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Author Topic: Mirrors: folklore, beliefs, and superstitions  (Read 7407 times)

Laveth

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Mirrors: folklore, beliefs, and superstitions
« on: June 22, 2015, 11:16:43 pm »
Branching out from another thread, I'm posing this as a discussion topic.

Mirrors. They come up an awful lot in various traditions, magical and non-magical uses, and superstitions. They are mentioned in terms of luck (i.e. breaking one resulting in bad luck), magic, divination (scrying), communing with the spirits (ancestors, ghosts, what have you), and sometimes even in terms of seeing through to another realm or seeing your "other half."

I'm curious about the experiences and wisdom of other people, so consider this the thread to share your opinions, experiences, knowledge, and understanding of mirrors and all they entail in a magical/spiritual manner.

I know it's a little vague as to a topic direction, so here are a few questions to pick and choose from to start the ball rolling:

What are some stories or bits of knowledge you've come across regarding mirrors or reflections that have stuck with you over the years (or an appropriate time frame to count as memorable)?

What is your opinion or experience regarding working with mirrors magically (communing with spirits, spellwork, divination)?

Do you put credit to the idea that breaking a mirror results in bad luck? And if so, what are your thoughts on methods to reverse or mitigate that bad luck?

What is your opinion regarding the idea of a mirror being a portal to another realm of existence? Or even a window into seeing your shadow self?

Lauren

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Re: Mirrors: folklore, beliefs, and superstitions
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2015, 12:32:19 am »
Quote from: Laveth;176405

What are some stories or bits of knowledge you've come across regarding mirrors or reflections that have stuck with you over the years (or an appropriate time frame to count as memorable)?

What is your opinion or experience regarding working with mirrors magically (communing with spirits, spellwork, divination)?

Do you put credit to the idea that breaking a mirror results in bad luck? And if so, what are your thoughts on methods to reverse or mitigate that bad luck?

What is your opinion regarding the idea of a mirror being a portal to another realm of existence? Or even a window into seeing your shadow self?


There's of course the breaking a mirror = bad luck superstition, but there's also plenty of ghost lore surrounding mirrors - Bloody Mary comes to mind. Having played that game several times, I'm pretty sure it's just a children's story (though, now that i say that, Bloody Mary will come out of the mirror tonight and seek her revenge on me, I just know it! :p)

I personally have never used mirrors in magic or divination, though I am interested in scrying.

I'd like to think (as I said in the other post) that breaking mirrors didn't give me any bad luck, and perhaps it didn't, but it seems to me that i have pretty bad luck, and I broke a lot of mirrors in my childhood!

I like the idea that mirrors see into alternate realities, but I'm not quite sure there's merit to it with any ordinary reflective surface. Maybe while one is in a meditative state it would become apparent? I haven't heard anything about that before, though, so correct me if that doesn't make any sense! ;)

Sefiru

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Re: Mirrors: folklore, beliefs, and superstitions
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2015, 06:48:52 pm »
Quote from: Lauren;176407
Bloody Mary comes to mind. Having played that game several times, I'm pretty sure it's just a children's story (though, now that i say that, Bloody Mary will come out of the mirror tonight and seek her revenge on me, I just know it! :p)

 
This is the subject of possibly my favorite xkcd comic of all time. :D:

While I don't have any (conscious) beliefs about mirrors, I am incredibly creeped out by mirrors in dark rooms. I will go out of my way not to look at one if, say, I go to the bathroom at night. I have no idea why I do this or what I'm afraid I would see in there. It's pretty much a phobia, I guess.

Jabberwocky

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Re: Mirrors: folklore, beliefs, and superstitions
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2015, 10:10:28 pm »
Quote from: Laveth;176405
I'm curious about the experiences and wisdom of other people, so consider this the thread to share your opinions, experiences, knowledge, and understanding of mirrors and all they entail in a magical/spiritual manner.

There's a lot of interesting stuff surrounding mirrors.  As well as what's been mentioned, you find them a lot in literature, especially fantasy.  So you have Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, the magic mirror in Snow White, the bearded mirror/source of voyeuristic temptation in CS Lewis' Voyage of the Dawn Treader,  JK Rowlings Mirror of Erised in Harry Potter and a lot more.

What I find interesting looking at those is how often you get the mirror as a form of temptation in literature.  That's probably linked to ideas of vanity.

A few more important things mirrors are linked to, in terms of stories.

On one hand, you have the whole idea of mirror worlds as dark places, closely linked with evil dopplegangers.  I actually remember several teen horror stories that had the idea of a doppleganger from the mirror taking over your life as their plot.  I'm pretty sure the BBC children's drama series Dramarama did that at least one.  And the UK 80's girl's supernatural comic Misty had this and similar stories.  (Misty was great, but genuinely chilling at times).

On the flipside, you have the concept of them being windows into the soul.  Which is why vampires etc. supposedly don't have reflections.

So yeah, mirrors are mythological complex and interesting.  And common enough that they seem to qualify as a folk memory to me.

Despite all that, I haven't actually done much with them.  If I was going to, I have two ideas I think have interesting magical potential:

The first is that when we see our own reflections, they're obviously reversed.  That means that a lot of us have a self-image of what we look like that's subtly different than how the rest of the world see us.  I think there's the possibility of building on that to look at self-perception in general and also the concept of celebrity.

The other is the traditional Hall Of Mirrors (which I loved as a kid) and how it warps our image.  If we perceive ourselves in a different way like that, does that change who we are at that moment?  Are different versions of ourselves better suited to different situations?  Is there actually a single correct version of ourselves, or are we always looking at it from different angles?
« Last Edit: June 23, 2015, 10:11:09 pm by Jabberwocky »
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Laveth

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Re: Mirrors: folklore, beliefs, and superstitions
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2015, 02:06:59 pm »
Quote from: Sefiru;176423

While I don't have any (conscious) beliefs about mirrors, I am incredibly creeped out by mirrors in dark rooms. I will go out of my way not to look at one if, say, I go to the bathroom at night. I have no idea why I do this or what I'm afraid I would see in there. It's pretty much a phobia, I guess.

 
I've actually heard a lot of people don't like looking at mirrors in the dark. In some cases I blame the tendency of ghost movies showing the face of a malevolent spirit in the mirrors just prior to it coming out and killing the victim. But because of how common it is for people to have that "heebie jeebie" feeling, I have to kind of wonder if it's not something more primal.

Laveth

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Re: Mirrors: folklore, beliefs, and superstitions
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2015, 02:09:46 pm »
Quote from: Jabberwocky;176429
Despite all that, I haven't actually done much with them.  If I was going to, I have two ideas I think have interesting magical potential:

The first is that when we see our own reflections, they're obviously reversed.  That means that a lot of us have a self-image of what we look like that's subtly different than how the rest of the world see us.  I think there's the possibility of building on that to look at self-perception in general and also the concept of celebrity.

The other is the traditional Hall Of Mirrors (which I loved as a kid) and how it warps our image.  If we perceive ourselves in a different way like that, does that change who we are at that moment?  Are different versions of ourselves better suited to different situations?  Is there actually a single correct version of ourselves, or are we always looking at it from different angles?

 
You make a lot of good points. I highlighted these two because I think they deserve a little more thought (on my part). It's like we actually change our selves and how we're perceived depending on several factors, and others simply aren't going to see us the same way we see ourselves.

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Re: Mirrors: folklore, beliefs, and superstitions
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2015, 02:42:54 pm »
Quote from: Laveth;176433
I've actually heard a lot of people don't like looking at mirrors in the dark. In some cases I blame the tendency of ghost movies showing the face of a malevolent spirit in the mirrors just prior to it coming out and killing the victim. But because of how common it is for people to have that "heebie jeebie" feeling, I have to kind of wonder if it's not something more primal.

 
Mirrors in the dark spook me out SO bad. I am turning 34 years old this year and I still will not do Bloody Mary. I produce an annual horror show, and one year we had a Bloody Mary number. I hid in the bathroom for the duration of it. Just in case, I guess?

Going further back... when I was a teenager, I was part of a baby!coven. My mother generously rented out our apartment's event room one October for us so that we could have a Samhain party. We had a dumb supper, and then afterwards did some tarot readings and the like. We also decided to play some old games we'd read about... one of which was a love game. (Not that kind.)

You were supposed to eat an apple while looking into a mirror in a dark room. Supposedly, your future lover would appear in the glass over your shoulder. So I nervously pick up this hand mirror we were using for this purpose, bite into an apple... and scream bloody fucking murder when one of my friends suddenly pops up behind me. In retrospect it was hilarious but at the time I thought I was going to drop dead of a heart attack.

So, yeah. Not a fan of the mirrors in the dark.

Sefiru

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Re: Mirrors: folklore, beliefs, and superstitions
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2015, 06:40:56 pm »
Quote from: Laveth;176433
I've actually heard a lot of people don't like looking at mirrors in the dark. In some cases I blame the tendency of ghost movies showing the face of a malevolent spirit in the mirrors just prior to it coming out and killing the victim. But because of how common it is for people to have that "heebie jeebie" feeling, I have to kind of wonder if it's not something more primal.


Since I pretty much never watch that genre, it must be something primal.

And here I thought it was just me ...

Laveth

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Re: Mirrors: folklore, beliefs, and superstitions
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2015, 08:09:23 pm »
Quote from: Mama Fortuna;176436
Mirrors in the dark spook me out SO bad. I am turning 34 years old this year and I still will not do Bloody Mary. I produce an annual horror show, and one year we had a Bloody Mary number. I hid in the bathroom for the duration of it. Just in case, I guess?

Going further back... when I was a teenager, I was part of a baby!coven. My mother generously rented out our apartment's event room one October for us so that we could have a Samhain party. We had a dumb supper, and then afterwards did some tarot readings and the like. We also decided to play some old games we'd read about... one of which was a love game. (Not that kind.)

You were supposed to eat an apple while looking into a mirror in a dark room. Supposedly, your future lover would appear in the glass over your shoulder. So I nervously pick up this hand mirror we were using for this purpose, bite into an apple... and scream bloody fucking murder when one of my friends suddenly pops up behind me. In retrospect it was hilarious but at the time I thought I was going to drop dead of a heart attack.

So, yeah. Not a fan of the mirrors in the dark.

 

Wow, I probably would have reacted the same! And then promptly throw the apple at said friend.

The annual horror show sounds interesting. Weren't you afraid of the bathroom mirror producing the image of Bloody Mary while you were hiding in there? That supernatural episode comes to mind where she's able to travel from mirror to mirror to window to glass lens in order to seek out her intended victim.

Valeria Crowe

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Re: Mirrors: folklore, beliefs, and superstitions
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2015, 12:07:52 am »
Quote from: Sefiru;176439
Since I pretty much never watch that genre, it must be something primal.

And here I thought it was just me ...

 
Not just you.

Mirrors are Other. Alien. Portals to Somewhere Else, not for us.

There's something behind them, inside them, looking out when the lights are off and your face is turned. Even worse, they're still there when the lights are on. When you do your makeup, brush your teeth, shave your beard, primp and preen, there's somethng inside the glass watching you watch them watch you back...

Least, that's my gut instinct. Certainly, I avoid mirrors in the dark.

OTOH, I always wanted a full-length mirror on a stans, like evil queens and witches had In fairy tales, some antique thing, all rococo ebony. Still would like one, but damn if I wouldn't put a sheet over it at night, one covered with hand-stitched warding runes. Only a fool throws open doors to who-knows-where, then goes to sleep with them wide open...
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Emma Eldritch

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Re: Mirrors: folklore, beliefs, and superstitions
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2015, 01:38:43 am »
Quote from: Laveth;176442
Wow, I probably would have reacted the same! And then promptly throw the apple at said friend.

The annual horror show sounds interesting. Weren't you afraid of the bathroom mirror producing the image of Bloody Mary while you were hiding in there? That supernatural episode comes to mind where she's able to travel from mirror to mirror to window to glass lens in order to seek out her intended victim.

 
Nah, the lights in the can were on so it was okay. XD

Faemon

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Re: Mirrors: folklore, beliefs, and superstitions
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2015, 02:34:39 am »
Quote from: Laveth;176405
I'm curious about the experiences and wisdom of other people, so consider this the thread to share your opinions, experiences, knowledge, and understanding of mirrors and all they entail in a magical/spiritual manner.


Thanks for starting this topic! When I was a kid, I had picked up from somewhere that putting a candle in front of a mirror allows it to light up the room better. Where I live, blackouts are pretty regular annoyances during storm season, so I made good use of that tip...Except, it occurred to larval-me, a mirror reflected everything in its sight. So, there would be a room in the mirror, and therefore more darkness for the candle and its double to light up. As it turns out, there's such a thing as a privative, so even if modern mirrors are good at imitating light patterns, and most sight-having people are all about the light patterns, the "world" in the mirror doesn't necessarily take up resources.

Some Feng Shui books I read advised the strategic position of really very tiny mirrors...too tiny for me to believe that it actually does very much?

And as for the seven years bad luck of a broken mirror...I don't believe it, but I'm also interested in finding out why the belief exists.

I also wonder that some animals apparently catch a reflection of themselves in the mirror and think that it's another animal of the same species. Sure, until the invention of the mirror it was awfully difficult for people to know what their own face looked like, so if I hadn't been raised to the visual vocabulary of "a mirror" then I'd be weirded out too. But there ought to be some clue other than the visual that it's just a mirror.

Reflections do happen in nature, like the surface of a stagnant pool of water, so perhaps more domesticated animals could recognize mirrors instinctively as, more simply, the reflective property of stagnant water but mounted vertically somehow because human are strange, ultimately nothing to worry about.


So, to me a mirror can represent personal recognition as well as vanity. The subjective experience of a concept, for example...hypocrisy, is different that the experience of dissociating enough to see a contradiction and consider it hypocritical of a person in a situation. Lack of reflection is what makes hypocrisy possible, although reflection is an artifice that can be inaccurate and untrue.
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Valeria Crowe

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Re: Mirrors: folklore, beliefs, and superstitions
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2015, 07:45:49 am »
Quote from: Faemon;176450

Some Feng Shui books I read advised the strategic position of really very tiny mirrors...too tiny for me to believe that it actually does very much?

 
Like a Ba Gua mirror? Those are usually small, right?
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Laveth

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Re: Mirrors: folklore, beliefs, and superstitions
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2015, 11:54:25 am »
Quote from: Cuthwin Crowe;176448
Not just you.

Mirrors are Other. Alien. Portals to Somewhere Else, not for us.

There's something behind them, inside them, looking out when the lights are off and your face is turned. Even worse, they're still there when the lights are on. When you do your makeup, brush your teeth, shave your beard, primp and preen, there's somethng inside the glass watching you watch them watch you back...

Least, that's my gut instinct. Certainly, I avoid mirrors in the dark.

OTOH, I always wanted a full-length mirror on a stans, like evil queens and witches had In fairy tales, some antique thing, all rococo ebony. Still would like one, but damn if I wouldn't put a sheet over it at night, one covered with hand-stitched warding runes. Only a fool throws open doors to who-knows-where, then goes to sleep with them wide open...

 
Yep, that's about right.

I'm also very glad it's the morning right now and it's light outside and inside my home. :P Or I would probably have to go turn all the lights on and turn all the reflective surfaces away (tv included).

Laveth

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Re: Mirrors: folklore, beliefs, and superstitions
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2015, 11:55:13 am »
Quote from: Mama Fortuna;176449
Nah, the lights in the can were on so it was okay. XD

 
Haha, ok then! As long as the lights are on. ^^

Although Bloody Mary in supernatural was able to travel between reflective surfaces in daylight so... just saying. >.>

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