Superstition affects our daily lives, even if we don’t realise it. According to the Otis Elevator Company, more than 80% of the world’s skyscrapers are missing a 13th floor. Today #white rabbits was trending on Twitter. From a sailor’s terror of fleeing rats to lucky ladybugs and money spiders, the animal and bug kingdom is rich in superstition and folklore. Here’s just a few tales, or are they signs of things to come?
There’s an old saying that stepping on ants brings rain. When ants are agitated there will be bad weather. Ants building a nest near the door to your house is a clear sign of financial security in the future (apparently).
It is considered bad luck to kill a bee. Sometimes referred to as ‘The Little Servants of God’ in antiquity they were sometimes divine messengers, and their constant humming was believed to be a hymn of praise.
If they become lazy it is said that there will be a disaster shortly, and should they suddenly swarm on a bush or tree there will be a death nearby.
If a bee flies into the house it is a sign of great good luck, or of the arrival of a stranger; however, the luck will only hold if the bee is allowed to either stay or to fly out of the house of its own accord. A bee landing on someone’s hand is believed to foretell money to come, while if the bee settles on someone’s head it means that person will rise to greatness.
A bird that flies into a house, foretells an important message. If it calls from the north this could mean tragedy. Bird call from the south is good for crops; from the west is good luck; from the east, good love.
If a bird poops on your head, it is good luck, though wash it off immediately as it could contain disease.
Should a blackbird nest anywhere in your house then you can look forward to a year of good fortune.
Three seagulls flying together, directly overhead, are a warning of death soon to come.
Meeting two or three ravens together is a bad omen. In England it is believed if that if the ravens leave the Tower Of London then the crown of England will be lost.
Butterflies and Moths
If the first butterfly you see in the year is white, you will have good luck all year.
A big black moth in the house means a deceased one has been reincarnated through that moth and is visiting so do say hello.
A cricket is a lucky house spirit that takes its luck away when it leaves and can predict oncoming rain.
The bright scarlet ladybug is a luck-bringer. The deeper the ladybird’s color, the better luck it brings. The number of spots on its back are also important. The more spots…the better the luck!
It is a sign of good fortune if one lands on you. It must, however, be allowed to fly away of its own accord, and must not be brushed off. It is permissible to speed it onwards by a gentle puff, and by reciting this rhyme,
“Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home.
Your house is on fire and your children are gone”.
There’s an old superstition that mice are the souls of people who have been murdered. If they nibble anyone’s clothing during the night, that person will suffer some misfortune, while no journey undertaken after seeing one is likely to be successful.
It is said if somebody throws away a dead mouse, the wind will soon start to blow from that direction.
On the first day of the month it is considered lucky to utter three rabbits before anything else, especially with Chinese New Year on Feb 3 which marks the Year of the Rabbit. The superstition holds that hopping with happiness into the new month will bring good luck.
A rabbit’s foot is a well-known lucky charm. Because of the rabbit’s ability to reproduce, the rabbit’s foot became a symbol of fertility. Since rabbits and hares are born with their eyes open they supposedly hold special powers over the evil eye.
In Wales an old belief is that a newborn rubbed all over with a rabbit’s foot will be lucky for life. The back foot is considered a powerful charm against evil because the rabbit’s strong hind legs touch the ground before its front legs – in ancient times this was magical.
It was an old superstition among sailors that if rats deserted a ship before she set out on a voyage that was to end in her sinking. If you see rats fleeing from a building it is believed there will be a great fire.
The Encyclopedia of Superstition 1949 by Edwin Radford and Mona A Radford describes how rats teeth have been the source of much superstition around the world. Children in the Cook Islands would throw their teeth on the roof for rats and chant,
Here is my old tooth
Pray give me a new one”
The charm probably stems from the fact that rats teeth are strong and can gnaw through almost anything.
Superstitious people probably don’t kill spiders because it has been unlucky since a spider spun a web over baby Jesus to hide him from Herod. There are numerous superstitions and legends concerning the spider. Here’s a few here:
If you see a spider spinning a new web, you will shortly receive some new clothes.
If a tiny ‘money spider’ drops on you then your finances will improve.
Seeing a spider run down a web in the afternoon means you’ll take a trip.
You’ll meet a new friend if you run into a web.
Do pests or animals make you superstitious about anything?