I heard that Stevie Wonder song, ‘Superstition’ on the radio recently and it reminded me that the superstition gene is a very strange phenomenon. I assume it is biologically inbuilt because in a rational world it would be difficult to arrive at a logical conclusion that, say, putting your shoes on the table would lead to untold misery.
I can see that walking under ladders presents a small hazard, risk-wise, and that some superstitions act as a warning system. But where does throwing salt over your shoulder figure in the lexicon of therapeutic activities?
It may be that for ‘superstition’ we should read the word ‘excuse’. ‘It wasn’t my fault, some higher, malevolent, power assured me that if I stood on the cracks, a diabolical, unspecified evil would befall my family, and there’s no statute of limitations. So I have to continue do this as long as I live.
Clearly some don’t work. No matter how many red shirts Tiger Woods wears during his final round in a golf championship, they have lost their magical potency to tip the scales of winning his way.
Possibly without the existence of some larger, universal, force, the nature of which is conveniently unknowable, we would have to accept responsibility for our behaviour and not blame others. Which thought allows me to segue into the question of fate.
‘It was meant to be’. Que sera. Of course what will be, will be. It couldn’t possibly not ‘be’. But to imply that we are helpless victims is the other side of the coin of excuse. Personally I don’t like the fatalists assertion that because I’m a Capricorn, I must … … (fill in as appropriate), that everything is pre-ordained and part of a larger plot, again unknowable, unfortunately. That some form of global or universal program has been written about my (little) life, that I am following unconsciously, just as you are following yours.
I can see that major decisions in our lives could have a shattering affect, whether for good or ill. For example my business partner, John, has always felt uncomfortable in confined or crowded places. He used to travel into London from Reading by train, usually first class because our client was paying. One day he was waiting at the front end of the platform when the train arrived, already very full of passengers. He withdrew his arm, outstretched to open the door saying ‘**** that for a game of soldiers’ and stood back to wait for the next train. That was the morning of the Paddington train crash when most of those in ‘his’ carriage were killed. Fate? Why did he deserve to live and the others not? Were they a bunch of actual or potential, murderers?
According to some, the actual events waiting in our futures are indeed discernable from the infinite array of possibilities. You just need to know which astrologer/Tarot reader/person with a crystal ball has the inside track, as well as knowing how to avoid ‘tempting fate’. This is a nice but folksy notion that all ‘fate’ needs is a temptation morsel and thereafter the course of your life will be dictated by him, her or it.
Just to make sure you are fully prepared to either avoid, or welcome, fate, here is a quick reminder of the does and don’ts (based on extensive Googling).
. carry an acorn for everlasting life, a rabbit’s foot, and some white heather
. make sure you wear your lucky underpants (800,000 people do)
.have some bird poo on your house
. cast clouts until mid June
. describe something as ‘nice’ e.g. the state of the traffic or weather, because naming it ensures it will change
. have anything to do with umbrellas, black cats, ladders, salt, mirrors, nor put a hat on in bed.
Other than the above you can behave perfectly normally.