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Archive for 'superstitions'

Moon Called – Facts and Superstitions About the Moon

Moon

The moon is fascinating—at least I find it interesting. There is nothing more romantic than a walk under a cloudless sky with a full moon.

Facts about the moon:

  1. The moon is the Earth’s only natural satellite.
  2. The moon is 384,403 kilometers from the Earth.
  3. It takes the moon 27.3 days to orbit the Earth.
  4. Neil Armstrong was the first person to step on the moon. He is one of 12 people who have walked on the moon.
  5. The surface of the moon is covered with craters from collisions with comets and asteroids.
  6. The Earth’s tides are caused mainly by the gravitational pull of the moon.
  7. A lunar eclipse causes when the Earth is between the moon and the sun.
  8. The moon is shaped like an egg. The larger end points toward Earth.
  9. A survey was conducted in 1988, and 13% of those questioned believed the moon was made from cheese.
  10. The moon has no atmosphere.

Moon1

Sometimes the moon is visible during the day, which was when this photo was taken.

Moon2

There moon is the subject of many superstitions.

Here are a few:

  1. A full moon is when men transform into wolves.
  2. A full moon is a good time to start a new job or finish old business.
  3. A full moon can make you crazy. Police and hospitals will confirm that there are more problems around a full moon.

Do you have anything to add?

Spider Cures and Superstitions

While doing some research for one of my books, I came across several superstitions regarding spiders. On the whole spiders are considered positive, and many people protected them from harm because they were considered lucky.

Here are a few superstitions:

1. If a spider is sighted during the evening, expect a letter in the morning.

2. If you kill a spider, it will rain the following day.

3. If you see a spider running toward you in the morning, misfortune will follow.

araneus diadematus

What I found slightly disturbing is that spiders were used to cure diseases such as ague, whooping cough and to treat bleeding.

The spiders were:

1. Swallowed as a medicine, disguised by jam or treacle. The spider was swallowed alive.

2. A type of pill was made enclosing the live spider in cobwebs and this was swallowed.

3. The spider was enclosed in a nut or a linen bag and worn around the neck until the spider died.

Not so good for the spider!

Spider webs were also used to bind wounds and stop bleeding. I’m not sure how well this works, but I think I’ll stick with plasters rather than experiment.

The use of spiders as medicine contradicts the idea that spiders were considered lucky.

An Orkney saying goes: If you wish to thrive, let the spider go alive.

While a Devon saying goes: Who kills a spider, bad luck betides her.

Where do you fall on the spider scale? Are they lucky or unlucky?

Source: The Penguin Guide to the Superstitions of Britain and Ireland

A Black Cat Crossed the Road

Cats

What do you think when you see a black cat?

Do you mutter about superstitions and run screaming in the opposite direction or do you rub your hands together and watch approvingly while the black cat prowls past?

Is a black cat good luck or bad luck? I decided to research the subject for a definitive answer. Detective Shelley is on the case!

In Egypt all cats, including black ones, were held in high regard. Laws protected cats and when a pet died, the entire family would mourn. Both rich and poor families embalmed their deceased pets. Archaeologists have discovered entire pet cemeteries with mummified black cats fairly commonplace.

Fast forward in time to the Middle Ages. Cats overpopulated all the major cities. Any woman who owned or fed a stray black cat ran the risk of accusations of witchcraft.

Throughout history, black cats are blamed for causing disasters ranging from blasphemy to plague. Even today black cats get bad press and conjure up images of witchcraft and magic. Poe wrote about one, Hollywood makes movies and television series about them. Heck, even I write about them with my Middlemarch Mates series.

There are hundreds of superstitions associated with cats, probably because cats and humans have lived alongside each other for thousands of years. Let’s look at some of them.

A cat sneezing is a good omen for everyone who hears it. ~ Italian superstition.

If a cat washes behind its ears, rain is coming. ~ English superstition.

If a cat mews and appears cross, the ship and its passengers will have a hard voyage. ~ Sailor’s superstition.

A strange black cat on your porch brings prosperity. ~ Scottish superstition.

If you wash a cat, it will rain. ~ Indonesian/Malaysian superstition.

If you dream of a white cat, you’ll have good luck. ~ American superstition.

If you kill a cat, you’ll have seventeen years of bad luck. ~ Irish superstition.

In tasseography (tea-leaf reading) a cat signifies false friends and deceit or someone lying in ambush.

In the Netherlands cats were banned from rooms where private family discussions were taking place.

In Egypt it was thought the life-giving rays of the sun were kept in a cat’s eyes at night for safekeeping.

And of course during October, the silhouettes of black cats decorate many houses and shops for Halloween.

So what about black cats? Are they good or bad luck?

Well, it seems it depends on where you live in the world. For example in Britain and Japan having a black cat cross your path is considered good luck. If you live in the USA or in European countries you definitely don’t want a black cat strolling by because bad luck will surely follow. Now if you live in New Zealand, near the town of Middlemarch, seeing a black cat mightn’t be such a bad thing, especially if you’re a single girl looking for a man!

Note from Shelley: Look for My Scarlet Woman, book 1 in my Middlemarch Shifters series, which is coming soon. This is a reissue with some new content and brand new covers.

What do you think about black cats? Do you think they’re good luck or bad luck? Do you have any cat superstitions to add?

The Cheeky Fantail

The fantail or piwakawaka is one of our native birds. This year we’ve seen quite a few in our garden and also while we’ve been walking Bella. They’re tiny birds with a tail that fans out—as their name suggests—and they live on a diet of insects. They like to follow people when they’re walking, which gets a bit creepy. I’d call it stalkerish, but in reality they’re snatching up the insects that are disturbed with each footstep. I guess it’s takeaway for birds.

The fantail has a very distinctive cheet-cheet and the birds never seem to keep still. They’re very difficult to photograph because they’re always in motion.

Fantail

Fantail

Fantail

These photos were taken at Christ Church in Russell.

The Maori people consider it bad luck if a fantail flies inside a building. They say the fantail is a messenger and it’s appearance means death or news of death is imminent.

I had one fly inside the house a few months ago, which didn’t make me very happy. The fantail was hanging around outside for days. I’d hear it and shut the door since the bird seemed determined to fly inside our house. I shooed it back outside (they seem fairly smart and don’t divebomb windows in panic like some birds) and waited for news. Thankfully I didn’t receive any news of death.

The fantail is a cute bird, but I do prefer to see them outdoors!

Have you had birds fly inside your house before?

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Thursday Thirteen

I watched a program on the Living Channel this week about some people who purchased a Victoria-era property. The show covered the renovation of the property and also detailed the interior decorating the owners did to keep with the Victorian theme. They mentioned mirrors and hey, presto I had a topic for my Thursday Thirteen.

Thirteen Things About Mirrors

1. A mirror is basically a sheet of glass with an aluminiun or silver coating, which produces a reflection.

2. The history of mirrors is an old one. Early men saw reflections in water and thought they were evil spirits.

3. Most ancient mirrors were sheets of metal, usually in a round shape. The backs of the mirrors were often highly decorated with precious stones.

4. Glass mirrors were invented by the Romans. Those Romans were clever people!

5. It is said that glass mirrors disappeared during medieval times because religious people said the devil watched through mirrors.

6. In the 12th century handheld mirrors were very popular and most well dressed ladies used them. They also used them like jewelry, wearing small ones on a chain around their necks. These were all highly decorative and pretty.

7. King Henry VIII used to be an avid collector of mirrors.

8. These days most people have mirrors in their house, either in the bathroom or bedroom. Some people have decorative mirrors in their living areas.

9. Because of its long history, mirrors have lots and lots of superstitions attached to them.

10. Breaking a mirror is meant to be bad luck for seven years. If a mirror falls off a wall then someone is meant to die.

11. Vampires and witches don’t have a reflection in a mirror because they don’t have a soul.

12. Opinion seems to be mixed on the best thing to use to clean a mirror. I’m slowly using up all my chemical cleaners and going natural so I’m suggesting a “green” way to clean glass or mirrors. Use equal parts of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. Clean off with a soft rag.

13. Interior decorators use mirrors to make a room seem lighter or larger than it really is. Mirrors are also used to reflect a wonderful view so the house inhabitants get double the pleasure and lastly, they’re used as decoration.

Do you like mirrors? Do you have any tips or factoids to add?