News today that scientists have investigated various rituals to avert bad luck, and found that some of them actually work. There are, however, certain provisos, to wit:
- The study assumes that “bad luck” is created by people believing they will have bad luck – thereby creating a self-fulfilling prophecy; and
- Only certain types of ritual work.
Specifically, if you make a “banishing” gesture (i.e. in the broadest sense of the word), one feels that one is banishing the bad luck, but not if your gesture consists of holding onto something or pulling it towards you. Hence:
|Touching wood, by pushing it way from you.||Touching wood by just tapping it.|
|Throwing salt over your left shoulder.||Limp-wristedly dropping salt over your shoulder so it goes down your back and looks like dandruff.|
|Holding on to a rabbit’s foot.
NB: needless to say it didn’t do the Rabbit any good either!
Etc etc etc.
This is important for magicians because firstly, it is yet another acknowledgement by conventional science that we have been right all along: secondly, it reminds us of the importance of incorporating dramatic gesture into ritual in order to reinforce its effectiveness.