10 ways to … find good fortune on Friday the 13th
PUBLISHED: 11:03 11 April 2018
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If you’re superstitious this Friday the 13th is not a good day. But fear not, we have some suggestions for how to stay lucky, plus some great Norfolk and Suffolk superstitions
1 Drop coins in a wishing well.
Why: Celtic people considered springs and wells to be holy places where gods or magical guardians would grant wishes – if paid.
Where: Generations of children have dropped pennies into the Norwich Castle well. Right now the money is going towards the Keep Giving project to transform the Castle Keep.
2 Visit a holy well.
Why: Wells and springs across East Anglia are linked with legends of healing, including the shrine at Walsingham, which still attracts thousands of pilgrims a year. Medieval pilgrims used to travel hundreds of miles to St Walstan’s well at Bawburgh, near Norwich, and other holy wells include St Mary’s well at Thelnetham, near Diss, St Margaret’s well at Wereham, near Downham Market, and the Lady’s well at Woolpit, near Bury St Edmunds.
3 Avoid Black Shuck.
Why: The huge hound is said to roam East Anglia with malevolent eyes glowing and jaws drooling, and if you see him you are doomed to die.
Where: See his clawmarks on the door of Blythburgh church.
4 Avoid geese flying overhead.
Why: The cries of geese were thought to sound like hunting dogs, and sometimes said to be the hounds of heaven used by the Archangel Gabriel to hunt the devil.
Where: Now is a great time for the ultra superstitious to enjoy our coastal nature reserves as the flocks of migrating geese are up in the Arctic for the summer rather than wheeling overhead.
5 See hares.
Why: Celtic tribes believed hares were sacred, royal animals. East Anglia’s great queen, Boudicca, was said to have released a hare before battle as a good luck charm.
Where: Brown hares are quite common across much of East Anglia – see them in fields of spring wheat and barley or on coastal marshes and heathland. The Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserves at Thompson Common, Upton Broad and Weeting Heath are good sites to see hares – and from June 24 the GoGoHares trail brings 68 huge painted hares to Norwich and Norfolk, in aid of Break charity.
6 Dream of treasure
Why: Because the legend of the Pedlar of Swaffham and the true story of the discovery of the Sutton Hoo treasure, both involve dreams.
Where: See the church beautified by the Pedlar, after he dreamed of buried treasure, at Swaffham. See the incredible site of royal ship burials at Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge. Edith Pretty, of Sutton Hoo House, dreamed there was treasure in the strange mounds on her land. Eventually she persuaded Ipswich Museum to send an archaeologist to investigate. In 1938 he began the dig which was to uncover the richest ship burial ever found in northern Europe, and the grave of a 7th century warrior king and his treasure. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sutton-hoo
7 Draw daisies
Why: People across East Anglia used to try to protect their homes against bad luck with magic charms, especially at entrance points such as doorways and chimneys. Charms included single shoes, clay pots with pins inside, circles filled with petal shapes and even mummified cats.
Where: Moyse’s Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds has a unique display of witchcraft and sorcery-related objects including a 17th century wand, a witch’s puppet and mummified cats found in cottage walls. moyseshall.org
8 Don’t bring may, also known as hawthorn, blossom, indoors.
Why: It was once supposed to be terribly unlucky to have hawthorn indoors, perhaps because of its sickly sweet smell. It was said to invite illness and death.
Where: The smallest Wildlife Trust nature reserve in the nation is Hethel Old Thorn, next to Hethel church near Wymondham. The single hawthorn tree is said to date back to the 13th century. Legend has it that it grew from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea, whose tomb was used by Jesus. www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk
9 Go fish
Why: Going to sea in a fishing boat has always been fraught with dangers.
Where: Superstitions which have built up in an attempt to divert bad luck at sea include no whistling at sea (perhaps because it mimics stormy wind) and no wearing green because it was thought to be the colour of fairies. In Yarmouth fishing nets are still blessed at an annual church service in St Nicholas Minster every October.
10 Get married – but not necessarily today
Why: While many ancient superstitions have faded, those related to weddings still flourish. However, brides can add luck to their wedding day by wearing something old, new, borrowed and blue, not trying on all their wedding clothes together, not seeing the groom until the ceremony, kissing a chimney sweep on the way to church, and being carried over the threshold of her new home to avoid the evil spirits once thought to gather there.
Where: A wedding near you.