Wednesday, March 10, 2010


What are you superstitious about? Do you have any idea why you are that way?

Sabbath I have a confession. I’m the one with the black cat; his name is Sabbath. He’s a good little guy. He isn’t one of those house cats, but a full-fledged working barn cat. He’s our mouser and he takes his job seriously. He also lives in one of the nicest bachelor pads a cat could dream of: our heated tack room. He circles and rubs against my legs vying for a pet, rub or scratch. A black cat crossing my path is not one of my superstitions – he crosses my path every day. He might have crossed yours.

That’s not to say I don’t ever have my own superstitions. I find myself occasionally knocking on wood to avoid messing up my fate after saying something. (If no wood is nearby, we strangely knock on our own foreheads and say “knock on wood.”) I don’t worry about hair loss, because I believe if I worry about it, it will come true.

I have heard superstitions like walking under a ladder brings bad luck. This sounds more like common sense disguising itself as superstition. Walking under a ladder is practically inviting an accident. Some people throw salt over their left shoulder if they spill some.  Friday the 13th is often looked at as a bad omen with many interesting theories as to its origin. I’m always excited about a Friday the 13th when they come up. They’re different.

You’ve probably heard that a watched pot never boils. Certainly with enough patience it does – maybe this one’s designed to save frustration. My friends in theatre are careful not to say that which shall not be named while back stage. People do some pretty creative things to avoid saying the name. (No I’m not talking about Voldemort!) I have tickets to Macbeth and look forward to seeing it soon. Some say you should not have sex after a funeral, you’ll end up getting pregnant. What kid hasn’t heard what happens when you step on a crack?

Not all superstitions are negative. In our household at 11:11, 12:12 or any repeating number on our digital clock, we consider it good luck and take the opportunity to make a wish. Driving under a moving train [on a train bridge] is rumored to bring good luck the rest of the day. Our family has the saying “buy the duck,” a strange piece of superstition (or wisdom) that instructs us to – buy the duck (plastic, paper, stuffed, virtual or any other) – when presented with the opportunity. This ends up being a good or a bad omen, depending on whether we bought the duck, or not.

I believe that you have to eat the entire fortune cookie before reading it in order for the fortune to come true. Others believe you can somehow vote for it to come true by reading it first, then eating the cookie if you want it to manifest itself.

My most special belief was throwing money into a wishing well at the Como Park Conservatory, wishing to date the woman I eventually married.

Black is Bad

The poor black cats aren’t the only animals people worry themselves about. There are unfortunate stories of animals being killed because their fur or hair is black. In some parts of the world, they are routinely killed. They are often skipped over in adoption agencies and shelters. People avoid them.

We tend to be afraid of the dark. We tend to treat dark things as evil and undesirable. We’re afraid of that which we cannot see. For some of us, it unconsciously feeds racism and raises our fears.

Black becomes a negative connotation. The idea of black is prevalent in our psyche. Whether we’re talking about black magic, the black plague, Black Beard or my black cat, many people are afraid of things that are black; we’re still afraid of the dark.

Sometimes we try and take advantage of this, bad boys wear black leather jackets. Good things, pure things are white. Bad things are black. They’re dirty. Black is evil!

Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t make it evil.

The Real Magic

We create such strong connotations with the phrases dark thoughts and dark ideas – we perpetuate our fears. We have to dig down deep to see them. We feed into our insecurities and create our own superstitions. We give power to that which we don’t understand. We put stock into it. We worry it will hurt us.

Do you know your own insecurities? Your own doubts? Do you know what it is that scares you? Do you know why?

Instead of giving power to that which you don’t understand, educate yourself. Try to learn. You can be in control of your superstitions and your fears. You can learn to have fun in the dark and not be ruled by it.

Instead of giving your fear power to rule you, take the power. Whether that’s black power, white power, whatever power it may be, seize it.


  1. Your family superstition about the ducks kind of reminds me of Chris and mine about mattresses... If we pass a car or truck moving a set of mattresses on top, we know it's going to rain. But maybe that's just a manifestation of one of the most general of all superstitions: Murphy's Law. The penultimate pessimistic superstition.

  2. Another great post!
    Fearing the dark means we fear what we see when we shut our eyes.
    One of the most misunderstood and misrepresented phrases is "dark night of the soul." In modern usage it means spiritual despair, loneliness and angst. But St.John of the Cross used the phrase and concept to describe the entire messy and marvelous process of spiritual discovery and eventual union with God. He wrote of turmoil and peace, doubt and deliverance. He called it a "happy night..more lovely than the dawn." The poem opens with the lines: "On a dark night/burning with love and longing" That doesn't sound like angst to me, it sounds like joy. How we manged to lose the beauty in that darkness is beyond me.

    Darkness is, as you describe, a journey of claiming one's own power and/or surrender to one's higher power. We all must face it alone, and somehow make it our own.

  3. I love black cats! Btw, this kitten is alive doesn´t? xoxo

  4. Claudya,

    The kitten is alive and playing by rolling on the ground.

  5. Superstition... there is a lot of that going on my country. For instance, you can't open an umbrella indoors because it supposedly brings bad luck. You're also not allowed to say that babies are beautiful for whatever reason. You should say they are 'ugly'. How stupid is that? Looking at a baby and saying "ugly baby" instead of "pretty baby".

    Then there's this thing that you cannot sweep dust out of your house after dark. Don't ask me why that is, it just is that way. Also, when you come in after twelve at night, you have to enter your house facing the street. Supposedly bad spirits cannot enter your house then. Also, when a baby is teething, you're not allowed to say that she's teething.

    There are more, of course, but these are the ones I could think of off the top of my head.

  6. Sabbath is amazing. A working cat, indeed. I can tell by his body language that he is a proud tom and knows his business well.

    My black cat also has a job, he's an anti-anxiety working animal, predicts my mood swings, and can settle me down whenever I start to have a weeping fit. He was aptly named Mr. Snuggles because that's what he is, a "snuggles" cat who is so filled with love, he can heal you with the warmth of his body. He even gives "hugs" -- wraps his front two paws around your neck and squeezes your face closer to his own -- whenever he does that it amazes people. I didn't name him or adopt him, he came to me. Crossed my path one dark and lonesome midsummer eve's night. I'll have to retell that story someday at my new blog at wordpress.

    I believe black cats are especially lucky. I seem to always have one in my life. I never plan it, they just keep coming back! Even when I was a child I had a black cat companion with me. Who knows? Perhaps this Witch has had the same reincarnated black cat familiar time and time again?

    In any case, I treasure all cats. And, like you, I often eat the whole fortune cookie before reading the fortune... to encourage good luck! ;-) Happy trails!