TAKE WARNING! by Jane & Reynold Ruffins Sarnoff


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From abracadabra to zodiac, with more humble entries (acorn, freckles, toad) in between: a hit-or-miss illustrated glossary of charms, omens, folk beliefs, magical practices, what have you. Flipping through the first few pages you'll be reminded of Granny's dictum that a bad woman can't make good applesauce and of the ballplayer's habit of spitting on the bat; you'll confirm your belief in a black cat's bad luck, learn a cure for blackheads and another for boils, and be warned that ""if you drop a schoolbook you must kiss it as you pick it up or you will forget everything you have read in it."" With entries ranging from one line (for lilac) to three pages (for moon), this is far from a reliable or comprehensive reference source. Among items which are included, mistletoe evokes only a notice of the kissing custom and the information that it was banned in churches because it was sacred to the Druids; numbers, a topic that could fill a volume on the occult, rates only a few examples of specific customs (""When we want to praise someone, we give THREE cheers""); bat, bad luck, X itself, and countless others do no better; and the sole comment on prayer--'""the Lord's prayer said backwards will protect against evil""--passes up some far more fascinating uses of backwards prayer. However, there's random diversion for idle browsers who are prepared to take the whole project with the same grain of salt they'd bring to the superstitions therein.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1978
Publisher: Scribners