Superstition: a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge; irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious; any blindly accepted belief or notion. – – Dictionary.com.
Very superstitious/writing’s on the wall . . . You believe in things/you don’t understand/then you suffer/superstition ain’t the way – – Stevie Wonder
Actually it’s Saturday the 14th because this blog is updated with a new article the 14th of each month. Given that it is Saturday the 14th, that means yesterday was Friday the 13th. On top of being Friday the 13th, we’re in a month where we will have a full harvest moon, headless horsemen, and Halloween. But like Stevie says, superstition ain’t the way. One way to deal with superstition is to have fun at it’s expense. So I’m going to have some fun with this blog this month.
Are You Superstitious?
Well, are you? I’m not. In saying that, do you feel that little tingle in the back of your brain that warns that you shouldn’t be so cocky? C’mon now, admit it. At times you do. When it comes to headless horsemen and haunted houses, it may be easy to respond, pfff. But what about those habits we develop that we have to follow like a rule? Professional athletes have more rituals they go through before and during a game than you can shake a stick at. And speaking of shaking a stick, where did that idea come from? Why do some buildings not have a 13th floor? They do have a 13th floor if math applies to reality and counting, but the floors are numbered from 12 to 14, skipping the number 13. Never mind that if you actually counted the way you were taught in elementary school or kindergarten, you would know whether or not you were thirteen floors up. But since the floor on which you’ve reserved a room is called the 14th floor, all is rosy.
A friend sent me an article yesterday about an airline that is flying into Helsinki, Finland, and the tickets read Flight AY666 to HEL. Now that’s brassy. The airlines and the people boarding the plane are shaking their fists at superstition because superstition ain’t the way. How many of you out there wouldn’t take that flight? Be honest now. Interestingly, however, the Flight number AY666 is being retired. It will no longer be used. Superstition? If you step up and spit in the face of superstition, let me ask you this. Have you ever put off doing a task, knowing the consequences that would occur if you keep putting it off, but hoping against hope that said task and resulting consequences would simply disappear and go away? Wishful thinking? Superstition? Read the definition from Dictionary.com once again.
Did you ever carry a rabbit’s foot when you were a kid, or wear one on a black leather jacket? Have you ever thrown a coin into the fountain, knowing on one level you were having a good time, but secretly hoping that what you wished would come to fruition? Have you ever chanted a saying when you were at the Black Jack table or the one-armed bandit in Las Vegas? Have you ever thrown salt over your left shoulder when you accidentally spilled some on the table? Or is it the right shoulder? Up-oh! Well, anyway. Have you ever rubbed a talisman before taking on a challenge? Have you experienced the weird thrills of the Ouija Board? You better be real careful of that one. What about those chain letters that have been around for decades, now popping up online, especially FB? Saying you don’t believe in them, have you ever passed them on anyway – just in case? If you did, Very superstitious/writing’s on the wall.
In reading the definition from Dictionary.com, many would hold that any religion or set of spiritual beliefs are superstitious. After all, you say a prayer and hope that it is answered. Such dialogues now move from having fun to something more serious, which I don’t want to do in this month’s blog article. But for those of us who live in faith, I think it’s a legitimate question to ask when one might cross a line to the superstitious use of his faith. But there are other forms of superstition that are not harmless. Even as late as the early part of the Twentieth Century, the U.S. had a list of censored books that were not to be made public or sold on the market. After all, if you read a certain book, it might get in there and twist your brain, and before you know it, you’re howling at the moon. Or worse, you have come to question any conformity you might have been a part of. And what about those politically correct speech codes. Aren’t they superstitious? Or is the saying sticks and bones a superstition?
Most of these things are harmless. While we may want to avoid taking them too seriously, there’s little reason to get over-concerned about rabbit’s feet, lucky charms, or good-luck coins. For many years, my dad carried around a 1899 penny that he considered his good luck piece. But when he was offered over a hundred dollars for it – in the late 1950’s no less – he took it without the bat of an eye. After all, much of this playing around with funny ideas can be just that, fun. And if we realize such things are fun, then don’t sweat it. I’ve correlated several times that when I turn off the television, I get something worthwhile accomplished. Given that anecdotal correlation, each day I think I’ll turn the television on for a few minutes and then turn it off. Why not? Well, though it’s a funny act, I don’t do it because it would feel just plain weird to do so for obvious reasons.
There are acts that I would cast in the camp of superstition that are not so harmless, like those that lead to different forms of censorship and attacks on free speech. That’s another discussion all together and perhaps another blog article.
In the meantime, I hope people got out there and enjoyed Friday the 13th. I actually had a massage. Nothing weird has happened yet. And yes, let those kids – and adults too for that matter – enjoy Halloween, dressing up in costumes, taking on the roles of monsters, ghosts, and ghouls, and having a blast Trick or Treating. After all, kids are kids only once. Have fun watching those horror movies. I’m not a big fan of contemporary gore – e.g. Friday the 13th, Jason, Chainsaw Massacres, Saw and their countless sequels. But I love those old film noir horror flicks from the 1930’s and 1940’s – Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula (nothing against Gary Oldman), Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolfman, Clive Colin as Dr. Frankenstein with Boris Karloff as his tragic monster, who also made a good Mummy, and of course Claude Rains as Phantom of the Opera. If you want to have some real fun, read Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Edgar Alan Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, and Gaston Leroux. I actually like Anne Rice as well. Spit in the face of superstition, make it fun, and have a blast.
But stay away from Ouija Boards!!
John V. Jones, Jr., Ph.D., LPC-S/October 14th, 2017