January 13, 2004
Breaking a mirror can even make a skeptic shudder for a brief moment! The superstition is an old one and has managed to keep its strength over the years. In fact, many superstitions exist for mirrors but the particular beliefs centering around broken mirrors are the most common today.
Mirrors are thought to have two supernatural abilities:
- They bring bad luck
- The help tell the future
Before mirrors came along, any reflective surface was considered to be magical and credited with the ability to look into the future. In ancient mythology we can often find the gods and goddesses, as well as mere mortals, looking into the still water to catch a glimpse of their fate. The power of reflective surfaces to captivate and deceive are also featured strongly in such myths as Narcissus and Snow White. Reflective surfaces like shiny metals and mirrors were also used to receive messages from the gods.
Queen Elizabeth's court magician and well-known alchemist, John Dee, used a mirror for scrying. He has been credited with prophesying the plot to kill King James in 1605.
Because mirrors were thought to hold the key to the future, to break one was to shatter your own future. One of the techniques devised to reverse the bad luck was to bury all the pieces deep within the earth. Another superstition for breaking a mirror was that shortly thereafter a family member would die.
Other Mirror Superstitions:
- To see your reflection in a mirror is to see your own soul, which is why a vampire, who are without a soul, have no reflection.
- If a couple first catch sight of each other in a mirror, they will have a happy marriage.
- If a mirror falls and breaks by itself, someone in the house will soon die.
- Any mirrors in a room where someone has recently died, must be covered so that the dead person's soul does not get trapped behind the glass. Superstition has it that the Devil invented mirrors for this very purpose.
- It is bad luck to see your face in a mirror when sitting by candlelight.
- Before mirrors, in ancient societies, if you caught sight of your reflection or dreamt of it, you would soon die.
- Someone seeing their reflection in a room where someone has recently died, will soon die themselves.
- Babies should not look into a mirror for the first year of their lives.
- Actors believe that it is bad luck to see their reflection while looking over the shoulder of another person.
- To see an image of her future husband, a woman is told to eat an apple while sitting in front of a mirror and then brush her hair. An image of the man will appear behind her shoulder.