I write magical realism so of course I’m superstitious

A shark pursuing a ship means bad luck, especially if there are sick people on board.

Some say black cats bring good luck and some say they bring bad luck. (I opt for good.) - Wikipedia photo
Some say black cats bring good luck and some say they bring bad luck. (I opt for good.) – Wikipedia photo

A superstitious person sees the supernatural everywhere. As a superstitious person, I’m attuned to signs, omens and other hints that good or bad luck is about to follow unless I quickly change course. If I accidentally make a “wrong turn” while driving, I assume I was supposed to make that wrong term in order to avoid something bad on my regular route or to find something good on my new route.

During a brief time when I was the primary driver in a work car pool, my riders asked why I seldom drove to the office the same way twice. I gave them a throw-away answer: going the same way bores me. But I saw darker forces at work.

Don’t sweep dirt out the front door after the sun goes down or bad luck will come to your home.

I've never a talisman as ostentatious as the Talisman of Charlemagne.
I’ve never carried a talisman as ostentatious as the Talisman of Charlemagne.

When I was growing up, people my father’s age constantly asked me if I was Sir Malcolm Campbell, the famous British driving ace who broke many land and water speed records in his famous Bluebirds. I thought then that if I ever had a blue car, good luck would follow me if I named it “Bluebird”

In 1967, another Syracuse University student and I walked past a newsstand where the headline said DONALD CAMPBELL KILLED IN BLUEBIRD RECORD ATTEMPT. I don’t remember what I said, but my friend said “you look like you’ve seen a ghost: are you related?” Well, of course not, though if I ever had a son, I never would have named him Donald because the famous “Donald” was the famous “Malcolm’s” son.

If one has a realistic bad dream, the next morning breakfast must be eaten before the dream can be mentioned or discussed. Otherwise, the bad dream will come true.

Some omens and signs are good. Mine are what work for me, so I love seeing black cars and ravens.
Some omens and signs are good. Mine are what work for me, so I love seeing black cars and ravens.

I won’t say that when I wrote Conjure Woman’s Cat, I believed in all the spells, practices and good/bad luck admonitions of my main character. But, being superstitious, I could relate because magic and realism aren’t all that different in my panpsychism world view. A conjure woman might tell me to bore a hole in a Mercury dime, put it on a red string, and wear it around my ankle or neck for protection and good luck. I don’t go that far, but I do tend to save rocks, pieces of wood and other objects that seem “charged with power” when I find them.

If you start to go somewhere and come back for something you will have bad luck.

Nope, I don’t go along with that one. I assume that if I go back for something, I was supposed to go back either because, say, I left the stove on or forgot to lock the door, or, that if I hadn’t gone back, something bad would have happened at some place along the road. Seriously, I’m not obsessive/compulsive about this: if I were, I’d check the door locks and stove a dozen times before leaving the house.

Walking past a pole with someone it is bad luck to split up and each go around on different sides of it.

Those who know the pole omen know that saying “bread and butter” counteracts the bad luck. Some omens just don’t work for me, like “Drop a fork an a woman will show up.” I dropped a lot of forks in high school and college, and no women ever showed up. Omens and signs must pick “their kind of people” to have any impact.

In reality, I think the universe gives us signs we can each recognize, so I justify my superstitions by saying “this is my coded way” of seeing the world. Of course, that might be bullshit, but it works for me. And it also helps me write the kinds of stories I write. Kind of handy, that way.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it–mainly because not sticking to it brings bad luck and/or makes one look like they’re lying.


SarabandeCover2015Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of true stories that his publishers label as fantasy or magical realism.

PS – When you hang a horse shoe on the wall, never hang it facing down or all the luck will run out of it.


4 thoughts on “I write magical realism so of course I’m superstitious

  1. I assume that you’re too superstitious to have the horseshoe over a door. I’m not that superstitious, but I never try to hang one that’s still on the horse.

  2. I’ve seen horseshoes tacked over doors facing both downward and upward. The folks who hang the horseshoe facing down (downers) say its to let the bad luck run out. The uppers say that their horseshoes hold good luck.
    Both sound like good explanations so I have two horseshoes beside my door. One facing up and one facing down.
    I’m like you. My omens and amulets mean what I think they mean and probably wouldn’t make sense to anyone else.

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