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Superstitions are a subject that at some point has touched us all closely; then we must decide whether to believe or discard them and, to speak honestly, throwing away years of popular “wisdom” can make us hesitate.
But superstition has not been understood in the same way through time: in the beginnings of Christianity superstitious people were those who were attached to paganism and practiced its rites. Between the 11th and 13th centuries, superstition was associated with the way of thinking of uneducated people, a concept that survives in our times. Finally, with the witch hunt initiated by the religious power, superstition is linked to the satanic cult.
Thus, over time have developed the most dissimilar superstitions that we follow with closed eyes without knowing what their origin is. For example, the idea of starting the day with the right foot comes from the fishermen who always had to get on the boat on the right side because everything that was related to the left was considered unnatural and demonic.
The seven years of bad luck when breaking a mirror come from the idea that the reflected image is a version of the soul, therefore, by breaking the mirror we are hurting ourselves. The good luck that a horseshoe brings comes from the fact that in the past many nobles used to put gold horseshoes on some of their horses, so finding a horseshoe for a peasant was equivalent to the smile of the goddess of fortune.
And so it can be mentioned: the fear of Friday the 13th, the fear of spilling salt, not opening the umbrella under a roof, the fear of black cats … and the list continues … almost infinitely.
But … why are these superstitions kept alive?
Because people since long time have a tendency to establish cause-effect relationships, they try to find an explanation for each event, but on many occasions the answer is not in their hands or goes beyond their understanding, in this case they use magical explanations.
Then, these explanations are passed from generation to generation and are assumed without questioning or asking about their origin. These beliefs are later activated in situations over which we have no control or plausible explanations. It is a tendency to eliminate uncertainty and provide a certain degree of security. Many people think: “If I fulfill this ritual everything will be fine”, “If I go out on the right foot everything will be perfect” …
However … how effective are these superstitious routines or beliefs?
When people says phrases like those above, these can encourage them and reinforce their self-confidence; in short, they can promote a positive attitude to face situations that cause some fear. However, relying only on magical or superstitious rituals leads us to put the responsibility for our actions on destiny and therefore, we become puppets of a power external to ourselves.
Let us remember a wonderful phrase by Albert Einstein: “There is no supernatural but only the unknown.”