ISuperstition is an irrational belief in the existence of unseenforces which most frequently are considered as evil spiritscontrolling peoples fates or the turnout of events. Many peoplestill hold on to many of these beliefs and in certain cases passeddown like a tradition from generation to generation. IIEvery year on the 31st of October one witnesses a scene of childrenand even adults dressed up in costumes, children runningexcitedly from house to house, streets sounding with the echoesof “trick or treat”, carved, lit-up jack-o-lanterns as well asreligious observances. This day is known as Halloween.
This tradition can be traced back 2000 years to the Celtic beliefthat the spirits of the dead still remain in our plane ofexistence and required food and drink to be placated. Failingthis and one was sure to be visited by one of thesedisgruntled spirits in retaliation. For some the observance ofHalloween combines pre-Christian and Christian traditions. It isconsidered to be the eve of All Saints’ Day.The Celtic festival o f ‘Sambaing’ meaning “summer end” wasa time for storing up stocks and preparing for the soon tocome cold winter months. It was also the time of the yearwhen both the physical and supernatural worlds were closestand strange, unexplainable and magical events could occur.To ward off these spirits, huge bonfires were built. People alsoinvoked the help of Gods through animal and humansacrifices even.All Saints’ Day also known as ‘All Hallows’ and ‘All Souls Day’was a time for honoring the saints and praying for thedeceased who had yet to reach heaven. It is believed that onthis day souls wander the earth and is given a chance totake vengeance before moving on to their next life. Christianswould hide themselves in costumes to avoid being recognizedby a soul.
IIIAmong the ancient Egyptians cats, including black ones , wereheld in high esteem. They were protected from injury and deathby law. Their belief was so strong that a cat’s death wasmourned by the entire family. Their bodies were embalmed inan elaborate fashion, wrapped up in fine linen and placed inmummy cases made of bronze and even wood, Egypt being aplace with scarce timber resources. Entire cat cemeteries havebeen unearthed by archaeologists.Also in Egypt Goddess Bast was a black, female cat. Christianswished to eradicate all other forms of religion and worship inthe society. Thus they spread word among the ignorant that
black cats were demons in disguise and must be destroyed.Being demons, if a black cat crossed our path it would create acursed barrier that cuts one off from God and prevents anafterlife in heaven.Alley cats were often fed by the poor and lonely women. So whenwitch hysteria struck Europe, these innocent, helpless womenwere accused of practicing black magic and black cats weretheir companions.Many societies in the late Middle Ages attempted to drivecats into extinction. Soon the existence of witches reached alevel of paranoia at which time such women and their petswere mercilessly burned at the stake. It reached an extremeextent when even a baby born with eyes too bright and apersonality too precocious was sacrificial under the belief thatit was a host to a spirit that would in time turn into a witch.This had the unintended consequence of an increasing ratpopulation that in turn led to the spread of Bubonic plague[Black Death] and other diseases with rodent carriers.
In France, thousands of cats were burned monthly, until therule of King Louis XIII, in the 1630s, who brought an endto this preposterous practice. IV
The Knight Templars were among the most famous in thewestern Christian military orders. It lasted for nearly twocenturies in the middle ages. They were the poor-fellowsoldiers of Christ and among the most skilled at the time ofthe crusades. Their existence was closely tied up with thecrusades.In 1305, Pope Clement V wrote to the Templar Grand MasterJacques De Molay and the Hospitaller Grand Master Fulk DeVillaret to discuss the possibility of merging the two Orders.
His persistence led him to invite them a second time in 1306to discuss the issue. Jaques De Molay was the first to arrivein 1307 but De Villaret was held back for a long time.During this interval the Pope and De Molay spoke of thefalse charges made by an ousted templar. To gain moreinsight into the incident, Pope Clement sent a written requestto Philip IV of France to invesgitate into the matter.King Philip was under a huge debt to the Templars, who hadplayed the role of bankers for about two hundred years. Hetook direct advantage of the situation and turned therumours against the order to free himself from the piled updebts.On Friday October 13th, 1307, Philip sent an order for thearrest of De Molay and a number of Templars. They werecharged with a number of disgraceful offences which includedapostasy, idolatory, obscene rituals, heresy, secrecy, financialcorruption and fraud. Under intense physical and mentaltorture many confessed to these charges. Even though theconfessions were drawn out under duress, it succeeded increating a scandal. They were forced to confess that theyspat on the cross. All their assets too were seized. More thana hundred died under excruciating torture or were executedby burning at the stake.Paraskevidekatriaphobia is the official term for the fear ofFriday the Thirteenth. Jesus was said to havebeen crucified on Friday and the number of guests at the LastSupper was 13, with the 13th guest being Judas, the traitor.All these lead to Friday the 13th being recognized as a cursedand misfortunate day. V
The American version is "knock on wood", while the Britishversion is merely "touch wood". The tradition traces back to anancient pagan belief that spirits resided in trees, particularlyOaks, and that by knocking on or touching the wood,you were paying a small tribute to them by remembering oracknowledging them, and could call on them for protectionagainst ill-fortune. Also, you were thanking them for theircontinued blessings and good luck.
It may be traced back even further to an ancient Greekbelief, according to Sauren Dessai that if they touched an Oaktree, they communicate with Zeus, who would protect themfrom misfortune.