I’ve seen well-educated, intellectual people act funny around cats, especially if the cat happens to be crossing the road. Doesn’t always have to be a black cat, but there’s no end to myths when it comes to humans and felines, and our mutual pedestrian etiquette. No wonder some of them are Grumpy.
These people can sometimes ejaculate (in the Sherlockian sense), in shock and complete faith, names and concepts of things they might spend the rest of their time trying to disprove. Even if reason is the game of the modern intellectual, they aren’t immune to the state of superstition, best described by Stevie Wonder in the song “Superstition”,
When you believe in things that you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way.
Now, I don’t know about that last line. I think it’s irrational to believe that everything can be explained rationally. Isn’t there a popular notion that we have only worked out 5% of the universe? Who knows what else might be there in the rest 95%? What it Daleks are real?
But, most of us don’t have to face Daleks. We just go about our everyday superstitions, usually in this way: we laugh at it, dismiss it in others, do it when we find ourselves in a similar situation and then feel embarrassed about it.
I try to be more open to it. Some of it, in others, gets on my nerves. They have traditionalist, cultural explanations, so I put up with it, as long it doesn’t affect me personally. And I’m not weird about cats. They’re welcome to their nine lives, to however they feel about rain and milk, to how they wish to cross roads. I give them their due as intelligent creatures (is there any other creature, including us, who has learnt to be lazy without inducing back pain?), and I think that’s probably why there are so many superstitions around them. They are so smart that if they weren’t so lazy, this blog post would actually have been written by a cat right now.
My small-to-medium size superstitious thing is astrology. I can see my readers divided here: some are rolling their eyes in irritation, while others are interested in the Saturnine position of this moody blogger. Let me begin with a disclaimer: my interest is as lazy, superficial and self-absorbed as it can get. I am only interested in what astrology can do for ME. But, let me explain.
Apart from it being a cultural thing in this part of the world, it was always a curious, slightly fun thing for me to read in the newspaper. The daily/weekly/monthly/yearly prediction you get according to the sun sign in newspapers and magazines just have a way of telling you that it is about you: that in this whole orchestral positioning of various events in this world, on this day, this note is about you, the person you are, the person you can become. Among all these stories of heartbreak, rejection and worse, suddenly your sun sign, the constellation of stars that define who you are, is telling you that You Will Meet A Tall, Dark Stranger Today. In this mire of despair, it’s giving you hope. And how would you be human if you did not hope?
Except, I never did meet a tall, dark stranger, not on the days they specified anyway. On the other hand, the nasties have a way of coming true: an authority figure will be mad at you, or someone close to you will betray you. It’s almost like you made it happen, that you were so on the lookout, you’d even be disappointed that it did not happen.
But then, someone told me there are other planets and constellations telling about you too! And it stopped being an everyday casual, fortune-telling thing, and ended up being a self-induced psychotherapy session! Who cares about the future, when your Venus and Mars positions explain all that is wrong with you? It’s not so much about the future, but, like nearly all social sciences, about the past. Except, it is not a science, but a leap of faith. And like every leap of faith, it has plenty to back it up: an elaborate mythological world, complete with stories (taken from actual myths of whichever culture that branch of astrology is from). It has mathematical calculations, charts etc, where the degree of something can determine something else and look all very logical. Most of all, it has a tendency to often be scarily accurate, which means the rest have to be considered for potential accuracy too.
But, as I said, it’s all about Me, Me, Me to me, and I’m not trying to make a case for it here. Lately, I’ve become more aware of the difficulties I face in social environments. One day, I just told myself, “I’m too Piscean for this!” I said it first, and comprehended it later. I don’t have my sun in Pisces, but something else that’s important, and sure enough, it explains me to the T. However, people who know me well won’t agree at all. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, and know about astrology, won’t be surprised to hear my Mercury is in Gemini. That this blog is probably too Gemini for its own good.
But, before I lose some of you who abhor this mumbo-jumbo, let me explain the dark side (Saturn demands me) of my self-absorbed astrological excursions. There is something called Synastry, where your profile gets matched with somebody else’s. According to this, I’m supposed to have a “love at first sight, once in a lifetime” thing for every person with a Sun in Scorpio. And I mean, everybody*. Which is just utter tosh. You had me at Pisces and Gemini, Astrology, but you lost me there.
At least, I tried. At least, for very selfish reasons, I gave way to curiosity, and risked the ridicule of my handful of readers by writing about it. The nature of superstition is that you have to believe in things that can’t be proved by scientific methods. And if people have been going gaga over vampires and werewolves and whatnot for a while, what’s wrong with a harmless little alternative self-exploration?
Ultimately, by following my own curiosity and superstitions, I can say that they’re perfectly fine, as long as you keep them to yourself, and try to make sense of them to yourself. Don’t just touch wood because you saw someone else do it. Don’t ridicule them for touching wood either. Life can be cruel, exhausting, a real prankster. If something can make it a little better, even the hope of meeting a tall, dark stranger (not that they exist), then go for it without shame. However, try to be easier on cats. Someday, they might rule the world.
What are your superstitions?
*There’s a degree thing, but even then, just too many out there.