ISBN 978-1-59474-329-0

Superstitions A Pocket Guide by Alys R. Yablon


I understand why superstitions exist, as I myself am a superstitious person. I used to believe that if you laid a hat on the table then it meant someone would die, and that deaths come in three. I still cringe when I see a hat on a table, but I know that it doesn’t mean that someone will die. Superstitions exist because somewhere along the line, people saw a correlation between doing something—picking up a penny, knocking on wood, or dropping silverware, and then our minds associated the action with the world as a way to interpret it or maybe somehow prevent fate. *

I decided to pair this week with the book Superstitions A Pocket Guide by Alys R. Yaablon because it’s Halloween week. Originally, I’d planned on writing about The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson, but since I got sick, I couldn’t read as fast or as much as I normally do. The good news is that I was able to read this book in one sitting, dozing on and off on the couch with my black cat.

Most of the superstitions in this book were standard: mirrors, black cats, talismans, etcetera. But there were some I hadn’t heard of before like bread and butter (it’s bad luck to walk on opposite sides of an obstacle), coming and going (entering and exiting though the same door), or one about fish (they’re good luck). Also, I never knew that black cats are thought of as good luck in England.

But even as I read, I tried to connect the superstitions with my life.  I had just watched Pan’s Labyrinth the night before, and the book talked about a superstition called Hamsa the evil eye in the hand. I tried to connect it with the monster in the movie, (the one who picks up his eyes and puts them in his hands) but I couldn’t. ** This just made me think about the essential truth of what a superstition is—a way to navigate out world.

At any rate, it was a fun little book to read for Halloween. I wish the book explained more about the history and psychology of these myths and legends, but it was just a pocket book guide. The introduction was pretty funny and ironic.

I’m going to hang out on my couch with my black good luck cat and not think too much about it, as sometimes that is the best way to navigate this world.

And just for fun here’s a song to go with the post. You can listen to it here.

* The psychology behind superstitions is interesting to me, and I wish they’d make a Through The Wormhole episode about it.

**What was Guillermo del Toro saying about sensing and acting? What did it mean that the little girl was still tempted and this awoke the monster? I could probably write an entire essay on the symbolism in Guillermo del Toro’s directive choices, but I’ll save that for another blog entry.



Filed under Books, Cats, Fiction, Life, Random, Uncategorized, Writing

10 responses to “ISBN 978-1-59474-329-0

  1. Superstitions as “a way to navigate our world” — you’re right on with this. Many superstitions offer concrete cause and effect: if you do this, then this will happen. As we know, life doesn’t work that way most of the time. The randomness, the illogical way things seem to go can be disorienting. Superstitions provide hard and fast “rules” that might somehow keep us from getting lost in the unknowable.

    • You are so right when you say they “keep us from getting lost in the unknowable.” I saw a hat fall on a table at least four times this week and all I could think of was, well, there’s nothing to get lost in right now. 😉

  2. If an action or thought was important enough to actually reach the status of a superstition there must have been something behind it – always fascinating to find out exactly what that something or many somethings might have been.

  3. I also am superstitious. Not so much with black cats, since I own one, but about stuff like broken mirrors (I really DON’T need seven years of bad luck, be careful with that mirror!) and I NEVER leave a penny laying on the ground. You’ve piqued my interest in this book-I may just have to check it out. It is a fun one for Halloween week! 🙂

  4. I don’t believe in superstitions but maybe I should. To wit:

    Dad was born on Friday the 13th and died 31 years later (13 backwards) on Friday the 13th. My oldest brother was born on Friday the 13th and died 13 months later on Friday the 13th. My youngest brother was born on Friday the 13th and died 13 minutes after birth, on Friday the 13th.

    However, I do admit that I do not visit the cemetery because all of the headstones with 13 on them are depressing………lol

  5. oh my god, PLEASE write the essay on Guillermo – write many, many essays on Guillermo and I’ll write some too and then he’ll invite us to his house that’s filled with horror knick-knacks and he’ll help us with our screenplays and we’ll be friends forever!!!

    • Horror knick-knacks. That’s what I took from this comment. All I could think of all day was if Guillermo and I could compare them. Yes, I will write many many essays just for you. And if you write some please let me see them so we can compare notes. lol

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