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By Chloe Roads

This assortment investigates the origins of our such a lot interesting outdated superstitions, a lot of which we nonetheless locate ourselves abiding by way of this present day. thousands of the ideals handed down throughout the generations have their foundations in our ancestors' efforts to chase away evil, which they blamed for trouble, affliction and injustice in instances while lifestyles was once, as frequently as no longer, 'nasty, brutish and short'. Black Cats and Evil Eyes units those superstitions of their ancient and social context, explaining how worry of the satan, demons, evil spirits and witchcraft drove humans to arm themselves with rituals and talismans to repel darkish forces and make allowance them to stay lengthy and fit lives. In reading lots of our universal superstitions, this e-book illuminates the customs, ideals and practices that hyperlink us to an historical, and infrequently darker, human previous.

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Extra resources for Black Cats and Evil Eyes: A book of old-fashioned superstitions

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As Dunstan prepared the man’s feet for shoeing, he noticed that they were cloven hoofed and realized with horror that his customer was the Devil. Exhibiting a fearlessness befitting a future saint, he drove the nails into the soft centre of the hoof, causing the Devil so much agony that from that day on he didn’t dare to go near a horseshoe. The protective power of the horseshoe, however, pre-dates not only St Dunstan but Christianity itself. Hindu texts use the Sanskrit word ‘Yoni’ to describe the sacred temple or womb, representative of the Goddess Shakti, which was believed to be the origin of all life and is depicted in ancient stone carvings, paintings, and architecture as a downward-pointing horseshoe.

The idea of the interconnectedness of two things can be most easily explained with an example: anything done to the milk of a cow, for instance, might be felt by the animal itself. In societies where the health and productivity of livestock determined the health and indeed the survival of the people who kept them, every precaution against an animal being harmed or falling ill was taken. Where the causes of death and disease weren’t understood, they were often blamed on people’s failure to adhere to the customs dictated by such superstitions.

Similar stories are told in different parts of Europe; on the river Main in Frankfurt it’s a bridge builder who drives a rooster across ahead of him; in Switzerland, the St Gotthard Pass is spanned by ‘The Devil’s Bridge’, named after a legend about the Devil waiting to catch anyone crossing after dark. These tales have travelled down to us in more and more diluted forms until the accepted wisdom became that crossing any bridge after dark, or being the first to cross a bridge at any time of day, meant running a gauntlet of evil sprites, trolls (incorporating the Norwegian fairytale of the Three Billy Goats Gruff) or the Devil himself.

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