Thursday, 1 December 2011

Peculiar invocations

00:12:00 Posted by Damp incendiary device , 3 comments

“If a stem of bracken that has grown to its full height is cut crosswise close to its foot, certain marks will be seen upon it which resemble the Greek letter Chi, the first letter in the Greek form of Christ’s name (Χριστός). By some these marks have been construed as I.H.S, or as J.C., initials which also belong to Our Lord. Because of this, witches and evil spirits were formerly thought to detest bracken, and to avoid those who carried it.”

From the Encyclopaedia of Superstitions, E & M A Radford, (1961) Pg 63

Somebody ought to warn the witches.

I love superstitions. The mostly irrational belief in the power of objects or activities to protect. To bring luck, love, revenge. To predict the future. To affect the weather. Steve is right, it does stray into spiritual belief – because faith and superstition are based on the same anecdotal, story-based traditions. They feed that part of our nature which needs to schematise the world. Forgetting the scientific method for a long as possible, don’t you think superstitions are a fascinating insight into the nature of humanity?

We use superstitions to invoke a power that is beyond what we can observe. They tend to be based on personal, experiential knowledge which is intimately our own. We wrap ourselves in superstitions and impose a sense of magic on the world around us. And this, in the West at least, despite a strong cultural emphasis on reason and observable evidence.

William Blake said “I see every thing I paint in this world, but everybody does not see alike. To the eyes of a miser a guinea is more beautiful than the sun, and a bag worn with the use of money has more beautiful proportions than a vine filled with grapes.” We impose our own schemes and stories on what we see. We carry our past in our pocket. Expose it to the present and catapult both into the future by imagining a significance which lifts us out of the mundane into a moment of unlimited potential.


She said
If I see three feathers I’ll know
Pigeons became peacocks

She said
If I touch my nose I’m safe
Muck marked the spot

She said
If I don’t look he won’t see me
She lives in your imagination


Ashley R Lister said...

Who can find fault with a blog that has pictures of naked ladies at the start?

"...don’t you think superstitions are a fascinating insight into the nature of humanity?"

I totally agree. I think they say more about us than most of us would honestly want to admit.


Lindsay said...

Love the poem :)

Great post Vicky.

Lara Clayton said...

I really love the structure of the poem. I don't usually like poems that leave a single word on a line by itself, especially if that word is a conjunction. But it really works in this poem - increases the suspense.
The stanza is just brilliant - loved it :)