“Keep a sharp eye,” said Gil. “We’re coming to Omen Crossing. It’s said that whatever you spy first at the crossing is the omen for your journey.”
As the wagon rounded the curve, the crossing signpost came into view. Trevin leaned against it, watching his horse crop the grass nearby.
“Is that a good omen?” asked Melaia.
“Depends on who’s interpreting it,” said Gil. “Seeing as how there’s none of those blasted spy-birds about, I’d say it tends toward the good.”
In Breath of Angel and the other Angelaeon novels, the inhabitants – human and otherwise – hold superstitions like all cultures do. Our own ancient Mediterranean world attached good and bad luck to numbers and days, objects and activities. For example, many ancients believed even numbers were unlucky, but not odd numbers.
Over 80 days of the ancient Roman calendar were considered unlucky “black days.” These included anniversary dates of military defeats as well as days when the underworld was believed to be open. No marriages or betrothals, no public parties or sports events were scheduled on these days. Armies avoided battle on black days. And rulers refused to be inaugurated on unlucky days.
Other superstitions dealt with how you lived your daily life. If you got into a food fight and threw little balls of bread at each other, you would get sick. You would hang a red rag or fox’s tail between the eyes of your horse or donkey to make sure you didn’t fall during your ride.
Many superstitions developed around sea travel. Aboard a ship, clipping your nails or trimming your hair in good weather was bad luck. So was sneezing while crossing the gangplank to board the ship. Birds sitting among the ship’s ropes was a good sign. Unless the birds were crows or magpies. Then it was a bad sign.
People often carried talismans, objects they believed brought good luck. Talismans could be objects – like a rabbit’s foot – or drawings or inscriptions on objects. Some people thought that if they inscribed the name of an angel on an object – usually a small metal or pottery disk – it would bring good luck. Different angels were thought to have authority or power over different occasions – like a birthing, for instance – so different angel names were inscribed for different occasions. We don’t know exactly who began listing angel names and powers, but it began long before the time of Christ. Anyway, a talisman inscribed with an angel’s name was thought to carry that angel’s energy.
We still have lots of superstitions today. I think about this every time I get in a hotel elevator and there is no “thirteenth” floor. And at my house, if my family throws little balls of bread at each other, they’ll quickly discover that the practice is still considered quite unlucky.