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Super-what? - Tactical Ninja

Dec. 13th, 2013

09:21 am - Super-what?

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Today, in honour of Friday the 13th, meri_sielu asked me to write about superstitions - as in, do I have any, what are they, and what about any local ones?

Again, this turned out to be harder than I thought it would be.


Y'see, my family is secular. I mean, secular enough so that apart from a bit of religious indoctrination as a very small child*, the only times I've been in a church have been for weddings and funerals. I think I could say the Lord's Prayer but I'd probably miss a few bits, and the only Catholic thing I know is:

Hail Mary, full of grace
Help us win this stock car race.


Which isn't what I'd call an exact representation.

So yeah, not much with the religion, my lot. Of any kind. And yet, my folks (particularly Mum) were interested in all things metaphysical. Trying to move marbles with your mind, reading about the supernatural, meditation, a brief and embarrassing stint with numerology.. the list goes on. My Mum was enough into astrology that I know far more than a skeptic really should about the purported traits of the various signs, and can talk with some authority on rising signs, moon signs and what having Venus in Libra actually means in practice.

Scary, isn't it?

So it's not as if our lives were bereft of the unexplained or anything, it was just a different kind of unexplained. I remember when Pyramid Power was a thing, Dad decided he had to know for sure, so he built a couple of pyramid models and put them under the house with various foodstuffs under them. He also had controls that had no pyramid. As it turned out, the pyramid food did last longer, but not significantly enough that it could be attributed to Pyramid Power rather than just being covered up rather than exposed to the air.

*cough* That's the kind of family I grew up in. So, we knew about the superstitions but didn't really follow them. Seriously, why waste good salt by throwing it over your shoulder? Why go out of your way to avoid black cats**? And isn't having to clean up the glass from a broken mirror bad luck enough?

And yet, I remember Mum and Dad waiting outside a Lotto shop till 11:11 in the morning on the 11th of November, just to buy a ticket at that precise time, because they'd been noticing it a lot. I don't remember if they won anything, but I do still notice 11:11 and think of that incident.

I remember making a pact with my Mum that whichever of us died first would try to contact the other from beyond the grave, if it turned out that was possible. I can say with some conviction that Mum has definitely manifested in my mind on several occasions, but I can't say for sure whether that's beyond-the-grave contact or merely the impression she left behind her being so strong. Either way, it doesn't really matter. What matters is that because memories of her survive, a part of her still exists, in my neural networks and those of others who knew her. They say nothing ever truly ceases to exist, and I can get behind that idea.

So really, the only superstition I'm aware of that fits the following criteria:

a) It's local
b) I subscribe to it

Is that green jelly makes it rain. Not the band*** (although I'll be honest and say I've never tried it).



I picked this one up in the shearing gangs. I've worked in a lot of different gangs all over the country - Paewai Mullins in Dannvirke, MacIntosh's in Taumarunui, Lawton's in Gore, Jackson's in Mossburn - and every single one of them shares the belief that when the cook makes green jelly, it'll rain within a couple of days.

The thing about shearing gangs is that you work 7 days a week - unless it rains. Most of the sheds that use contract gangs can hold between 400 and 1000 sheep undercover (sometimes up to 3000 but that's in the really big sheds). So when it starts raining, there's usually only about half a day's work until you 'cut out' the shed, and then you get a day off. Or two. Or 5, because this is New Zealand and it rains here****.

Unfortunately, asking the cook to make green jelly just to get a day off doesn't work. It has to be the cook's choice, and generally they cycle through all the colours so you might only get green jelly every few weeks or so. But it works. Green jelly = a day off. Don't ask me why.


So I'm a bit useless when it comes to local superstitions. However, there are lots of folks here who are more local than me, so hopefully someone will jump in in the comments and tell me about their own local superstitions. Non-Wellingtonians most welcome to contribute - I'm interested!

* I remember going to a Sunday School, vaguely. I remember my one and only visit to church, where the loud men singing scared the crap out of me, I cried a lot, they gave me some seashells and told me Jesus loves me and sent me home, and I never went back.

** Every cat I've ever had has been black. They've all been female (bar one), they've all been called Tui, and they've all just wandered into my life shortly after I've decided I want a cat. So yeah, I manifest black cats apparently. Ooooh, spoooookkkyyy..

*** Someone should definitely try this. For science.

**** I believe this is one of the reasons that shearing conditions are so different in Australia. There, you can afford to take weekends off because the likelihood of losing days to rain is so small. Here, it rains regularly so you have to shear every fine day or you'll get behind. Consequently, gangs here work 7 days, in Australia I believe they have scheduled days off. The longest stretch I've done without a day off was 6 weeks.

Comments:

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From:girlguitarist
Date:December 12th, 2013 08:32 pm (UTC)
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Your cat thing is interesting, because I've had that same thing! Except that mine extends to black OR black & white cats. And our dog (though he broke the trend by having brown feet over all the black). They all came to us and it was less of a "choice" that we took them.

Likewise, we had family friends who only ever had blonde animals. WHAT IS WITH THIS??
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From:tatjna
Date:December 12th, 2013 08:39 pm (UTC)
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Pretty much all my dogs have been black and white too, but I suspect that's to do with a preference for sheepdogs.

MAYBE THE ANIMALS ARE ATTRACTED TO PEOPLE WHOSE DECOR THEY MATCH

O.o
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From:pundigrion
Date:December 12th, 2013 11:28 pm (UTC)
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Haha, and here I thought it was the opposite! My pets have inevitably *not* been the same colour as my carpets.
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From:tatjna
Date:December 12th, 2013 11:29 pm (UTC)
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So true. And now I have no pets, we have the perfect grey-mottled carpet for not showing up any kind of fur.

Clearly we are doing it wrong.
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From:pundigrion
Date:December 12th, 2013 11:32 pm (UTC)
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Same here! Now I have all wood...and a husband who doesn't want any cats in the house and dogs are right out too. (I still sometimes let the neighbour's cat in when I suspect mice because he will sniff around and show me right where they are coming in without fail. Then he gets bored and I let him back outside with a treat.)
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From:crazedturkey
Date:December 12th, 2013 09:55 pm (UTC)
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Green jelly makes it rain? As an australian I am now going o make this all the damn time ;)
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From:tatjna
Date:December 12th, 2013 10:45 pm (UTC)
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I'm pretty sure it only works at the whim of shearing gang cooks. But I would be interested to see your results!
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From:pombagira
Date:December 12th, 2013 10:40 pm (UTC)
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me me me .. or actually you you you...

so lots of us here in Wellington, who know Tats understand that summer does not arrive untill she has finished her shearing, and announced such. this has come about because often on a friday at fidels Tats would say, i'm shearing this weekend, and sure enough it would rain, i have discovered that if nothing is said then the weather is generally fine.. and summer does not happen untill all the sheep have been shawn... although this does not include lambs, new clients, and or show sheep shearing...

#truefacts

also it is summer currently which is why over the last couple of days it has been trying so hard to rain and failing...

so in finishing.. Tats is our very own Popculture icon, and soon to be folklore..

*beams*
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From:tatjna
Date:December 12th, 2013 10:44 pm (UTC)
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Oddly enough, I have the last three 'true' sheep of the season booked in for tomorrow, and sure enough, look at those clouds rolling in.

Especially after it being fine and in the twenties for my entire trip round the lower north island the last couple of days....
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From:pombagira
Date:December 12th, 2013 11:30 pm (UTC)

not Oddly, folklore *grins*

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two more sheep you say..

it has been misting, on and off for a couple of days.. so not quite rain.. *ponders this*



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From:helianthas
Date:December 12th, 2013 10:45 pm (UTC)
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I have Venus in Libra. Just sayin'. :p
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From:tatjna
Date:December 12th, 2013 10:46 pm (UTC)
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Me too. ;-D

If you subscribe to such things, I reckon we could do a lot worse for our Venus placement.
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From:fbhjr
Date:December 12th, 2013 11:21 pm (UTC)
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I've never heard the green jelly=rain idea.
I'll have to keep an eye to see if it is true up here...
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From:tatjna
Date:December 12th, 2013 11:23 pm (UTC)
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I've never heard of it outside of shearing gangs - so maybe it's a set of very specific circumstances. Hm..

I think my LJ flist should test it. Yep.
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From:richaarde
Date:December 13th, 2013 03:58 am (UTC)
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Do you get rain from making green jelly or from eating it?

It's an interesting superstition....
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From:tatjna
Date:December 13th, 2013 06:56 am (UTC)
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Hmm.. not sure - we always ate it as soon as it was made so I can't separate the two. Clearly this needs more testing.
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From:meathiel
Date:December 13th, 2013 06:29 am (UTC)
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I love that superstition about green jelly - never heard about it before.
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From:tatjna
Date:December 13th, 2013 06:57 am (UTC)
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I think it's probably pretty specific to shearing gangs in New Zealand. But I'd love it if it turned up somewhere else too - it'd be like proof!
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From:falena84
Date:December 13th, 2013 09:24 am (UTC)
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This post was really interesting, I love learning about life in different countries, and I know so little about NZ that I always pick up interesting things from you. Plus, I think you have a way with words so your posts are always so nice to read.

The green jelly thing is really cool. :D
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From:meri_sielu
Date:December 15th, 2013 03:50 am (UTC)
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I particularly enjoy the green jelly superstition, that's certainly a new one! XD If that's true then that might be one of the reasons it rains so much here, red and green jellies are the most common colours! :P
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