Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Irish Superstitions about the Dead (Hey Siobhan)

It is believed that the souls of the dead that die abroad, wish to be buried in Ireland. The dead will not rest peaceably unless buried with their forefathers and people of their own kind.

A dead hand is believed to be a cure for all diseases. Many times sick people were brought to a house where a corpse was laid out, so that the hand of the dead might be laid on them.

(There are quite a few Irish superstitons concerning dead hands, but they start getting really weird. The one above seemed the less creepy of them. I thought I'd stop at one dead hand superstition.)

The corner of a sheet that was wrapped around a corpse is a cure for a headache, when tied around your head. It will also reduce the swelling of a limb, if tied around the affected limb.

The ends of candles used at wakes are good for curing burns.

The spirit of the dead last buried has to watch in the churchyard until another corpse is buried. Duties include carrying water for the dead that are waiting in Purgatory. This keeps them very busy. Purgatory is a very hot place. This superstition has been known to cause fights when two funeral processions try to enter the same churchyard at the same time. No one wants their loved one to be the last buried and have to perform these duties.

If anyone stumbles at a grave it is considered a bad omen. If you fall and touch the ground you will most likely die by the end of the year.

(I have to admit here that I've tripped and fallen at the cemetery. I've spent time at several cemeteries chasing down my family history. Those little foot stones seem to jump right out at you if you don't pay attention. I'll let you know how things turn out.)

If you meet a funeral you must turn back and walk at least four steps with the mourners.

If the nearest relative touches the hand of a corpse it will shout out a wild cry if not quite dead.

On Twelfth Night the dead walk the Earth. On every tile of your house a soul is sitting waiting for your prayers to take it out of purgatory.

If a magpie comes to your door and looks at you it is a sure sign of death. Nothing can be done to avert the doom.

When a swarm of bees suddenly quits the hive it is a sign that death is hovering near the house

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