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raven is said to be the most prophetic of birds, with knowledge
of both private and public misfortune; we still speak of having
'the foresight of a raven'. The American Indians call it the 'Messenger
of Death'. Perhaps the most famous superstition associated with
it is that if the famous ravens living in the Tower of London
should be lost or fly away, then the reigning royal family will
die and Britain itself will fall. The bird is indeed widely regarded
as a creature of ill omen, and if one is heard croaking over a
house then there will be sickness or death inside before long.
An explanation has been ventured that the bird has a particularly
acute sense of smell and can discern the odour of decay from some
considerable distance. If the bird actually flies about the chimney
croaking when someone lies ill inside, then that person's fate
is sealed. Scottish deerstalkers, however, believe it bodes well
for the hunt to hear one before setting out. Ravens facing the
direction of a clouded sun are said to presage hot weather, while
if they are seen busy preening themselves, there is rain on the
way. And if they are seen flying towards each other then this
is an omen of war.
Germans have a delightful belief that at the remarriage of a widower,
the ghost of his former wife will attend the wedding and if she
approves of the match will do no harm to the company.
ribbon tied around a girl's head is said to be lucky, and to protect
the wearer from evil spirits, according to a German superstition;
while in Britain a silk ribbon around the throat will combat disease.
In the East, though, coloured ribbons should not be worn on the
head at night for they attract the Evil Eye.
the cross has come to be a symbol of Christianity, it was venerated
both as a religious and lucky sign for centuries before the Christian
era. It has been found in parts of the world where the message
of Christianity never reached. The Aztecs in pre-Columbian Mexico
regarded it as a symbol of the rain god, the most important in
their pantheon. In most primitive religions, the cross represents
the tree of life. In some ancient cultures, the crosspiece intersecting
the upright represented a ladder that helped a worshiper to reach
God. In other cultures, the upright pointed the way to heaven
and the crosspiece represented earthly influences.
oldest known version of the cross, dating back to prehistory and
found all over the world, including among the Native Americans,
is the swastika. This cross with its arms folded back took on
a sinister meaning in the I 930s when Adolf Hitler adopted it
as the symbol of his Nazi party. It wasn't a choice he made lightly.
Hitler was very conscious of the power of lucky charms and it
was his intention to crown his ambition with what he considered
the luckiest charm of all. Fortunately for the world, it didn't
work. But if Hitler didn't succeed in bringing the world under
his heel, he managed to turn it away from a symbol that had been
considered lucky almost from the time that man began to walk upright.
on the hearth has been a sign of household luck for thousands
of years. And the idea is prevalent in every corner of the world.
Possibly the belief stems from prehistoric times, when a cricket's
chirping provided a kind of companionship. The cricket has also
served as a watchdog in China and otherAsian countries for generations.
At any sign of danger, the chirping will stop. Almost every Native
American tribe believed in the cricket as a bringer of luck, and
they regarded imitating the sound a cricket makes as disrespectful.
In the Far East as well as across Europe, it is considered very
bad luck to kill a cricket, even by accident. Images of crickets
appear on charms and amulets, particularly those intended to ward
off the evil eye, in most ancient cultures of the Middle East
and Europe. One of the best-known in America is the large weather
vane on Boston's Fanuel Hall, a copper cricket fashioned by our
Colonial forefathers to protect the building.
the ancient Middle East, this blue stone was believed to have
supernatural powers, It was said to have been the center piece
of King Solomon's ring. In India, it has the Power to bring health
and wealth. Among its other powers in other parts of the world
are the ability to repel spiders, to protect virgins, to turn
away envy, and to attract the attention of the gods.
is an old superstition that the body put in the first grave dug
in a new graveyard is always claimed by the devil. It is also
said to be unlucky to dig or plough any ground in which a body
has been buried, and certainly no crops planted there will flourish.
Because of a very ancient superstition that the south wind brings
corruption, the south side of churches has always been regarded
as the holiest and it was here for generations that people insisted
on being buried. Only folk who had committed suicide or the corpses
of stillborn children were buried on the north side. Graves should,
of course, always be dug running east to west, so that the corpse
may lie with his/her feet to the east and his/her head to the
west and thereby be ready to rise when the call comes from the
east on the Day of judgement. People in many European countries
believe it is unlikely to step over a grave, and particularly
over one in which lies a stillborn baby or unbaptised child. Despite
the long history of grave robbing, it has always been considered
unlucky to disturb a grave (you may well release a ghost), and
no good will ever come of using tombstones or any other objects
from a graveyard in the construction of a new building. Such a
construction is said to run the risk of collapsing because it
has "death built into it."
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