ALEC GILL
ENGLISH PSYCHOLOGY MEMORIES TRAWLING SUPERSTITIONS MIXED BAG

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OUR GRANNIES' SUPERSTITIONS

The Oldest Beliefs in the World

Tutor: ALEC GILL BSc. MSc. Author, psychologist, broadcaster, folk historian, University lecturer and public speaker.

I entered the topic of superstition from a background of scepticism. While conducting interviews with the Hessle Road fishing families of Hull, they kept making mention of superstitions. Initially I ignored them as nonsense. But when a set of taboos were central to a life-and- death story, I was forced to note them down. Then I began to compile a list of them. This grew and grew. I then began to ask questions and ponder their origins. 

This work then became my largest book to date - 'SUPERSTITIONS: Folk Magic in Hull's Fishing Community'. Indeed, it is this subject more than any other which has resulted in me being asked to appear on television in the UK and USA. I started a sceptic and now I am a specialist on superstitions - is that a stroke of Good Luck?

Every generation since the dawn of time has written off superstition as being nonsensical and about to 'kick the bucket'. Yet taboos keep springing back to life. Why do primitive omens survive in the Age of Science? Superstitions are many-sided: silly and serious, illogical and practical, Pagan and Christian. The ancient omens once touched every aspect of daily life: in the home; at birth, marriage & death; animals; and women in particular were the centre of many home-spun rituals. 

In my talks and courses I invite the audience to join in a fun debate as we 'touch wood' and avoid ladders during an exploration of how primitive rituals are passed on to the next generation - mainly down the female line and the oral tradition. They are the 'oldest beliefs in the world' and may well outlive the major religions of today - and even science. 

Every generation since the dawn of time has written off superstition as being nonsensical and about to 'kick the bucket'. Yet taboos keep springing back to life. Why do primitive omens survive in the Age of Science? Superstitions are many-sided: silly and serious, illogical and practical, Pagan and Christian. The ancient omens once touched every aspect of daily life: in the home; at birth, marriage & death; animals; and women in particular were the centre of many home-spun rituals. Join Alec in a fun debate as we 'touch wood' and avoid ladders during an exploration of how primitive rituals are passed on to the next generation. They are the 'oldest beliefs in the world' and may well outlive the major religions of today. Superstitions are universal.

TOPICS INCLUDE

WELCOME: To each other and the topic. Debate plan: Purpose/Structure/ Benefits.

HOME, SWEET OMENS: Fun meander through a Victorian home from door-step to chimney-pot. Every homely object possesses its own folklore mystery. Mealtimes too were full of 'magic' - especially the English cuppa tea..
HATCHED, MATCHED & DISPATCHED: Childhood / Wedding / Funeral beliefs. Every stage of life is saturated in superstition.
RABBIT'S FOOT: Animal and pet superstitions. Humans have a strong identity with their fellow creatures on this planet.
WHISTLING WOMAN: Mimic magic at the kitchen sink. Women had power over the elements. The deep female dimension dates back to Goddess worship and witchcraft.
LUCKY FOR SOME: Friday 13th., Eastertide and other seasonal events on the Taboo Calendar. The Last Supper or Moon Magic?
BIBLE & SUPERSTITION: Church v. Pagan beliefs - Amen or Omen? Superstitions were rarely written down. Their strength came from the oral tradition - not the written word.
SCIENCE v. SUPERSTITION: Will ancient taboos boldly go where no beliefs have gone before? Science is strong in certainty. Superstition is strong in uncertainty.
RELATED TABOOS: Royal Family Rituals / Body Parts / Greenery / Money / Seasonal / Numbers / Medicinal / Children's Games / Occupational taboos: Fishing; Theatrical; Farming; Mining, and Space Travellers / Old-time sayings.
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