Forgotten Superstitions That Were Luckily Recorded in an Book from 1899

Words Actually
Someone holding a four-leaf cloverPhoto by Barbara Krysztofiak on Unsplash

In 1899 Gabriel Nostradomus wrote Consult The Oracle, a book detailing all sorts of Victorian superstitions and ways to divine the future. Whether or not she was actually a real mystic is questionable. However, many of the folk beliefs in the book echo those we see today. Though some of the stranger ones seem bizarre by today’s standard. Below are ten of her more peculiar superstitions and omens that are lost to history.

“When leaving for a journey returning for some forgotten thing is bad luck.”

I don’t care what you left behind or how important you think it was for your travels or intended destination. To turn back will spell disaster, so you better start to improvise so you don’t temp the universe to deal you a blow. Truly, I’m sorry if you forgot water before that trip to the desert, but them’s the rules.

“Rosemary is good for keeping thieves at away.”

I suppose this means rosemary was the Amazon Ring of the 1800s? For example, maybe thieves would be super keen to steal a cow or something only to be scared off by a plant most famous for remembrance. I mean, if it kept one’s home and farm safe, cool. Even if it didn’t work the very least you would have great herbs for your soup. Unless thieves took that too.
Thief avoiding rosemary.Image by author

“A mistake in the first word of a letter means it will not be received well.”

To be more specific, the author states that a letter that is asking for a favor won’t receive the result the sender desires should something be misspelled. And, as someone who has screwed-up a first word in job applications, I can guarantee this superstition still holds true today. Seriously, the struggle with typos is real.

“Stumbling up the stairs is a sign for good fortune while stumbling while going down indicates something bad will happen.”

Ok, yeah, this makes sense too. “Don’t worry that’s good luck,” was the equivalent of today’s, “Don’t worry, no one saw that.” A way to save face or make someone feel better. Meanwhile, tripping down the stairs would definitely be an omen of something bad happening. Like breaking your bones.

“If you want to bring good luck to a child of friend you are visiting gift them cake, salt, or an egg.”

This seems like a nice gesture but perhaps you should cook the egg first? Also once that sugar rush hits those parents aren’t going to be thanking you for your kindness.
Boy looking at gift of eggImage by author

“To pass a squinting woman on the street is a sign ill-tidings shall come your way.”

Guess you better watch out for those ugly squinting women. However there is a way to reverse the bad luck. One must simply talk to this bad luck bearer. Then everything will be peachy keen. I hope that all the women with bad eye sight got lots of mileage from this superstition.

“Someone born with lots of hair on their arms or hands is destined for riches.”

Did someone with hairy arms write this? No judgment if they did. As someone who was teased mercilessly for the hair on her arms I would have loved to retort, “Have fun being poor you jealous bi**hes!” Though, if we’re being honest, those without much hair on their bodies are doing just fine. Big razor won that fight.
A woman with hairy armsImage by author

“Getting out of bed backwards is an omen that you shall have a bad day.”

Excuse me? Who are you to tell me what side of the bed is correct when you haven’t even seen my room? Or is this about those strange people who exit their bed back first? Because they don’t exist. Stop enforcing your bed doctrine on me.

“It is bad luck for a woman to sweep at night.”

This is one of those superstitions that you know women all agreed to pretend was a thing. So when their husband (who never helped around the house) told them to clean right before bed they’d be able to give them a good reason why they coudn’t. Especially since since telling their men to pick up a broom and do it themselves was probably out of the question. Hey! Remember when it was legal to beat your mouthy wife?

“A knife by a sleeping child is a good omen.”

Um…what? Sure, finding the knife before your kid hurts themself is certainly fortunate. Now come the hard questions. Why do they have that knife? Did someone give them the knife? What were they going to do with the knife? And why would the author include this very bizarre omen unless it was from personal experience?
Child sleeping by knifeby author

On a more serious note, keep your kitchen knives away from curious kids. They’ve got no sense of self-preservation.

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