The Mam­moth Book of Su­per­sti­tion

Fortean Times - - Reviews / Books -

From Rab­bits’ Feet to Fri­day the 13th Roy Bain­ton Robin­son 2017 Pb, 376pp, bib, refs, ind,£13.99, ISBN 9781472137487 This doorstop of a book by FT con­trib­u­tor Roy Bain­ton opens, ap­pro­pri­ately, with a quote from Charles Fort’s Book of the Damned: “Sci­ence of to­day – the su­per­sti­tion of to­mor­row. Sci­ence of to­mor­row – the su­per­sti­tion of to­day”.

In the first sec­tion, Bain­ton dis­cusses the need for, ef­fi­cacy of and cat­e­gories of su­per­sti­tion; and the su­per­si­tions of Europe and the USA, in­clud­ing Na­tive Amer­i­can and African-Amer­i­can su­per­sti­tions. Oh, and Thai­land’s lucky pe­nis. He then cov­ers the ori­gins of su­per­sti­tion, and its tricky in­ter­sec­tion with re­li­gions, along with curses, bad omens… and Creation­ism. The an­i­mal, vegetable or min­eral of su­per­sti­tions in­cludes ter­rific bird myths… and crys­tal ther­apy. In his in­tro­duc­tion, Bain­ton ad­mits to a fond­ness for stray­ing from the point, which is part of the book’s charm. I hadn’t known, for in­stance, that on the night be­fore his wed­ding, the friends of a South Korean groom will beat the soles of his feet with fish. Tuija brides from Sichuan have to cry for an hour ev­ery day in the month lead­ing up to their mar­riage.

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