Sunday, August 02, 2009

Curious about Superstition: Yes, We All Have Them. What Are Yours?

Definition of Superstition: An excessive reverence for, or fear of, that which is unknown or mysterious. Belief in the direct agency of superior powers in certain extraordinary or singular events, or in magic, omens, prognostics, or the like.

Superstition is foolish, childish, primitive and irrational - but how much does it cost you to knock on wood?” - Judith Viorst, American author

Although I myself don't go to church or synagogue, I do, whether it's superstition or whatever, pray every time I get on a plane. I just automatically do it. I say the same thing every time.” Barbara Walters, American journalist

I don’t know how you feel about superstition, but I do feel that whether or not we admit it, most of us would agree with Judith Viorst.

On Friday, I posted my suggestion using a traditional superstition for the first day of the month. This had been shared with me a while back by one of my favorite storytellers, Kathryn Windham, who comes from Selma, Alabama. She said that before you get out of bed on the first day of the month, you should yell out, “Rabbit, Rabbit.” This will bring you good luck for the whole month. My Facebook friends’ reactions were varied, and several thought I was a bit crazy.

So, for this blog, I thought it would be fun to investigate superstition. I was surprised by the strong feelings when I searched the quotations. There were quite a few that mentioned religion and others that linked it to ignorance and even to fear.

A belief which leaves no place for doubt is not a belief; it is a superstition.” - Jose Bergamin, Spanish writer – is that true?

You'll find superstition a contagious thing. Some people let it get the better of them.” - Curt Siodmak, German novelist

As I started to consider my own superstitions, and I am not what most would call a “superstitious person,” I realized that Bergamin might not call a lot of my beliefs superstitions, but I am close. I believe in the power of Feng Shui – I do have a goldfish in my wealth area. And I agree with the American actor, Gil Gerard, “I have a superstition about saying too much about what I want to happen, just in case it all disappears, or someone else comes along and beats me to it.”

Here are a few of the many interesting quotations I found:

  • There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition.” - Rod Serling, American writer
  • I had only one superstition. I made sure to touch all the bases when I hit a home run.” - Babe Ruth, American athlete
  • The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and these are ignorance, superstition and incompetence.” - Elbert Hubbard, American writer
  • Superstition is the poetry of life.” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German poet
  • I'm a third done into a new book but sorry - I have a superstition about talking about it!” - Joanna Trollope, English novelist
  • Conscience without judgment is superstition.” - Benjamin Whichcote, British philosopher

As we learn more and more about our world, our brains, and our beliefs, I urge you to remember the following quotation:

Superstition? Who can define the boundary line between the superstition of yesterday and the scientific fact of tomorrow?” - Garrett Fort, American writer

And I wonder if you my readers have superstitions. It would be fun to share a few. Let me hear from you.