I don't step on pavement cracks. Opposite my window is a mirror to reflect bad spirits. Every day I rub Buddha's belly for good luck. Crossed knives- I panic. I must throw salt over shoulder when it spills. If I see a lone magpie, I always say hello to his wife and children. And don't even get me started on walking under ladders.
Superstitions are an awkward subject matter. From my Dad they evoke a shrug and an eye roll. One friend takes them very seriously- to the extreme of burying the shards of a broken mirror in her back garden to stop the beckoning seven years bad luck. Another friend sees superstitions as a simple weakness of the mind.
In 1898, Robert G Ingersoll wrote an extensive essay on this subject. He listed, with vehemence, every superstition of his time to demonstrate their lack of evidence. He declared their roots to be a supernatural enemy of science, a disregard for cause and effect, of intelligence and reason. 'Superstition,' he wrote, 'is the child of ignorance and the mother of misery.'
Over one hundred years later, this is laughable. Even the most intelligent people partake in some form of superstition, however small. Perhaps without conscious knowledge of doing so. Picking up a penny from the street. Rubbing dice in hands before a throw. Fingers crossed with a wish. There's no madness in it. Or weakness. Superstitions are subconscious seeds sown as we are nurtured- taught at nursery, repeated as rhymes.
They may be crazy old wives tales. Fragments of a delirious imagination. Outrageous notions that have no scientific basis or proof. But I like them- these rituals. There's an element of security within them. A belief that by performing these rituals, we are protected from a potential evil, or provided with welcome good luck. There is no sense to it, no reason. But reader, do we need one?