English Superstitions. Part 3
A ghost will disappear if you go around it nine times.
Carrying something on your shoulder, especially a shovel, is bad luck. It means you will soon be carrying a coffin.
A horseshoe brings good luck because its shape resembles a halo or a crown of thorns. But as the folklorist explains, this omen is actually connected with the belief that evil cannot stand iron.
If pigeon feathers are in a pillow or featherbed, a person sleeping on it will die a long and painful death.
If the sun shines brightly on someone’s face during a funeral, that person will die next.
If you bring a snowdrop into the house, one of the family members will die soon. This is because a snowdrop looks like a corpse wrapped in a shroud.
In villages on the Scottish border, it was customary to play cards during funerals. In some cases, the coffin served as a card table.
In order to find the body of a drowned person that had not surfaced, a loaf of bread weighted with mercury was allowed to run along the water. Where the bread stops, the body should be searched for.
If a murderer puts his hand on the corpse of his victim, the corpse will begin to bleed.
In England, an owl on the roof was thought to herald the death of a family member. But in the Welsh villages, an owl’s hooting heralded that one of the girls in the neighborhood would soon lose her virginity before her wedding.
When a beekeeper died, his widow would go to the hives, knock on them three times, and tell the bees that their master had died. Sometimes, the hives were tied with mourning ribbons, so the bees also wore mourning for the deceased.
It is better not to comb your hair at night, but if you do decide to comb it, you should burn all the hair that has fallen out. Otherwise, you may trip over them in the dark. And if the hair does not burn in the fire, the one on whose head it grew will drown. (Scotland)
Anyone who steps on a cuckoo’s nest will remain a widower.
At funerals, guests often put their hand on the chest of the deceased, especially if he died a violent death. It was believed that if there was a murderer among the guests, the wounds would open and bleed.
It was also believed that if you touched the deceased, he would not appear in your dreams. (Scotland)
The procession passed, but in the middle of the room, a great crowd gathered about the bier, for the fresh, warm blood trickled out again from the dead man’s wound, and this betokened certainly that the man was still surely present who had fought the battle and had killed and defeated him. Then they sought and searched everywhere and turned and stirred up everything until they were all in a sweat with the trouble and the press which had been caused by the sight of the trickling crimson blood.
(Yvain, the Knight of the Lion)
Read also part one and part two of English superstitions:
English Superstitions 1
English Superstitions 2
English Superstitions 4