Friday, March 19, 2010

Luck, Faith & Folly

ST. PATRICK'S DAY CELEBRATIONS and my earlier post about fortune cookies got me thinking about how spirituality and superstition have merged in the minds of man. Although one is granted the credibility that the other lacks, there is a blurring of the two facets in the human psyche that often takes the shape of a symbol.

As a child, I combed through the grasses in search of four-leaf clovers that when discovered and pressed between the pages of a book I thought would bring me good luck. It is this type of magical thinking that both young and old have never outgrown and it wears many disguises. St. Patrick explained the Trinity through the use of a shamrock that eventually was conceptualized with an additional petal to symbolize God’s grace. The symbol later transformed and was popularized to express faith, hope and love, with the fourth petal representing luck.

As my previous post explains, the fortune cookie was a commercial venture rooted in a traditional belief in religious omens. It could be a hoax when a bamboo shoot sprouts out a desired message, or a crystal or stone offers metaphysical healing, or a cross is said to ward off evil … if it were not for the enduring faith of the believer.


  1. So true, Penelope. My mother was the daughter of a Newfoundland fisherman, whose schooner was lost, and the crew tossed into stormy waters, with two members of the family (a son and a nephew of my grandfather) losing their lives. This post tells the story. I resisted my mother's deeply superstitious leanings, because she often expected the worst when small things (like a bird entering the house) happened, and of course, that worried me. I realize now that her blurring of spirituality and superstition grew from her maritime and Irish heritage. I did better with her good omens like the four-leaf clover, but do you know, as much as I searched in our back yard as a child, I never did find one. Thanks for the food for thought in these past two posts.

  2. I checked out your link and found a fascinating bit of history in the personal stories of people from another time. Your documentation and diligent writings brought them vividly to life in my mind.

    Also, I have come to realize that it took luck to find a four-leaf clover because they were rare but it takes much more than luck to make a good life. :)

  3. Thanks for checking out that link, and for your wisdom. That lost sentence was so, so true and a great reminder:)


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