July 3, 2010
Seven Years Bad Luck?
Centuries ago, before there was such a thing as a breakable mirror, any shiny surface was considered a mirror. It was also considered a tool of the gods. When people looked at their reflections in a pond or a shiny metal, for instance, they thought this was their "other" self. And this "other" self should not be disturbed in any way.
When glass mirrors were made, the Romans decided that not only was it bad luck to break a mirror, but you'd have seven long years of it!
Why seven? One Roman idea was that life renewed itself every seven years. Since a broken mirror meant broken heath, it was thought you would need seven years to recover. Another Roman idea was that since the phases of the moon change every seven days, they held the moon responsible not only for the tides of the ocean, but also for the "tides" of man.
And there is a very practical reason why one would not want to break a mirror. They were very expensive and only the rich could afford them. So a servant, for example, handled a mirror with great care because whoever broke one would have to replace it. It might easily take seven years of saving to pay for another mirror!
Have you heard of other mirror beliefs, even today? Some people won't let a baby look into a mirror or they think the child may die before it is a year old. Other families cover all the mirrors in the house after a death in the family. They fear the soul of the deceased may enter the mirror and be delayed on its journey to heaven.
Aztec Indians kept evil spirits away from the house by placing a jar of water with a knife in it behind the door. They thought that when an evil spirit entered and saw its reflection in the water with a knife across it, he'd turn and run!