IN DEFENCE OF SUPERSTITION

posted in: Barbara Monajem, Books | 23

ImageI step off the plane in Dublin airport. A shiver runs through me. I am now in Ireland, land of the fair folk – of leprechauns and banshees, of fairy mounds and weavers of magic.

At first, I’m in an airport like other airports, except for the scrumptious Irish soda bread with breakfast. (According to those in the know, that soda bread isn’t the Real Thing, but that’s a matter for another blog. When I’m ready to take a break from my minimal-carbs diet, I’ll try a bunch of soda bread recipes and hold a party here at Embracing Romance.)

Next I’m in a hotel like other hotels, and then on a bus into Dublin proper, a charming town in which I spend too little time. It’s so delightful that it almost distracts me…but not quite, because I know for sure that although I can’t see the fair folk, they are nearby.

ImageOK, by now you’re thinking, “This woman is a superstitious freak.” You bet I am. I wouldn’t have it any other way. That doesn’t mean I believe everything I read or am told. If I spill the salt, I don’t make a worse mess by throwing some over my shoulder. I walk under ladders (after checking to make sure nothing is about to fall on me), and I’m rather fond of the number thirteen.

I’m choosy about my superstitions, and I have a few rules.

First of all, I don’t say (or even think), “I don’t believe in (insert name of supernatural creature here).” That way lies madness―or maybe just boredom, but regardless, I don’t go there. Not that I think it would harm any of the fair folk; they’re too hardy to be affected by Mere Words. However, disbelief would seriously jeopardize my relationship with my muse.

Second, I don’t dwell any longer than necessary on depressing superstitions such as prophesies of woe – so if I ever write about a banshee, she’ll rebel against being a harbinger of death. I prefer the fun kind of superstitions, although even those have their dangerous aspects. With or without magic, life isn’t safe.

ImageNext, I’m on another bus, heading north into the countryside to a friend’s house. It’s lovely here, and the fair folk are everywhere. I feel them with my solar plexus and my heart. I walk up the hill and gaze out over the fields, and their presence comforts and inspires me. Sometimes they’re in plain view, but alas, I can’t tell you what they look like, because I don’t have the Sight.

My characters often do, though. I ask you now—if I don’t believe with all my heart in the fairy folk, how can I possibly expect to know how to write about them? How can I count on the words to flow and comprehension to flower like…well, magic? The more I write, the more magic of one kind or another infuses my stories – everything from the powerful toe bone of an Irish saint (Davnet, not Patrick) to grappling with fairy heritage to rolling naked in the dew on May morning — and I’m sure it’s because I believe every bit of it is real.  (See below for the relevant titles.)

Image(Note to self: On next trip to Ireland, bring a four-leaf clover, as that sometimes bestows the ability to See. Fortunately, I am past the necessity of dew-rolling, so I’m not tempted to try that.)

What does all this have to do with poor old Saint Patrick? Not a lot, I guess. Nevertheless, I celebrate his day and Ireland by wearing the green and a grin. Keep watch (or watch out!) for four-leaf clovers, and revel in the magic all around you.

Sláinte!

So…how about you? Are you superstitious? If so, about what, and why? I’ll give away a free novella (for Kindle or Nook) to one lucky commenter. (Is it superstitious to believe in luck? So many philosophical questions arise…)

[All photos were taken by me or my husband. The better the photo, the more likely it was taken by him.

Re the novellas mentioned above: Saint Davnet’s toe bone plays a role in The Unrepentant Rake, and The Magic of His Touch and Bewitched by His Kiss are a novella duet about May Day magic. As for grappling with fairy heritage, that’s in my work-in-progress, which is in too precarious a state to have a title. ;)]

Barbara Monajem
Barbara Monajem started writing at eight years old. She has wandered from children’s fantasy through mystery to paranormal and historical romance. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.
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Barbara Monajem started writing at eight years old. She has wandered from children’s fantasy through mystery to paranormal and historical romance. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

23 Responses

  1. I try my hardest not to be superstitious, but I can’t help myself! Every time I see only one magpie, I salute, I avoid walking under ladders, I cherish any four leaf clovers (and keep an eye out for them!). I know, deep down, it probably doesn’t even make a difference, but still I can’t help myself, it’s always something there within me I can’t stop 😀

    • Barbara Monajem

      Hi, Harliqueen! Yeah, superstition has a powerful grip on one’s mind, regardless of whether it makes sense. I hadn’t heard of the superstition about one magpie! I don’t think we have magpies where I live, but I could salute at mockingbirds instead. 😉

  2. Great post, Barbara, and love the photos. Visiting Ireland is on my bucket list and this post and pictures just make me want to go there even more.

    • Barbara Monajem

      Thanks, Sandra. I hope to return to Ireland at least once, if not many times. I went north of Dublin last time — next maybe I’ll get to go west or south. There’s so much to see.

  3. I’m superstitious. I do throw salt over my shoulder. Though like you, I’m picky about my superstitions. Friday the 13th has always been a good day for me. Loved the pictures! I tweeted and shared on FB.

    • Barbara Monajem

      Thanks, Ella! When I was a kid, I decided that I liked Friday the 13th so much that I shifted the bad luck to Saturday the 14th. (But it didn’t turn out to be a bad day, either.)

  4. A fabulous post! I don’t think I’m superstitious. Can’t afford to be as my birthday often falls on Friday the 13th!

  5. Thank you for the lovely pictures and post. I’m not superstitious, but appreciate those who are!

    • Barbara Monajem

      Superstition certainly makes great fodder for stories, Violetta. 😉

  6. vondasinclair

    Wonderful post! I’m not toooo superstitious although I might be in Ireland. Would love to visit that country some day if I can give up a visit to Scotland. 🙂

    • Barbara Monajem

      LOL. Vonda — what an impossible decision that would be! I simply must fit in a visit to Scotland, after seeing all your great pics!

  7. ginaconkle2013

    I’m not superstitious, but I find the history of them interesting, such as Friday the 13th and the Templars, why we say “God bless you” when someone sneezes, etc. Thanks for the beautiful green images of Ireland, too, Barbara!

    • Barbara Monajem

      Hi, Gina. Yeah, the history of superstitions can be fascinating. I love reading about all the different beliefs about fairy folk and other supernatural creatures.

  8. Fabulous post and pics, Barbara. I enjoyed every word, and am incredibly superstitious with my Scots/Irish background, so I fit right in.

    • Barbara Monajem

      LOL. I have some Scots and Irish in me, too. 😉

  9. I’m a quarter Irish of course I believe!

    • Barbara Monajem

      Hi, Mary R! Are you picky about your superstitions, too?

  10. Glenda

    I’m a little superstitious, but I purposely ignore ones like Friday the 13th being unlucky. 🙂 My superstitions are more along the line of don’t court trouble by doing things: like bragging about how well behaved and intelligent my kids are. That’s a sure way to get them to do something really, really stupid. 😉

    • Barbara Monajem

      LOL. I’m with you, Glenda. I used to avoid recommending restaurants because for sure the food would be bad the day I sent someone there.

  11. Though my family rolls their eyes at me, I leave little edible treats in a cut-glass dessert dish on my kitchen hutch for the fae. Have they ever disappeared? No… but that isn’t the point. I like to believe they are there, even if I do not possess The Sight. 🙂

  12. Barbara Monajem

    And the winner of the download of a novella is…. Harliqueen! I will try to contact you via Facebook or Twitter, or you can email me at bmonajem@yahoo.com. 🙂