Friday, October 18, 2013
Superstition, Magic, and being a Teenage Witch
I am not superstitious by nature. I don't think Friday the 13th, black cats, or walking under a ladder are unlucky. Broken mirrors have never caused me any more bad fortune than having to buy a new one. I've never carried a rabbit's foot (because that clearly wasn't lucky for the rabbit who once owned it), although I did once find a four leaf clover. I do believe in luck, whether good or bad, but not in supposed charms for either. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, is deeply superstitious, so things like peacock feathers and images of owls have to be kept in rooms she's not likely to visit. I'm not sure how much of superstition is down to coincidence, or whether humanity has convinced itself such things are true. In this day and age, with all the technology and scientific explanations, superstition still somehow survives.
While I may not be superstitious, I was a practicing witch as a teen. I cast spells for protection and good fortune on myself and my home - I never won the lottery as a result, but I think cultivating the positive thoughts and energy involved in casting such spells help promote a positive mental attitude and make the magic self fulfilling to a degree. And be warned, I even knew a few curses, although I never used them - not that I wasn't tempted at times! I just felt it might be bad for my own spiritual well-being. As Voldemort tells Harry Potter when he tries and fails to do a good job of the Cruciatus curse, "You've got to mean it..." *shudders*
But magic and superstition feature in my debut novel Keir. Thanks to the medieval-style society into which he was born, the strange discoloration of his skin curses him to life as a feared and reviled outcast. Nicknamed the 'Blue Demon' and falsely accused of performing black magic, Keir's existence is reduced to a living hell...until my heroine Quin arrives on the scene. Earning herself the nickname of Red Witch, despite not being a witch at all, Quin uses the label to good advantage. On being captured she threatens to cast her 'magic' - actually using technology, being from a more advanced society - and summons up a dragon to cause a distraction while she and her companions escape. As Martha Jones once said in Doctor Who, The Shakespeare Code, "But there's no such thing as magic."
The Doctor: "Well, it's just a different sort of science." In Quin's case, a holographic generator and a couple of explosions are enough to convince the populous of her dark powers. At least the dragon doesn't need feeding afterward. :P
Will superstition stay with us into the far future? Will we still cross our fingers for good luck (or as I learned this week, hold our thumbs if you're Swedish)? Throw salt over our shoulders and live in dread of Friday the 13th? Or will superstition become like Halloween, once an important pagan event and now just fun holiday? Hmmm, now there's an idea for a story...