October 19, 2012: The writing’s on the wall

19 Oct

Don’t walk under a ladder.

Turn back if a black cat crosses your path.

Breaking a mirror will earn you seven years of bad luck.

Don’t open umbrellas in the house.

Don’t throw your hat on the bed or put your shoes on the table.

Avoid anything relating to the number thirteen (unless you’re in Asia where you should avoid the number four).

Now, I know that not all superstition comes from or is inspired by October. But it just fits, doesn’t it?

Something about the darkness of oncoming winter, the howl of the werewolf, the constant barrage of images of witches and seances and other occult figures and events brings out the superstition in me.

You know where this is going, don’t you?

Sarah Winchester.

Ahh, Sarah. You haunt me. You probably don’t mean to, but you do. As you have around this time every year since I was eight.

Sarah was, perhaps, the most superstitious person ever to have inhabited North America. She suffered great tragedy in her early years and, following the deaths of her daughter, her husband and her father-in-law, she began to believe her family to be cursed.

She sought counsel from a medium in Boston who confirmed her fears.

Sarah, upon the deaths of her husband and father-in-law inherited 50% of the Winchester firearms empire and, the psychic told her, she was being haunted by the spirits of those killed by the rifles that bore her family’s name.

Move west, she was told. Move west and begin construction on a house. Don’t. Ever. Stop.

And that’s precisely what she did.

The house, in San Jose, Calif., still stands, a testament to Sarah’s belief in the occult and her extreme superstitious nature. Staircases leading nowhere, secret passageways and hiding places, chandeliers with thirteen arms, doors that when opened will drop you from the third floor directly into the garden below, the house is a labyrinth meant to confuse and, perhaps, trap the spirits that sought to harm our dear Sarah.

Construction finally halted when Sarah died. It had been 38 years.

Tours are available everyday except Christmas. Tickets, directions, etc., can be found here.

We all have our weird little quirks and superstitions, whether we’re willing to admit to them or not. Sarah’s quirks caused her to build a house and a legend that have outlived her by nearly a hundred years. What are your quirks building for you?

Happy October.

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Posted by on October 19, 2012 in October 2012


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