The Encyclopedia of Superstitions

The Encyclopedia of Superstitions includes more than five hundred of the most fascinating superstitions I've found over the last forty years. You'll discover how Friday the 13th, the Bermuda Triangle, ravens, and black cats became so unlucky. You'll also discover how the number seven, pennies, robins and rabbits' feet became associated with good fortune. I became fascinated with superstitions while living in Cornwall, England forty years ago. Within days of arriving there, my landlady had taught me:

If you visit someone's house and leave without sitting down, you'll never be invited there again.

If a stranger visits your home on Christmas Day, you'll be unlucky for the next twelve months.

If more than one lady pours from the same teapot at a morning tea, one of the guests will become pregnant.

A slice of toast placed in the fork of the biggest tree in an apple orchard ensures a good crop.

If your nose itches, one of four things will happen. You'll be kissed, crossed, or irritated. If none of these occur, a fool will shake your hand.

Several months later, I moved to Yorkshire and discovered the wealth of superstitions there, especially those practiced by fishermen. By this time I was hooked, and have been avidly seeking superstitions ever since. My original intention was to include as many superstitions as possible from around the world. Unfortunately, the sheer number of superstitions practiced around the world made this impossible. Consequently, in this book I've tried to include superstitions that are widely held in the Western world. For the same reason, I reluctantly and sadly had to leave out most regional superstitions.

People are just as superstitious today as they ever have been, as it enables people to feel they are in control of any given situation. Francis Bacon wrote: "There is a superstition in avoiding superstition." Because even avoiding a superstition can be superstitious, it seems we'll always be influenced by superstition.

The Encyclopedia of Superstitions has been translated into Romanian, Russian and Serbian. Bounty Books have published a UK edition, and Hay House have published an English language edition in India.