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Magic(k) > Superstitions and Ritual

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message 1: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments I've come across a number of curious superstitions in my area (Indian Himalayas), which may relate to magick and the use of certain elements, symbols and archetypes, and it got me wondering about other people's parts of the world and what superstitions exist there. I'm not wildly superstitious, but I do find the symbolism interesting and possibly useful. Four superstitions come to mind from my area, right off the top of my head.

1) It is believed that people born on the dark moon, habitually sleep with their eyes partially open with only the whites showing.
2) It is forbidden to sell metal or cut hair on a Tuesday, because that day is sacred to Angaraka The Warlord, and he becomes bloodthirsty on his day, and accidents may occur.
3) Sprigs of Ceder placed in books assist in learning.
4) It is ill advised to peer into a mirror at night, because ghosts may appear in them.


message 2: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments Oh I invite all of you to post interesting superstitions and beliefs from your corner of the world, which strike you as pagan or magickal.


message 3: by Nell (last edited Sep 12, 2012 01:04AM) (new)

Nell Grey (nellgrey) | 1682 comments Great idea for a thread, Aaron. I can't think of any peculiar to where I am on the South Coast of Blighty, but I lived in Southern Africa for a few years, where the more remote tribal people believed that taking a photo of a person captured their soul. I think that one's pretty well-known already though.

And my mother tells me that her father (who was Scots/Irish), believed that the joker in a pack of cards was evil and dangerous and brought bad luck. He would always burn it before playing with a new pack of cards. But I've deviated from locality again :)


message 4: by Nell (new)

Nell Grey (nellgrey) | 1682 comments I looked in my copy of A Dictionary of Sussex Folk Medicine and found a reference to 'lucky stones.' These were presumably 'hag stones', or small cherts with a hole. In the 16th - 18th centuries these were suspended from the dewlaps of newly weaned cattle to protect them from '...hags and pixies and the conditions they were believed to inflict.' The author goes on to say that '...although this custom had apparently died out by the 19th century, in rural areas it remained commonplace to tie a piece of knotted twine through a hole in the ears or dewlap of cattle, though the reasons for doing so had been forgotten.'

Also:

'Knots were in themselves widely held to be an effective defence against witches, hags, pixies and the devil in all his manifestations.'

It's a fascinating little book.


A Dictionary of Sussex Folk Medicine by Andrew Allen


message 5: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments Thank you both for your replies. I don't think we have to worry too much about keeping it locale. Whatever comes to mind is fine that you might have heard. Interesting about the Joker Nell. I think my Norwegian friend told me that where he comes from, it's the Jack of Clubs you want to watch out for, which was funny for me, because I always felt myself inexplicably drawn to the Jack of Clubs.

Cats in India are shunned and never kept as pets, but it is considered to be the gravest sin to kill, or harm a cat, in spite of the fact that they are considered malefic. Snakes, on the other hand are both revered and killed regularly.


message 6: by Lavender (new)

Lavender (lavendercrystalbear) | 111 comments Oh my gosh. Silly superstitions


message 7: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments Well, I don't know if this helps but I'm a major cat person, major. Last Christmas I took an Indian friend of mine up to a local hot spot, because I wanted to avoid the festivities, and after our bath at the hot springs we went to a restaurant where they kept a cat. I was so pleased to see a cat after so long that I soon had the cat on my lap eating from my hand.

My friend was a little alarmed at first, but he soon felt a desire to hold the cat himself, and I managed to get a photo of my friend, looking somewhat apprehensive, with the cat on his lap.

It was definitely one of those moments.


message 8: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Pearl (stephenp11) | 150 comments The one with a bit of cedar in the book may have some ties with aroma therapy or mental association. Scent often acts as a memory trigger so it could be the idea that the scent of cedar will help trigger the memory of the read material through association.


message 9: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments I had gone to one of my friend's villages and it was really cool, because he lives at the very top of the village, near the land which is owned by the deity, so we could basically go out the back door of his home, and wander around on the God's property, which is all protected. You cannot wear leather, or carry metal onto the God's land, nor cut down any trees.

At one point my friend turned to me and said, "Oh yeah, um... if you see any quartz crystals growing out of the path, maybe don't step on them, because Shailadev likes to sit on them." Shailadev being his deity, and he referred to him like a close personal friend who was a bit eccentric.


message 10: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments Stephen wrote: "The one with a bit of cedar in the book may have some ties with aroma therapy or mental association. Scent often acts as a memory trigger so it could be the idea that the scent of cedar will help t..."

That makes sense Stephen. Ah bit of practical magic in that one.


message 11: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments 'Knots were in themselves widely held to be an effective defense against witches, hags, pixies and the devil in all his manifestations.'

I wonder how pixies feel about being lumped in with the devil. I'm gonna try that knot spell to protect me against certain people with diabolical qualities.

I came across another one just the other day. It's bad luck to leave your shoes overturned. It can cause all your intentions to come out backwards.


message 12: by Nell (new)

Nell Grey (nellgrey) | 1682 comments Aaron wrote: I'm gonna try that knot spell to protect me against certain people with diabolical qualities.

The spell could work on three levels. Firstly, your belief in it has the power to make you feel protected, and therefore to reflect power and confidence in your your body language. Secondly, 'certain people', seeing the knots might feel uneasy, sense that power and steer clear.

And thirdly, the knots might work in a way we're as yet in the dark about - i.e. magic. Q.E.D. :)


message 13: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Pearl (stephenp11) | 150 comments On the matter of defensive magic. Snow flake Obsidian is a wonderful defence. Negative flows into the black positive out through the white and attractive to boot.

Regarding the not traditionally the though is the negative energy gets caught up in the convolutions and dissipates as it’s running back and forth. Who knows?


message 14: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments I think a wiccan in Canada told me that you should leave the spider webs that form on the porch, because they catch the negative energy. You just reminded me.


message 15: by Ancestral (last edited Sep 15, 2012 08:27AM) (new)

Ancestral Gaidheal (gaidheal) In Derbyshire, where my grandmother was born, it was believed that a child born with a caul was believed to have been "touched"*; so my grandmother told me. Yes, she was born with a caul and, yes, she had one or two abilities, more psychic than magical.




*My gran asked me if I knew what she meant, and I responded it meant touched by the otherworld, or otherfolk. My gran confirmed that this was what "they" said. I should point out my gran was a staunch atheist and non-believer, despite her special skills. Not unusual to find such contradictions in older folk, because people who were different could be horribly ostracised.


message 16: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments There's one a bit like that I heard about. People with mismatched eyes, were said to have fairy blood.


message 17: by Terri (new)

Terri (terrilovescrows) | 11 comments and those born with a caul are supposed to be psychic


message 18: by Nell (new)

Nell Grey (nellgrey) | 1682 comments Never eat blackberries after Halloween/Samhain - the Devil will be in them.

This one must be post-Xian - I wonder if the Pagan peoples (for surely this saying is very old) used the word 'demon' or another instead...


message 19: by C-Cose (new)

C-Cose Daley | 75 comments Greetings all :)

What an interesting thread Aaron!!! There are only a few that come to mind as rooted / still believed in my immediate area ...

1. Throwing spilled salt over the shoulder to ward off bad luck. I don't know about the luck, but it makes for frequent sweeping in some households I've visited ... lol.

2. Smudging as a means to bless / cleanse a house from bad influences / histories. I include this as many "smudgers" in my area do so with little, to no, knowledge of the basic ritual and have just "heard that it works".

3. Cat-based superstitions are completely useless in my area as you can't walk outside without tripping over at least three or four .... horrid cases of stray / forgotten pets in our area.


message 20: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments C-Cose wrote: "Greetings all :)

What an interesting thread Aaron!!! There are only a few that come to mind as rooted / still believed in my immediate area ...

1. Throwing spilled salt over the shoulder to ward ..."


What area are you actually in C-Close? Yes, I had managed to make some smudge sticks out of wild sage which grows in my area. Unfortunately the smell does resemble marijuana rather closely and I had the neighbours whispering.


message 21: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Nichols | 1 comments Aaron wrote: "C-Cose wrote: "Greetings all :)

What an interesting thread Aaron!!! There are only a few that come to mind as rooted / still believed in my immediate area ...

1. Throwing spilled salt over the sh..."


Try dried pineapple sage! Its like pot essential oil. It just lingers all over the house too.


message 22: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments There was a believe in my sub-community that the essential oil, (or blend of essential oils) known as Immortelle, could produce psychic dreams if three drops were scattered on the pillow before sleep. Having tried it, I found that it knocked me out for thirteen hours into a dead sleep with no dreams at all. The local witch of hour community reported "epic dreams" and I was bitterly jealous of her. It's more commonly used as an anti aging product.

Workers in the north of England and Scotland have been reported to go on strike when called upon to fell a Hawthorn tree.

In my area in the Himalayas, a project was instituted by the government to start a hydro project in the Valley sacred to the Goddess Parvati. During the process of drilling into the mountain a strange thing occurred. The mountain began to secrete a startlingly red mineral, giving the appearance of blood gushing forth from the bosom of the mountain. The labourers who were all Himalayan tribal people immediately went on strike, forcing the government to hire workers from the neighbouring state of Bihar.

The project continues relentlessly on, and the Parvati Valley has ever had a dark history with trekkers disappearing every year, and flash floods wiping out entire villages annually.

I fancy the Goddess is not amused. Although the valley is named after her, and she is no minor deity, there is not a single temple or statue venerating the Goddess in the entire valley.


message 23: by C-Cose (new)

C-Cose Daley | 75 comments Aaron wrote: "What area are you actually in C-Close? Yes, I had managed to make some smudge sticks out of wild sage which grows in my area. Unfortunately the smell does resemble marijuana rather closely and I had the neighbours whispering."

Greetings Aaron :)

I live in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada ... literally a stone's throw away from Maliseet / Mickmaw land right in the middle of the city's north side.

Oddly enough, many people here would rather "smudge" their homes with ritual that they learned from a friend (that learned it from a friend, that once saw it done by the cousin of the band chief's, nephew's, sister-in-law's babysitter) rather than ask politely from one of the local band's elders or spiritual leaders. It's all the rage dontchaknow ....

The net result is an occasional miasma of poorly burned "herbs" from people that gathered whatever seemed most appropriate. I'm told that sage is but one of the many plants that can be used in a proper smudging.


message 24: by C-Cose (new)

C-Cose Daley | 75 comments Aaron wrote: "There was a believe in my sub-community that the essential oil, (or blend of essential oils) known as Immortelle, could produce psychic dreams if three drops were scattered on the pillow before sle..."

Greetings again Aaron :)

This post made me sigh .... I'm one of those unlucky individuals that has had serious allergic reactions to many natural / herbal trance aids over the years.

The worst happened many years ago where mushrooms were used as part of a ritual. Everyone else had mild to moderate success in their dream-questing .... my throat swelled up like an inner tube after one sip so my quest was stopped dead in its tracks. I'm eternally grateful that I didn't gulp or swig as the rest of the group did, as I'd likely not be here to write this.


message 25: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments Oh wow. I was born in Canada and lived there for years. I did an extensive study of the first nations tribes when I was younger, worrying my mother slightly, who thought I was focusing too much on one niche of Canadian history. As it happens I paid particular attention to the Miq Maq and Beothuk nations. It wasn't until years later I discovered that the Miq Maq had helped in wiping out the Beothuk, (Ooops).

Anyway, I've sadly forgotten a lot of what I studied, but I remember that the Miq Maq seemed to be one of the most mystical tribes I came across in my studies. It is sad that people won't just strike up a conversation with a first nations person to get the true story.

Now that you mention it, Immortelle did give me a bit of a rash. It burns like the dickens.


message 26: by C-Cose (last edited Sep 18, 2012 03:46PM) (new)

C-Cose Daley | 75 comments Aaron wrote: "Anyway, I've sadly forgotten a lot of what I studied, but I remember that the Miq Maq seemed to be one of the most mystical tribes I came across in my studies. It is sad that people won't just strike up a conversation with a first nations person to get the true story. ..."

Agreed Aaron :)

Sadly I've found that to be the case with those that latch onto the "latest thing".

As preparation for my recent wedding, I approached both my Mom and Dad to receive their blessing--not only as parents, but also as the High Priest(ess) that I saw in each of them. Although my Mom fully understood my request, my Dad was reluctant to give me a blessing as High Priest because he felt that he had given up that right when he left the religion in which I was raised (Mormon). He saw the label that the Church gave out ... I saw / see the High Priest that he is outside that label.

The final result was that each gave me a blessing that they were comfortable with and each blessing is profoundly moving for me. Mom invoked the Mother of All, where Dad gifted me with the hopes that he has for me as a parent and friend :)

Where was I going with this again? lol .... oh yeah, each, in their own way, was able to give me the gift of the truth that is behind the symbol rather than the "latest thing" ....


message 27: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments Was this your wedding in the Avatar photo? Yes, the Priest is a great archetype which far outreaches the boundaries of any religious stereotype. I love that last paragraph, both for the wisdom in it, and the humour.

Speaking of Priests, in my area, the Sharma caste, or Priest caste traditionally wear hoop earrings in both ears, and it is said that they can hear the voice of their personal deity when they keep them in.


message 28: by C-Cose (last edited Sep 19, 2012 12:23AM) (new)

C-Cose Daley | 75 comments Aaron wrote: "Was this your wedding in the Avatar photo? Yes, the Priest is a great archetype which far outreaches the boundaries of any religious stereotype. I love that last paragraph, both for the wisdom in i..."

Yes it was Aaron :)

I've now been married for 7+ weeks :D ... which means I have another 45 for riding the "newlywed train" ... lol.

India is a Bucket List country for me!!! I will spend some time there that exceeds the standard "see the sights" touristy stuff :)


message 29: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments Some people in my area, but not all, believe that if you shave off your mustache, you're declaring that your father is dead.

One of my friends, if he stubs his toe, or hurts his foot in any way, he'll tear off a bit of newspaper, lick it and attach it to his eyelid, on the opposite side from where he hurt himself.


message 30: by C-Cose (new)

C-Cose Daley | 75 comments Aaron wrote: "Some people in my area, but not all, believe that if you shave off your mustache, you're declaring that your father is dead.

One of my friends, if he stubs his toe, or hurts his foot in any way, ..."


Greetings Aaron :)

You do realize that you've just started me on a google quest to find the basis for these superstitions? Right? lol :D


message 31: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments I've now been married for 7+ weeks :D ... which means I have another 45 for riding the "newlywed train" ... lol.

India is a Bucket List country for me!!! I will spend some time there that exceeds the standard "see the sights" touristy stuff :)


Congratulations! Eternal love be with you.

India is one of those countries which makes you fall in love with it and hate it at the same time. There is so much magic in India, and so much materialism. Miracles are commonplace. So is cruelty, and also massive gestures of love and compassion. It's like an archetype of life on hyperdrive.


message 32: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments According to the law of Manu, if a cat dies in your house, you must propitiate it's spirit, by commissioning a solid gold statue of a cat and giving it to the local priest, lest the cat curse you.


message 33: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments In the hills it is believed that the sun changes vehicles in the summer time. He abandons his fiery steed and mounts a lame ram for his trek across the sky, rendering the days longer.


message 34: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Pearl (stephenp11) | 150 comments Oh for the good old days. The bit about the cat statue sounds like a great scamm. I'm an Egyptian Path neo-Pagan in the good old days the pagan priests would eat the food offerings claming that the Ka (spirit)of the food went to the gods and the Ren (body) of the food was for the priests. All churches throught time passed the collection plate.


message 35: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments Yes it got me thinking. Somewhere there's a temple stuffed with golden cat statues. I wouldn't mind one for my altar.


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

Aaron wrote: "In the hills it is believed that the sun changes vehicles in the summer time. He abandons his fiery steed and mounts a lame ram for his trek across the sky, rendering the days longer."

Beautiful symbolism.


message 37: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments This falls more in the "ritual" category, rather than the "superstitious" one, but I wanted to share this story with you all.

I recently attended a ritual called a Kahika, which is a mock human sacrifice. I had read about this ritual years ago, and knew it was practiced in the hills, but I'd never had the opportunity to see one.

My friend Rudra happened to mention that he'd heard there was going to be one, at the local Shiv temple, at the top of our mountain. I gathered four of my friends, and we took a car.

I always find it interesting, that whenever I go to a sacred place, where an event is occuring, the God makes me suffer along the journey.

We were in a spark, which is like a mini, and the Road was covered in jagged rocks, sticking up like knives and threatening to gouge the undercarriage, which was quite low hanging.

When we finally reached the summit, the ritual was underway. One of the oddest elements of the Kahika, is the penis blessings. These acolytes walk around with wooden puppet penises on a string, and basically molest people in the crowd with them. At this particular Kahika, the Penis were two per puppet, side by side, which my friend said was unusual for a Kahika.

I got nailed twice by the acolytes. I did not manage to see the Naur, (victim), being "slain" with my own eyes, but I saw them carrying him around and he looked dead. I also missed the resurrection because we had to leave early, but for the middle part of the ceremony, I felt an overwhelming urge to dance, which I yielded to. As they were bearing the Naur around the temple in circles, they were playing eerie sounding drums, and blaring dissonant melodies on giant brass horns, and the energy took me over, and I started whirling and stomping with the others.

My friends who brought me had never seen a Kahika either, (in spite of being tribal themselves,) and seemed a little spooked by my behaviour.


message 38: by Nell (new)

Nell Grey (nellgrey) | 1682 comments A fascinating story, Aaron. Have you ever thought of making a collection of little-known rituals, myths and gods/goddesses and publishing them as a Kindle book? I do like reading about your experiences.


message 39: by C-Cose (new)

C-Cose Daley | 75 comments Aaron wrote: "This falls more in the "ritual" category, rather than the "superstitious" one, but I wanted to share this story with you all.

I recently attended a ritual called a Kahika, which is a mock human s..."


Thank you Aaron :) I think it's wondrous how festivals / observances are trans-cultural. Without knowing the specifics of the reasoning for this Kahika, it reminded me of Japanese and Kaeltic festivals that I've read about. It also reminded me of some Mayan rituals, but they eventually fell into true sacrifice (which is a topic for another day).

I also echo Nell's comment .... I'd love to read a collection of what you've experienced.


message 40: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments Nell wrote: "A fascinating story, Aaron. Have you ever thought of making a collection of little-known rituals, myths and gods/goddesses and publishing them as a Kindle book? I do like reading about your experie..."

I'm actually working on a book, which is why I try to get around to see these things, and my photos are a part of my research, but the final product will contain illustrations. I've been visited by a number of the Gods in my meditations, and felt compelled to draw them. This was then followed by symbolic epiphany about what the appearances meant and seemed to parallel traditional symbolism as well.


message 41: by Erin (new)

Erin (bleedinginkpen) This is kind of unrelated to the current discussion, but I was wondering about something. Is it possible to have visions of the future, even if you aren't trying to? I get them sometimes, though they aren't massively detailed. Mostly, I get a picture, or a strong feeling about future events. I wouldn't be worried, but I don't understand how this happens if I'm not trying to see the future.

I thought this would fit on the superstitions thread....


message 42: by C-Cose (new)

C-Cose Daley | 75 comments Tenma wrote: "This is kind of unrelated to the current discussion, but I was wondering about something. Is it possible to have visions of the future, even if you aren't trying to? I get them sometimes, though th..."

Greetings Tenma :)

I can only speak from personal experience. Yes, it is possible. I've been "gifted" with Sight since a very young age--many times when I really didn't want to accept the visions or was trying to.


message 43: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments Yes, innate talents sometimes manifest involuntarily in the beginning. With practice I think you'll be able to induce, or refrain.


message 44: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments Bad luck to toast with water? I've just heard about this one being prevalent in England.


message 45: by Nell (new)

Nell Grey (nellgrey) | 1682 comments I've never heard of that one, Aaron, but it sounds likely. And a toast is a ritual - so many of which we take completely for granted - a thought that has only just occurred to me.


message 46: by Nell (new)

Nell Grey (nellgrey) | 1682 comments Have we had walking under ladders being unlucky? It's a pretty common superstition, and most people don't chance it - probably because it's possible something may fall on your head.

Looking forward to the the book already, Aaron.


message 47: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments I'm still doing field research and waiting to be inviting to the elusive Lug Valley. It might be a while yet. I've one drawing to finish which was a commission and then at least I can start sketching some of the deities I have ready.


message 48: by Nell (new)

Nell Grey (nellgrey) | 1682 comments That's great :)


message 49: by [deleted user] (new)

Be sure to let me know when you release it too, Aaron! :)


message 50: by Aaron, Moderator (new)

Aaron Carson | 1216 comments Thanks guys. You guys are awesome.


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