posted on Oct, 14 2009 @ 08:55 AM
Some of these superstitions were just ways of manipulating people. For example, the mirror one was to make sure servants were careful when cleaning
or moving the mirrors, because at one time they were very expensive.
Some is simple common sense. People working on ladders often drop things. Their paint drips. They fall off. It's no big deal to go around the
ladder, and that could save your clothes or your head.
But I think most superstitions exist to give people a feeling of having some control in a frightening, bewildering, and often dangerous world. We in
the US and Europe mostly don't face such dangers, but not long ago live was precarious and filled with disasters. Diseases, famines, wars, all sorts
of upheavals could kill you or change your life in an instant. Superstitions offered a bit of apparent control.
So people had endless rules to follow, rituals to observe. If the spill salt, they would bribe the devil not to afflict them by tossing a bit over
their left shoulder (salt used to be very expensive, too). Make sure you do this, or don't do that, to prevent bad luck.
And then, when you had bad luck anyway, there was always something you probably got wrong, that you could blame. My cow got sick because I forgot to
spit three times when someone said it was a good cow. Your cow is still sick, but at least you're comforted by the thought that you *could* have
avoided it, had you been more careful.