People around the world and throughout history have always held arcane beliefs to try to gain understanding and control over a mysterious world. This entertaining and educational reference describes why actors shout "break a leg" to each other for good luck, and consider any word of encouragement before a performance to be a curse. The entry on baseball players explains why they never mention a no-hitter while it's in progress, and why they carefully place their gloves in the field for good luck. Other sections describe customs involving hundreds of animals and birds, rocks and plants, foods and occupations, sleeping and sexual activities, all believed to possess the power to bring doom or fortune. Besides the many entries about superstitions, taboos, and fears, there are sections on traditional rhymes and chants, as well as the uses of potions and rituals that are employed to avoid harm and master the future.
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David Pickering is an experienced freelance writer and editor, who specialises in compiling arts and general reference books. An English language and literature graduate of St Peter's College, Oxford, his most recent credits as author and editor have included THE CASSELL SOCCER COMPANION, THE CASSELL COMPANION TO TWENTIETH-CENTURY MUSIC, THE CASSELL DICTIONARY OF PROVERBS, THE CASSELL DICTIONARY OF WITCHCRAFT, THE CASSELL DICTIONARY OF FOLKLORE and CASSELL'S SPORTS QUOTATIONS. He lives in Buckingham with his wife and two sons.
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