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  • Numbers: their occult power and mystic v... (by )
  • The mysteries of all nations : rise and ... (by )
  • Superstitions about animals (by )
  • The Origin of Man and of His Superstitio... (by )
  • Ireland : Her Wit, Peculiarities, And Po... 
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Superstitions vary from culture to culture. Each has its own beliefs about what ushers in good fortune and what must be avoided to ward off  evil. 

Many cultures have strong superstitions about numbers. In America, the number thirteen is considered unlucky, but in Japan, the numbers four and nine are viewed as unlucky. The word for “four” closely resembles the word for death, and the word for “nine” sounds like the word for suffering. The Chinese consider the number four unlucky for the same reason.

The ‘13 at a table’ superstition may take its origin from The Last Supper wherein 13 people dined (Jesus and his twelve disciples) and Jesus died soon after, or from the Valhalla Banquet story in Norse mythology. That story tells about 12 gods invited to a banquet. Loki, making thirteen, intrudes and Balder, the favourite of the gods, is killed.    

13 is the number of the Hebrew word Achad (ACHD), unity. Old authors state that 13 is a number used to procure agreement among married people. (An unlucky number at a meal.) (p.48)

Triskaidekaphobia is fear or avoidance of the number thirteen. It’s also associated with the fear of Friday the 13th. Many buildings in America don’t have a thirteenth floor, and some American airplanes don’t have a thirteenth row.
Although thirteen is considered unlucky in America, it’s a favorable number in Italy. The expression fare tredici (“to do 13”) means to hit the jackpot. Thirteen was the sacred number of the Mexicans and people of Yucatan. American Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift was born on December 13 and believes that her good fortunes are linked with the number. During concerts, she has the number written on her hand.

There are also numbers associated with good luck. In The Mysteries of All Nations, James Grant writes, 

The number 10 was much noticed and used by the Jews. The blessing of the bridegroom, which consisted of seven blessing, was of no avail unless delivered in the presence of ten persons. (p. 13)

Superstitions also relate to animals. In Superstitions About Animals, Frank Gibson writes, 

It would be interesting to know at what period of the world’s history, and under what circumstances, mankind first attributed to certain members of the animal kingdom powers and functions above and beyond those which they possess through the wisdom of their Creator. Was there, indeed, ever a period when the proper and natural position of each creature was intelligently understood by all mankind, and superstition and credulity were non-existent? (p. 1) 

In World Heritage Encyclopedia’s Superstitions in India, the author mentions that it’s considered auspicious to see a peacock before a journey. The book references several methods of warding off evil, including lemon-and-chili totems.

By Regina Molaro

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