Thursday, September 12, 2013


It amazes me how caught up we are with superstition and belief in the weird and supernatural. Of course, I'm an atheist, a rationalist, a republican. I hold no truck with superstitions or the supernatural. Saying that, I love to read novels with a tinge of fantasy, with a hint of the supernatural. Besides genuine fantasy literature, many of the novels I've read this year have had a twist of the unreal in them. I've read ghost stories (though I don't believe in ghosts), stories with characters with supernatural powers, or witches (though I prefer to think that incidences of these powers come from other people's slander rather than innate ability), and novels where fate or predetermination plays a role in the plot (though I believe we determine our own fate).

Zuni Badger fetish (New Mexico)
A lot of people have lucky objects with them: charms, stones, toys, mascots, books, pens, fact almost any object can be perceived to bring a measure of good fortune into a person's life. I'll tell you an interesting story (though, of course, I don't believe it had anything to do with fate or luck). In 2003 Caroline and I traveled to the USA and drove through New England in the fall. We landed in New York City and drove along the coast to Boston. We then drove through the White Mountains up to Canada and spent a very wet time in Montreal. We drove back down to New York City through New York State which truly was beautiful when we were there. Funnily enough, rather than Woodstock or Sleepy Hollow we really liked an industrial town on the Hudson called Nyack. Don't know why, but we did. We had a pleasant lunch, and went into a typical tourist type shop which had a lot of native American items for sale. Caroline decided to buy a Zuni Fetish. In fact, she usually loves Native American silver jewelry, but she was drawn almost straight to the small stone carvings. One in particular caught her eye, a badger which we ended up buying and taking away back to England. Almost from that point in time, it was our desired goal to emigrate from the UK. Initially we wanted to go to Italy, but the language barrier would probably have been too hard to overcome, so we looked at the English speaking world and settled on Australia. Within 2 years of arriving back from our New England road trip we were in Australia with permanent residency. The badger fetish in Zuni culture represents "perseverance and the ability to reach a desired goal". Within 2 years our goal had been reached. However, as soon as we left the shores of England, the fetish disappeared, almost as if it were no longer needed by us, and had done its job.

Spooky? Lucky I don't believe in that sort of thing. In fact, luck has nothing to do with it, as I don't believe in that either! Ok, I admit I carry a jade turtle around with me, but that is more to do with OCD rather than superstition. It has absolutely nothing to do with the symbolism of longevity and strength that the turtle represents in Chinese culture. That's the same as the pen that I have to use to write the moves down in my games of chess. It's nothing to do with luck, I just like using my fountain pen to write the moves down. And of course if I don't have my pen with me, I have to use a pencil rather than a different pen. Superstition? Bah humbug, I'm just a bit quirky!

My chess pen, and jade turtle
Virtually everyone has these little quirks, and some things that they feel are special to them in some way. It isn't necessarily a superstition, though habits can become so strong that they feel like a superstition, like breaking the habit will lead to catastrophic results. Anyone who has tried to give up smoking will know what I'm talking about, though there are things we do every day that can be habitual turned superstitious. The order we put our clothes on, where we park, what we eat, (or the way we eat it), where we go, and how we get there to name just a few. Habits are hard to break, but that's what they are. Just habits, and there is nothing fateful which will happen if we don't do these things. Nothing bad will happen if we don't have enough milk for our Corn Flakes on a Thursday morning at 6.54 am.

I have decided to take a break from blogging about chess today as it is good practice for my upcoming roadtrip to the USA with Caroline next week, when chess will be totally on hold. I hold very firm rational views and treat superstition with the scepticism it deserves. I'll be back to writing about chess on Saturday. Tomorrow is Friday 13th so I won't tempt the gremlins to enter this blog.

1 comment:

  1. The fetish probably decided it didn't fancy Australia and went to Finland instead.