Superstition Sunday

Sneezing Superstitions

by Heather Doherty


I grew up with an impatience with the anti-scientific. So I’m a bit miffed with our current love affair with all things Eastern. If I sneeze on the set, 40 people hand me echinacea. But I’d no sooner take that than eat a pencil. Maybe that’s why I took up boxing. It’s my response to men in white pajamas feeling each other’s chi.

– Hugh Laurie, from


Oh, Mr. Laurie, it could be worse…

Yes, it is that time of year again. Allergies, those stupid, sniffly colds about now as we anxiously await spring, and grumble over the last of winter.

Yeah, that’s right, I said it … grumble.

I work part time at a university library; my youngest son is in high school. There is a fair share of snuffle-snort-sneezes going around this time of the year in these public places.  Bless you rings through the air.

So why do we do that?  Bless people for sneezing?

In the early middle ages in Europe, people believed that life was attached to one’s breath. Literally. When a person sneezed and expelled so much of this life force/breath, people thought it could be fatal. So in that sense, God Bless You  was a desperately quick prayer that sneeze wouldn’t lead to a fatal situation.

There’s a fairly wide-spread  belief that if you sneeze without obvious cause, someone is talking about you.  If this is a one shot deal, something good is being said about you. Two sneezes? Something bad.  Three in a row? Someone out there is smitten with you.

A cat sneezes is a sure sign of good luck to anyone who hears it.

In many places around the world, if someone sneezes before the start of a work or business venture, it’s a very bad sign. Often, water is sipped just before the business commences to ward off the sneeze and ensuing bad luck.

My Dad used to sneeze – always – multiple times. (Once I asked him if was doing it for attention; struck me funnier than it did him …) Here’s the low-down on the sneeze count. One for sorrow; two for joy; three for a letter; four for a boy ; five for silver; six for gold; seven for a secret, never to be told.

These are kind of cool too: Sneeze on Monday for health. Sneeze on Tuesday for wealth. Sneeze on Wednesday for a letter. Sneeze on Thursday for something better. Sneeze on Friday for sorrow. Sneeze on Saturday, see your sweetheart tomorrow. Sneeze on Sunday, safety seek.

Here are a few other little ones I’ve come across over the years:  It brings bad luck to sneeze before arising in the morning. If you sneeze before breakfast, you will cry before dinner. If you sneeze twice before breakfast, you will have a beau that day. To sneeze three times before breakfast is a good luck sign. But wait a minute …To sneeze at the breakfast table is a sign of death. Or if you sneeze at the table when your mouth is full of food, there will be a death. (Depending on whom you spray with your food, maybe?)

Okay, though this sneezing video is not superstition related, it’s funny as hell.

Have your cake and the candles too!

by Heather Doherty


My son Conor (aka Conor-the-kins to his mama) celebrated his birthday with a Smurf Cake. Mmmmmmmmm – made from real Smurfs. (Okay, no Smurfs were harmed in the making of the cake or writing of this blog.)  We skipped the 17 candles, but as you can see from the picture below went heavy icing. :)

Ever wonder where birthday cakes come from? Well in Dohertyville, that would be The Superstore on Main Street. But what about the origin of this sweet tradition?

We can thank Artemis, Goddess of the moon for our annual birthday sugar fest. The ancient Greeks would celebrate this Goddess’s birthday with moon-shaped (full and round) honey cakes topped with candles.  The candles honored and represented the glowing moon. Cool or what! (And think about it – now that we, in our tradition, add a candle for every year – the more candles the merrier, the more the glow, the more honour – kind of outstanding.)

There are various superstitions about blowing out the candles on a birthday cake. Many believe (and this is the superstition/bit of magic that I grew up with) that if a person blows out all the candles on her/his birthday cake in one breath, they’ll get their wish. Ah, but silence is golden – your wish will not come true if you tell.  It is said by some, that the smoke from blown out candles carries their wishes to the Heavens. I like this concept, fire and smoke really have strength of their own in superstition, and adding it to one’s birthday celebration could only make the wish workings more powerful.

Long before we were plunking candles on our cakes in North America, they were a popular birthday tradition in Germany. The Germans would put a large candle in the center of a cake as the light of life.

This superstition, I heard years ago, but was never one I held on to: you should always have an odd number of candles even if you have to add an extra one, otherwise it is bad luck.

Some traditions hold that you can tell how many years before you’re married by blowing with your birthday cake, either by how many candles are left glowing after the first huff and puff, or by how many puffs it takes you to put out the inferno.

It’s said that the best day to start a business venture is on your birthday. This makes perfect sense, after all, one’s birthday is their lucky day!

So happy birthday to Conor-the-kins! And yes, the cake was awesome. Beautiful! Wish worthy even without the 17 candles.

What about you? Have any of the birthday wishes you’ve ever made come true? I hope so! And I hope you’ll post them here.

While we’re touching on awesome cakes, these crack me up! Take a look at these wrecks!


Spiders, spiders … yeah! Everywhere.

By Heather Doherty

Why yes, I did survive Valentine’s Day. Not a card in sight – given nor received. Just the way I like it. No gifts either.  Wait … no gifts? That’s not quite true. I did give a gift to myself. (See, I may be unromantic … but I’m good to myself!)

I’ve ordered a witch’s ladder, or if you prefer, pagan prayer beads. I bought these from wonderful Etsy seller, SilverBirchHill. Check her out. She has some amazing stuff on her site.

Here’s a bit of the info on my beautiful beads.

Witch’s Ladders or Druid’s Ladders are Pagan Prayer beads, traditionally made with 40 beads. Like the prayer beads of other faiths they are used for meditation, counting prayers/spells and to help focus the mind. The 40 beads have been split into sections of 3, 7, 9 and 21 beads as these are traditionally magical numbers honored through the beads.

Hematite is particularly effective at grounding and protecting. It harmonizes mind, body and spirit. Used during out-of-body journeying, it protects the soul and grounds it back into the body. This stone has a strong Yang element and balances the meridians, redressing Yin imbalances. It dissolves negativity and prevents negative energies from entering the aura, restoring peace and harmony to the body.


Lovely, huh? I cannot wait to hold this. Hematite is a favorite stone of mine. I have a walnut-sized round of hematite that I often tuck in my pocket when I need that extra boost.

But the hemitite is not the only reason I couldn’t resist this ladder. I love of spiders too.  They’re one of my favorite personal symbols (I have very few).

No, not the tarantula-crawling-down-my-shoulder thing or the venomous things that TRACK YOU DOWN! But I won’t purposely kill a spider – ever. Let them go, let them go, I say!  Spiders are diligence and persistence. And who doesn’t love the webs! What an intricate symbol – and intricate world! – of life, death, struggles and conquests.  As a writer, tenacity has to be in the blood. What animal is more tenacious than a web-spinning spider?

Superstition on spiders?  Oh you bet ….

  • Seems I am not alone on the never kill a spider thing. Rain will surely follow. I remember back in the first grade discussing this bit of wisdom in the sandbox. Someone had (so they said) killed a spider a day or two earlier, and we were wondering, well, where the heck was the rain? Yeah, he lied. That was my guess.
  • If a spider drops on the table during a meal, you have an unknown enemy.
  • Should a spider build its web across your front door you’ll soon have company. (Maybe more spiders?)
  • But if  a spider drops onto the threshold, someone in the household will die.
  • You’ll meet a new friend if you run into a web. Ah, nothing like a face full of spider webs when you’re walking through a dark passage, huh? Okay, even with my appreciation of spiders and their work, I do NOT like a face full of webs. Oh, yeah, you can brush the webs away. But where are the spiders that were on it?  They’ve got to be crawling somewhere. Everywhere …like your neck right now.
  • Find a spider in the morning? I came across one superstition that said it’s bad luck.  This  does not fit me, work for me or with me. In my world, spiders are good luck, period. Other superstitions seem to agree with me:
  • If a spider crawls out of your pocket, you’ll find fortune;
  • See one crawling on the wall, your deepest wish will come true.
  • See a big spider? Great! The bigger the better for luck.
  • It’s also good luck to find a spider on a wedding dress.

A lot of lore is nature-observation based, rather than superstitions: I love this kind of folk wisdom. (But then again, maybe superstition is in fact, nature-observation based knowledge, just observed on a different level. That is, after all, how symbols work …)

  • When many spiders are spinning their webs, we’re in for a dry spell.
  • If the spiders are hiding, bad weather is on the way.
  • When there are dew-covered webs on the lawn in the morning, it’s going to be a beautiful day.
  • If there are lots of webs in the spring, it’ll be a good autumn.

Oh, and – best superstition ever – if you happen to have a spider symbol on your witch’s ladder, good fortune will follow you all the days of your life. (Okay, I made that one up, but I’m going with it!)

How about you? Have you heard any superstitions or folklore about spiders you’d like to share?

Let me call you sweetheart … or not

By Heather Doherty


Hey, did I mention I’m a writer? The Doherty in the Wilson Doherty team? Hmm, thinking I may have. But what you may not know about me (unless you happen to be married to me – shout out to Harold Doherty!) is that I haven’t a romantic bone in my body. No. Nada. Not a brittle, bitter one. Any sweet/romantic scenes in any Wilson Doherty books are 100% Norah’s brilliant work. Norah happens to be an award winning romance writer, so yeah, better in her hands than mine any day.

Don’t believe me? I was just scanning through an early draft of a project and came across this note I wrote: NORAH, CAN THEY KISS/TALK, SWEET BLAH BLAH.

Not even kidding.

And yet, here it is so close to Valentine’s Day, and I’m so excited. Not for the usual reasons, but because I get to share a few fabulous love superstitions.

Sooooooo … wanting to know who’ll you’ll marry? Here are some wonderful Valentine’s Day superstitions to help you with kiss/talk sweet blah blah, er, that question.

Unmarried women should look to the skies on Valentine’s Day to see which bird flies overhead. A robin – you’ll marry a sailor. Sparrow – you’ll find happiness in marriage, but not abundance. Goldfinch – A rich union is in the future. Those who see an owl fly overhead, won’t marry.

But maybe you don’t want to stand out there in the (brrr) cold and wait for the first friendly bird to fly overhead. Maybe you realize the potential downside to that. Try this instead: On Valentine’s Eve, write potential suitors’ names on small pieces of paper. Roll each up in clay and put them into a small bowl of water. The first to rise to the surface will be your valentine.

A very old superstition holds that if you are single, the first person one sees on Valentine’s Day outside the home will be your future sweetheart. Considering how big the world is, and how far and wide we travel now, thinking I’d not put a lot of stock in this one.

Got apple? One way of narrowing down the field of future spouses is this: peel an apple in a single strip. Make sure the peel doesn’t break or you’ll have start again. Toss it over your shoulder onto the floor. The peel will land taking the shape of the first letter in your future spouse’s name.

Want to dream of your future spouse? Yikes, here’s a salty way to do it. Before going to bed, cut a hard-boiled egg in half. Remove the yolk entirely, and replace it with salt. Put the egg back together, eat it. The one who brings you water as you dream, will be yours.

And one more … best yet:

Find yourself a mule with really long ears. (Yeah, this may take a while) and ask it if you’ll soon find true love. If the mule shakes its head: no. If one ear moves: maybe. And if the mule is completely still: yes.

Okay, good luck with these! And I hope you have a wonderful, chocolate, apple, mule, bird, egg-filled Valentine’s day … heavy on the chocolate.

I’d be really interested to hear if anyone tries these, with success, or not. And of any other Valentine’s day love superstitions you may know. Write me here!

Superstition Sunday, Superbowl Edition


Yeah, it’s Superbowl Sunday! Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers. I’m going to make a big, bold prediction about the game, one you can bank on: Beyonce will rock that stadium at the halftime show.

That’s it. My one and only prediction. Why? Well, because the Patriots are out. This year, I won’t be donning my New England Patriots jacket in hopes of my amazing fan vibes going forth to aid Brady and the gang. This year, I won’t even be watching. Confession (a boring one; don’t get your hopes up): I’m not really much of a sports fan. But I am a fan of all things supernatural, and all things superstitious. 

In honor of Superbowl Sunday – this biggest day in sports – here are three famous and awesome sports superstitions.


Playoff Beards

So …. whatcha think of the playoff beard? You know, NHL hockey players stop shaving when their team makes the playoffs, and won’t shave again until they are either eliminated or have won the Stanley Cup. Yeah, I kind of think It is cool too. No, it’s not the actual beards that are cool. It’s the individual’s acknowledgement of powers and forces that we don’t understand, but equally will not deny. It is the collective nod to the fates, to the unexplainable, working around us.

It’s the fear of the almighty jinx!


The Curse of the Bambino

Nope, not a baseball fan either (um, this is definitely the Doherty half of the team coming at you now). But even I have heard of Babe Ruth. The story is this: Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees in the 1919-20 off season (and I’m guessing this was a move significantly unpopular with Boston fans.) Before this, the Sox had been incredibly successful. Five world series titles. After selling the Bambino? Not so much. It was 84 years before the Boston Red Sox won another World Series, whereas the Yankees went on to great success in the decades that followed.

A curse? Yes. A real honest-to-goodness curse. And it did what any good curse would/should (will!) do the mindset of the individual and collective until the ‘fate’ set out could only come true. 


Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx



I love this 2002 cover. But wonder how much the dudes at Sports Illustrated do?

Superstition has it that individual players or teams who appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated will then be jinxed. (Ah, there’s the awesome word again.) Okay, Michael Jordon graced the SI cover many times, and well, he did all right for himself. But then again, he IS Michael Jordon.

This superstition I can really see happening, then catching on like fire. An athlete sliding down hill after a cover. See that happen time and time again … it would be very hard for a player to then go forward with a cover. To risk that slide – that bad luck. How slippery the slope!

Would I do it? Would I take a cover spot? Well, chances are Sports Illustrated won’t be seeking me out for their cover – my 20 minutes on the elliptical at the gym probably is not what they’re looking for. But honestly, were I a pro athlete, doing great, about to go forward into a championship match, and was offered the SI cover … would I do it?

Pffft … not a hope in hell would I. Why? Because when it comes to our passions, we don’t want to change our luck. We do NOT want to jinx ourselves. In a nutshell: we don’t tempt fate. We give these nods to the unexplainable. 

So though I won’t be in my Ravens or 49ers gear, I’m guessing lucky sweaters will be worn by more than a few around North America. And wow, they’re so right to put those on. Got the beard thing going for you team? For the love of all things football – don’t touch it till after the game!

I Heart Grump Cat (Part II)

by Heather Doherty


Okay, I swear, last grumpy cat meme I’ll ever pass along on this blog (this week, cough cough).


But how better to introduce some more very cool cat superstitions than with a picture of a cat smacking a superhero? Pffft… right. Rhetorical question. There is no better way.

These are kind of fun:

  • One Indian wedding superstition is that it’s good luck if a cat eats from the bride’s or groom’s left shoe one week before the wedding.
  • Cats draw lightning.
  • It is good luck to hear a cat sneezing.
  • Cats will steal the breath of a sleeping person, particularly babies.
  • In Japan the Maneki Neko or beckoning cat is common figurine in businesses and homes, sure to bring good fortune and money to the owner.
  • If a cat is cleaning its face by the door, company is coming.

And my personal favorite:

  • The girl who finds a strange cat in her bedroom at night will be lucky (biting tongue very sharply right now).

See, told you superstitions were awesome! I really love and respect these bits of wisdom, whimsy, brilliant old wives tales. There is so much more to the world than what’s right before our eyes. Do I believe in every superstition I come across? No. Do I have superstitions of my own (asks the woman wearing green – always wearing  green – as I write)? Absolutely!

More on wisdom, whimsy and brilliant old wives tales next week.

In the meantime, want to share some of your superstitions?


I heart Grumpy Cat


By Heather Doherty

I’m a dog person (shout out to Chloe!) but I have fallen in love with the grumpy cat meme that’s been all over Facebook lately. Best cat EVER. Seriously, if I owned a cat (not happening people, don’t send me your cats) this would be my kind of feline. Screw chasing mice, I plan your untimely demise!


Okay, some of the grumpy cat captions are (cough cough) inappropriate for all audiences. But most are snort-worthy funny. Like this one…



So, in honour of grumpy cat and its uncanny, mind-bending ability to make me click share, here’s a few cat-meeting superstitions to start this SUPERSTITION SUNDAY weekly blog post. (Did I just write weekly? Oh yes, I did … see you next week).

  • Black cat about to cross your path? Change your path. At least in North American cultures, this is an advisable course of action. Yet, in Scottish superstition, a black cat on the porch is a sign of good luck to come.
  • White cats? They come with a little better rep. Dreaming of one is a foretelling of good luck, as is seeing a white cat on the road before you (um, unless the cat has met its untimely end on said road; that couldn’t be a good thing). However in England, seeing a white cat on the way to school was a sign of trouble to come.
  • Cats by the water? Sailors are notoriously superstitious, which isn’t surprising considering how precarious the profession was decades ago. If a cat scooted in front of a sailor on a pier, good luck was his. But if a cat cut across his path, the reverse fortune was in store.
  • One-eyed cat? If you see a one-eyed cat, spit on your thumb, press it to the middle of your palm, then make a wish. Oh oh oh, the wish is sure to come true.


More on cat superstitions next Superstition Sunday. In the meantime, here’s Ruckus, Norah’s cat along with the lovely and powerful Labradorite sphere we are giving away IN JUST TWO DAYS!


Enter here!