Appalachian Folklore Omens, Signs and Superstitions

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Over the next few weeks, I plan on sharing some of these signs, superstitions, and omens and hope that you will be willing to share any that have been passed on in your families and communities. A sign is believed to predict the future but unlike the omen, signs do not foretell negative happenings. A superstition is an irrational belief, usually arising from ignorance or fear, that is believed by a number of people but is without foundation.

Omen- a phenomenon that is believed to tell the future, which also signifies change But a second owl doing the same thing may be a tap on the shoulder from the universe. We also brought up the point that ignoring a good omen frequently lands one in hot water in mythological circumstances, so paying attention can be more valuable than blissful ignorance.

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Knowing how to discern signs is also important. Taken to an extreme, however, omens can become superstition. While I tend to embrace the latter term, I also recognize that for most people, superstition denotes custom or tradition without substance, or a fear-motivated lifestyle, and I would absolutely agree that spending seven years in fear after breaking a mirror is not a life really lived anymore.


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But they let it run its course, fulfill itself, and never invented ways to either alter it, to annihilate it or to prevent its happening again. So also were they with people.

What was taken by outsiders to be a slackness, slovenliness or even generosity was in fact a full recognition of the legitimacy of forces other than good ones. They did not believe doctors could heal—for them, none ever had done so. They did not believe death was accidental—life might be, but death was deliberate. They did not believe Nature was ever askew—only inconvenient. This comes after the return of the titular character in the novel to her hometown, where she is regarded as something of a wonder, something of a witch, and definitely not a welcome presence.

My point in bringing up this passage was to focus on the cosmology implicit in it: Nature never askew, only problematic, and always offering hints as to what comes next; deciding when it is better to fight against Fate, and when stepping out of her way as she passes is best; and seeing great moments as personally symbolic in life. It is a life lived fatefully, purposefully, and with a tremendous awareness of the vast interconnection of all the moving parts of existence.

It is also a life in which fear becomes secondary to strength and wisdom—fear may be present, but it does not dominate. All of this hardly captures the gorgeous conversation that those attending the class provided. They were deeply engaged and we had some incredibly sharp minds present. What I present here reflects more of my opinion than it does the dynamics of the group, but I hope that perhaps the conversation can continue. What are your thoughts on omens, signs, and fate?

The accidental crossing as four people shake hands together means that one of them will soon marry.

Urban Legends of Appalachia : Home Town Edition

If you find an inch-worm on your clothes, you will soon have new garments. If two persons say the same thing at the same time, they must lock their little fingers without saying a word and make a wish. A baby born with a caul over its face will be a prophet or a seer.

Appalachian folk beliefs

A whippoorwill which alights on a house and calls is announcing a death to come. A bride should not look at her complete wedding attire in the mirror until after she is married, or else the marriage will end badly. Hearing raps, knocks, bells, chimes, or ticking with no apparent cause announces a death in the near future. The seventh son of a seventh son will be a naturally gifted healer, seer, or witch. A cat, coiled up with its head and stomach showing, means bad weather is coming; if it yawns and stretches, good weather is not far behind.

If you are walking or riding at night and feel a sudden warmth or chill, it is a spirit, and you should turn your pockets inside out to keep it from doing you harm.


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  • For example, if wooly worms or extra fuzzy, or if the black stripe is thicker than usual, it will be a colder winter than normal. As a general collection of folklore, it's not bad, but it lacks the specificity promised by the title. A lot of inaccurate information I felt really disappointed in the way this was written.

    A lot of the information is inaccurate. It could have had morre depth and truth. Aug 24, Patricia A. I enjoyed finding the origin of so many sayings I heard while growing up. I think many of these sayings came about because people were just trying to find the cause and effect of what was happening around them. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. About Nancy Richmond. Nancy Richmond.

    Books by Nancy Richmond.

    ISBN 13: 9781461017554

    Trivia About Appalachian Folkl No trivia or quizzes yet. Quotes from Appalachian Folkl The Appalachians are one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, and were at one time higher in elevation than the Himalayas are today. The territory was originally home to many of the eastern Indian tribes, including the Iroquois, the Mohicans, the Cherokee and the Shawnee.

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    Their way of life was characterized by a strong sense of independence and an inherent distrust of religious hierarchies.



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