Superstition: ‘the heat’ and more
June 6, 2008
“Superstition is a ritual way of dealing with the inexplicable”, says superstition expert Bart Lauvrijs. He recently wrote the reference book ‘A world of superstition’ and is familiar with the cultural backgrounds of this weeks Metropolis reports. “Superstition preceded religion”, explains the Fleming. “But it also arised from Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I see the teachings of the big religions as pure religion and everything around that as superstition. But there are many crossovers. For Catholics, the blessed and the saints are part of their religion, but Protestants see these matters as superstition. And touching icons for good luck is superstition within religion. But for scientists, all religions are superstition”.
Bart Lauvrijs is willing to explain four of this weeks reports. In Nicaragua, Stef Biemans took his son Camilo to a nanny that is going to protect him from ‘the heat’. Babies can get the heat when a drunk or a pregnant woman is looking at them. They refresh themselves with the baby’s energy. Baby Camilo is bathed and get’s a small bracelet to protect him. “That has to do with fear for the evil eye”, says Lauvrijs. “It’s also very common in Islamic countries. It’s not okay to look at a baby in an envious way. If a mother cathches someone looking at her baby like that, she will softly pinch the child, so that it’ll start crying and onlookers will turn their heads away. Babies are also shielded from handicapped people, drunk and mental patients, because they’re small and vulnerable. They’ll get a cowryshell necklace or bits of garlic tied to their bonnet or other talismans to protect them against the evil eye.”
Abdel, our reporter from France, visits Jocelyn, a builder who’s very occupied by spiritual matters. He introduces us to his guardian angels. Lauvrijs also believes that guardian angels indeed exist. “Some people have so much luck and seem to be shielded from misfortune, that it’s impossible that it’s all just a coincidence. And there’s research that proves this. Angels are mostly messengers that guide people in the right direction. A guardian angel proves that God is not responsible for suffering, but that He wants to help people. Angels, fairies, gnomes and elves: they’re all messengers that show people the way God wants them to live. But there are also evil spirts that tempt people to live their life in a bad way.
In Macedonia, fortune tellers are very popular and respected by all generations. According to Sonita, this is the reason that there is no religious tension between Muslims and Christians in her country. Everyone has the same superstitious believes. Sonita predicts the future by reading beans, cards or coffee residue. Bart Lauvrijs: “Tealeaves, the lines on your hand, everything can be used to predict the future. Superstition is everywhere. Western habits like making a toast at a social gathering or putting your hand before your mouth when yawning, also have superstitious backgrounds.”
In Zambia, superstition is very dangerous. People with AIDS believe that they can be cured if they have sex with a virgin. Chris Mulenga has AIDS and he’s going to marry eightteen year old Chansa Chilufaya. His doctor told him that she will cure him. Chansa had some trouble finding a husband, so she would rather marry a man that has AIDS than not to marry at all. “In a lot of cultures a virgin is a symbol of chaste and purity”, Lavrijs explains. “Like the color white and that’s why white is the color of marriage. This example from Zambia is of course a very sad form of superstition. There are positive and negative forms. Athletes often derive strength from superstition, but this is just very sad.”