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The Encyclopedia of Superstitions
The Encyclopedia of Superstitions

By: Richard Webster
Imprint: Llewellyn
Specs: Trade Paperback | 9780738712772
English  |  336 pages | 8 x 9 x 1 IN
Pub Date: February 2008
Price: $18.95 US,  $21.95 CAN
In Stock? Yes, ready to ship
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Put a Potato in Your Trousers
(If you put a potato in your trouser pockets, it will cure rheumatism.)

What an amazingly silly superstition. It goes along with the 16th century belief that potatoes were an aphrodisiac (that belief didn't last long!). Other potato superstitions include: ridding yourself of warts by rubbing a slice of potato on them; rinsing your hair in water used to boil potato peelings to darken the hair; protecting potatoes from evil spirits by planting them on Good Friday; and entitling the first person in a family to eat a new potato to a wish.

Superstitions seem silly to us now, though many took them seriously when they were popular. Some people still won't walk under a ladder, get nervous if their path is crossed by a black cat (or, in England, a white cat), and throw a pinch of salt over their shoulder if they spill the spice.

Superstitions are fascinating and fun. They tell us something about ourselves. Every culture has them (there are over a million superstitions in the US alone). Whether you want to study them to learn about people or just for fun, the best new way to discover them is with The Encyclopedia of Superstitions by Richard Webster.

Webster has traveled the globe collecting superstitions from every country and culture. Documented here are over five hundred of the most obscure, curious, and downright bizarre superstitions of the Western world. They range from modern practices—blessing someone who sneezes, saving a piece of the cake from your wedding, carrying a St. Christopher medal when traveling—to beliefs going back hundreds, even thousands of years. And it's all done in the delightful, fun, and easy-to-read Webster style.

Abracadabra to Zombie
The Encyclopedia of Superstitions really does cover everything from A to Z.

Abracadabra: Where was this word first mentioned? How is it used?
Cows: What disease was thought to be treated by sleeping with cows?
Eggs: Why are they associated with love and romance? What special egg is a
sign of good luck (or bad in England)?
Opal: Why is wearing this stone considered bad luck?
Saturday: What happens if you start a new job on Saturday?
Tomato How can a tomato be used to protect from evil spirits (or attract money)?
Zombie: Who can become a zombie? How can it be prevented?


All of these questions, along with hundreds more, are answered in The Encyclopedia of Superstitions. Discover how Friday the 13th, the Bermuda Triangle, ravens, and black cats became so "unlucky." Also learn why the number seven, pennies, robins, and rabbits' feet are associated with good fortune.

Trivia fans and fun fact fanatics will adore this eclectic collection of superstitions and irrational beliefs surrounding holidays, births, funerals, weddings, colors, gemstones, trees, flowers, fairies, foods, sailing, the theater, the mystical, and more. It's filled with hundreds of illustrations. Whether you need to look up information on a particular superstition or just want to open it up and see what's on any page, The Encyclopedia of Superstitions has something for everyone.

So put on your lucky boots, wear your lucky scarf, carry a lucky stone, always walk through a doorway with your right foot first, keep your rabbit's foot close, put that four-leafed clover in your pocket, put a horseshoe over your door, and maybe you'll have some good fortune. Get The Encyclopedia of Superstitions, and you're sure to have many enjoyable hours of fun reading.


While Llewellyn's Classic Tarot has my name on the cover, I did not so much design this project as direct it. Llewellyn wanted a deck that was designed to be faithful to the traditional tarot images, symbols, and meanings recognizable to most modern tarot readers and students. Creating a faithful yet new expression of timeless tarot imagery is... read this article
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