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The Abyss of Grief

I lost a really good friend on Thursday, just two days ago. It’s been so difficult to put into words the grief, anger and sadness that I feel over her passing. The past few days have been a roller coaster ride of emotions. I have tried in vain to box up my feelings and file them into some kind of category so I can more easily understand them and cope with them, but that has proven time and again to be impossible. What is much easier for me to do during situations like this is to write. Through writing I have always felt like I can just allow the feelings to happen naturally as I recount experiences. I can’t guarantee a coherent entry this time around- as I am writing only as I feel with no real structure.

Ashley was the first close friend I have ever known who has died. Died. That word feels so cold; so definite, so absolute. She passed over. She crossed over. Those words, to me, give hope to an event like death. I know, in the cockles of my heart that there is something that awaits us after we leave this world. In that I always thought I would find solace. It brings little peace as I wade through the shock and disbelief of her passing. In time there will be less anger toward this unfairness in losing someone I genuinely cared about and I am sure the anger will be replaced by acceptance. What I can’t say for sure is that peace will ever enter my heart. I don’t know how a person can make peace with such a tragic event.

I should explain some things here. When I say tragic and shocking, I am purposely conveying how devastating and unbelievable it was to find out such a vibrant and lively person was found fighting for her life; in the prime of her life, no less. Sometimes we expect death. It doesn’t make it any less painful to lose someone when death is lurking behind every corner. I remember the death of my grandmother. We’d known for days. It wasn’t much of a forewarning, but enough so that when the moment came we had prepared ourselves for the inevitable. Ashley’s death was a complete surprise.

There are many facets as to why the circumstances surrounding her death are so traumatic. Firstly, her and I had bonded over being mothers. Our sons were nearly the same age. They were both young, not yet tarnished by cold hard reality. For her little one, that all changed when he found his mother unconscious on the floor of their apartment late Wednesday evening. My mind can’t even conceptualize the horror he must have felt and I tear up thinking of the innocence he lost that fateful night. I have asked myself so many questions trying to understand how the situation could possibly be handled by a child, when I know that I, as an adult, would have lost my proverbial marbles. It also makes me wonder if I should sit down with my own children and discuss what should be done if, god/dess forbid they are ever faced with such a situation. For the time being, however, I have found myself just watching them carelessly playing and listening to their laughter and little voices none the wiser that life can be a cruel, cruel mistress.

Ashley’s situation immediately affected everyone who knew her. I personally didn’t know anything until late Thursday morning. Social media being the blessing it is when it comes to spreading information instantaneously. I went right into prayer mode. I’m pagan, but the pagans I am friends with all believe in the power of thought and prayer. Prayer doesn’t always bring the miracles we hope for and in this instant it failed us, but it does and always will bring comfort. For one, I am in Ohio and she was living in Tennessee. The mere act of lighting a candle and turning my thoughts to something greater than myself- beseeching the God, Goddess or infinite all-encompassing energy of the universe is all I could offer to assist her and her family. Even when the outcome is contrary to the prayer, there is a sense of connection to all that is.

Of all the events that have transpired over the last few days, only one brings the greatest amount of heartache and melancholy. The last conversation Ashley and I had with one another was like any conversation between two women; two mothers. We spoke of our plans for the future, of our families and the holidays to come. Her thoughts were always squared directly on those she loved and their lives together. It was just hours before she was found that we had talked about these things. What sort of cruel joke is that? It’s heartbreaking. How can someone with so much life, so many aspirations, so many dreams yet to be fulfilled just be gone?

There is a randomness to life that translates into unfairness in our grief. I have heard the poems and read the romanticized compositions that deal with death. I know the prayers by heart- the verses from the bible in Ecclesiastes:

 

3 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

 

and the other passages like this:

 

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

 

I can even recount stanzas from Shakespeare:

 

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow.

 

Death is one of the only constants in life; save for change. Though I personally subscribe to the philosophy that death is just a change; a transition from this world to the next. To idealize the notion of death’s absoluteness is one thing, to encounter it in life, I have found, is something altogether different. Anecdotes, ballads and sonnets all fall away into the hollowness of experience. The words hold their meanings as they always did, but they feel empty and lost in my despair. Those things that once brought me comfort, now bring pause. Not because their beauty is diminished or their words less true, but because the experience is no longer akin to waxing philosophical. The words are now concrete and apply to someone I knew, not some hypothetical discussion or sermon.

There are moments of clarity, like pin-hole size stars that radiate through the din of an overcast night. I am no astronomer, nor do I fully understand the intricacies of those far away glints of light; there is an appreciation of their majesty, an understanding of something greater out there. And so it is with death, I suppose. I know medically why a person’s body fails to recover. I know that the universe, in all  its splendor and glory, is random and chaotic. Yet, even logically approaching these things, death still eludes my complete comprehension.

There will come a time of resignation. After mourning, when grief, loss, pain, sadness and anger begin to fade and the light of acceptance will creep into my heart. That moment is too far off. This wound far too new and too deep to speak of healing, yet. Though I know someday I will carry with me this scar of loss across my spirit. I know certain songs or subjects will make me reach inside to touch it and recount these days. Until then, and until my own dying day I want only for Ashley’s death to stand sentinel in my life as a reminder of how truly precious every day, hour, minute and second actually are. It’s cliche to say the future is not promised to us, but a truer sentiment has never been uttered.

I will always miss my friend. I will always feel the horror when I think of her son finding her and losing his mother in the span of a mere 22 hours. I will always encounter sadness for her parents who lost a child long before her time. My promise to her is that I will live and remember her and through me she will live on as a memory, until that day when I, myself, become nothing but a memory.

My you rest in peace and may your smile infect the heavens for ever and ever.
Ashley Neal
October 20, 1983- August 16, 2012

All of my love,

Lauryn

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Recently, I was told I have my hands in too many projects. I have too much going on. The truth is, I do. I have interests and passions, projects and ideas that if I even tried to list them out I would get a hand cramp. It doesn’t stop me. I can’t imagine my life without these things. It would feel empty and unrewarding. I only have so much time in this world and there is just so much to learn and do. I will never be burned out, nor will I ever be so busy that the important things in life get ignored. My family always comes first and they know it. This is why they are my greatest motivation and biggest supporters. There is nothing I do that cannot be passed down to my children and so, for now, they share in my eclectic lifestyle.

My husband, who I met just over nine years ago (we joke that Shark Week is our unofficial anniversary since that was the week we got cable together after he moved in just days after meeting) and I have always had the same interests, values and goals for our life together. It’s one of the cornerstones to our relationship. It’s why we knew, after just 24 hours, we were meant for one another. I know, it sounds so cliche. We talked about everything that first night together and it was that long and winding discussion that sealed our fate.

We never compromised ourselves for one another and over the years as our interests have grown and evolved we continue to support one another. We have departed on some things- spirituality being one, but the important things, how to raise children, our lifestyle, our ultimate goals and dreams, we have grown more intertwined and stronger in our convictions.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I regret anything I do or think. I’m passionate and driven and that isn’t going to stop. Is there too much going on in my life? I don’t think so. If I weren’t constantly researching, learning or creating I am convinced I would be totally unfulfilled.  I’ve always been this way, too, even before Google and Youtube (which I attribute to my new found love for crochet).

As far as what it is I actually DO, it’s a little of everything. When I go to buy something I always ask myself if I couldn’t just make it myself. I am working on learning to sew- that is one thing that has always eluded me, but soon that too will change. And as far as what I think and believe that is ever changing- my interests vary greatly from prepping/homesteading to a very eclectic spirituality.

I have tried to define myself in the past. I have tried to make people understand who I am, but ultimately I really can’t be described in a few sentences. Even this entry is completely ambiguous. I can’t simply say, “I’m this and I do or believe such and such.” I do, however, think that life is about experiencing everything I can- learning about everything I can and never stopping. Does that make me fickle or inconsistent? I don’t think so. It makes me who I am. It’s taken me a very long time to get to this point, but I like myself, I like my life and I’m passed the point of apologizing for being anything but who I am.

 

Keep being uniquely you,
Lauryn

I take my mission to live more naturally pretty seriously. It’s never been a fad for me. I didn’t just jump on the, “green,” bandwagon because it was cool (ask my friends, they can tell you I never do anything just for cool points. I’m anti-cool, lol). I’ve cut nearly all the chemicals out of our lives, I admonish convenience even though it requires more time and energy and I strongly dislike buying anything I can make myself. My motto? Simple, natural, frugal and healthy. There are items, however, I have been less inclined to give up. My hair color, for instance. I am dying to dye (lol!) my hair with henna the next time around though, so maybe I’m evolving!

When I first heard that there was aluminum in deodorant I was shocked. I didn’t know! I mean, deodorant is such a staple item I never questioned it. I did my research and found that aluminum is linked to Alzheimer’s and brain disorders and there is a possible link to breast cancer. So aluminum is a toxin? In 1993, the World Health Organization said, “There is a suspected link between Alzheimer’s disease and the toxicity of aluminum.” The Agency for Toxic Substances and & Disease Registry reports that “Exposure to high levels of aluminum may result in respiratory and neurological problems.”

Well that’s no good…

And the problem isn’t just with the aluminum, but with how the deodorant works. Aluminum compounds or aluminum salts, such as aluminum oxide (Al2O3), are key ingredients in almost every antiperspirant. They are powerful astringents that close pores, stopping sweat and odor from escaping the body.

Antiperspirants may leave the outside of the body smelling fresh and clean – but inside, the toxins that would have escaped the body in the sweat have nowhere to go. For this reason, antiperspirants have been linked to problems with the sweat glands and lymph glands in and around the underarms. What’s more, “antiperspirants are designed to be absorbed”; the aluminum and many other chemicals are taken into the body and may affect the endocrine and lymphatic systems, as well as being a potential risk factor in breast cancer.

Oh no… It’s really one thing to have this substance ON the skin, but to be absorbed? That’s so much worse.

So what does the frugal, crunchy person do? Deodorant without aluminum cost significantly more. Some might argue the cost is worth the benefit and of course, I agree but I still wondered if there was something better and more cost effective to keep me from being the stereotypical smelly hippie. More research!

What I found were testimonials from other people who use grain alcohol or isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) in a spritzer in place of deodorant. The alcohol works to break down the bacteria that thrives in the warm, damp arm pit. Sweat itself doesn’t stink, you see. The bacteria that feeds on what our bodies secrete is to blame for the dreaded body odor. The bacteria munches it then emits an odor! We didn’t learn this in biochem! The alcohol creates an environment that is uninhabitable to this bacteria and the smell is averted.

My interest was piqued for several reasons. The anti-chemical reason was the first, obviously. The other reason this theory fascinated me was because I am a huge proponent of treating the cause of something by working with the body and it’s amazing functions rather than merely using the proverbial band-aid to fix a broken arm. In addition, using deodorant clogs pores and prevents the body from releasing toxins causing them to build up in the body and changing the physiology of how they are removed- much to our body’s disdain.

I love the human body. Anatomy and physiology has always interested me. I believe in holistic treatments when available. So the alcohol works with the body and it’s functions- not against it. Score for A/P nerds everywhere.

The only supplies needed: a small spray bottle and some Isopropyl Alcohol

I started my experiment several weeks ago. I wanted to give my hypothesis a nice long run and put it through all of the paces. Did I mention this experiment started during one of the hottest heatwaves we have seen in NE Ohio in a long time? Perfect timing, I’d say. I picked up a travel size spray bottle for about 88¢ and already owned some isopropyl alcohol. It costs about $3.00 for the big bottle so I was already seeing savings.

I used it once a day for two weeks and I was pretty impressed. My mom had always told me to never use deodorant over night- but hippie husband is like sleeping next to a volcano, so I had started breaking that rule nine years ago (were you as pained by that statement as me? Especially after what we now know about deodorant. Exactly.) After the initial two weeks, I would apply the alcohol twice daily. Once in the morning and once after my shower in the evening. It’s been incredible.

First, no smell. Second, no white residue on dark clothing. I haven’t picked up a white shirt yet (I want a brand new one for this next bit of the test) but I have read that the alcohol trick keeps the whites from being stained as well! I’ll keep you all updated about that one!

I can say that there is an adjustment. I’m not going to lie, it’s a big change. Using isopropyl alcohol means I smell pretty strongly like the stuff until it dries. It takes just a minute or two, but it is there. This is one of the main reasons people use grain alcohol, it doesn’t have such a pungent odor. The other thing I learned the hard way is that after shaving when applied it can burn for just a second. I have yet to find a solution to mitigate this one. It’s nothing bad and not intolerable- you just notice it. The image of Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone always springs to mind and by the time the image goes away, so does the burning.

I also noticed that I smell human. Not floral or like baby powder. Now when I sweat there is a slight salty scent- one I don’t even notice until I stick my nose in my arm pit anyway. And I did this move a lot throughout this experiment, I assure you. I like smelling real. Like an ocean breeze on a deserted tropical island.

All in all I think this is advantageous to anyone trying to live more naturally and frugally. It’s hippie tested and approved!! In the words of LeVar Burton from reading rainbow, “don’t take my word for it,”! Try it for yourself and let me know how it goes!

Lauryn

 

I have been rather wrapped up in life lately. Torn between having too much to write about and not knowing where to begin. So where should I begin?

Last week we went out into the garden and pulled some really great crops. This is our first time gardening and we are all enjoying it. We purposefully planted crops that we wouldn’t normally eat alongside the veggies we do enjoy, just to expand our pallets. I was a die hard picky eater as a child and I am determined not to have picky kids. Just try everything! It’s my new motto and has always been theirs.

My son who is eight has embraced all kinds of food from a very early age. He’s the kid, who at three tried- and LIKED- calamari. He liked it even after we joked he was eating Squidward. He loves shrimp and every fruit that has ever been introduced. At the first sign of veggies in the garden he asked if he could pick them and eat them! I even caught him stealing pea pods and munching.

My daughter is a different story. It could be her age- she’s five now- but she isn’t as adventurous with her food. She likes the typical kid things. She is her mother’s daughter, it seems.

Healthy home grown veggies after cleaning and awaiting our taste test

So together we all made a pact. Whatever we grew we would all try. And that’s exactly what we did this weekend. We brought in three cucumbers, three yellow squash, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, a gypsy pepper and one jalapeno. We had a smaller harvest on the fourth of July with two gypsy peppers and two jalapenos, but those went to my dad instead. So this is our big haul and it was experimentation time.

We all like cucumbers, so that one was a no-brainer. None of us had ever tried squash before and I am not a pepper person. I don’t even like the smell of peppers. Here we were, in the kitchen chopping everything into bite size pieces to enjoy our home grown bounty.

Everything was a big hit. We all learned something that day, I think. My daughter learned that you don’t have to like things, but you have to try them to know for sure. She ended up snacking on the squash and cucumber for some time. My son, well, he liked everything, even the jalapeno which is a big deal since he isn’t a fan of spicy things at all. I learned that I still don’t love cherry tomatoes, that peppers aren’t terrible and that squash is kinda delicious. My husband, he learned that we grow a mean jalapeno! We could feel the heat on our tongues almost an hour after our taste test and that was AFTER we removed the ribs and seeds from the little guy.

We are all slowly coming around and learning to appreciate the foods we eat. Since then, we have given a squash and cucumber to our neighbors who were thrilled with how gigantic the crops were! There was a real pride in sharing our food with their family, too.

As I write this the sky is threatening to rain, which is great considering how hot and dry it has been around here. We are just a few days our from having another even larger haul from the garden.

We really couldn’t be more excited!

Lauryn

Simple Feng Shui

I have always subscribed to a very basic standard when it comes to applying Feng Shui techniques in my home. It always seems like such a giant undertaking when you’re first introduced to this Eastern concept, but if you focus on a few, almost common sense, concepts it gets much easier. It takes a bit of understanding before embarking on any sort of application, but even the most basic concepts can easily be understood once you break it all down.

 

First, and this gets beaten into my skull constantly with many of my various studies, is that you have to accept that everything is composed of energy and everything emanates this energy. It’s called by different names depending on what you are studying, the Chinese know it as chi, or qi literally translated “life force energy”. In Japanese it’s ki and in India it’s called Prana. Everything is energy and energy is everything. This is the most basic concept of Feng Shui.

 

Once you allow the above to become your mantra you can begin to assess your surroundings. You need to use your mind a little here and try to visualize your house as a place where energy swirls all around you. Energy from non living things like furniture, energy from those around you and energy from things like plants and animals.

 

You begin to see things take on new meanings, like a leaky drain suddenly becomes a metaphor for wastefulness in your everyday life. A garbage can that is on display in the kitchen becomes an analogy for an unhealthy diet. So too do pictures of decrepit buildings or photos of when you were not happy in your life start to emanate negative energy into your surroundings.

 

 

So where does one begin?

 

The first thing I did was decide that the clutter around my house, though minimal, was blocking a natural and beneficial flow of energy. I cleaned out cupboards, under beds, straightened drawers and inside pantries and closets. Almost immediately I felt this rush of ‘clean, fresh’ non stagnant current surge through my home.

 

Adding color is another great way to soothe tumultuous energy or rejuvenate a dull area. Although there are obvious correspondences between certain colors and those things we wish to attract or emotions we want to harness or strengthen. For example red is for passion or green to bring financial security. But for me, I have always followed my heart when it comes to color. If it makes you feel awake, aware, inspired, creative, loved or any other positive emotion employ it!!! Feng Shui is about bringing to life that which you desire, and the law of attraction states that what we believe we are, we become!

 

I also aspire to surround myself with nature and natural elements. Water, greenery and flowers bring a vital and recharging energy to any room in which they are placed. Plants especially, because they utilize the carbon dioxide in the air that we exhale and return oxygen to the environment through cellular respiration keep the atmosphere clean and renewed. Water too is great in fountain form as it collects animated energy and recirculates it throughout the room/house in an endless circuit.

 

Anchoring is another technique that uses objects to reroute and calm exuberant energies or to stimulate stagnant areas like barren corners. Stairs and hallways are like slingshots for energy, they propel the essences down them. To stave off this occurrence it is suggested you place an object at the end of the hallway or stairs or use a crystal to divert the energetic forces. In dark solitary corners or areas where energy can get trapped place a plant or a light. This will keep the energy from becoming stagnant in this space.

 

I am a big fan of night lights. This and plants have become my answer to every tough aspect I have encountered and to date it has worked wonders. Mix the two by placing a night light behind a plant or for my favorite effect place some small white strands of Christmas lights throughout the plant for an almost ethereal sparkle.

 

During the day I adore candles, they make me feel mystical even in the mundane. And remember, it’s all about attitude!!

 

Again, these are the few techniques I have easily executed around my home. They are the most basic and for me, the ones that make the most sense.

 

Lauryn

Whew. Is it Friday already? This week has been a whirlwind and I feel terrible for not having written anything since the last Friday Fun blog. What a strange feeling to not have written anything for seven days. Finding the time to actually sit down and compose something significant, profound or informative was just not happening. I did get done what I set out to do this week and so much more, so I suppose that’s a good thing. Life is about the little victories. I set up a Facebook account for this blog which can be found here so anyone can easily stay updated and I post over there more than I do here. I have a love of all things social media (except Twitter, I’ve never actually tried that site. I feel like I am too old, lol).  I try to share relevant information on the Suburban Hippie wall as well as graphics and other links that bring a smile to my face and speak to me. We all need a little of that from tome to time– reminders of how special life is, especially when I, like a lot of people, get down about things going on here in the states and around the world. So I try to share something positive for every thing I post that is troubling. I’ve always been an activist and an empath which makes it difficult to enjoy the little things now and then, so the reminders help me remember there is good in the world and there are things I can be doing everyday to celebrate life instead of being a cynical pessimist (which I have mastered over the years).

Today’s blog, I am happy to say, wrote itself. It’s Friday the 13th after all and what better time to share some common superstitions and their elusive origins? I have always been superstitious. I mean, irrationally superstitious. When I was pregnant with both of my children, I refused to read or watch anything about birth defects and other problems like that. Here I am, one of those people who likes to be completely educated about everything I undertake and I could not bring myself to come close to any of that. I told you, irrational.

Here are the 13 (how’s that for synchronization?) most common superstitions and a little background on how they all got started.

The Number 13

The number 13 has such a bad rep, which is sad for me, since I was born on this cursed date. There are no 13th floors marked on elevators, even though we all know that the 14th is still the 13th. You aren’t supposed to invite 13 guests to dinner. 13 even has it’s own phobia: Triskaidekaphobia.

The initial reason for the abject fear of 13 comes from the Bible and the story of the Last Supper. In it, Jesus sits down to a meal with the 12 Apostles, making the total diners 13. We all know that meal ended poorly for two of the guests and thus poor 13 was forever cursed.

(There is another theory that the story actually dates back to the Nordic gods where a similar story is told about 12 gods being invited to dinner and Loki crashed. This caused a fight that left Baldur, the favorite son of Odin, dead. Interesting.)

The most infamous evil of 13 comes when the calendar aligns to cause a Friday the 13th. Fridays have been notoriously bad luck days biblically. Not only was Christ crucified on a Friday, but it was the same day Adam and Eve got the boot from Eden and the flood that killed everyone but Noah happened on a Friday as well. So think on that the next time you say “T.G.I.F.”.

Black Cats

Though cats have been adored for ages by many ancient peoples including the Egyptians, Sumerians and Aunt Mildred, having a black cat cross your path is supposed to come with horrible consequences. Dun, dun dun….

The thinking behind this started during the witch hunts. Witches were thought to be able to communicate with certain animals and make them do their bidding. The cat was the chief among those “familiars”. A black cat was thought to be the worst as it was said to contain the soul of Satan himself. Therefore seeing a black cat meant that the devil was watching you. I can personally assure you the devil isn’t in any of my cats, despite myself being a witch. Although, there are times I am adequately convinced my fur babies are possessed.

Umbrellas Indoors

While some of these superstitions could be considered a little crazy, some are actually quite practical. Really, one should never open an umbrella indoors. Not because of bad luck, but because it could seriously hurt someone.

There is a thought that this is actually where the superstition came from. The introduction was the mechanical umbrella happened in the Victorian Era of England. The first versions of it were made with stiff steel poles that, when opened indoors, could cause major injuries like cuts and possible eye loss. (I would call that pretty unlucky.)

While that might be the case, the myth goes all the way back to the ancient Egyptians who also had umbrellas, though back then they were parasols, made for blocking the sun instead of the rain. If you were to open one indoors, where there was no sun, it was considered an offense against the sun god Ra who would curse you for it.

Broken Mirrors

While we all know that broken mirrors are a pain to clean up, it’s the threat of the 7 years bad luck that keeps most of us from carelessly knocking them over.

Some people believe that the reason breaking a mirror causes all those years of bad luck comes from an age when mirrors were considered luxury items and the cost of replacing a broken one would be equal to 7 years of a peasants salary. The superstition actually extends back quite a bit further to the Romans.

In Roman times there was a special form of doctor that was part physician and part mystic. They would use mirrors to divine the health of their patients. (Kind of like an ancient xray.) The doctor would fill a mirrored plate and glass with water and look at the reflection of the patient. If for some reason the reflection looked distorted the patient would be deemed ill. If, however, the mirror were to crack during the procedure, it would mean that they would be very sick for 7 years, the time the Romans believed it took for the human body to be completely renewed.

Hat on the Bed

There are so many different things to do with hats indoors, from removing them as a sign of respect, to where to place them. It is a common thought that if a person places their hat on the bed, something horrible will happen to them.

This comes from the fact that the bed looks like a coffin and when a person or solider died, their clothes and armor were placed on the lid as a sign of respect. Another thought is that a priest will always wear their hat indoors except for when they have to change into their vestments to perform final rites on the dead.

Either way, it’s only good manners to place your hat anywhere but the bed anyway.

Walking Under Ladders

Even though it’s always tempting, everyone knows that walking under a ladder is cause for some very very bad luck. The origin of this practical myth comes from a few different sources depending on who you are to believe.

When a ladder is placed against a wall it forms a triangle, one of the holiest symbols to the Egyptians. (As can be seen by their pyramids.) The thought was that if one walked underneath a ladder they break the symbol and anger the gods. This concept was taken later by the Christians, but instead of the triangle, they called it the Holy Trinity. The consequences where the same though.

People believed this so strongly, that prisoners were forced to walk underneath the ladder that led to the gallows. This scared them more than the actual hanging itself.

In the end it’s another superstition that just makes common sense, but it’s probably just easier to scare someone rather than risk having a hammer fall on their head.

Knock on Wood

What do you do if you say something out loud that you want to come true? You knock on wood. It’s strange, but of all the superstitions on this list, this is the one that is still most commonly done reflexively. (The most would probably have to be God Bless You when someone sneezes.)

The reason that people knock on wood comes from the pagan belief that good spirits lived in the trees. In order to get something that you want, you were to whisper the wish into the tree and knock two times to ensure the spirit was awake to take on the wish.

On the flip side, some people believed that you knock on wood to ward off bad spirits that would make the wish not come true.

Something Old, Something New

This wedding chant became a popular mantra and symbol of good luck in a marriage in the 1500’s. The full verse goes:

“Something old, something new
Something burrowed, something blue
And a silver sixpence in her shoe.”

The old is to keep connected with the brides past and her family. The new means optimism for the life after marriage. The burrowed thing usually comes from a friend who is in a good marriage as a charm for good luck. The reason for blue was that in Roman times, blue was the color of love which the Christians turned into meaning fidelity. (Most bridal gowns were blue up until the late 19th century.) Finally, the sixpence in the shoe was another good luck charm, this one from the Scots who believe that a coin in the shoe guarantees money

Itchy Palms

This superstition states that if the right hand itches, money coming in, but if the left hand itches money coming out. Or you’re having an allergic reaction to medication, and I don’t know why the South paw gets the raw deal but this sounds a bit funny to me.

Again the origin for this one is unknown, but the earliest recording of it comes from Shakespeare, in Julius Caesar, Brutus says, “Let me tell you Cassius, you yourself are much condemned to have an itching palm.” Sick burn Brutus.

Spilling Salt

Spilling salt may have been more of a manners issue than a bad luck issue…and then the it just became habit. Long ago salt was an expensive commodity, and one that had many useful purposes. Wasting salt was frowned upon, and so it is suggested that people just started saying it was bad luck so that people would be careful with it. Although, starting a rumor that to undo the bad luck is to waste more salt doesn’t make sense to me…but I’m not from long ago.

So now you have this “throw salt over your shoulder” to undo the bad luck…but not just any shoulder you have to throw it over your left shoulder. Why left? You throw it over the left shoulder because in some Christian beliefs the Devil hangs about over the left side of the body, looking for an opportunity to invade. Spilling salt, seen as an invitation for the Devil to do his deeds, because it’s such an abomination to be clumsy. The Devil needs to be put back in his place so you take the salt and throw it over the left shoulder (where he’s been hanging out) and it puts it right in his face! So, basically you invite the guy to come in and when he gets to the door your throw something in his face and tell him to go away, no wonder he’s so angry all the time. Another thought as to why spilling salt is bad is linked to the last supper. In Da Vinci’s painting Judas is seen spilling the salt, so if you spill the salt you might as well just go turn in your best friend so they can be executed.

Wishing on a Star

The planet Venus is named for the Roman goddess of love and is always the brightest point in the sky. The Romans built temples to Venus, and since it was the first “star” that could be seen in the sky for much of the year, and always the brightest whether seen in the morning or the evening, it was an easy way to remember it as a prayer point. What is the number one thing that people prayed to Venus for? Love, of course. The prayer evolved into a wish as people forgot the Goddess of Love and her origins, and the wish expanded into realms well outside the beginning point. Like so many other traditions and habits engrained in people that have found their way into modern times, wishing upon a star evolved from an ancient pagan religion. Simple as that.

Lucky Charms

A Horseshoe is considered lucky because, according to legend, the Devil can only move in a circle so when he sees a horseshoe, the gap in the middle confuses him and he turns back and won’t bother you. If this is true, the Devil is not as clever as he is publicized to be and maybe we should all rethink giving him so much credit.

The Rabbit’s Foot is considered lucky for a more historical reason. However, it wouldn’t be a superstition unless it was silly…so in certain stories the donor rabbit can’t just be any rabbit it must possess certain attributes, or have been killed in a particular place, or killed by a particular method, or by a person possessing particular attributes (e.g. by a cross-eyed man).

It also can’t just be any foot, it has to be the left hind foot of a rabbit, and not any left hind foot of a rabbit will do; the rabbit must have been shot or otherwise captured in a cemetery, further more, not just any left hind foot of a rabbit shot in a cemetery will do, it has to be during a full moon, or a new moon. It has to be Friday, preferably a rainy Friday, or Friday the 13th. Some say that the rabbit should be shot with a silver bullet, while others say that the foot must be cut off while the rabbit is still alive. You’ve gotta work for this lucky charm.

The idea that a rabbit’s foot is lucky comes from the pre-Celtic tradition of hunter clans rite of passage for their young members. These young males were first introduced to hunting by hunting rabbits. If they were successful, one of the hind feet of the rabbit was presented to them in a ceremony which would welcome them to manhood within the clan. How masculine, instead of a ten point buck to mount on your wall, you get a bunny foot.

God Bless You

This superstitious has so many possible origins, it’s the “choose your own adventure” version of superstitions. Here are you choices:

1. In 590 AD Gregory I became Pope and the bubonic plague was reaching Rome, sneezing was thought to be the one of the early symptoms. So Gregory I ordered unending prayer and parades of chanters through the streets, so perhaps it was just a timing thing. You sneeze and prayer chanters came by saying “God Bless You” on a loop, it was the hip thing to do at the time.

2. Some people think your heart stops beating and the phrase “bless you” is meant to ensure that it will start again, as a form of encouragement as it were.

3. Or maybe it’s because your soul can be thrown from your body when you sneeze, it can open your body to be attacked by the Devil (he’s such a jerk), or that it was your bodies way of throwing out the Devil or evil spirits (that guy just won’t take a hint!). So, saying “bless you” or “God bless you” puts up a shield so the Devil can’t get back in.

4. It could just be a phrase that was said because people didn’t really understand what sneezing was and they weren’t sure how to respond. It was the “lol” of the times.

5. Sneezing is a sign that God would answer your prayers, or an omen of good fortune or good luck. In this instance saying ‘bless you’ is a way of saying “way to go!”

So there you have it. The origins of the 13 most common superstitions. Enjoy this superstitious Friday the 13th and remember to take it all with a grain of salt– so long as you don’t spill it, that is.

Lauryn

I remember, as a child, my parents always picked up a Farmer’s Almanac and kept it in the magazine rack in the bathroom beside the JCPenny catalog and several issues of Better Homes and Gardens. I loved thumbing through the pages, reading the articles and predictions for the up coming year. I was so fascinated with its tips and information. Why have I never picked on up as an adult? I’ll have to work on that. In the mean time we can all save a tree or two by looking here for the Old Farmer’s Almanac online.

The tips and gardening stuff evade me, but the old wive’s tales and lore concerning weather always stuck. Maybe it was because my mom would say, “red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in the morning, sailor’s take warning,” if the sky was giving any sort of hints away as to what She had in store for us. This little saying has yet to let me down and I even share it with my children- reminding them that we don’t need meteorologists and their fancy-schmancy super-ultra-mega dopplers. Everything we need to know about the weather is all around us. The sway of the trees, the direction of the leaves, the shapes of the clouds, the smell in the air- it’s all right there and more accurate than the weatherman.

My love of these sayings continues on and I have collected over the years a giant collection from all over the world. And here, I would like to share them all with you. Enjoy it, then turn off the computer and go outside to see what nature is telling you.

Weather Lore

Some well known and some not so well known sayings about weather patterns.

“A summer fog for fair,

A winter fog for rain.

A fact most everywhere,

In valley or on plain.”

 

“The moon and the weather may change together,

But a change of the moon, will not change the weather.”

 

“When the dew is on the grass,

Rain will never come to pass.

When grass is dry at morning light,

Look for rain before the night.”

 

“When leaves show their undersides, be very sure that rain betides.”

 

“If a cat washes her face o’er her ear,

‘tis a sign the weather will be fine and clear.”

 

“If a circle forms ‘round the moon,

‘Twill rain soon.”

 

“The farther the sight, the nearer the rain.”

“Rain long foretold, long last,

Short notice, soon will pass.”

 

“Catchy drawer and sticky door,

Coming rain will pour and pour.”

 

“The winds of the daytime wrestle and fight,

Longer and stronger than those of the night.”

 

“Sun sets Friday clear as bell,

Rain on Monday sure as hell.”

 

“No weather’s ill if the wind be still.”

 

“The more cloud types present, the greater the chance of rain or snow. ”

 

“If bees stay at home, rain will soon come,

If they flay away, fine will be the day.”

 

“The sudden storm lasts not three hours

The sharper the blast, the sooner ’tis past.”

 

“A ring around the sun or moon, means rain or snow coming soon.”

“Trace in the sky the painter’s brush,

The winds around you soon will rush.”

 

“Rainbow in the morning, Shepherds take warning.

Rainbow at night, Shepherd’s delight.”

 

“When clouds look like black smoke,

A wise man will put on his cloak.”

 

“When leaves turn their back ‘tis a sign it’s going to rain.”

 

“Evening red and morning gray

Helps the traveler on his way.

Evening gray and morning red

Brings down rain upon his head.”

 

“Evening red and morning gray,

Two sure signs of one fine day.”

 

“Evening red and weather fine.

Morning red, of rain’s a sign.”

 

“An evening gray and a morning red

Will send the shepherd wet to bed.”

 

“The higher the clouds, the finer the weather.”

 

“When clouds appear like rocks and towers,

The earth will be washed by frequent showers.”

 

“I know ladies by the score

Whose hair foretells the storm;

Long before it begins to pour

Their curls take a drooping form.”

 

“When chairs squeak

It’s about rain they speak.”

 

“If salt is sticky and gains in weight,

It will rain before too late.”

 

“Pale moon rains; Red moon blows.

White moon neither rains or snows.”

 

“If smoke hovers low near the ground it is likely to rain.”

 

“When sounds travel far and wide,

A stormy day will betide.”

 

“Cold is the night

When the stars shine bright.”

 

“Mares’ tails and mackerel scales

Make lofty ships carry low sails.”

 

“When the wind is out of the east,

‘Tis neither good for man nor beast.”

 

“When the wind is in the north. The skillful fisher goes not forth;

When the wind is in the cast, ‘Tis good for neither man nor beast;

When the wind is in the south, It blows the flies in the fish’s mouth;

But when the wind is in the west, There it is the very best.”

 

“Fish bite least

With wind in the east.”

 

“When the wind backs; and the weather glass falls

Prepare yourself for gales and squalls.”

 

“When the glass falls low,

Prepare for a blow;

When it rises high.

Let all your kites fly.”

 

“When the ditch and pond affect the nose,

Look out for rain and stormy blows.”

 

“A coming storm your shooting corns presage,

And aches will throb, your hollow tooth will rage.”

 

“If your corns all ache and itch,

The weather fair will make a switch.”

 

“If birds fly low

Expect rain and a blow.”

 

“If the rooster crows on going to bed,

You may rise with a watery head.”

 

“Trout jump high

When a rain is nigh.”

 

“If clouds move against the wind, rain will follow.”

 

“Cats and dogs eat grass before a rain.”

 

“A wind in the south

has rain in her mouth.”

 

“Onion skins very thin

Mild winter coming in;

Onion skins thick and tough

Coming winter cold and rough.”

 

“A swarm of bees in May

Is worth a load of hay.”

 

”If March comes in like a lamb, it goes out like a lion; if it comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb.”

 

“Plant your beans when the moon is light,

You will find that this is right;

Plant potatoes when the moon is dark,

And to this line you’ll always hark;

But if you vary from this rule,

You will find you are a fool;

Follow this rule to the end.

And you’ll have lots of dough to spend.”

 

“When oak is out before the ash,

‘Twill be a summer of wet and splash.

But if the ash before the oak,

‘Twill be a summer of fire and smoke.”

 

“When the swallow’s nest is high, summer is dry

When the swallow’s nest is low, you can safely reap and sow.”

 

“A cow with its tail to the West makes the weather best,

A cow with its tail to the East makes the weather least”

 

“Those who bathe in May, will soon be under clay,

Those who bathe in June bathe a bit to soon.”

 

“The louder the frog, the more the rain.”

 

“The first snow comes six weeks after the last thunderstorm in September.”

 

“If February brings drifts of snow

There will be good summer crops to hoe.”

 

“When sheep gather in a huddle,

tomorrow we will have a puddle.”

 

“Expect the weather to be fair

When crows fly is pairs”

 

“If woolly worms are dark, the coming winter wilt be severe.”

 

“When ladybugs swarm,

Expect a day that’s warm.”

 

“When chickens scratch together,

There’s sure to be foul weather.”

 

“If the groundhog sees his shadow on February 2nd, there will be six more weeks of winter.”

 

“When pigs carry sticks,

The clouds will play tricks;

When they lie in the mud,

No fears of a flood.”

 

“When cattle lie down during a light rain, it will pass soon.”

 

“When walls in cold weather begin to show dampness, the weather will change.”

 

“If the sparrow makes a lot of noise, rain will follow.”

 

“The moon and the weather

May change together;

But change of the moon

Does not change the weather”

 

“If the moon lies on her back, She sucks the wet into her lap.”

 

“Tipped moon wet: cupped moon dry.”

 

More very olde wives tales and sayings concerning the weather.

 

“You time fifteen seconds while you count how many times a cricket chirps. Then you add thirty-nine to it. This is called “A poor man’s thermometer.”

 

“When pine cones close, bad weather is coming.”

 

“Flowers of the morning glory and scarlet pimpernel open when it’s sunny, and close when rain is due.”

 

“The first frost in autumn will be exactly six months after the first thunderstorm of spring.”

 

“As many days old as is the moon on the first snow, there will be that many snowfalls by crop planting time.”

 

“A warm Christmas, a cold Easter.”

 

“If a squirrel’s tail is very bushy or they are collecting big stores of nuts in autumn, then a severe winter should be expected.”

 

I hope my friends in the US are staying cool today with all the record highs and excessive heat warnings!

Lauryn

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