Nov 16, 2010

Superstition - Part VI

Homer called salt divine. Plato described it as a substance dear to the gods. Pythagoras said that salt was the emblem of justice.

Salt is a purifier, a preservative, and symbolizes the good and lasting qualities of life. It became a sign of hospitality, trust, and friendship because of its high price. Soldiers in Rome were often paid in salt, which is where the saying that a person was "not worth his salt" originated. It was mixed into the foods used in the religious ceremonies of both the Greeks and Romans and was also used for medicinal purposes.

In the Middle Ages salt was very valuable and the waste of it was said to bring bad luck. To avoid this bad luck you were supposed to throw a pinch of salt over your left shoulder, a remedy that was Christian in origin. By doing this, you're throwing the salt into the devil's eye to blind him and deflect the bad luck and bad health he had in store for you. You need to throw it over the left shoulder, not the right, because the angels sit to the right hand of God and the seat of the devil, the fallen angel, was to His left.

If you look closely at Leonardo da Vinci's painting of the Last Supper, you will see that the betrayer Judas has accidentally spilled salt onto the table, another reason spilling salt is considered bad luck.

In the Hartz Mountain region in Germany, peasants believe that three grains of salt in a milk-pot will keep witches away from the milk. To preserve butter from uncanny influences, it was a custom in Aberdeen, Scotland, to put salt on the lid of a churn. In Normandy the peasants would throw a little salt into a vessel containing milk in order to protect the cow who gave the milk from the influences of witchcraft.

In the Province of Quebec French Canadians sometimes scatter salt around the doors of their stables to prevent mischievous little imps called lutins from entering and teasing the horses by sticking burrs in their manes and tails. In Marsala, west Sicily, a horse, mule, or donkey is thought to be liable to molestation by fairies when they enter a new stall. As a precautionary measure a little salt is placed on the animal's back. This is believed to insure freedom from lameness or other evil resulting from fairy spite.

The Germans of Buffalo valley in central Pennsylvania believe that a boy may be cured of homesickness by placing salt in the hems of his trousers and making him look up the chimney.

In India the natives rub salt and wine on the affected part of the body as a cure for scorpion bites, believing that the success of this treatment is due to the supernatural virtue of the salt in searing away the fiends who caused the pain.

A Magyar house-mistress will not give any salt to a woman who may come to the door and ask for it in the early morning, believing that any such would-be borrower is surely a witch; but in order to keep away all witches and hags, she strews salt on the threshold. On St. Lucien's Day neither salt nor fire must be taken out of the house.

Scots fishermen have a traditional custom of salting their nets "for luck, and they also sometimes throw a little salt into the sea "to blind the fairies."

Salt and bread, representing the necessaries of life, are the first articles taken into the dwelling of a newly married pair in Russia. In Pomerania, at the close of a wedding breakfast, a servant carries about a plate containing salt, upon which the guests place presents of money.

Other superstitions regarding salt:

• In order to reverse the bad luck that was coming your way from spilling salt, enough tears must be cried to dissolve the salt that was spilled
• If salt was spilt in a particular person's direction, bad luck was coming to that person
• Tossing a pinch of spilt salt over the shoulder is the antidote of ill luck raised
• If you have a curse or hex placed on you by a gypsy then once they leave your home throw a pinch of salt in their direction-nullify the curse
• If you have a frequent visitor whom you don’t want, then simply throw a pinch of salt at them when they’re in your house and they won’t return
• Fishermen never use the word while at sea because it’s taboo, however a tradition is to sprinkle fishing nets with salt to ensure a safe return
• If you want a lover to return then burn salt on seven consecutive mornings
• If you sprinkle some salt on the doorway to a new house then no evil can enter it
• If you are a bride then sprinkle a pinch of salt onto your dress for a happy marriage
• Never lend salt if you are outside the house, at a picnic etc., this will bring you very bad luck
• Newborn babies were once bathed in salt and water to ward off witchcraft
• Never offer another diner a salt cellar that is open - help me to salt, help me to sorrow
• You can tell if a girl is a virgin if she forgets to put salt onto the table

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