Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Superstitions In Thailand - Animal

Thai superstitions involving small creatures with tails such as: house lizard, mouse, bird, bat, centipede, bee and other flying insects.
1) If the creature lands in front of you and its tail points to you: you will be lucky, you will receive precious gifts and the angels will look after you.
2) If the creature lands in front of you and its tail points to your right: you will get presents from your relations.
3) If the creature lands in front of you and its tail points to your left: you and your relations will be in danger or ill. You should go and make merit straight away.

Superstitions In Thailand - Lucky Gemstones sorted by Month of Birth

January - garnet and malachite
February - amethyst and opal
March - tourmaline and bloodstone
April - diamond
May - emerald
June - pearl and moonstone
July - ruby
August - amber
September - black sapphire and blue sapphire
October - opal and tourmaline
November - topaz
December - turquoise

Superstitions In Germany (Aging and Death)

-If a deathly ill person cannot die, then one should move the table out of its place, or turn over a shingle on the roof.

-If a sick man wishes to die, then one should open all the windows, fill any object in the house which is empty and turn it over, so that the soul is free to leave and cannot stay anywhere. One should also take the vinegar away, so that it does not sit around; hang the bird cage somewhere else, tie the cattle up differently, and move the beehives.

-If a deceased man's clothes are not soon washed, he cannot rest.

-If someone has trouble dying, then one may lift up just three tiles on the roof.

Superstitions In Germany (Witchcraft)

1) Do not answer a witch's question, or else she can take something from you.

2) Old women often cut out a foot-long piece of sod that their enemy has just walked over, and hang it in the chimney. Then their enemy will waste away.

3) He who carries the tooth of a harrow found on the street will always recognize a witch.

4)Whoever carries a harrow tooth found on a Sunday will see witches in the church with pails on their heads, but must leave the church before the 5 o'clock bells ring, or they will tear him apart.

Superstitions In Germany (Courtship and Marriage)

1) To learn if she shall marry within the next year, a virgin should knock on the chicken coop on Christmas Eve or at midnight. If a rooster cackles she will, if a hen cackles she won't.

2) To discover if her lover will be upright or crooked, a girl must stand against a cord or a stack of wood on Christmas Eve and pull a log out backwards; her lover will be like the log.

3) Christmas Eve between 11 and 12 o'clock all single girls wake up. To learn whether or not they will marry in the next year, they take off all their clothes, stick their heads into the kitchen kettle and watch the bubbling water.

Taboos in Japan

1. Do not burp or fart in public. Even if you say "Excuse me", its not acceptable.

2. Don't touch your nose or any body fluids.

3. If you have a sickness, wear a mask.

4. Never stick your chopsticks upright in food (means death) or let anyone else use your chopsticks, give scissors as a gift (means severing ties with someone), or give chrysanthemums (sp?) as a gift (its the flower they give during a funeral). Also don't give anything in 4's. One of the ways to say 4 in japanese is "shi", which means death in a different context.

5. Do remove your shoes when you enter a house and put on slippers. Even when you go to the restroom, make sure you remove those slippers and put on a different pair. Cleanliness is extremely important to the japanese because the Shinto religion requires it, and because of that, its inbred into the culture.

6. Eat whatever is in front of you. Don't question the food unless you're learning Japanese and don't know what it is in the English language.

7. Don't talk about WWII or the Sudo-Japanese war. Just don't talk about war period.

8. Be extremely polite. Anything less than polite will make people disrespect you. Never be a loud tourist. Try to blend into the culture.

Taboos in China

-If you want someone to come to you, don’t wave them over with an upturned finger. This is impolite. Wave them over with your fingers turned down, as if they were sweeping something toward you. The same motion is used when hailing a cab.

-When using a toothpick in public, cover your mouth with your hand.

-When eating with a group, if there is a dish everyone is sharing (which is customary), do not use your chopsticks or the spoon you are eating with to dish your food. Use the serving spoon to dish into your bowl or plate and then use your spoon or chopsticks to eat.

-If someone gives you a present, it’s best not to open it in front of them.

-When someone gives a business card to you, do not stick it in your hip pocket. Also, don’t stick it in your wallet and then put your wallet in your hip pocket. You would be symbolically stating that you want to sit on them! Putting a business card in your wallet and them placing the wallet in a front pocket is no problem.

Taboos in Thailand

Shoes off
In Thailand, shoes are removed before entering any establishment, including bars and stores.

Bad Mouthing Authority and Religion
If you have a strong opinion on something having to do with the king or Buddha, it's best to keep your mouth shut. The Thai's have a strong view of their king, and talking down about him or any authority will land you in a very hot seat with the locals.

Revealing Skin
While in big, tourist filled cities, this is okay to a point, you should avoid revealing too much flesh, as this is generally frowned upon.

Public displays of affection
Kissing in public is a big no-no, and you won't see Thais holding hands, either. While most are used to seeing Westerners holding hands, they still don't like to watch you kiss.

Sexual taboos and HIV/AIDS in Africa

To talk about sex in some African cultures can be equated with cursing at the church. Sex is simply not discussed. It is believed that good families do not discuss this issue. In fact, to discuss sex with older adults is considered a sign of promiscuity. Childhood sexual curiosity and questions are learned from one's peers. With the availability of technology, most sexual information is now gleaned from the western media, and of course from the internet.
In Africa, there are so many sexual taboos because sex is believed to be private between the man and woman. It is believed that sex is strictly for married couples. Sexual practices are attributed to the dictation of the religion and individual cultural norms. Anything that deviates from these reasons is evil and bad. However, sexual taboos are practiced secretly with very adverse consequences - HIV/AIDS, rapes and pedophilia.
In Africa, HIV/AIDS infections and mortality is an epidemic. One of the sexual taboos that still contribute to the proliferation of this deadly virus is homosexuality. This sexual preference is so taboo that even speculation of it is grounds for societal taunting, punishment, alienation and even death for not only the homosexual individual, but for his/her family too. In Nigeria, homosexuality is considered unnatural, unacceptable, ungodly, taboo, evil, and sign of a poor upbringing.
Male homosexuals are not considered "real men". In a patriarch society like Nigeria, they will not be taken seriously, and their opinions will not be considered important. Real African men have to prove their masculinity by marrying and producing children. They have to show their manliness by marrying as many wives that their religion or culture will allow them to have. As for women, they have to get married and have children to be considered a "real women". This is important because women have rights in Nigeria only through their husbands or male children. For instance, a barren woman will encourage her husband to get married to another woman so that they can have children. Unmarried women and lesbians are ridiculed privately and publicly, and can be at risk for rape. Many African homosexuals will rather die than admit to their sexual orientation because of this societal label.
Due to this stigma and threat of death in some cases, homosexuals are forced into loveless marriages, secret double lives, and condemned to life of unhappiness. In some cases, their sexual partners are prostitutes of the same gender willing to do the sexual act for money, drug and alcohol addicts, household servants, and unfortunately, children. As one can imagine, some of these sexual acts are unprotected. These homosexual individuals will then go home to their wives/husbands to have unprotected sex, hence infecting them and their unborn children. Some homosexuals unwilling to live this double secret life, will commit suicide, move to western countries where they will be accepted, or continue with their deadly sexual practices. As a result, HIV/AIDS continues to flourish uncontrollably in Africa.
Even though we condemn the United States media for publicly and inappropriately exhibiting and extolling sexuality in our everyday lives, we should use the opportunity to teach our children about sex, importance of protected sex, abstinence, different sexual preferences, importance of tolerance, and the outcomes of having any type of sex.

Medical Health Taboos

The term medical health taboos refers to taboos aimed at protecting and promoting human health.
Preventing illnesses and diseases in traditional societies was critical for human survival since these
societies could not boast of some of the breakthroughs in modern medicine such as the discovery
and use of penicillin and antibiotics as well as vaccinations and immunizations against various killerdiseases.
The following taboos exemplify both the diversity and complexity of the taboos used in
preventive medicine.
It is a taboo to have sex in the bush: While this is said to offend the near-by gods and the earth
goddess (Asaase Yaa) who may strike the offenders with venereal and other diseases, several
scientific explanations can be given for this taboo. For instance, it helps to ensure that sex does not
take place in an unsafe environment such as the bush where there are dangerous insects, scorpions
and snakes, not to mention microorganisms. There’s also the possibility of a heart attack or
bleeding on the part of any of the parties, which could prove fatal, especially, if the farm or bush is
far from home. It is also to deter the incidents of rape, which often occurs in the bus, and related
It is a taboo to sing while taking your bath: It is feared that one will mysteriously lose the mother to
death just by refusing to stop such a habit. The scientific explanation for this is not hard to discern.
Soaps used in the olden days were highly acidic and therefore poisonous if swallowed in sufficiently
large quantities. The essence of the taboo then is to prevent people from the harmful effect if unsafe
traditional soap. Given the special bonding between mothers and their children in traditional
societies where children are breast-fed for one year or more, the possibility of causing death of one’s
own mother is for most Africans, the worst case scenario in life.

It is a taboo for a widow/widower to be at the cemetery for their spouses’ burial: The personal
explanation is that this will disturb the peaceful separation and departure of the deceased to the
world of souls. Consequently, it is believed that the ghost of the dead spouse would visit the
offending spouse at night and might take him/her away spiritually.
Mysterious as this taboo might appear it is associated with a very plausible scientific explanation. In
psychological terms, the wise elders explain that it is aimed at protecting the mental health or
emotion well-being of the bereaved spouse. The moment of burial marks a definite point of
separation and the bereaved spouse could be overpowered by extreme emotions. In extreme cases
this could result in the collapse or death of the bereaved. For similar reasons children are also
forbidden from seeing dead bodies, especially their own relatives and friends.
It is also a taboo to talk while eating: In terms of personal explanation, it is feared that one’s mother
would die if one breaks this taboo. The scientific counterpart to this personal explanation is simply
that the prohibition is necessary to prevent people from getting choked. Food chocking is a common
phenomenon in Africa since many ethnic foods made from mashed corn, cassava, yam, and plantain
have to be swallowed with soup or sauce without chewing. These include balls of fufu, akple and
toozaafe especially with very oily palm-kernel and groundnut paste soups etc.

Amulets, charm and Spell

An amulet is a material object on which a charm has been written, or over which a charm or spell has been cast. It is carried or worn in the belief that it will protect from evil, or bring good luck. It is used frequently as a shield against evil spirits or black magic, as well as protection from disease, adversity, or danger. Amulets are worn, for instance, by women during childbirth, individuals in dangerous occupations, the superstitious (including any actors, gamblers, and Gypsies), and by some who have been magically healed.
Amulets are common throughout the world, worn by the civilized and uncivilized alike, and are of an infinite variety. The heathen wears a human finger bone or tiger's tooth, while his white cousin in the city carries a rabbit's foot, or a charm on his watch chain. Amulets are found in the form of birthstones, beads, garlic (worn to protect against the evil eye, vampires, etc.), copper bracelets, Egyptian scarabs, St. Christopher's medals, four-leaf clovers, letters of protection (carried by soldiers, for example), human hair, rings, lucky coins, the cone from a hemlock tree (a fertility charm), lucky charm bracelets (which are worn today by girls who are many times unaware of their magical associations), and countless other objects.
A charm basically means a chant or incantation recited in order to produce some good or bad effect magically (the term charm means to sing). An object may be charmed in this manner, or the charm may be written down. Such charms when worn or carried are amulets. The distinction between a recited charm and the amulet is generally overlooked and consequently the amulet itself which has been charmed is usually called a charm.
A spell may be spoken or written and involves the use of magical incantations, rituals, and symbols. The magician, charmer, or sorcerer casts a spell in order to curse, injure, harass, and bind (hence the term spellbound), or to bring to pass what he desires. Both humans and animals (as well as anything else from crops to marriage) may be charmed or have a spell cast over them in order to cure, harm, or protect, or to cause some other desired effect.
The secrets of magical charming and casting spells were revealed by Satan himself to his devotees and passed down through the ages. Satan has established his own complicated rituals for charming and casting spells, and the forces of darkness are obliged to act on behalf of the sorcerer (or anyone else) if he observes the proper formulae.
Spells and charms are cast, and amulets worn, for any reason desired: to give strength, to kill an enemy, to protect from evil, to assure success in love, or to give victory in battle. Charms and spells are used to cure diseases in humans or animals, to shield against demons, or to cause a business to prosper, and so on.
Perhaps two of the most common spell or charm works having magical import and which are familiar to everyone are: Abracadabra and Hocus-pocus. The term abracadabra is an ancient word believed to have magical power to ward off evil spirits, disease, or other adversity. The first recorded mention of the term occurs in a written remedy for the cure of disease, believed dating from the second to the fourth centuries A.D. The term was to be written on a paper in a certain manner, then folded and worn as a amulet for 9 days, after which it was to be thrown backward before sunrise into a stream flowing east, thus curing the disease. The term hocus-pocus is generally used by magicians during sleight-of-hand tricks, or in conjuring and incantations. It is believed to be a corruption of the Latin hoc est corpus (this is the body), a phrase used by a Catholic priest in the ritual of the Mass when the bread is erroneously believed to become mystically transformed into Christ's body.

Oaths Superstitions

Blasphemy of the Divine name, so fearfully common in professedly Christian countries, is almost unknown to the African heathen. Though the native name for God, Anyambe, is improperly used in names of persons (which is not intended for disrespect), it is not often actually blasphemed. An equivalent blasphemy, is occasionally practised in the misuse of the name of their great and sacred spirit-society. In the Benga tribe "Saba?" and "Sabali?" used interrogatively, mean only "True?" "Is that so?"; but, used positively, they are of the nature of an oath, especially when the society's name (Ukuk) was added: "Saba n' Ukuku" (True! by Ukuk!).
On the Ogowe River, in the Galwa tribe, the name of that society was Isyoga, more commonly spoken of as Yasi. In the initiation into it the neophytes were taught a long and very solemn adjuration, that could be uttered only among the initiated, as an oath; but they were allowed commonly to use simply its title "Yasi," the utterance of that one word being accompanied by a downward sweep of the right hand over the left arm from shoulder to hand. It was not permitted to women to speak this word.
In no tribes with which I have lived was this "By-the-Spirit" oath used so much as among the Galwa of the Ogowe. It became monotonously frequent, in and out of season, in all conversations and on the slightest assertion or the simplest excitement.
I became very tired of "Yasi! Yasi! Yasi!" and that sweep of the right hand, for the doing of which the canoe paddle or a tool was laid down. And, by the way, the more of a liar a man was, the more frequent and vociferous was he in his persistent use of "By Yasi!"

Speach Superstitions

Superstition mingles in customs of speech. There is the custom of Kombo, existing to-day. Something about the act of sneezing is considered uncanny. A phrase or a cabalistic word, intended as an adjuration or a protestation in the nature of a prayer for protection or blessing, is very commonly ejaculated by one who sneezes and sometimes when one stumbles. (In the old despotic days of native kings, in the Benito region, if a king, on first emerging from his house in the morning, should happen to stumble, be would order the nearest person in sight to be killed.) That word is uttered by an adult for
[1. From a West African Newspaper.]
himself, by a parent or other relative for an infant child. It may be an archaism whose meaning has been forgotten. Generally the Kombo is an epigrammatic phrase invented by the individual himself, and to be used only by him.
Sometimes, instead of a phrase, the single word "Kombo!" as representing the custom, is uttered.
Some forty years ago the ejaculation, before the invariable "Mbolo" salutation was uttered, that was used by visitors to the Mpongwe king on the south side of the Gabun estuary, was, "What evil law has God made?" The response was, "Death!" Little as the heathen natives liked to talk of death, their use of that word to their king was in the nature of a good wish that he might escape the universal law. And the "Mbolo!" (gray hairs) that followed was a wish that he might live to have gray hairs.
His son, an edueated man and a nominal Romanist, is now saluted quite as formally, but the ejaculation has been changed to a more respectful and Christian recognition of God.

Twins Superstitions

Mr. Arnot states that in Garenganze "cases of infanticide are very rare. Twins, strange to say, are not only allowed to live, but the people delight in them." Though they are not regarded as monstrosities deserving death, as among the Calabar people on the West Coast, it is nevertheless considered necessary that certain preservative ceremonies should be performed on the infants and their parents.
Mr. Swan, an associate of Mr. Arnot, describes a ceremony be was unexpectedly made to share in while on a visit to the native king Msidi: "My attention was drawn to a crowd of folk, mostly women, who approached, singing and ringing a kind of bell. They formed in lines opposite to us. In front of the rest were a man and woman, each holding a child not more than a few days old. I learned that the little ones were twins, the man and woman holding them being the happy parents, who had come to present their offspring to the king. They wore nothing but a few leaves about their loins,--a hint to Msidi, I suppose, that they would like some cloth.
"After chanting a little, an elderly woman came forward, with a dish in her left hand and an antelope's tail in her right. When she reached Msidi, I was astonished at her dipping the tail in the dish and dashing the liquid over his face. Msidi's wife had a like dose. But my surprise increased when she came to us and gave us a share. What was in the dish I cannot say, but it struck me as possessing a very disagreeable odor. This discourteous creature was the Ocimbanda (fetich doctor). She did not cease her dousing work till she had favored all sitting around. The king then went into the house, and his wife came out with some cloth, which she tied around the mother's waist; and then a piece of cloth was given to the husband. The friends had brought some native beer; and when Msidi came out, he went to one of the pots, filled his mouth, spouting the beer in his wife's face; she did the same to him, after which the spouting became general.... They told me it was their custom to act thus when twins are born."
In the Benga tribe, thirty-five years ago, I observed that if one of a pair of twins died, a wooden image was substituted for it on the bed or in the cradle-box, alongside of the living child. I strongly suspected Animism in the custom; but some Christians explained that the image was only a toy, so that the living babe should not miss the presence of an object resembling its mate.
Names of twins are always the same, in the same cognate tribes. In Benga they are always Ivaha (a wish) and Ayenwe (unseen). These names are given irrespective of sex. But not every man or woman whom one may meet with these names is necessarily a twin. They may have inherited the name from ancestors who were twins.
All over Africa the birth of twins is a notable event, but noted for very different reasons in different parts of the country. In Calabar they are dreaded as an evil omen, and until recently were immediately put to death, and the mother driven from the village to live alone in the forest as a punishment for having brought this evil on her people.
In other parts, as in the Gabun country, where they are welcomed, it is nevertheless considered necessary to have special ceremonies performed for the safety of their lives, or, if they die, to prevent further evil.
In the Egba tribes of the Yoruba country they become objects of worship. As in other parts of Africa where twins are preserved, they are given twin names; which, of course, differ in different languages. Among the Egbas the firstborn is Taiwo, i.e., "the first to taste the world," and the other Kehende, i.e., "the one who comes last."[1] About eight
[1. See "Niger and Yoruba Notes."]
days after their birth, or as soon as the parents have the money for the sacrificial feast, they invite all relatives on both sides, neighbors and friends together. Various kinds of food are prepared, consisting chiefly of beans and yams. A little of each kind of food is set apart with some palm-oil thrown upon it, and the small native plates or basins containing it are set before the children in their cradle. They are then invoked to protect their mother from sickness, to pity their parents and remain with them, to watch over thern at all times. I quote in this connection the following from a West African newspaper:
"After the ceremony an elderly man or woman who has been a twin is called upon to split the kola nuts, in order to find out whether the children will live or die. This is their way of asking the god or goddess to answer their requests (and it is singular that this throwing of kolas may be done repeatedly until the reply is favorable to the inquirer). Thus: if a kola nut is split into four parts in throwing it down, they say, "You Idol, please foretell if the children will live long or die.". If all the four pieces of the kola fall flat on their backs, or all flat with their faces to the ground, or if two of them fall with their faces downward and the other two upward, then in each of those cases the reply is favorable, and it means they will live long and not die. But if three pieces of the kola should turn their faces to the ground and only one fall flat on its back, or if the three pieces should turn their faces upward and only one downward, the reply is unfavorable, and it means that the children will die before long. In such cases they continue throwing the kola nut indefinitely until they obtain their wish; or, in rare cases of total failure, the subject of inquiry is reserved till a future time, when they hope the idol may speak more favorably. Thus, twin children are worshipped every month.
"In some cases, where the parents have the means, an invitation goes round to as many twins as they can get to partake of the sacrificial feasts. Of course, the people enjoy themselves at the feast.
"The twins have everything in common; they eat the same kind of food and wear the same dress. If one of them should die, the mother is bound to make a wooden image to represent the dead child. This kind of image is generally about a foot in length, and is made of Ire wood, which is flexible and durable. It is carved in such a manner as to represent the human anatomy."
These images, substitute for a dead twin, are used very extensively among all the tribes of Africa. Various reasons are given for their use: that the surviving twin shall not be lonely; that the departed one may be sure it is not forgotten; and other reasons. The images are retained as family fetiches, to ward off evil from the mother.
"If both children should die, the mother must have two wooden images, and regard them as her living children; she worships them every morning by splitting kola nuts and throwing down a few drops of palm-oil before them. Of course, the occasional feasts follow in their due course, and as oftentimes as she may happen to see them in her dreams.
"If they should live, and both are males, they make engagements and marry at the same time. If one is male, and the other is female, their dowry must be given the same day; the parents believe that if things done for them are not alike or do not go together, one will soon die."

Luck Superstitions

There exists a custom, even among the civilized, for the seller of an article to hold back a small portion after his price has been paid. When I first met with this custom, I was indignant at what seemed like stealing; and yet it was so open, and without any attempt at concealment, that I was amazed. One who brought for sale a bunch of plantains twisted off and took away one of its "fingers." Another who had just been paid for a peck of sweet potatoes deliberately picks off one tuber. Another who brought a gazelle for sale would not complete the bargain till I had consented that be might remove the gall-bladder and a portion of the liver. I learned that all these were for "luck": in order that the garden whence came that plantain bunch or potato

[1. Declè.]

should be blessed with abundance; and the hunter, that be might be successful in his next hunt. The gazelle is credited with being a very artful animal, the cunning being located especially in the liver.

One might ask why, if those pieces are so needed for luck, the owner did not take them before selling, and while they were still his own and under his entire control. I do not know their exact thought; but the statement was that the chances of good luck were greater if the pieces of plantain, potato, meat, etc. were abstracted after the article had actually passed out of the seller's possession.

On the Ogowe, at Lake Azyingo, in 1874, I was present at the cutting up of a fernale hippopotamus which a hunter had killed the night before. By favor of the native Ajumba, chief, Anege, I was allowed to see the ceremonies. They were many; of most of them I did not understand the significance; and the people were loath to tell me, lest I should in some way counteract them. Even my presence was objected to by the mother of the hunter (he, however, was willing).

After the animal had been decapitated, and its quarters and bowels removed, the hunter, naked, stepped into the hollow of the ribs, and kneeling in the bloody pool contained in that hollow, bathed his entire body with that mixture of blood and excreta, at the same time praying the life-spirit of the hippo that it would bear him no ill-will for having killed it, and thus cut it off from future maternity; and not to incense other hippopotami that they should attack his canoe in revenge. (Hippos are amphibians, but are generally killed in the water.) He kept choice parts of the flesh to incorporate into his luck fetich.

Mr. Arnot mentions the same custom in Garenganze:

One morning I shot a hyena in my yard. The chief sent up one of his executioners to cut off its nose and the tip of its tail, and to extract a little bit of brain from the skull. The man informed me that these parts are very serviceable to elephant hunters, as securing for them the cunning, tact, and power to become invisible, which the hyena is supposed to possess. I suppose that the brain would represent the cunning, the nose the tact, and the tip of the tail the vanishing quality." The stomach of the hyena is valued by the Ovimbundu (of Southwest Africa) as a cure for apoplexy.

Leopard Friends Superstitions

Formerly a strange superstition said that on him who should kill a leopard there would come an evil disease, curable only by ruinously expensive ceremonies of three weeks' duration, under the direction of the Ukuku (Spirit) Society. So the natives allowed the greatest ravages, until their sheep, goats, and dogs were swept away; and were aroused to self-defence only when a human being became the victim of the daring beast. The carcass of a leopard, or even the bones of one long dead, were not to be touched.
With this fear of the leopard was united a superstition similar to that of the "wehr-wolf" of Germany, viz., a belief in the power of human metamorphosis into a leopard. The natives had learned, from foreigners who were ignorant of the fact that there are no tigers in Africa, to call this leopard fiend a "man-tiger." They got their fears still more mixed by a belief in a third superstition, viz., that sometimes the dead returned to life and committed depredations. This belief was not simply that disembodied spirits (mekuku) returned, but that the entire person, soul and body (ilina na nyolo), rose temporarily from the grave, with a few changes (among the rest, that the feet were webbed). Such a being, as mentioned in a previous chapter, was called "Uvengwa." At one time, while I was at Benito, intense excitement prevailed in the community: doors and shutters were violently rattled at night; marks of leopard's claws scratched doorposts; their tracks lay on every path; women and children in lonely places saw their flitting forms, in the dark were knocked down by their spring, or heard their growl in the thickets. It was difficult to decide, in hearing these reports, whether it was a real leopard, a leopard fiend, or only an uvengwa. To native fear, they were practically the same. I felt certain that the uvengwa was a thief disguised in a leopard skin. Under such disguise murders were sometimes committed. By bending my thumb and fingers into a semi closed fist, I could make an impression in the sand that exactly resembled a leopard's track; and this confirmed my conclusions as to the real cause of the phenomenon.
The pioneer of the Gabun Mission, Rev. Dr. J. L. Wilson, in 1842, found the were-wolf superstition prevalent among all the tribes of Southern Guinea. The leopard "is invested with more terror than it otherwise would have, by a superstitious apprehension on the part of the natives, that wicked men frequently metamorphose themselves into leopards and commit all sorts of depredations, without the liability or possibility of being killed. The real leopard is emboldened by impunity, and often becomes a terrible scourge to the village be infests. I have known large villages to be abandoned by their inhabitants, because they were afraid to attack these animals on account of their supposed supernatural powers."
At Gabun, about 1865, there still remained a jungle on one side of the public road that constituted the one street of the town of Libreville, as it followed the curve of the bay for three miles. There were frequent alarms and occasional murders along lonely parts of that road. The natives believed that the leopard fiend was a beast; the French commandant believed it was a human being. He had the jungle cut away. Since then, no mangled bodies have been found there.
Among the Garenganze people, in 1884, Mr. Arnot often chid them "for their want of bravery in not hunting down the many wild animals that prey around their towns, carrying off the sick people, and frequently attacking and seizing solitary strangers. They excused themselves by explaining that these wild animals are really 'men of other tribes,' turned, by the magic power they possess, into the form of lions, panthers, or leopards, who prowl about to take vengeance on those against whom they are embittered. In defending this absurd theory, one man said it was not possible for a Luba and a Lamba man to go out into the country together without one stealing a march on his neighbor, getting out of sight, and returning again in the form of a lion or leopard, and devouring his travelling companion. Such things, they say, are of daily occurrence amongst them; and this foolish superstition leads them not only to tolerate the wild animals about, but almost to bold them sacred."
This particular superstition still exists extensively. As late as 1898, it is stated of the Barotse of Southeast Africa: "They believe that at times both living and dead persons can change themselves into animals, either to execute some vengeance or to procure something that they wish for: thus a man will change himself into a hyena or a lion in order to steal a sheep, and make a good meal off it; into a serpent, to avenge himself on some enemy. At other times, if they see a serpent, it is one of the 'Matotela' or slave tribe, which has thus transformed himself to take some vengeance on the Barotse." [1]

Omens on Journey Superstitions

The first thing a white man should do is to see that the Negro's fetishes are all in order; then, when on the way, he must manage things so that the first person the caravan shall meet shall be a woman; for that is a good sign, while to meet a man means that something evil is going to happen. Then, to meet the bird Kna that is all black is a bad sign; while the Kna that has its wings tipped with white is a good sign.
The rat Benda running across your path from left to right is good; from right to left fairly good; should it appear from the left and run ahead in the direction you are going, 'Oh! that is very good!' but should it run towards you, well, then the best thing for you to do is to go back; for you are sure to meet with bad luck!
See that your men start with their left foot first, and that they are 'high-steppers'; for if their left foot meet with an obstacle, and is not badly hurt, it is not a bad sign; but if their right foot knocks against anything, you must go back to town.

Rules of Pregnancy Superstitious

Everywhere are rules of pregnancy which bind both the woman and her husband. During pregnancy neither of them is permitted to eat the flesh of any animal which was itself pregnant at the time of its slaughter. Even of the flesh of a non-pregnant animal there are certain parts--the heart, liver, and entrails--which may not be eaten by them. It is claimed that to eat of such food at such a time would make a great deal of trouble for the unborn infant. During his wife's pregnancy a man may not cut the throat of any animal nor assist in the butchering of it. A carpenter whose wife is pregnant must not drive a nail. To do so would close the womb and cause a difficult labor. He may do all other work belonging to carpentering, but he must have an assistant to drive the nails.In the burial of a first-born infant the lid of the coffin is not only not allowed to be nailed down, but it must not entirely cover the corpse; a space must be left open (generally above the child's head); the superstition being that if the coffin be closed, the mother will bear no more children.

Left Eye Twitching Superstition

Left eye twitching is a common phenomenon observed in people around the world. However, what is interesting is how this general medical condition has sparked off a number of left eye twitching superstitions.
Left Eye Twitching - What Does It Mean

Left Eye Twitching Superstition - Parts of Africa: In certain parts of Africa, twitching in your lower eyelid signals that you will soon be shedding tears or when the upper eyelid twitches, it’s a sign you will meet someone unexpectedly. The Nigerians also follow the Chinese version of the left eye twitching being considered as bad.

In addition to these faith and beliefs, there are some other versions of the left eye twitching superstition where a constant twitching of your left eye might signal demise in the family or the twitching of the right may signal an impending birth.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mexican Taboos

In Mexico a lot of what we consider honesty, they consider blunt, rude, and down-right abrasive. Mexicans feel attacked by our straight talk.

1. I Don’t Know

Mexicans don’t really like it when I say, “I don’t know.” They feel betrayed because saying “I don’t know” isn’t being honest (as you might think if you are from North America); it’s ignoring their obvious need for an answer. It’s completely unsupportive and rude. When faced with a question to which they don’t know the answer, many Mexicans invent an answer in order to be polite.

Mexicans WILL NOT say “I don’t know” they will avoid being rude by MAKING SOMETHING UP. The good thing is that with time you will learn to tell when they are making something up and when they actually know.
The main clue is that when they are making something up, they tend to be very vague. It’s hard to describe how to tell. Possibly, there is some subtle body language that goes along with this. I can’t really explain it to you, but with time you too will be able to tell the difference.
When you suspect that someone is avoiding those three (well, in Spanish they are two) tercultural-differences-retire-mexico-loaning.htmlrible words, the best course of action is to go and ask someone else. Sometimes you need to ask three people and sort of take the average of what they say.

2. No

Another honest word that you are not allowed to use in Mexico is “NO.” Since saying “no” is a no-no in Mexico people rarely use this word. Instead people just say “yes,” albeit more vaguely.
So, you quickly learn that you are obligated to say “yes”—even when you don’t mean it. At first you will probably feel like you are lying, but if you know how to say “no” like a Mexican (that is to not say no at all) it will become much more comfortable for you. When interacting with others tune in to when they are being vague and take note of the hedge words they use. By observing others you can build a “no saying” dictionary that will allow you to maintain good relationships with friends and acquaintances and yet remain true to your own cultural values of not lying to people.
When you are in a situation in which you want to say “no,” STOP YOURSELF. Try to say “yes” first, then add something that keeps things very vague. If saying “yes” feels too much like you are lying right to someone’s face then just give lots of excuses and say “thank you” over and over. Try to use your dictionary of hedge words that you pick up from observing others.

3. Running in the street

Apparently running in the street is taboo for Mexican women. My Mexican husband is embarrassed if I run in the street. If I jog to clear an intersection or sprint to catch the bus.

Most Mexican women walk as if someone important is looking at them; as if that someone would judge them for hurrying, acting important or having a hair out of place. A few Mexican women dress in figure-showing clothes and they want their sex appeal to be noticed so they through their shoulders back and let their hips wag.
Still, that’s not the same athletic, ground-eating walk that North American women employ. North American women often stride. Even if they are wondering aimlessly, they let their bodies move more, they don’t act shy, and finally, they slouch more.

Mexican Superstitions

Mexican superstitions run as deep as the rich cultural and religious history of the nation. Superstition and religion both delve into the realm of the unknown, using tradition and faith to give creedence to customs and claims that can't be verified in practical ways. While religion sometimes keeps superstition at bay, superstition has its own way of twisting stories and truths in order to keep the public in awe of its power. Some of the superstitious are as follows;

1. Woman Walks Outside During a Lunar Eclipse

One traditional superstition is that if a pregnant woman walks outside during a lunar eclipse, she runs the risk of giving birth to an infant who is part wolf or who has a cleft palate.
Babies born with a condition called hypertrichosis do grow excessive hair on their faces, necks and sometimes on their torsos and backs. Hypertrichosis is a hereditary condition in which the eighth chromosome has been adversely affected. It has been given much publicity in the past 20 years in Mexico because of a family that shares the trait.
This superstition may have begun hundreds of years ago, when one of the first cases of hypertrichosis was found. The same may be true of a cleft palate, as this is a very common birth defect linked to vitamin deficiencies, congenital maladies and cell interference with certain drugs, including alcohol and tobacco.
Superstitions in place to counter this tragedy give the woman a chance to waylay this malady. If she must be out during a lunar eclipse, she can tie keys around her waist to reflect the light, thereby avoiding both problems.

2. The Evil Eye

Another common Mexican superstition has to do with the evil eye. Called "mal de ojo" in Spanish, the evil eye can cause all sorts of calamities to people and also to material items.
In reality, the evil eye can be condensed down to jealousy and desire. If a stranger looks upon your child or baby with either of these emotions in her eyes, she has just given your child the evil eye. To keep the evil eye at bay, whenever a person looks at a baby and offers a compliment, she must touch the child at the same time.
If a child is suffering from a high fever, crying fits, or nausea and swelling in some part of the body, it is generally thought to be due to the evil eye. If the person who gave the child the evil eye is located, she must pass three mouthfuls of water to the child to break the spell. A red bracelet can also be worn to protect against evil eye.

3. Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th occurs when the thirteenth day of a month falls on a Friday, which superstition holds to be a day of bad luck. In the Gregorian calendar, this day occurs at least once, but at most three times a year. Any month's 13th day will fall on a Friday if the month starts on a Sunday.