Many beliefs have been built on the cycle of time, right from the day that we are born through to when not to wash! Some of these have, with developed understanding, been explained away and labelled as superstition or old wives tales either as the result of scientific study or the application of current knowledge, what some may call common sense. Yet it should always be remembered that many of these so-called superstitions were once part of the very fabric of daily life.
In many cases, what might have been seen as the laws by which to govern life, were often formed into rhyming couplets, involving associated sentiments relating to the content, be it referring to a myth or legend, a story or a parable. This type of oral tradition or storytelling made the details easier to recall. When we consider that the opportunity for everyone in the community to be able to read is a nineteenth-twentieth century educational development, then these forms can be seen to have even greater importance. Traditionally very few people would have been privileged enough to receive the opportunity of learning to read and write. The development of oral forms such as nursery rhymes, song, riddles or even poetry and prose, served the purpose of passing on knowledge and experience accumulated from observation of the world around. These would inform the wider community and at times foreigners from abroad of the norms and deviations, of the history and religion of a particular country and culture. These forms acted in a similar way to the newspapers of today, a ‘living newspaper’.
The rural beliefs, or what is now referred to as folklore, were part of each month’s calendar bringing indications of when it was thought to be the most beneficial to carry out a particular task or journey, or indicated the importance of a date in history, a sacred event, a person or a portent. Today we often think of folklore as having no valid purpose in a modern society, but this would be to consider dismissing whole areas of knowledge such as homeopathy for example, yet some of the beliefs and practices have been proven to have a basis of scientifically sound advice. One of the clearest example of this is:-
‘Red sky at night,
Red sky in the morning,
Science explains proven folklore, that this particular visual phenomena is due to dust rising into the atmosphere reflecting and refracting the light from the sun (rising or setting) causing it to take on a red colour. This display of colour indicates that the atmosphere will be dry and humid for the next day, as the sky is cool and so is displaced by the rising warm air from the day. If it is red in the morning it can be an indication of stormy weather due to a rise in humidity during the night, when the atmosphere usually has time to cool over night instead indicating a high pressure which can cause thunder storms and/or rain.
If we examine more closely our current routines it can be seen that within any aspect of daily life we still eat, sleep and play according to many of the ancient practices. Consider the zodiac available in daily newspapers as an example. The terms of reference used in the world today may have broadened, yet our knowledge can only be enhanced by attempting to understand any belief as part of a wider picture. After all, we are only on the end of history, the cuurent result of what has come before today. What is seen as sitting at the cutting edge today maybe viewed as outdated tomorrow. That which has been so often called gobbledegook may have given rise to modern discovery. Perhaps a driving reason behind a dismissal is the need for man to control his environment and time, to govern and control, rather than be a subject to it. Reflection upon the wisdom and foresight of our forefathers is infinitely beneficial. We have opened up access to other worlds, such as the moon and developed space travel that at one time would have been viewed as nonsense or even blasphemous, but now look at how we are sending probes to the outer reaches of the galaxy and beyond. We accept this as the norm, but what will future generations make of it. Everything must be viewed as part of the time it was known to have been formulated in if man is to understand his history, and by association, his future. Knowledge is powerful, but it is nothing without enlightenment.
The editors invite you to read on, remembering that for hundreds of years these systems worked not by chance but by method and without the aid of modern technology, so why has it become common practice to attack the experience, the tradition and the rituals. Time we would all agree is precious, a point that no-one can deny, or that everything has a purpose, not that our ancestors would attempt to - yet again they got it right. When are we going to learn?
If you know of a particular rhyme, or folkloric practice or so-called superstition
that is associated with a particular day, month, time or event and you would like to share this with the Mystical readers