Charles Reichblum, the author of the Knowledge in a Nutshell book series, discussed the origins of various superstitions. A number of "bad luck" superstitions such as Friday the 13th and stepping under a ladder, stem from religious connotations, he said. Seeing a black cat cross, got its bad rap, because during the Middle Ages, witches were thought to be able to assume the form of a feline, said Reichblum, though he noted that to the Egyptians cats were considered lucky.
Reichblum also delved into good luck superstitions. A rabbit's foot is considered lucky because rabbits multiply so rapidly, thus the foot is a token of fertility. The tradition of knocking on wood comes from Indians he said, who would touch trees to ward off bad luck, because trees were struck by lightning and thus connected to the Sky God.
"We're afraid to defy these superstitions," said Reichblum, because people would rather not take a chance, and that is why many of these traditions have lasted for centuries. Reichblum also shared accounts of unusual occurrences, such as the case of Robert Lincoln, the son of Abraham Lincoln, who was not only present at the assassination of his father, but two other US presidents, Garfield and McKinley, spread out over a 36 year period. In the latter half of the show, callers shared Friday the 13th stories, and anecdotes about various superstitions they have observed.
Thanks to all who responded to our call for "Dark Arts." View five images that were deemed especially spooky.
Bumper music from Friday February 13, 2004