Superstitious…

Just wondering, but does anyone actually own up to being superstitious these days?

I sat down to write today, aware that it’s a Friday 13th – a date many people associate with bad luck – and it struck me that nobody I know seems to admit to having superstitions any more.

We’re all rational beings now, looking for scientific explanations for everything and dismissing as primitive anything that doesn’t lend itself to neat scientific explanation.

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I started to consider how superstitious I am. Do black cats crossing my path cause me any concerns? Not especially, unless I’ve had to do an emergency stop to avoid them. Do I avoid stepping on cracks in the pavement, throw spilt salt over my shoulder or poke spoons through the shells of boiled eggs? Nope. And to be honest, I’ve always thought of Friday 13th’s as rather lucky days.

But then, ahem

…there may just happen to be a horseshoe in my kitchen window, (only for decoration of course). I definitely avoid walking under ladders (common sense surely?). I didn’t let my husband see my wedding dress before our wedding day, I don’t put new shoes on the table, I don’t open umbrellas indoors and I do occasionally speak to single magpies.

Just in case you’re now thinking what a weirdo I am, I’d like to point out that the ravens at the Tower of London have their wings clipped so they can’t fly away because ‘if they do, the Kingdom will fall’ !

By the way, if ravens are your thing, I urge you to follow the Ravenmaster, Chris Skaife, at the Tower on Twitter @ravenmaster1 . He happens to have quite possibly the best job in the world.

What about you? Super-stitious or super-sensible?


The photograph above was taken at Wayland’s Smithy, a neolithic long barrow on the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire, on a very foggy late December afternoon last year (actually our wedding anniversary).

Superstition has it that horses who cast a shoe will be mysteriously re-shod there by Weland the Anglo-Saxon god of metal working in return for a silver coin left on the stones…

Anyone tried?

20 thoughts on “Superstitious…

  1. When I walk across the farm yard, I sometimes find myself avoiding the joins in the concrete or conversely having to tread on every one. Not that I’m supersitious you understand.
    Wayland’s Smithy looks very atmospheric in your photo.

    1. I know what you mean, I wonder how much of this we really create in our minds and how powerful that actually is. I’d never been to Wayland’s Smithy before and it was incredibly cold and foggy – and we had it all to ourselves – couldn’t have asked for more!

  2. Well yes, if I spill salt I generally toss (surreptitiously mind you), a few grains over my left shoulder. I also knock on wood and try to avoid the cracks, though this last can be tricky when running as the distances between them rarely coincide with my stride. And who would walk under a ladder? So alas yes, I am a superstitious person who pretends to not be. Thanks for the opportunity to ‘out’ myself.

    1. Well, this is me exactly – if anyone had asked in passing I’d have said I wasn’t at all superstitious, but once I thought about it, I realised that I do have my fair share of habits/superstitions etc- but like you generally surreptitious ones.

  3. I was about to say not at all when it comes to superstitions and yet…. I still avoid ladders, toss spilled salt over my shoulder, never put new shoes on the table etc etc on the principle that it nevers does any harm to be careful does it? But 13 has always been quite a good number for me and when we lived in France they thought Friday 13th a lucky day, black cats are considered unlucky whereas white ones are lucky! Both ideas cannot be true can they.

    1. Friday 13ths have always been lucky for me too – or at least not unlucky. I read about foreign superstitions and there are just as many everywhere you look – I think it must be part of the human condition…

  4. My now 22 yr old son was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukaemia at 13 months, less than a month after he swiped a mirror off a table and broke it. Yes, I believe in coincidence but I also believe there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio!

  5. My grandmother used to walk under ladders as a matter of principle (first checking there wasn’t someone up them with a pot of paint!). So there is an agressively counter-suggestible streak in my family. I’m not sure where that puts us on the scale….

  6. Lovely to read a blog post from you, Anny!
    I don’t think of myself as superstitious, apart from the fact that since I was very small, I always have to finish climbing any steps of stairs, with my LEFT foot on the top stair! Infinite amounts of shuffling as I approach the top step, and if by chance it doesn’t happen I feel very uneasy!
    Happy New Year xxx

    1. Oooh, now that sounds tricky! When I was young and lived with my parents I had a thing about having to leap off the landing straight onto my bed, otherwise the crocodile that lived under my bed would catch me – it never did…

      Happy New Year to you too, hope it’s a thoroughly brilliant year for you.

  7. Oh I have to confess to being firmly of the contrary “I will walk under this ladder wherever possible” persuasion and have two very fat black cats who are forever crossing my path while demanding yet more biscuits so, no, not really superstitious – more a believer in making our own fate, if I think about it at all. I did have an Irish grandmother who had seen fairies though, and ghosts, so perhaps I have something to counter 🙂

  8. Yes, I admit to observing a few superstitions – like you, definitely no new shoes on the table, throw a pinch of spilt salt over left shoulder to keep the devil away, no washing on New Year’s Day in case you wash someone out ot the family, don’t walk under ladders…… I think one of the reasons I observe them is because they were passed on by my Nan, then Mum, so it maintains a connection of a kind. My grown up daughters have picked up on some of them too, but also have acquired others from who-knows-where; one always salutes magpies, the other always had to see a black cat on the way to dancing exams or competitions and still avoids walking on cracks in the pavement! Long may they survive I say! (The superstitions that is, not the girls!)

    1. Funnily enough I was wondering how much of what I do has rubbed off on my girls – they don’t admit to anything – yet – but I have a feeling that might change in time, but also I wonder if I don’t say as much out loud as I think, perhaps I should, it would be sad if some of these remnants of folklore were lost.

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