Monday, March 29, 2010

Are You Superstitious...

Are you superstitious? Growing up in the South, superstitions have plagued my life. Do you believe in superstitions? Me, I don’t particularly think of myself as superstitious and typically scoff at them. I do, however, have a few that we practice in my home because my husband does believe in them. Which is truly crazy because this man does not believe in the supernatural, anything paranormal or in aliens from outer space. Oh, no, his faith lies in the facts of superstitions! His grandparents and his mother have spoonfed him superstitions all of his life.

So, here are a few superstitions that I could think of and how they got started. I found it interesting. I hope you will too.

1. We cannot wash clothes on New Year’s Day because if we do, my husband says we will wash someone out of our life. I scoffed at this one for many years, but typically we were too busy on New Year’s Day for me to actually test the theory and wash clothes. Not that I want to wash someone out of my life—well, maybe I can think of one or two, but I don’t think I get to pick the recipient. *snaps fingers* Too bad. I'm just kidding...a little. ;-) So, just my luck that the first New Year’s Day that I actually washed clothes, my husband’s grandmother died in October that year. That was in 1990. I haven’t washed again on New Year’s Day until this year, 2008. Forgetting my husband’s fanatical belief in this particular superstition, I put on a load of towels and it was in the rinse cycle by the time he realized what I was doing. He stopped the wash and muttered something about hopefully he had stopped it in time. Strangely enough, my girlfriend’s mother died on October 12th. Is there any validity to this superstition? Seriously, I don’t believe there is, but my husband is convinced. Me, I think it is just bad coincidence. A really bad, morbid coincidence. But…maybe, just maybe...I’ll refrain from washing clothes again on New Year’s Day just to be safe.

2. Spilling Salt and tossing it over your left shoulder. Salt once was very expensive and had many purposes. It was and still is used to purify. Salt has had many uses throughout history. In Greece, slaves were traded for salt. Hence, it’s where we get the saying, “He isn’t worth his salt.” Every grain of spilled salt was once believed to represent future tears in old English beliefs. If this were true, I would be in so much trouble. Spilled salt was believed to arouse enmity to the Germans. Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt because she disobeyed the angels by looking back at the city of Sodom as it was being destroyed. Jesus referred to his disciples as “the Salt of the Earth.” Matthew 5:13 states, “You are the salt of the earth…” Parallel verses to Matthew 5:13 are Mark 9:49-50 and Luke 14:34-35, wherein he is referring to Christians as “salt”. The famous painting by Leonardo DaVinci, The Last Supper, depicts Judas Escariot—Jesus’ betrayer that led to his crucifixion—has spilled some salt on the table, which was thought to be a portent of evil and bad luck. I could go on and on with all the salt superstitions I found and the numerous biblical references. By throwing a pinch of salt over our shoulder, it is being thrown straight into the Devil’s face who is hanging out over our left shoulder because it is the sinister side of our body. Again, this is not a superstition I adhere to. My husband…well, again, I’ve seen him toss salt over his shoulder more than once when salt has been spilled. He’s so freaky about it that he will toss salt over my shoulder for me when I spill it. I find this upsetting because he’s getting salt all over the floor or counter.

3. Weddings are wrought with superstitions, many of which I participated in because they are considered good luck and it’s become like a tradition. The bride is supposed to wear something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. There is supposed to be a penny in the bride’s shoe as well…this was most uncomfortable. The “something old” signified that the couple’s friends would stay with them; “something new” was for the couple’s future happiness, health and success; “something borrowed” was for the Bride’s family to give her something as a symbol of their love, but it must be returned to guarantee good fortune; and “something blue” was because the color represented fidelity and constancy. The penny in one’s shoe was supposed to bring the couple prosperity in their wedded years. At the bridal shower, I remember being told that the number of bows I broke while unwrapping the gifts indicated how many children we would have. It is a very old fertility rite to throw confetti, while throwing grains and/or nuts was considered life-giving seeds, which was probably also related to fertility.

4. Breaking a mirror is supposed to cause 7 years of bad luck. This superstition can be traced back to the Romans. However, many cultures believed that a mirror had the ability to possess a portion of the viewer’s soul. So if the viewer’s reflected image was distorted in any fashion, it could mean the viewer’s soul was corrupted. Worse yet, it was believed that a broken mirror reflected that the viewer’s soul was broken, as was the viewer’s health.

5. Walking under a ladder. In medieval times it was thought that a leaning ladder resembled the gallows, so in essence one was playing out their own execution by walking underneath it. Another explanation was that when a ladder is leaning up against a wall, it makes a triangular shape which represented the Holy Trinity. So by walking through the triangular shape, one was violating and desecrating God, and therefore, the violator would fall prey to Satan.

6. Various other superstitions that I won’t go into are, the horseshoe, the four-leaf clover, the wishbone, unlucky number 13, unlucky black cat, don’t open umbrellas indoors, making a wish when one blows out birthday candles, wishing on a shooting star, saying “break a leg” as opposed to saying “good luck” to actors/actresses, crossing fingers, rabbit’s foot, and the list goes on and on, but these were the ones I could think of. The last one I’ll mention is the one I hear from my boys, “Step on a crack and you’ll break your mother’s back.” I just want to know why we can’t break their father’s back instead of ours? I’m tired of getting the raw end of the deal. ;-)

Do you believe in superstitions? Tell me your superstitions, the ones you practice and believe in. Tell me it's a bunch of malarky, but tell me what you think.

I'll cross my fingers and hope everyone’s weekend is made of awesome!

(Note: Photos were snagged from Google Images and no copyright infringement was intended, but were used solely as visual aides.)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mermaid or Selkie...What's in a Name?

I broke out my handy dandy book, The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures, by John and Caitlin Matthews, and the first magical creature I turned to was Selkie. The second one was Mermaid. Kind of weird since they both involve magical sea creatures, so I decided this was fate prodding me in the Selkie/Mermaid direction.

So, tell me, which sounds more romantic? Selkie or Mermaid? Which would you prefer to find on a rock in the middle of the sea? Which would you feel safer with or want to be romantically inclined with?

According to Wikipedia (, a Selkie is a seal like creature with the ability to shed its seal shape and take human form when it comes to land. They are typically depicted in romantic stories where the human isn’t aware that their lover is a Selkie, but when they wake their lover is gone. There is also the legend of a human hiding the Selkie’s skin so that the Selkie cannot return to the sea and turn back into seal form. To further complicate things, Selkiescan have contact with one person for only a short period of time before it becomes necessary for them to return to the sea. After that, they cannot have human contact for seven years. With one exception, a human may betray them by stealing their Selkie skin and hiding or burning it (this just seems exceptionally cruel to me), thereby forcing the Selkie to remain here on earth since they cannot return to the sea without their skin.

Call me crazy, but I immediately thought of the Charmed episode, A Witch’s Tail, where the Mermaid was given one month by the sea hag, an evil witch, to find true love. Of course, the sea hag had ulterior motives. Don’t they always! LOL If the Mermaid couldn’t get her lover to admit his true love for her within one month, then she would have to give the sea hag her immortality. Maybe that’s a little farfetched in the comparison between Selkies and the Charmed episode, but both have a short period of time unless: 1) the Selkie’s,/i> skin is hidden from them; or 2) the Mermaid is able to find true love and her lover admits it. My opinion, the Selkie version isn’t all that romantic. Sounds a little too much like kidnapping to me.

also brought to mind the 1984 movie, Splash, with Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah. Daryl Hannah plays a mermaid in this movie, but she’s also able to shed her tail for various periods of time while on land. And in Splash, the Mermaid and human fell in love, so it had its romantic theme. Kind of like a Selkie, right? ;-) Okay, maybe another long stretch, but my brain saw the similarity with the way she was able to take human form on land. Seeing this movie as an impressionable kid, I loved the romantic mermaid aspect of it.

I didn’t forget Ariel and Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid, just chose not to discuss it since it was so similar to the Charmed version in The Witch’s Tail.

Okay, none of these movies/shows have anything do with Selkies really, but rather Mermaids, right? Or, maybe…well, let’s see what The Element Encylopedia of Magical Creatures, by John & Caitlin Matthews, has to say about Mermaids. In folklore, Mermaids have a dark side and were kind of scary actually, nothing at all like the above romantic elements. Mermaids were responsible for luring young men to their death. The appearance of a Mermaid presaged storms and disasters, not only bringing about misfortunes, but also provoking them. Legend has them enthusiastically seeking human lives by either drowning or consuming men. Yowza! Talk about a black widows death ala Mermaid style. Suddenly, instead of having the beautiful Ariel image in my head, I'm picturing a sea hag type monster with piranha teeth. It was said, Mermaids were born without a soul and the only way they could obtain a soul was by marrying a human.

These aspects of Mermaid folklore had very little deviations from The Celts, Irish, Scotts, British, Dutch, and Asian regions. In fact, the character of a Mermaid differs very little between the nations of the world, signifying that belief in these odd creatures has been around for an extremely long time and that they are all similar and frightening. And to tie in Mermaids with Selkies, one of the many regional names of a Mermaid is Selkie. Neat, huh? I thought so anyway. =)

(Note: All photos were snagged from Google Images. No copyright infringement was intended, but photos were used as visual aides.)

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Review of Daybreakers

I went to the Dollar Matinee this weekend to see Daybreakers. It’s set in the future, 2019, and the majority of humankind has suffered from a disease that turned them into vampires. Humans are on the brink of extinction because of the supply and demand of human blood. The humans are hunted and culled for their blood by marine like vampires. But, vampires are facing a horrendous evolution of their species and the very likelihood they’ll all become monsters. Because of the blood shortage, the vampires are starving. Worse than that, starvation turns them into a vampire monster, with wings, pointy ears, and spiky predator fangs. Deformed into a bald, shriveled up creature, a shell of their former vampire selves, their strength that surpasses the vampires and the vampires are convinced the creature cannot be allowed to live. There’s only one problem, all of vampires are headed down this path because of the blood shorter. This movie holds true to some of the old “classics” like the vampires are allergic to sunlight, turn to ash if exposed to sunlight too long. Stakes are also a classic killer of this species.

(Human database where blood is drained from humans at Bromley Blood Bank)

Edward is a vampire hematologist that works for Bromley Blood and he’s working hard for a blood substitution, but a test run of a blood substitute ends in gory fashion and ultimately it doesn’t work. Then by accident he crashes into a group of humans and his life takes a 360 degree turn. He discovers a cure for vampirism, but wouldn’t you know it, the owner of Bromley doesn’t want anything to do with a cure because there’s no money in a cure.

One could hope in a virus infested world where vampires rule, they’d have their act together. But, of course, this isn’t the case in Daybreakers. The vampires are just as corrupt, lacking in morals and using the government for their own gain rather than the good of a country or the world and definitely not humanity. While this movie was set in the future, I wasn’t awed by the “future” visuals. This movie could have been set in the present day for no more gadgetry than was shown.

(Monster vampires turn into without blood)

I wouldn’t say this movie was a flop. It entertained me and I was never bored, but I wasn’t enthralled by its quality or riveting storyline. I’m glad I only paid $1 to see it instead of $9. After being entertained with movies like Underworld, Interview with a Vampire, Queen of the Damned and the Blade Series or even television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, Supernatural and Fringe, I expect more quality than what I got in Daybreakers. While I don’t want to tell you the ending, I did like the twist on lore that led to the cure for vampirism.

Viewers on Internet Movie Data Base or gave Daybreakers a 6.7 out of 10 rating. I think that was a fair assessment of all the movie had to offer. I might have given it a flat 6, but certainly not a 7.

But this is just my opinion. Tell me yours!

(Note: All pictures snagged from Photobucket. No copyright infringement was intended and these photos were used solely as a visual aide for this review.)