Monday, June 27, 2011

Superstition: Salt Over The Shoulder

Growing up in an Italian family I have heard many different superstitions, the most common was throwing salt over your shoulder. Until recently, I had no idea what the superstition was really about. The superstition states that if an individual spills salt, one should throw it over your left shoulder to erase the blunder. Throwing the salt over your shoulder will blind the devil and keep him from taking your soul. Salt was a very expensive and highly sought after product, preserving food and functioning as legal tender during ancient and biblical times. This reference came from the website (Daily Mail), which states that Leonardo da Vincis’ painting the Last Supper, may be inspiration for this scene. Since the scene illustrates Jesus Christ and his twelve apostles seated around a table, and Judas appears to have knocked over the salt, thus bringing forth the devil. According to (Angel Fire) another way the superstition may have come about is believed to have come from the Kabala. The Kabala says that there are three paths in life; the middle, which is the most common, the path to the right, which is the path of love and light, and the left side, is a path where one meets the devil and we learn our lessons. Whether the artist da Vinci, meant for art viewers to beware of the devil, by painting spilled salt near the man that would ultimately lead to the death of Christ, will always be unknown. Just like the Kabala’s belief about the three paths of life, will always be a part of their religious beliefs. The reason that this superstition has persisted may never be known, but I think it is safe to say that individuals get a sense of safety and security from this superstition. Dr. Stuart Vyse, author of Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition, believes that superstitions are an example of ‘magical thinking.’ The way a person feels about a superstition may be caused by a ‘placebo effect,’ if they want to feel good about a certain situation… they will.

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