Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Candle-wax, Daggers and Oat-bags, Oh My!

Lisa Campbell, author of SUPERSTITION'S DESIRE is our guest today.

Wait till you read this fascinating folk medicine lore! I can't wait to read her book, which sounds as fascinating as this great stuff! Read all about it below.


Suffer from Epilepsy? Try crushing a human skull into a fine powder before sprinkling it on your oatmeal. Wondering about that guy who never calls? Grab a lemon peel and walk around with it under your armpit all day. Once safely ensconced in your bedroom, remove the lemon peel, taking care to rub it on all four posters of your bed, and if you chance to dream of your lover carrying two lemons then he's yours.

Now, if you're reading this and thinking, "Hmmm, what a delightfully warped imagination this woman has," well, you would be wrong (in this particular instance anyway). As much as I would enjoy taking literary credit for crafting such unique rituals, it'd put me in the category of plagiarist. Believe it or not, the aforementioned superstitious rituals were quite the norm centuries ago.

Most superstitious practices are rooted in Paganism, but many of these beliefs were eliminated by those preaching the new idea of Christianity. However, people were just beginning to emerge from Barbarism, and their superstitious practices remained deeply rooted in everyday life.

Conversely, with the rise of Church legislation and the steady progress of scientific knowledge the old forms of superstition were pretty much stamped out, though some survive to this day. How many of us shy away from stepping on side walk cracks for fear of breaking our mother's backs? Personally, I never open an umbrella in the house, and I take pains to handle hand mirrors with great care.

And while these fairly innocuous superstitions endure, I can't help wondering about the origins of the more offensive rituals. I mean, whose shoulders did it fall upon to be the first to test such theories? Now, take a gander at the short list I've compiled. Let's say you were chosen to test the effectiveness of one superstitious ritual; which one would you find the least objectionable?

1. If you can live with the stench, not to mention the decay, carrying a calf's tongue in your pocket will bring good luck.

2. Have a debilitating headache? Try drying and crushing moss found growing in a human skull. You gotta snort it though or it won't work.

3. Eye problems can be cured with a couple quick flicks of the tongue. Make certain the frog's eyes are open before you give'em a nice slurpy lick.

4. When you're done with the frog, kill it, dry it, and stuff it into a little canvas pouch. Be sure to wear it around your neck otherwise that pesky nosebleed won't stop.

5. Troubled by warts? Bathing in the warm blood of a freshly killed mole will clear them right up. But you'll have to catch the little sucker first.

See what I mean?

The next time you avoid walking under a ladder or change directions to dodge a black cat, think about this; we are no more immune to superstitions than our medieval ancestors were. Now throw some salt over your left shoulder, knock on wood and go about your business.

Lisa is the author of SUPERSTITION'S DESIRE, available through Wild Horse Press.

The languid days of summer are giving way to the brisk fall evenings of Northern England, as Lady Arabella Wyndmere stares pensively into a small fire, watching the orange flames lick greedily around the edges of her aunt’s letter. Her liberator, Laird Connal MacRae is a handsome devil despite the sun-bleached, jagged scar covering a large portion of his face. Upon meeting, he feels like Arabella looks, utterly stunned. Their instantaneous attraction is unnerving, and Connal must continually remind himself the woman is meant for his older brother, Kellan, as consolation for losing the title of Laird. On their journey to Scotland, Connal immediately realizes Arabella's superstitious practices are deeply held tenets. Nevertheless, despite her heretical beliefs and his death before dishonor credo, their mutual desire spins out of control leaving them no choice except to wed. Yet, something far more dangerous than desire stalks from the shadows, and in a climate of treachery and betrayal, the greatest risk of all, is to surrender to the depth of feeling, of unexpected love.


  1. These are fascinating!! I love stuff like this. My own thoughts on this is if someone believes something strongly then this provides the power behind it, similar to the placebo effect.

  2. I love reading about superstitions. If you can ever find it, OLD WIVES' TALES by Mary Chamberlain is fascinating, about the history of the Old Wives, who were mostly healers, in England. The cure for an adder's bite was to cut off its head and bind the head to the wound.

  3. Delightful post, Delle and Lisa. Thanks for the smile, and good luck with the release, Lisa! (without the calve's tongue in your pocket :-))

  4. Interestingly enough, the rituals I chose for this blog were all the least objectionable of the objectionable! Whoo, there's a tongue twister. :o)

  5. Need to rob a witch of her power? Rip the skin off her forehead, nose and mouth until she bleeds (duh)and the raw-meat hangs in strips. Gotta do it with your fingernails though. Also effective against were-wolves.

  6. Wow! That one is so going in a book! I swear it!

  7. Hi Delle! Good post here. How immune we all are to these superstitions still. Makes you wonder what the mind will continue to believe.

  8. Hi Denisse! Yeah, don't you think we have our own superstitions today? We don't bury skulls under rocks and come back in a year to scrape the moss of and make tea out of it. But there are all kind of lucky charms and lucky numbers for lottery picks.

  9. One more---Here's a radical cure for gallstones. Find some fresh sheep droppings and boil in fresh milk. You must drink this medieval smoothie on a daily basis until the gallstones go away. Mmmmm, bottoms up! (sorry, couldn't resist)

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