Super-what? - Tactical Ninja
Dec. 13th, 2013
09:21 am - Super-what?
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:
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.