Human Superstitions

Food and Luck

If a rotten fruit falls off a tree and hits you, you will receive good fortune soon, but it will come in a form that will appear unfortunate at first. For example, a beast of burden might step in a hole and injure itself, but something of greater value will be found in the hole.

A loaf of bread should never be turned upside down after a slice has been cut from it. Doing so insults the goddess of the hearth.

It's bad luck to let milk boil over.

Objects and Luck

It is very bad luck to burn candles that are significantly fancier than your neighbour's. You are symbolically burning your wealth. Nor should you buy candles that are more expensive than your wealth would normally indicate. All the people of a neighbourhood should have roughly the same quality of candles that the poorest among them has.

Acorns from grandfather oaks are lucky. Carrying three, five, seven, or nine in your pocket at all times will insure good fortune and long life. Never carry more than nine, though, or Lady Luck will think you greedy and punish you for it.

Never lie books flat on a shelf, or you will forget all the knowledge you gain from reading them. Always store them on edge.

If you lay a fork flat on the table with the tines up, do not rest a knife on edge using the tines to support it. If you do, you and whoever you're eating with (or whoever you next eat with if you're alone) will quarrel.

If the handle of a door comes loose in your hand when you're trying to open it, appologize to the door (or the god of doorways, according to some); else you will be blocked from "entering" some project you are just starting (or about to start).

If a lit lamp suddenlly starts to smoke, and there's nothing wrong with the wick nor is the fuel low, it means someone you care for will soon be in danger from fire.

Crossing your knife and spoon on your plate after you have eaten is an indicator that the food tasted horrible and that you wish bad luck on the cook.

Never store a map face down. If you must draw on a map (one that is finished), put a drop on ink on the back of your hand first, and don't draw on the map until that drop dries. Don't drum your fingers on a map.

Do not throw scissors. If you do, you will soon be snubbed, insulted, or otherwise "cut"--in a social/emotional sense.

If you wear purple shoes, you will become an alcoholic, unless you carry (but never drink) some wine with you. It's OK if you drink alcohol that someone gives you, but not any that you buy.

Burning oak logs in the hearth strengths the home against natural disasters, pine and cedar logs bring it prosperity, birch wood brings happiness and elm protects it from curses and other evil intents. Tossing basil or rosemary into the fire also protects and brings happiness.

If you put a pitchfork tines down into the ground, and are going to go farther from it than your arms' reach, tell it "Goodbye". When you come to pull it out again, say "Hello" before touching it. Failing to do so will mean it (and perhaps some of your other tools) will break when you most need it to work.

If you ever accidentally tap a knife against a horseshoe (except if it's on a horse), tap it twice more. There are some kinds of imps that are attracted by the sound of one such tapping, but three close together drives them away.

Iron nails should never be stood upright. Horseshoes should never be turned upside down. Swords should never be stored upright. Mail should never be rolled or folded. Spears should never be pointed towards the ground.

People from Ambria always carry a pierced coin on their person; this brings monetary luck.

Behaviour and Luck

Let a young scholar draw water from the well before you, even if you got there first. Some of the wisdom he seeks will pass to you as well. If he fails to show gratitude for your deference to him, that isn't your problem, but his studies will be for naught for the rest of that day.

You must get out of bed on the same side that you get in or you will have bad luck.

If your right ear itches, someone is speaking well of you. If your left ear itches, someone is speaking ill of you.

If you bite your tongue while eating, it is because you have recently told a lie.

Treat an old woman with a remarkably small nose with the greatest kindness and respect. This is the favorite disguise of the goddess of abundance, when she wanders among humankind.

Dress especially warm for one month after getting married. It prevents bad luck. Some say it specifically lessens the jealous feelings rivals may have, decreasing the likelihood that they'll do something bad to you. Some say it also increases the likelihood that both spouses will remain faithful.

The first of the month (the full moon) is an auspicious time to begin new undertakings, but the 15th of the month (the new moon) is a bad time to start anything new. Weddings seldom take place on the 15th, and few people are willing to open new business ventures or start a journey on this day.

To argue at a crossroads is to invite misfortune into your life.

People from the Duchy of Irolo think that the sound of thunder in the distance is a harbinger of bad luck and ill fortune.

People from the Duchy of Irolo will never board a ship after nightfall, because it's bad luck.

Animals and Luck

Three butterflies together mean good luck.

No ship with a cat on board ever sinks, for the Lord of All Cats wouldn't allow it.

A swan's feather, sewed into the husband's pillow, will ensure fidelity.

If you kill a cat, it will wander to the Underworld, and tell your name to the first demon it meets, and command it to harrass you. Then the cat will come back as a ghost, and delight in watching your misfortune. BTW, there are dozens of explanations for why any demon would do a cat's bidding. But all agree that they will.

If you meet with a dog with orange "eyebrows," cross the index and middle fingers, and the ring and least fingers, of your left hand, and show this sign to the dog. Otherwise, it is likely to bite you.

Animals whose coats are pure black are unlucky.

People from Daria believe that to see three crows sitting together means good fortune is coming.

If a horse steps on the hem of your garment, thus preventing you from moving away, it means you are about to do something harmful to yourself. The horse is trying to prevent you from doing it.
Different cultures have different interpretations of this one:

Magpies are seen as mystical birds, capable of bestowing luck or misfortune when seen. The following rhyme tells what effect supposedly occurs when a person sees magpies. The rhyme has an unsavory reputation, and children are often beaten if their parents hear them recite it.

1 for spirit
2 for life
3 for mothers
and 4 for strife
5 for luck and its glad tale
6 for flesh that soon fails

On Elves

Always bow politely whenever you are about to enter a forest, even on a road. It lets the elves know that you are not their enemy.

On Magic

Some believe that magic is cast from the heart. Therefore, magic cast when sad tends not to be as powerful, magic cast when angry burns hotter, and happy magic tends to be uplifting. Mixed emotions are extremely bad since this is where magical mistakes come from.

You should salt the lands where evil magic was created, for it seeps into the lands and twists the very vegetation that feeds upon it.

Once a magician learns magic, he will never love again for the magic consumes his desires completely.

On Health

A mirror reflects not just the person but the soul. If a person becomes sick, all mirrors in their home should be removed or covered, lest the soul become sick as well.

Illnesses are caused by evil spirits inhabiting a person's body. Different types of evil spirits manifest as different illnesses.

Magic cures diseases by driving out the evil spirits. That's why priestly magics are more effective than secular magics at curing illnesses.

Potions cure diseases because the evil spririts cannot stand the foul taste. Not all spirits find the same tastes repulsive. You must find the potion that repulses the specific spirit that caused your disease. Some foul smelling salves and poultices work for similar reasons.

Evil spirits can enter the body through open wounds. Wounds should be bound in rags soaked in wine (or other alcoholic beverages). The spirit will get drunk on the wine and forget to enter the wound. The stronger the drink, the more effective it will be at getting the spirit drunk.

Evil spirits congregate together. They live by swamps, dead bodies, sewers, and other people infected by evil spirits.

Never ring a bell exactly twice or exactly four times. The people of southern Daria believe there is a strong connection between bells and the number three. If you ring a bell once, or five or more times, that's OK, but 2 or 4 times makes the bell feel uncomfortable because it's just slightly off it's favorite number. People and animals nearby will start to feel uneasy and tense. Their health may be impaired or become contrary and disobedient.

On Birth and Death

Women who follow the druidic faith know that if they want to become pregnant, they should sleep on the bare earth in a hollow.

The spouse who goes to sleep first on the wedding day will be the first to die.

In Daria, people leave offerings of food at crossroads in order to placate the unquiet dead and to ensure safe journeys. They also believe that mirrors frighten ghosts away, and so to break one is to bring bad luck.

The soul of a person who breaks a mirror will wander the world in the afterlife.

Never set two mirrors directly opposite each other. Similarly, do not ever get between two mirrors or other highly reflective surfaces, nor see a reflection of a reflection of yourself. To do so practically invites some "thing" to come and possess you.

Mirrors in a house with a corpse should be covered or the person who sees himself will die next.

If a mirror in the house falls and breaks by itself, someone in the house will die soon.

If a bird (not just a magpie, but any bird) flies into your house, someone living there will die soon.

Dried basil hung over windows keeps the spirits of the dead at bay.

Do not whistle in the presence of a corpse. The ghost will haunt you.

The folk of the Horse Wilds, demand burial in earth so that the souls can be carried into the afterlife by the wild horse herds.

The Darian and Ambrian cultures are very similar in most respects, but one area in which they are diametrically opposed is in how they pay respect to the dead at gravesites. The Darians place an emphasis on the living moving on with their lives and not letting onesself be "haunted" by the dead, therefore after a funeral or visiting a grave, you turn around and walk away. The Ambrians place greater emphasis on remembering and honoring the dead, and would consider this rude and arrogant - it invites hostile spirits to sneak up and attack you from behind. They say that when leaving a grave side, you should back up several steps, depending on the "rank" or honor that you wish to give the dead, before turning. In some cases, an Ambrian might back up all the way to the edge or gate of the cemetary. The Darians consider this foolish. To back away from a grave is to imply that you're afraid of the dead, and you invite evil or mischievous spirits to pursue you and continue to haunt you and torment you with further fear.

Do not spit into an empty grave; you will soon die.

Don't make a headstone out of red (or even slighty-pinkish) stone; the person will rise as a blood-hungry undead.

If you pass a graveyard at night, whistle if you wish (e.g., if it keeps up your courage), but do NOT sing!! Demons will join you in song, and then take you away.

Don't count the number of headstones out loud. Some say it's alright, if you skip 13 and all its multiples.

If you find a (live) lily growing on a grave, do not uproot it. Cutting it off flush with the ground is OK, so is covering it so it dies off. Just don't uproot it, or the body in that grave will come up too, the next full moon.

On the Weather

Cows lie down in the fields right before it rains.

If the sun rises red, the weather that day is likely to be violent. If it sets red, look for a dry night.