The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.


                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.






Ashley's Avenue


by Ashley Murphy

It's that time of the year again. Soon we will be seeing plenty of decorations dedicated to witches, goblins, ghosts, jack-o-lanterns and skeletons. Halloween is a time many people relish to dress up or seek thrills through haunted houses. It seems like the perfect holiday for one to WANT to be scared. While many ghost stories and masked murdering psychos are the main focus of this commercialized holiday, what about everyday fears... such a superstition? This can follow anyone, anywhere, anytime. And like many Halloween stories, they tend to derive from ancient myths as well.

As described by Wikipedia, "superstition is a credulous belief, or notion, not based on reason or knowledge." Based on this definition, many believe superstitions to be irrational and are sometimes called "old wives' tales." In addition to folk beliefs, superstitions can also surround luck, prophecy and spiritual beings.

Three of the biggest superstitions today (at least in my book) are: a black cat crossing your path, breaking a mirror and walking under a ladder. All of which can mean extremely bad luck.

The idea that a black cat crossing your path is an omen of doom and is a sign of bad luck has ties in legends of witchcraft. Some extremely superstitious people even take it so far as to believe the black cat is a demon in disguise and allowing such a creature to directly cross your path would potentially cut off your access to Heaven.

Several legends around the world involve cats, but not all are color specific. In Scotland, Italy and Ireland, cats can be very good luck. The same "doom" a black cat crossing your path in America can cause, is really good luck in Japan.

Ashley Murphy
People News Media Assistant

Do you have questions or comments? If so, e-mail Ashley at:

Have you ever broke a mirror and fretted over the fate of your next seven years? Then you can thank the Romans for inventing the first glass mirror and coincidentally giving the very first superstitious belief surrounding a glass mirror. Not only the Romans, but Greek, Chinese, African and Indian cultures all believed that a mirror had the power to confiscate part of a user's soul. If the user's reflection was distorted, it meant possible corruption of the soul. However, if the user were to break a mirror, this created a broken soul.

The Roman's held the belief that a person's physical body renewed itself every seven years and under this belief was derived that a person's soul would not be fully restored until the same time frame. Up until that seven years, bad luck and unfortunate events would follow.

If you are one of those extremely superstitious types, you may want to try a couple of things in order to "restore" your soul which has, in ancient beliefs, been broken. Some say that after breaking a mirror, grinding the broken pieces into dust will reverse the effects. There is no longer a reflection, so no need to worry. Also, burying the broken pieces under a tree during a full moon, or washing the pieces down a river that flows in a southerly direction will essentially "wash" away the damage caused.

I'm not one that's big on superstitions, but one thing I refuse to do is walk under a ladder. I'm not really sure why, it's just a feeling I get when I approach a ladder that makes me take an alternate route to avoid placing myself below the structure.

Back in more "innocent" times, when Christianity was the dominant leading religion, a ladder was compared to that of the Holy Trinity. A ladder made a triangle, each side representing the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. Highly religious people believed that one walking "through" the Holy Trinity broke the sacred bond, making them a blasphemer against the Holy Spirit and being in cohorts with the Devil. This could have brought on a hanging or a trial in which the "blasphemer" would be accused of witchcraft.

Another origin is that a ladder and the shape it created was seen as having similarities with the gallows. Gallows were considered bad luck and one walking under a ladder that looked like gallows could be very unfortunate.

According to legend, you can reverse this bad luck that has been placed upon you by... spitting. Yes, I said spitting. Can't say that I will ever take it this far as to start feverishly spitting to reverse a touch of apparent bad luck. This can be accomplished by spitting three times through the rungs of the ladder, or you can spit on your own shoe. It gets a bit more ridiculous, as you can't look at your shoe until the spit has dried or spitting on yourself would be for naught and the bad luck will come back to haunt you.

Another tactic seems more up my alley; if you walk under a ladder and fear bad luck, simply walk backwards to retrace your steps under the ladder and make a wish once back on the other side!

While many people see superstitions as ridiculous and have no belief, others are adamant to avoid certain situations. There are many superstitions, too many to list here. These are just the three that seem most widespread, so at least now you have a background and why such things came to exist, no matter how quirky they may be.

Have a Happy Halloween!