Sunday, January 6, 2013

Knock on wood. What does that mean and does it work? Are things going to go my way if I kind of seal the deal by knocking on wood? So I say I hope something happens and then I go running around the room looking for something to knock on even if it means I have to crawl on the floor to knock on the oak flooring. Superstitions are stupid or are they? Everyone seems to have some ritual to do to get them to have confidence in some task they have to do.
Superstitions are very serious rituals in sports. Legend Wade Boggs in baseball ate chicken before each game. Pitcher Turk Wendell brushed his teeth between innings. If you forget to do your ritual you can go into panic mode. The dictionary says that a superstition is a belief or action that is inconsistent with science that is aimed with bringing about good luck or bad luck.
Count yourself lucky if you are not superstitious but most people are. A recent poll said that more than half of all Americans knock on wood for good luck. 16% won’t open umbrellas indoors. 13% carry a good luck charm like a rabbits foot. One out of ten people avoid black cats. Cornell University professors say that superstitions can take over your rational brain.
Superstitions grow out of our need to take charge of situations. That knocking on wood is us taking action to prevent harm from reaching us somehow. Among politicians they found that 24% of Democrats are, 17% of Independents are and 15% of Republicans are superstitious. Knocking on wood goes back to Pagan times. The history of Paganism began in about 10,000 BC, during the Paleolithic Age. It was a time when primitive people were nomadic and had to hunt for food.
Our wariness of walking under ladders is traced back to the early Christians who believed that the triangle it makes when it leans against a wall, is the representation of the Holy Trinity. If you walk through that triangle it is practically sinful. Religion is at the root of the belief that the number 13 is unlucky. Does that mean this will be an unlucky year for us? Thirteen after all were the number of people who were served the Lord’s Last Supper on the eve of Christ’s trial and crucifixion.
The fear of black cats goes back to the Middle Ages when folks associated them with witches and even believed that they were witches in disguise. The idea that breaking a mirror brings seven years bad luck is a reflection if you will of an old belief that our souls dwell in mirrors. If we break a mirror, it damages our souls. Pretty heavy stuff. It makes you afraid to do anything or even move.
On the plus side, horseshoes are considered lucky. Their shape represents a crescent moon and a sign of fertility. What about those stupid Ouija boards? Do you believe in the powers of a stupid piece of wood with the alphabet painted on it? Are you one of those people that ask a board to talk to you? You are willing to ask it some serious question about your life?
After all this superstition, I guess we as humans just love to be frightened about something. In 1890 the first Ouija board was marketed and manufactured and was being promoted as the latest and most scientific method of fortune telling. Today the Museum of Industry in Baltimore has an exhibit dedicated to Ouija history. Legend has it that the board picked it’s own name spelling out OUIJA.
Would they ever sell something so powerful in a toy department to everyone? The game was sold to Parker Brothers in 1966 marketed as the Mysterious Mystifying Game. It is owned by Hasbro today. It was marketed as a toy and not as a medium for contacting spirits. They have sold tens of millions of them .The Ouija box might pose the biggest question. They print on the box ”It’s only a game---- isn’t it?

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