Wednesday, May 09, 2007

What Is Superstition?

Few people in any era have been entirely free of superstitions, those illogical feelings that supernatural or magical forces influence the events in our lives. Especially among prescientific cultures, superstitions are a psychological defense in a world seemingly aswarm with menacing, unpredictable spirits that must be appeased in order to avoid disaster and to survive. Today, they have lost most of their desperate urgency and endure as easy, somewhat comforting learned responses to uncertainty. The word superstition comes from the Latin superstites, which means "those left standing after battle," in other words, survivors.

Many of today's common superstitions are descended from older superstitions whose origins are lost in the mists of time. For example, the belief that a broken mirror brings bad luck for seven years is believed to stem from the ancient notion that a man's reflection in water portrayed his soul, and that ripples in water destroyed it.

The horseshoe, which is roughly crescent in shape, seems to have derived its magical reputation from the Egyptian worship of the moon. Its iron makes it even more potent, because the first known specimens of iron fell from the sky as meteorites. It is mounted with ends facing up, so the luck doesn't fall out.

In pagan Britain, the hare (a relative of the rabbit) was an object of worship. With the advent of Christianity this practice was outlawed, but old habits die hard and many people still carry a rabbit's foot for luck.

India has 'million tons' of superstitions which are spreaded mainly among Hindus and Muslims.

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