Superstitions of Wood, Mirrors and Iron

Superstitions horseshoe
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicensePhoto by  rbabiera

Superstitions are one of my favorite things in the realm of the odd. I wanted to discuss a few superstitions of wood, mirrors and iron.

There are many different materials in the world that are said to have the power to grant good fortune, to protect you or even to bring you harm. Wood, mirrors and iron are probably the most common materials associated with superstitions. Numbers have also been associated with superstitions and you can read more about that by checking out my post The Superstitions of the Number 13. There are also many other posts associated with superstitions.

You’ve probably all heard the saying at one time or another of, “Knock on Wood” or maybe “Touching Wood”. Where as a broken mirror is said to bring seven years of bad luck. Then we have honorable iron horseshoe. Which of course are said to bring you good luck.

The Superstitions of Wood

Some people choose to use the “Touch Wood” statement in conjunction with something else, for instance “I haven’t been sick in years – Touch Wood” or they may even say “Knock on Wood” instead. Normally after saying this someone will either touch something that is made of wood or possibly knock on a wooden table.

Many of these old superstitions are hard to determine origin for, but there are a few possibilities that come to mind.

The main notion for Knock on Wood is that it symbolizes they wooden cross that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified on. So in a way, saying this is a plead for religious protection.

On the other hand, some believe that this saying was formed out of fear that an evil spirit may overhear someone talking about good fortune and may attempt to punish him or her.

There are many ancient civilizations that believe there are sacred trees that are consumed by deities that have powers over human fate. This leads me to believe that at some point in history there were sacred trees that folks found important to touch. Or maybe knocking on a tree that was nearby would prevent the inhabiting spirit from hearing your words.

Superstitions of Metal

It’s believed that the first forms of metal discovered by mankind may of been that in meteorites. Of course these were believed to of been dropped from the heavens above. This is most likely the reason that iron was once believed to have supernatural qualities. This would also explain why iron was thought to have special powers against fighting evil, such as vampires and werewolves.

This raises the question that horseshoes may not be lucky simply because they are made of iron, but because the horse itself was once a sacred beast amongst several cultural elements.

The superstition goes that a horse shoe is only lucky if it is found. If the horseshoe is bought or received as a gift, then it can not be truly lucky. And as we all know, horseshoes should be placed with the open end facing up so that the luck does not spill out.

Mirrors of the Soul

Mirrors have always been associated with supernatural powers. Even in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the evil queens mirror would talk to her and render information on “Who was the Fairest Maiden in the Land”.

Mirrors are thought to be portals that allow access into other worlds. Also, they can project an image of the person’s soul that is gazing into the mirror. I discuss this in more detail in my post Mirror Superstitions, Myths and Legends.

The first form of mirrors were actually still pools of water, and ripples would splinter the reflection. After which followed polished metal mirrors. These mirrors were extremely hard to break and the reflection would never become distorted.

Then again in 7 B.C. when the first glass mirrors were developed, ones reflection was once again in danger of being shattered. As discussed earlier, a broken mirror has the ability to bring seven years of bad luck to the person responsible for the breakage. Some also believe that when a mirror breaks, the person’s soul that was looking into the mirror also breaks. This is what the seven years is for, it’s a healing time.

The superstition of the broken mirror could possibly go back a long ways because in earlier times, glass was very expensive and broken glass can be very dangerous.

These popular superstitions have been widely accepted and used for hundreds of years and are still quite popular today. Do you have any other superstitions you find are consuming your ease of mind? Or maybe other variations of these superstions?

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28 thoughts on “Superstitions of Wood, Mirrors and Iron
  1. That’s an interesting topic to discuss. When I was a student we had some lectures about physiological delusions. And superstitions were one of the major aspects… Unfortunately, still, so so many people follow these things. i think it is like a hereditary instinct… Well, if it won’t kill the common sense then let it be. But if it does then the situation is really poor.

    1. Agreed Evan. Some superstitions have been around for centuries and I think they hold a special place in the imagination.

      Normally the human minds ability to distinguish common sense from folk lore is tested fully on things like these. But unfortunately some still refuse to believe the obvious. It’s kind of like that commercial that says, “Where’d you hear that?” — “The Internet, They can’t put anything on the Internet that isn’t true.” lol

    1. I use the “knock on wood” version of this all the time. Not really sure if it’s because I fully believe in it, or if it’s just habit. But I do feel better after saying it though. I’m glad you enjoyed the article 🙂

  2. This is an interesting topic of discussion and as I think about it there are so many of these: don’t walk under ladders, throwing salt over your shoulder, black cats… I can’t say that I ascribe to any of them, I even have a black cat and I’d say he’s been pretty good luck for me, but definitely some food for thought to ponder the origins of these.

    1. For sure Jillian, there’s a ton of these superstitions, I think they are very interesting. It’s really cool to discover how different cultures deal with them as well.

  3. what an interesting topic! till now i always used and still believing in the power of this superstitions knock on wood:) even though we now in this modern world im glad that there are people who still believes in this! amazing:)

    1. Oh for sure, this is probably the most widely used superstition that I can think of. I think it’s become so popular that most people use the saying “knock on wood” without really having any true belief in the actual superstition.

    1. You’re absolutely right Rummy. They say in order to get the best results in luck from a horseshoe, you must find it instead of buying it or receiving it as a gift.

  4. Mirrors are supposed to ‘trap’ ghosts as well. If you think your getting a bargan on an old expensive mirror, you might wanna think twice.

    1. Ahh, that’s right, I remember reading something about that. I would definitely be looking for a refund if I were surprised by a visitor from the other side of a mirror I just purchased!

  5. very nice article about superstitions..,,very well described about Supertitions . i never beleive in superstitions but i enjoye your post it is very interesting

    1. Thanks Harish,

      Superstitions come in so many different forms and to some they are very real. My self, even though I may not think I believe, I still try to avoid tempting fate by not testing any of them 🙂

  6. Wow what an informative article. It’s the little things you don’t know that make you feel like you know so much more when you learn about them! I find it most interesting that all cultures have their superstitions and finding the similarities in them is even more interesting!

    1. That’s exactly right Ted. This is how I feel on a daily basis, I learn so much through research and writing. It’s amazing how knowledgeable you feel after absorbing some strange and unusual information that isn’t well known. 🙂

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