thirteenth and insisted on bringing any handy person to make the diners at a table number 14. He also, if he couldn’t find anyone to join them, would ask some unlucky person to leave the table to reduce the number to 12.
Roosevelt, our President who worked side by side with Churchill for long hours, days and weeks, secretly told that getting around that number 13, with Churchill took a lot of maneuvering. Even to how many hours in flight or aboard ships.
Do you cover your mouth when you yawn? Say “God bless you” when someone sneezes? Well, way, way back our ancestors believed our souls were in our very breath and so, when we sneezed we stood in danger of spewing out our souls and suddenly finding ourselves dead.
And in close relationship. they feared yawning and while we cover our gaping mouths as a social nicety, they covered theirs to keep ‘evil’ spirits from being sucked in with the sudden intake of breath that accompanies the yawn.
Superstitions are far from being musty relics of the past. New ones are as contemporary as garden weeds. Which is quite apparent when you think how many ‘Lucky Charms’ are made, sold, worn and toted around by people every day of the year. And on TV shows where money can be won or lost, it’s common for the contestants to have a Lucky something or other, in their pocket or hand.
But you aren’t superstitious? Better give it a second thought cause chances are, in some way, we both are.