Thursday, June 24, 2010

Marine Superstitions

I have always been somewhat of a superstitious person.  I try not to walk under ladders, I don't put new shoes on the table, black cats crossing my path sort of creep me out and if I break a mirror, I don't like it.  However, superstitions don't rule my life.  If a black cat does cross my path I don't sequester myself in a room saying Hail Mary's or anything - but if I can avoid it by crossing the street or turning around quickly (i.e. changing my path - clever huh?) I will.  In my opinion, if there is even the remotest chance that I actually can control/avoid 'bad luck' - I'll give it a crack.  I don't want to tempt fate.  The universe works in very mysterious ways...

No world is more riddled with superstition than the world of the sea.  I've always known of the true blue sailor superstitions such as "bananas on a boat are bad luck" (you'll slip on the peel and fall overboard), dolphins swimming with your ship is a sign of good luck,  "don't whistle on a boat" (it will raise a gale) and, yes, I've always been aware of the sexist superstition that "a woman on a boat brings bad luck" (apparently, we 'anger' the sea).  I was not aware, however, that a NAKED woman on board will actually "calm the sea" (hence the naked figureheads adorning bows).  Riiiiiigggghhht.  Anyone else see a little discrepancy here?  I've got to hand it to those sailors of yesteryear though, they really knew how to work an angle.  I wonder how many seasick women ran around in their birthday suits when a storm hit or the waves got a little out of hand? Very 'age of Aquarius'.

Turns out - there are some pretty wacky nautical superstitions out there. Here are a few gems:
  • Black traveling bags are bad omens for sailors.
  • Avoid flat-footed people when beginning a trip BUT the bad luck can be averted if you speak to the flat-footed person before they speak to you.
  • Avoid red-headed people when beginning a trip BUT (like the above) the bad luck can be averted if you speak to the red head before they speak to you.
  • The caul of a newborn is protection against drowning and will bring the owner good luck (FYI 'caul' is essentially the amniotic sac....ummmmm who OWNS this sort of thing!?!).
  • The feather of a wren slain on New Years Day will protect a sailor from dying in a shipwreck.
Really, who comes up with this stuff?!  And to anyone out there who owns any part of the amniotic sac and carries it around for good luck - please seek help.

Sailors were (and are) a very superstitious bunch, and I'm guessing it has everything to do with the fact that once at sea, they had very little control of the world around them and adhering to these little tokens and rituals helped them to feel that they had a hand in their fate.  Superstitions provided a sense of security and confidence.  That, and the fact that sailors liked their women in the buff.  Who can blame 'em?

There is a tremendous amount of power in belief and maybe - just maybe if Scott and I offer Neptune some libations and goodies along our journey (hope he likes Rum!), he'll take good care of us (wink)! It's worth a shot (literally)! 

Fingers crossed.


Unknown said...

it can't hurt... right?

Erick said...

In my trip around Florida I avoided some supposed "bad luck" as best I could. Mostly, I tried to avoid leaving on Fridays, but the last leg of the trip had to begin on one. The engine crapped out that day, but so did it on all the other legs heh.

Mid-Life Cruising! said...

We're not superstitious but just performed a denaming/renaming boat ceremony last night just in case. We're in trouble if these superstitions are true, as I'm a redhead and my husband is flat-footed! Guess I might have to sail naked when nobody's around to offset things. =)

Rachel and Mike said...

I never read this post- love it!

Mike and I are redheads....perhaps we cancel each other out?!

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