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The Augury of Omens

Good morning. :-)

At least, I hope it is.

I’ve been noticing all kinds of interesting stuff over the past few days. The kind of things that might stir the superstition up in your mind and make you afraid.

Yesterday, as I listened to some sinister-sounding music, black clouds boiled up in the sky. One minute, the sky was a blameless blue, the next it looked distinctly overcooked and blackened. I’ve noticed this phenomenon before. Maybe I am just very sensitive to the weather and good at choosing an apposite soundtrack. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. I choose not to believe that music can be that powerful, although these people occasionally identify themselves with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse...

This morning, during breakfast, I looked out of the window and there, describing scraggy stripes across the sky with ragged black clumsy wingbeats, was A Murder Of Crows! Accompanied by a sleek seagull, they dragged themselves around in air, the crows looking as ungainly as old-fashioned perambulators next to the silver-and-white aeroplane design of the gull. The gull was audacious; he swooped in and robbed one of the crows of whatever nastiness was in its beak. At that point the crows began to express their rage in jagged, jerky artistic tantrums, like cartoon villains having a meltdown. They may have been untidy, but they outnumbered the gull six to one, and they wanted that gobbet of foulness back, whatever it was! They chased after the gull, surrounding him, so that the gull looked submerged in feathered ink. The seagull was content to taunt the crows, daring to put himself within stabbing range of their oversized beaks. When James Bond skis down the mountainside, pursued by black-clad evil henchmen with machine guns, his boldness would pale in comparison to the brave foolhardiness of that gull.

I didn’t see the outcome of their battle, and I can’t quite decide whose side I’m on. But oh my, such dramatic aeronautics over breakfast! Much more entertaining than TV. ;-)

*

Superstition is a broken-down playground, where the desolation of the place, the rust, the dust, the squeaky unoiled moving parts of the swings and roundabout, conjure up frightening mental images, the sounds and smells polluting every shadow with unpleasant possibilities...

Sometimes I am very superstitious, but I am also capricious. I pick and choose my superstitions. ;-)

I shudder when I see crossed knives on a plate, because my mother always told me that brought bad luck. Someone other than the one who arranged them in crossed-over fashion has to uncross them, too, to restore the world. And you cannot give a knife as a gift. You have to receive a silver coin from the recipient. Happily, I don’t give or receive knives very often, although my boyfriend gave me a pink Swiss Army knife once. (I gave him 5p.)

My mother also told me that when you peel an apple, if you manage to get the peel off in one long green and red fragrant coil, you should throw it over your shoulder. (I’m not sure whether tradition prescribes a particular shoulder.) When it lands on the floor, take a look at it - it should form the initial of the man you are to marry. If that’s true, I will be marrying Mr Illegible Squiggle. I hope his personal demeanour will be better than his handwriting. ;-)

On the first of the month, the first thing you must say (again, according to my mother) is “Rabbits”. If you forget, and say something else first, then “White Rabbits” will put you right. This is a strange tradition. I would have thought rabbits were too numerous and destructive to be particularly beneficial totems.

Empty eggshells must be crushed, my Mum says, so that witches cannot use the shells for sailing in. But who am I to impede the progress of a wise woman? Let her sail where she will, I say. ;-)

Black cats – well, all cats really – are lucky. :-) I can agree with that one. I don’t believe in reincarnation, but I think to be reincarnated as a cat would have to be some kind of reward for a hard life.

Bringing hawthorn blossom into the house means death. I found this out when I was about ten years old and was given a piece to read in elocution lessons (what is now called ‘speech and drama’) – I think it was from ‘The Country Child’ by Alison Uttley. There was something about the fear and shock portrayed in the excerpt (when a girl brought some of the evil blossom inside, unaware of the superstition) that gave me the creeps, big time. I remember feeling uneasy for days after reading those words.

You should never drink a toast in water. Another pearl from my mother. (Any other liquid will do, although it’s best to choose something potable...) Sometimes I take this one too far. I don’t like to think *anything* when I am drinking water, in case it turns into a ‘toast’ and therefore unlucky...

My mother has a lot to answer for!!

Comments

( 12 confidences — Confide in me... )
beatlefan
Jul. 30th, 2008 10:51 am (UTC)
Liked this entry a lot! I love learning about superstitions, although I don't exactly believe in them. The thing for me is to "touch wood", but by that phrase I mean touch anything in the near vicinity and call it wood!
song_of_copper
Jul. 30th, 2008 02:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :-)

Hm, yes, 'touch wood' - I wonder where that comes from? Maybe the Druids went around patting trees for luck. ;-)
eraser_milk
Jul. 30th, 2008 01:57 pm (UTC)
Ooh, a lot of those I've not heard before! I've become a bit strange about dressing room superstitions, mostly pertaining to where shoes are stored (on the floor, and certainly never above waist-level) and whistling.
song_of_copper
Jul. 30th, 2008 02:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm sure the theatre must have tons of weird and wonderful superstitions! Some people say it's unlucky to put a hat on the bed - I have no idea why.

Don't mention the Scottish Play. ;-)
eraser_milk
Jul. 30th, 2008 02:22 pm (UTC)
Hmm, I've never heard the hat on the bed specifically, but, in keeping with the shoe superstition, I've heard hats are better stored above waist-level (both related to actors tripping and falling).

I'll be honest, The Scottish Play superstition annoys me--always has. I'm very respectful of it simply because one never knows whom one will freak out by not doing so--I've met so many people who are utter slaves to the theatrical superstitions. M does have a reasonable background as to why it's bad luck, but it's never really affected me.
song_of_copper
Jul. 30th, 2008 03:46 pm (UTC)
Haha, at least some superstitions have a basis in common sense (not tripping over costume items is probably a good idea...)!

But of course now I'm confused as to why you have to say "Break a leg". o_O
eraser_milk
Jul. 30th, 2008 03:52 pm (UTC)
That one I've never been 100% on, just that one never says "Good luck!" as it will inevitably cause bad luck. At this point I won't say "Break a leg!" anymore, because I just finished a job where I worked with dancers. And that's a pretty screwed up thing to say to a dancer.
eraser_milk
Jul. 30th, 2008 03:52 pm (UTC)
That one I've never been 100% on, just that one never says "Good luck!" as it will inevitably cause bad luck. At this point I won't say "Break a leg!" anymore, because I just finished a job where I worked with dancers. And that's a pretty screwed up thing to say to a dancer.
yesihavecookies
Jul. 30th, 2008 04:41 pm (UTC)
I TOLD YOU! Guapo: The most evil shit to be recorded to CD. I've had that experience while listening to them. BUT I've also had the OPPOSITE experience. Once things were looking cloudy, rainy, and sinister, but everything changed when I put in a CD by a certain group. The sun came out, the rain went away, and birds came out.

It's this album: Efterklang- Parades
http://www.megaupload.com/?d=ku363x5x

So, if things get too evil, just put in Efterklang and it should even out.
song_of_copper
Jul. 30th, 2008 05:59 pm (UTC)
They probably live in a haunted house, decorating each other with cobwebs and listening to LPs played backwards. ;-)

I'm quite floored by 'Black Oni' - 'Five Suns' is good, but there's too much 'spot the Magma quote' going on for my liking (it's distracting!). 'Black Oni' is wonderful. ^_^

So I had to get 'Elixirs'. Only listened to it once so far, but it seems to me like it should be the soundtrack of a really creepy movie.

Your recommendations have been spot on so far, so I'll definitely give Efterklang a try - thank you. :-)
steve98052
Aug. 30th, 2008 01:56 am (UTC)

The mention of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse reminds me of the movie The Rapture. I don't believe in the theology, but I loved the movie. Be sure to watch it with a great sound system, even if it means impolitely inviting yourself to a friend's home-theater.

I once saw three crows harassing a bald eagle to the point that that the eagle fled. No doubt the eagle could have shredded them individually, but as a team they were too much for it.

A toast to your hair! (See reply of a couple of minutes ago to a message you posted after this one.) If I had red wine open, that would be ideal, but I'll have to settle for tea.

song_of_copper
Aug. 30th, 2008 06:47 pm (UTC)
I've not seen that movie, but will bear your advice in mind!

Crows are extremely determined creatures, it is true.

Thanks re. the hair! :-) And tea is an excellent choice.
( 12 confidences — Confide in me... )

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