“One for Sorrow”… Reflections on Superstition

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I’m not sure about other nations as regards this, but the Irish, I feel, are generally a very superstitious nation. I remember a Christian telling me that she had once struggled with that little rhythm about Magpies… “One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl – and four for a boy…” To see one magpie, for her, was something which had the potential to ruin her complete day!

Car registrations here have even been dictated by superstition, with number “13” being viewed as a number which brings “bad luck.” In the Republic of Ireland the registration starts with a number, then the first (and sometimes last) letters of the county where the car was registered and finally the year. All was fine with this new registration system until we reached the year “2013”… In 2012 a Meath car could have a registration of “12MH….” But once the year 2013 arrived, the numbers were swiftly changed to “131” or “132.” From that moment on, number “1” was added to each forthcoming year and if the car was registered in the second half of the year a “2” was added. It is incredible, to say the least, that an entire car registration system in a country has been dictated by superstition, as it was felt that no one would buy a “2013” car!

The list of superstitions is endless really… from “Friday 13th” to breaking mirrors and “7 years bad luck,” to a “lucky rabbit’s foot” to the belief that “bad luck comes in threes.” A black cat crossing the road in front of you is supposed to be “lucky,” but if that cat changes its mind and decides to walk back again, that is most “unlucky.” It is usually wiser not to walk under a ladder (for obvious reasons) but not to do so because of superstition is so wrong.

The Greeks, like the Irish, often have many religious icons dangling around in their cars – something which is supposed to give an aura of “protection” for the driver and his passengers. I recall being a passenger in a Greek taxi which flew around “hairpin” bends at a speed which made me feel sick as I looked down on the occasional wreck of an old car which had gone over the cliffs. Those beads and icons dangling from the mirror did nothing to allay my fears… No, I prayed to my living God and Saviour for protection.

Spiritually speaking, I have seen people in chains of anxiety because of superstition; Roman Catholicism, I believe, breeds superstition, blending as it does with whatever Pagan system was prevalent in the particular part of the world where it unfortunately came to have a presence.

The phenomenon of “moving statues” has attracted huge numbers of people to a certain area of Ireland over the years and throughout the world Catholicism has benefited financially from “apparitions of the Virgin Mary” supposedly appearing here and there.

“Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious…” (Acts 17v22) Today, as in Paul’s day, many worship “they know not what.”

And today, as in Paul’s day, the risen Saviour wants to free mankind from the shackles of superstitious thought which can often dictate the very nature of their daily lives.

“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17v30&31)

The devil is indeed a “hard taskmaster,” seeking to fill his subjects with superstition, worry and obsessive compulsive disorders relating to old traditional beliefs.

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8v36)

Oh the freedom, liberty and joy that we can find in Him as Lord and Saviour!

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