A recent episode of The Skeptic Zone had an interview with Danny K who runs The Jolly Thirteen Club in New York. The Jolly Thirteen Club is “a modern translation of the famous 1880s regular gathering of minds to discuss how to free society from superstition, irrationality and fear of the supernatural.” At their meetings, which are held on the 13th of the month, they frequently sit down at a table of 13, spill the salt, walk under ladders and sell their souls to their club mascot – a crow named Gerrard.
This got me thinking:
Are there any superstitious behaviours that you couldn’t give up? Could you walk under a ladder? Open an umbrella inside? Or would you be too afraid of the consequences?
Growing up in the theatre, I was subjected to many superstitions such as never telling somoene good luck, never whistling in a theatre and always being nice to the theatre ghost. I think I have done all of these “bad” things without any negative consequences. However, the one thing I could never bring myself to do is to mention Macbeth in a theatre. Saying “Macbeth” or reciting any lines from Macbeth particularly the Witch’s incantations brings extremely bad luck. Macbeth is always referred to as “the Scottish play” by actors to avoid the effects of “the curse”. When Macbeth is performed bad things always happen and this was true of the production our local professional company put on. The stage flooded (twice), the actress playing Lady Macbeth fell down the stairs and sprained her ankle, one of the lightning guys fell off a ladder and ended up in hospital and a myriad of other mishaps occurred. Even today, I don’t think I could ever mention the Scottish play in a theatre – it is just asking for something bad to happen.