Superstitions - Mirrors and Number 13
By Sarah Todd
Superstitions are not based on
rationale and practical thought. They’ve evolved from ancient
religious or supernatural genres, a huge resource that includes
belief in specific events (Halloween), apparitions (vampires,
werewolves and ghosts), charms and incantations (salt over the
shoulder, avoiding pavement cracks) and predicting the future
(horoscopes, palm reading).
Another famous superstition revolves around the number 13, with
the date being an inspiration for a series of horror films
entitled Friday the 13th. There are many different stories that
have evolved to give this date its notoriety, among them:
* The biblical reference to the Last Supper, with Judas
betraying Jesus. He was the 13th guest at the table.
* Jesus was reportedly crucified on Friday.
* In ancient Rome a witch’s coven comprised 12, with the 13th
member being the devil.
* A Norse myth tells of 12 gods dining at Valhallah, their
heaven. A 13th uninvited guest, Loki, arrived, persuading the
god of darkness to slay the god of happiness.
Numerologists consider the number 12 a complete number for
several reasons: the number of apostles, the total number of
tribes in Israel, the number of months in a year, the number of
Olympian gods, the zodiac signs and Hercules’ labours. 13’s
association with bad luck is the simple, unavoidable fact that
it exceeds a complete number by just one.
Another modern myth about this unfortunate number claims that if
you have 13 letters in your name you will have the devil’s luck.
So is it a coincidence that the following characters reflect
Jack the Ripper
Albert De Salvo
The humble mirror is probably the focus of more superstitions
than any other object. These stories evolved from the times when
water was used as a mirror. People would look into the water to
see their fates. If the image was distorted it was a sure sign
of the viewer's death. As the mirror changed form, so did the
beliefs. Early people gazed into a mirror in the same way that
someone might gaze into a crystal ball. He imagined he saw the
image of his soul. If the mirror was shattered so was the soul,
and the person would die. The seven year’s bad luck seems to
have evolved from the ancient Roman belief that it took seven
years for life to renew itself. The Romans are also responsible
for little known remedy useful for anyone who breaks a mirror –
the only way to escape the seven year sentence is to bury the
broken mirror pieces!
Consider the following superstitions, all very different, but
relevant to the superstitious history attached to the mirror:
* There’s an ancient superstition that says all mirrors in a
house where someone has died must be covered.
* This prevents the soul from getting trapped in the mirror. And
anyone else who’s admired his or her reflection in the mirror
risks loosing his or her soul, because the ghost of the dead
person will take it!
* If a mirror falls from a wall it means someone is going to
* Vampires and witches show no reflection in mirrors because
they have no souls.
* A mirror framed on three sides means a witch has used it to
see over long distances.
* Some cultures believe that a baby who looks into a mirror
during the first year of its life will die.
* Ancient Chinese believed that mirrors frighten away evil
spirits who get scared when they see themselves; and if the
mirror was broken the protection was lost.
* It’s considered bad luck to see your face in a mirror when
sitting by candlelight. In your youth did you look at your faces
in a mirror with a torch shining below your chin? That was a
* Actors believe it’s bad luck to see their reflection while
looking over the shoulder of another person.
* If a couple’s first sight of each other is their reflections
in a mirror they will have a happy marriage.
* Want to see what your future husband looks like? Sit down in
front of a mirror and eat an apple before brushing your hair. An
image of a man will appear behind your shoulder!
I’ve briefly touched on some of the lesser known superstitions
around two of the most superstitions topics in history. Even
today mirrors and number 13 have the ability to strike fear in
the heart of the bravest men and women. I wonder how many
superstitions will be added to these icons of superstition in
the years ahead.
The writer was born in Africa, and lived there for the first 38
years of her life. She worked in the world of public relations
for over five years, running her own PR company and dealing
extensively with the world of journalism and the print media.
She is an author on
http://www.Writing.Com/, a site for Writers. Her blog can be