The Cassell Dictionary of Superstitions provides a fascinating overview of an astonishingly diverse range of popularly held fears and disbeliefs. Many are still familiar and widespread. Others now belong firmly to the past, but are intriguing nonetheless for the insights they offer into human preoccupations and taboos.
Entries are arranged alphabetically by subject and vary from brief accounts of the superstitions related to specific daily tasks, medical ailments, plants and animals, to expansive discussions of wider topics, such as the weather, aphrodisiacs, childbirth and death. The paraphernalia of superstitions are also discussed: the extraordinary array of amulets, talismans and charms that people have used intheir attempts to ward off bad luck or bring about good fortune. In addition, many traditional rhymes and chants are included, ranging from couplets to be chanted to avoid the dangers of being bewitched, to spells that may be tried in the hope of gleaning information about the future.
An entertaining read, as well as an invaluable reference source, the Cassell Dictionary of Superstitions will prove compelling to anyone interested in folklore and popular culture.
A fascinating and comprehensive A—Z guide to the world of superstitions, which reveals among other things:
*Why the oak tree is associated with supernatural powers
*How mirrors came to be used to detect witches
*Which days of the week are popularly regarded as lucky
*When cobwebs were utilised in folk medicine
*Who the Seven Whistlers were
Informative and entertaining, the Cassell Dictionary of Superstitions forms an indispensable guide to a vast range of popular taboos and beliefs, both ancient and modern.