GHOST STORY: Very superstitious

Cameron Gorman headshot

Cameron Gorman

 … Writing on the wall! Happy Halloween, or time close to Halloween, and happy creepy column week. My name is Cameron, and I’m not superstitious, but

I’m a little stitious. (You know me, I had to.) Honestly, though…  I am.

When I spill salt, I toss a pinch or two over my shoulder, just to be sure. (To reverse the bad luck of letting it fall onto the table. Or, as Woman’s Day mentions, apparently to throw some in the devil’s eye. Ouch.) I make sure to avoid walking under ladders leaned against the sides of buildings. And, of course, I check when I drop mirrors to be sure I haven’t cracked the glass.

I’m aware that it’s a bit bizarre. When I stop a rocking chair from moving back and forth when no one is sitting in it, (House Beautiful attests that in Irish folklore, it invites dark spirits to sit down) I’m not sure that I really believe it will make demons feel unwelcome. When I tell my siblings and friends not to open umbrellas indoors, I know it’s so that I can avoid bad luck, but I’m not sure

it’s because I think it will insult the

spirits of my house.

So why do I do it, especially when observing superstitions seems a little dark and old-world-ish? We have science! We have the technology! Shouldn’t we be past the little quirks and moments of reactionary magic in our

technology-driven lives?

Well, I’m not quite sure. I’ve never grown out of making sure that my luck is in check. Maybe it’s because it’s just easier to do a quick ritual than have the superstitious and more antiquated part

of my brain start to go haywire with doubt. After all, I know I don’t fully believe that any of these superstitions

are really going to affect me. 

There are, after all, some superstitions that I don’t subscribe to. I love black cats, and have loved many of my Nana’s charcoal-colored pets in the past. They’re just as sweet and nice to pet as any other furry friends, and I certainly don’t believe that having them wind around my ankles makes my day any worse than having a Calico or a Tabby.

I’ve put my shoes on a table before, I step on cracks in the sidewalk quite often when I’m in a hurry, and I don’t have fennel above my door. But, like the salting of the air I do when I knock over a shaker, there are still some traditions I find aren’t as easy for me to ignore.

Maybe part of this is indeed a harkening back to simple fear and adherence, not wanting to take the risk of invoking something darker than we might be able to understand. It probably is, at least partially. But what I think is most likely is that these superstitions — like fairy legends, old wives’ tales and bedtime stories — are the remnants of tradition, passed down in our collective memory and families from generation to generation. Sure, they aren’t heartwarming like family holidays or special hand-me-downs. But, like most things to do with human culture, there is often a dark side to life. And perhaps these little superstitions are the fragments that have stuck around.

So, while I know that nothing will probably happen when I say something positive, I’ll still knock on wood. I’ll still wait until I’m outside to test my new umbrella. I’ll still toss a pinch of salt over my shoulder when I knock over the Morton’s. Do I really believe it? Who knows. But I’ll do it anyway — just in case.

Cameron Gorman is a columnist. Contact her at [email protected].