Originally posted by mad_cap
It may be interesting to explain that the word
Superstition comes from the Latin Super, above; Stare, to stand. Those
who escaped in the old hand-to-hand battles were called super-stites
that is, they were standing above the slain. It is therefore a very
appropriate word for those primitive beliefs that still stand in the
great battle that is being waged by Reason.
Just as a child is always asking why, so primitive man endeavoured
to find out the meaning of all the many wonders around him. When he
could not explain, he satisfied himself and his children by inventing a
fairy tale, and it is these primitive attempts at education that form
the Popular Superstitions of the ages, many of which are very vigorous
Some interesting origins of superstitions:
1. Walking under a ladder
If we look back a few centuries, we find that Justice was
originally content with a handy tree for the purpose of removing a
malefactor as in the case of many American lynchings. But trees are not
found in the streets of a town, so our resourceful ancestors used a
ladder. This could be erected against any convenient wall, and in any
street the rope was slung over one of the rungs; the offender removed,
and all trace of the summary administration of Justice was easily
cleared away. As in the case of lynchings, many an innocent man was
hanged before trial, and any attempt made by a passing stranger to go
under the ladder was resented as an attempt at rescue. All law-abiding
citizens made it a rule to keep well away from a ladder when propped
against a wall
It's bad luck to walk under a ladder. This came from the early
Christian belief that a leaning ladder formed a triangle with the wall
and ground. You must never violate the Holy Trinity by walking through
a triangle, lest you be considered in league with the devil. (And you
all know what good Christians did to people they suspected of being in
league with the devil.)
The most logical explanation is that one should avoid walking under something that is most likely to fall and hurt you.
2. Sneezing before a journey
As far as sneezing is concerned, the Indian superstition of
considering sneezing as a bad sign before a journey originates from the
ancient thug tradition. The thugs considered anyone sneezing before
undrtaking an expedition as a bad omen. Maybe it grew from the feeling
that perhaps, one of their members is unwell and would be a handicap in
However, sneezing has other superstitious beliefs across the world.
One such is from Scotland where it has been maintained that idiots are
incapable of sneezing, and the power to do so has been deemed evidence
of the possession of a certain degree of intelligence.
3. Cats crossing your path
In a stroke of feline racism, cats (esecially black) in the path are considered plain unlucky.
But remember, cats are wonderfully independent creatures; they obey
no one. Because they are not obedient, in some circles they have a bad
reputation - similar to independent women. But what kind of world would
it be without cats - or independent women?
In Druid Celtic times, the cat stood for evil. Kindly ladies who
looked after these cats were detonated as witches. Black cats have been
a supernatural omen since the witch-hunts of the middle ages. This
anti-cat fallacy takes colour from the fact that 'black' has dark
connotations even today from frantically slathering whitening creams to
dyeing our hair golden or burgundy, we are an anti-black nation of a
collectively wheatish complexion. Another reason could be that cats
drink milk and the 'believers' have reason to suspect cats without
transparent digestive tracts. Out black spot, said Lady Macbeth and we
never asked Shakespeare if she had a cat called Spot.
But what does this superstition really mean in black and white? a)
That the red-green traffic lights are not working and the cats are
strategically positioned on roads by espionage agencies to curtail
pedestrian movement. b) That there are 'catty' hurdles ahead that a
strider needs to be anonymously warned about. c) That God, who granted
cats nine lives, uses them as celestial signposts. d) That sinking
one's footsteps into feline ones may herald limb amputation for cat or
man a bit cumbersome for the latter as the former has four legs.
So the legend paws us in all its prejudiced meow-meowing a black
cat bodes bad luck and means that something unfortunate is headed your
way. Anything but that the poor cat is just going somewhere.
Very interesting !!! It makes sense that not only superstitions but
traditions had some sort of logic or reason that was acceptable
centuries ago !! But they may not hold sense now , but we contionue
following them !!