Magens Bay --San Thomas

Monday, October 8, 2012

Superstitious …

Part of the journey in life, we travel around the world and meet many people as well as encounter many cultures and perhaps hear a bit of superstitious stories behind each culture …
And Today’s BlogFest is brought to you by The Monkey Heart Discourses, where she has listed many superstitious and their origins ...

It is very interesting to know the story behind the superstitious but when I was growing up, a lot of times, I couldn’t understand for the life of me why we believed certain things and every time when I asked ‘why’ – the answer was always, “just because … “ To be fair, I don’t think my parents knew the reason behind, they were simply following the passed down traditions.

My grandma passed away when I was in elementary school. I remembered my parents and all other relatives (uncles, aunts and you name it) were there surrounding my grandma’s unclosed coffin for three days or so. I remember they were saying that they couldn’t let the coffin unattended simply because if a cat would have jumped over my grandma's body, she would be awaken from her long, and deep sleep. Of course, I had no idea why and I bet they didn’t either.  So, they took turn to stay up, the adults, accompanying my grandma’s corpse.

After three days, we were having the burial ceremony in the cemetery and off we went. At the cemetery, before placing the coffin down, they would close it permanently. Here is what my mom told us and with a special attention to me, YES ME :-), “Please don’t look at the coffin when they were about to close it. Because it would be the last time and the spirit inside grandma would want to escape and she may not be happy.”

One morning, I told my mom that I was having a nightmare the night before that my grandma was mad and chased after me. The unique part of the dream was, she was wearing the same gown that she wore on the day of the burial. My mom shook her head and said, “Didn’t I tell you not to look when they were closing the coffin?”

Was my grandma really mad and not happy like my mom said? I dunno ... and I did look at the coffin before it was closed forever while the rest of people looking down ...

Until next stop,
Journey of Life


  1. oh god, that would leave me traumatized for years! You must still be having nightmares!

    1. :-) Every time I saw her picture, I tried to avoid her eyes. Something about them that spook me out ...

  2. Interesting. I've never heard that one. I watched them close my Grandpa's coffin--how could I not-- I was standing there with my Grandma. The thing is-I did have a fear of seeing him in my dreams until I almost in 5th grade. He visited me in the most comical way--and since then all has been well.

    You've got me thinking hard on this one!! LOL. Cheers, Jenn.

  3. Personally, I tend to be an empiricist, and thus put next to no credence in superstitions. I don't believe in ghosts or evil spirits (as an aside: why is it that ghosts, zombies, and other people returned from the dead are universally "evil" in the movies? Is there any reason to suspect that the ghost of, say, your uncle or a friend would come back to harm you? Why would he not be friendly or helpful?)

    But it's also true that almost all superstitions, so to speak, arise from empirical observation. With some examination, you can almost always come up with a reason that, thousands of years ago, without the scientific method we now benefit from, our forebears came to accept certain practices that they almost certainly "understood" from watching the world around them.

    For example, not crossing under a ladder may be blamed on spirits or violating some dictum from God, but I suspect many, many cases occurred of people walking under structures that were not made to the same codes we have today, and had heavy objects fall on them from above. Perhaps to fatal consequence in some cases.

    People say "bless you" after a sneeze - I believe the superstition about this arose from seeing that, absent antibiotics or proper medicine, many common illnesses resulted in death.

    My personal favourite - throwing salt over the shoulder (and it HAS to be over the LEFT shoulder, with your RIGHT hand) was attributed to the belief that the Devil sat over your left shoulder, encouraging you to temptation, and salt was thought to be somehting with which to blind him and thus hold him at bay. My maternal grandfather - an educated man with a law practice - actually believed this among other superstitions

    But keep in mind, as well, that salt in the old days was a precious, difficult to acquire commodity, and thus to spill it was to be discouraged.

    We have many examples, and you're right; I think most of us long forgot the reasons, and thus the supersition came to be a basic, comfortable reason understandable to even the simplest people. So that's what's left.

    To answer your final question - no. I do not think your grandmother was angry. I think what's actually at play in this case is two other factors, powerful in the human psyche. One is our ability to relate two otherwise random events, after the fact, in a pattern that really is not there. The other is the human mind's vulnerability to the power of suggestion. If someone says something to you, you may be prone in the future to internalise the message. And if it's repeated, even more so.

    1. Love throwing the salt one. Very interesting --first time heard about this.

      And you are right, I had high curiosity and I tend to do what my parent's forbid me to. At the same time, I think I was a bit scared and that played a big role on my nightmare.

  4. That is fascinating!! After my mom died I dreamed I was going toward the open casket and when I reached it the lid closed over her face. The coffin began to lower and I was pushed from behind on top of it. It was a reoccurring nightmare for a long time. Really scared me, but I don't recall actually seeing them close the coffin for the final time. Awesome blog!


    1. What a nightmare you had! Phew ... I am glad you seem no longer having them anymore. Thank you Kathy for your comment.

  5. Yes, Angela, I was going to write something similar to what dwbudd said in the last paragraph, but it was said so well that now I don't have to! You don't need to worry about your grandmother's displeasure!