Folklore and Superstition
While researching snakes, I came across this nifty little tidbit. It’s a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to snakes.
A. Don’t cross a snake’s path unless you slide or shuffle your feet.
B. You’ll have leg aches – other diseases – bad luck.
A. Don’t eat in front of a snake.
B. When you get older, your throat will close.
A. Don’t watch a snake swallow it’s food.
B. Your neck will swell up.
A. Don’t watch a water snake swallow.
B. You’ll lose your voice.
A. Don’t open your mouth when you see a snake.
B. He’ll jump in.
A. Don’t kill snakes or lizards.
B. It will make your heart small – dry up – you will get a crooked back.
A. Don’t burn a snake.
B. You’ll get sores – rash.
A. Don’t kill a snake when it is raining.
B. Lightning will strike your house.
A. Don’t put a snake in the open when dead.
B. The lighting will bring it back to life.
A. Don’t put a dead snake on a rock.
B. You’ll cause a thunderstorm – it will come back to life.
A. Don’t kill a snake with your hand.
B. Your hand will swell up.
A. Don’t go to the bathroom in front of a snake.
B. He will be jealous of your wife and turn her yellow.
A. Don’t pick up things between two fingers.
B. Only snakes do that.
A. Don’t watch snakes having intercourse.
B. You’ll go blind.
A. Don’t step on a snake.
B. Your legs will swell up – get crooked.
A. Don’t draw in the sand with your fingers.
B. Snakes will come to it.
A. Don’t talk about snakes.
B. They will come around.
A. Don’t laugh at a snake.
B. It will bite you.
A. Don’t make faces at a snake.
B. It will bite you some day.
A. Don’t spit at a snake.
B. It will get after you.
A. Don’t watch a snake crawl out of its skin.
B. You’ll get sick or jump out of your skin.
A. Don’t shoot an arrow at a snake.
B. It will go crooked – hit something else – be spoiled.
A. Don’t run over a snake in your car.
B. You’ll have a bad life.
A. Don’t break snake eggs.
B. The snakes will get you.
A. Don’t wear anything made out of snakeskin, especially boots or shoes.
B. You will get crippled.
A. Don’t touch a snake.
B. It has nothing and it will make you have nothing.
A. Don’t call a person a snake.
B. You’ll be bitten by one.
A. Don’t urinate on roads that cross each other.
B. That is the same as a snake trail
~Navajo Taboos; Ernie Bulow, 1991
When the devil appeared to Cuvier, the great man looked at him nonchalantly and asked curtly: “What do you wish of me?” “I’ve come to eat you !” said the devil. But the great anatomist’s shrewd eye had already examined him. “Horns and hoofs !” he retorted, “granivorous. You can’t do it!” Whereupon, outfaced by science, Satan departed.
Plinius Secundus remembers a house at Athens which Athenodorus, the philosopher, hired, and which no man durst inhabit, for fear of the haunting devils. Hesperius, the tribune’s house, at Zubeda, near the city of Hippos, was also thus haunted; and he was so much vexed with these demons and ghosts that he could not rest.
Vasari, the Italian painter and biographer (d. 1574), tells the following strange tale of Spinello of Arezzo. When this artist had painted, in his famous fresco of the fall of the rebellious angels, the devil as a hideous demon and with seven heads about his body, the fiend came to him in the very bodily form he had conceived him, and asked the artist where he had seen him so, and why he had portrayed him in such a manner and put such a shame upon him? When Spinello came out of the vision, he was in a state of terror, and falling into a melancholy, soon died.
A mythical personage who originated in German folklore, was Friar Rusk. He was a fiendish looking creature who was really a devil, and kept monks and friars from leading a religious life. He was probably at one time a good natured imp like Robin Goodfellow, but under the influence of Christian superstition, he became the typical emissary from Satan who played tricks among men calculated to set them by the ears, and who sought by various devices, always amusing, to fit them for residence in his master’s dominions. (Tuckerman, “History of Prose Fiction.”)
Freischiitz, the free shooter, is a name given to a legendary huntsman who, by entering into a compact with the devil, procures balls six of which infallibly hit, however great the distance, while the seventh, or according to some of the versions, one of the seven, belongs to the devil, who directs it at his pleasure. Legends of this nature were rife among the troopers of Germany in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and during the Thirty Years’ War. The story first appeared in Apel’s “Ghost Book,” and was made known to all civilized countries by Weber’s opera in 1821. Continue reading