|Leonids Over Niagara Falls|
We pass through the remnants of an ancient comet every November during the Leonid meteor shower.
The night sky lights as minute particles within the comet's ice flash as they pass through the earth's upper atmosphere and burn up in a beautiful flash of light. More info from Huff Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/20/leonid-meteor-shower-2012-return-tuesday_n_2162177.html
The peak of the Leonid happened this morning, with up to 20 flashes per hour. View a few here if you missed them.
The world has been captured and sometimes frightened by heavenly bodies as long as history has been recorded. Many cultures have been shaped by superstitions, some relating to the comets and meteors they saw in the night sky. For example, some native Americans had beliefs relating to meteor showers that struck fear:
(From Meteors and Meteorites http://www.crystalinks.com/meteors.html )
The following are two quotes form the 1949 book The Encyclopedia of Superstitions from 1949:
Falling, or shooting stars, are souls coming down from heaven to animate new-borne children.
When death occurs the flame of life lights up a new star.
Some superstitions could bring good things. It is said if when you see a meteor you can make a wish before it disappears, your wish will come true.
Or, if you see a shooting star and say "money" three times, your pockets will be full.
The Einsisheim meteor depicted in a 1492 etching.
Although we now know what a comets and meteors are, we still hold onto many superstitions relating to them, and probably make wishes on them--it sure can't hurt.
Some interpretation of superstitions from 100 Unfortunate Days:
Some popular superstitions and my interpretations: a black cat crossing your path is bad luck. I think any cat crossing your path is bad luck because they are familiars of the devil. The black cats are the worst because they are the most evil. Their souls have been charred and they are diseased and if they scratch you, you will most likely die.
If there are thirteen people at the dinner table, one will die within the year. This is probably a flat-out fact. One out of three or four women get breast cancer, several are probably just old, someone there is probably brewing some kind of heart disease and accidents happen every day. One of those thirteen is in for it.
Breaking a mirror brings seven years of bad luck. Probably based on the idea that your image contains a part of your soul.
I don’t believe in any of the traditional superstitions—but I have some of my own. For instance, if I pray too much the devil will get me. If I look at myself in the mirror in the dark I will see something terrible. If I am not around when my children are sick they will get worse. If I want something really bad and I get it, and I will be very unhappy. The devil is there at 3:00AM.
I would love to know if there are any superstitions you believe in and why. Looking forward to hearing about them :)