Hello! Happy Friday the 13th. Also, it’s almost St. Patrick’s Day! As someone with a fair amount of Irish heritage, I do like to partake in the festivities that encompass that holiday. Growing up, wearing green on that day was mandatory – even when I was an angsty teen who tried to pull the “my eyes are green so that counts” card. Let me tell you, my Irish grandmother was having NONE of that.
I figured this was a good time to ponder the idea of luck. According to the dictionary, luck is “success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.” I began asking people if they believe in luck. Most said yes, but I’ve certainly known people who say luck has nothing to do with our successes and/or failures in life. Some believe everything in our lives is pre-ordained, or pre-destined. Meanwhile, others say everything we do is a random scattering of insignificant choices being made in this great big universe that has little to do with anything at all.
Personally, I believe in luck (between being Irish and raised in an avid poker playing household it was probably inevitable) and its potential effects on my life. Overall, for me, life is a mixture of personal decisions, hard work, motivation, and outside circumstances – one of which is luck.
As today is Friday the 13th, my mind also drifted to the idea of superstition. The first definition given me by the dictionary was this: “excessively credulous belief in and reverence for supernatural beings.” Unsatisfied, I read on, and got this: “a widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event, or a practice based on such a belief.”
As a high school and college athlete, I became quite superstitious. I feel like a good number of athletes are. Before a soccer game, I always had to put my left cleat on first. When I started playing lacrosse, I had to listen to the same music in my warm-ups. Once, after I had a really good game, I played the exact same CD in my car before every subsequent game for the rest of that season. (Regrettably, I chose Creed’s Human Clay album. It was 2004.) I was convinced that I would play just as well again if I heard those songs on my drive to the stadium. Did it work? Could Creed’s music have made me a better player? Unlikely. Did my brain decide that because of the things I did before a single game where I played great, that if I repeated those preceding circumstances, I could have the same outcome? I thought so! The power of superstition is strong. At least, it was for teenage me.
Side note: I found it humorous that under “similar” below superstition were the words, “magic, sorcery, and witchcraft.” The antonym? “Science.”
I still like to put my left shoe on first. Is it superstition now, or habit? I don’t know. And where do luck and superstition overlap, exactly? Can you bring luck upon yourself? I’m reminded of Harry Potter when he drinks Felix Felicis (Liquid Luck) in order to have everything work out successfully when he goes to interrogate Professor Slughorn. He also shares some of the potion (see, witchcraft!) with Ron to help his quidditch match; then with Hermione and Ron in the battle against the Death Eaters. Is it superstition, to believe in manufacturing your own luck?
My second book Daughter of No One is the first of a fantasy trilogy. I incorporate Irish mythology into the characters’ world. One of those characters is Eegit, a hedgewitch. When readers meet her, she is attempting to bottle luck, which as others in the book tell her, is “against the elements.” But, just like Harry, she has her reasons for taking luck into her own hands.
Anyway, if you’re superstitious, I wish you no broken mirrors and black cats this Friday the 13th. And may you have a very lucky St. Patty’s Day!