We’ve had compulsory education since 1880 and over a thousand years of Christianity, and people will still toss coins into wells, puddles, pools and fountains to propitiate the spirits and bring luck.
I starting thinking about this last night. Dropped by to see someone, he had a cow to calve to I jumped into his Landrover to go with him and give him a hand, and there, dangling from the rear view mirror, was a dream catcher.
Right then, why have you got a dream catcher in a Landrover? Let’s think this one through. According to the Ojibwe who appear to have invented dream catchers, bad dreams are trapped in the web and disappear in daylight, so you only dream good dreams.
Apparently there is another explanation of Lakota origin which says the bad dreams pass through, but the good dreams are caught and slide down the dream catcher to the person sleeping below. (In this case probably the Border Collie in the foot well.)
Now it might be that we have two different styles of construction, or different traditions with different materials. But when I discussed this with my lady wife she pointed out that she had made Dream Catchers when in the Girl Guides, from any materials that were to hand and attempting to vaguely follow pictures in a book.
Now setting aside for one moment the dispute between Ojibwe and Lakota, if dream catchers work, the last thing we want is to have them constructed by total amateurs with no training and the wrong materials. It makes as much sense as cooking up toadstools in the microwave in the hope of extracting the mescaline.
So back to our chap with the dream catcher in his Landrover; is he trying to ensure good dreams for his dog, or is it just foreign magical tat his granddaughter made at Guides that is probably lucky?
The problem with weird magical stuff is that people don’t know what to do with it when it’s no longer needed. One Sunday morning we turned up at our Parish Church to open up ready for the service and there, on the door step, was a cheap pewter crucifix and a rosary. We looked at it and wondered what on earth it was doing there. Then it struck us, someone had been cleaning out Grandma’s house after she died and had found the Crucifix and the rosary. Well obviously you cannot just sling them into the bin, they’re magic, packed with mana and if you aren’t careful they might leak or even ‘go off’ and then who knows what could happen. Far better leave them where someone who knows about that sort of thingcan decommission them and make them safe.
I was talking to a priest and she’d noticed the same. People keep giving her elderly bibles because they feel bad about just slinging them into the recycling. We’ve not come a long way from Treasure Island where they gave Long John Silver the ‘black spot’.
The sea-cook looked at what had been given him.
“The black spot! I thought so,” he observed. “Where might you have got the paper? Why, hello! Look here, now; this ain’t lucky! You’ve gone and cut this out of a Bible. What fool’s cut a Bible?”
“Ah, there!” said Morgan. “There! Wot did I say? No good’ll come o’that, I said.”
“Well, you’ve about fixed it now, among you,” continued Silver. “You’ll all swing now, I reckon. What soft-headed lubber had a Bible?”
“It was Dick,” said one.
“Dick, was it? Then Dick can get to prayers,” said Silver. “He’s seen his slice of luck, has Dick, and you may lay to that.”
Now if Dick knew what was good for him he’d have thrown a coin in a well and wished, or perhaps invested in an upgrade for his dream catcher technology.
Eat your heart out Richard Dawkins; you’re trying to convert folk to atheism when a fair chunk of the population still shares a level of spirituality common in the early Iron Age.