Signs, Fortune Tellers, Horoscopes, Oh My! I’ve Become So Superstitious

Superstitious during pandemic
Dandelion Loosing Seeds in the Wind.

I can’t believe I’m sharing this…

Pre-pandemic, I had only two totally weird and very personal superstitious “actions,” which I will get to in a second…

But nowadays and for the last few months? I’m not sure what is happening to me, except to say from crazy new superstitions, weird and coincidental signs, to relying on horoscopes and fortune tellers, I’ve never been as superstitious in my entire life.

And I’m not alone.

As for my pre-pandemic superstitions? (Again, I can’t believe I’m sharing this, but what the hell?)

First? Each and every time I was flying, I would kiss both the back of my right hand and the palm of my right hand and then, immediately before walking on a plane, I would then have to touch the exterior of the airplane, with both sides of that hand.

In my head, the plane wouldn’t crash if I did this. It was a superstition, easy to hide and only once, in hundreds of flights, did an attendant, waiting to welcome me on board, look at me like I was a coconut, probably thinking, “Why is your phone in your mouth? Why have you just stopped and let go of your carry-on? And why are touching the plane, you oddball freak?”

The second? If anyone said anything that could potentially happen that would result in a negative unforeseen incident, or if a thought popped into my head that was negative or that could potentially happen to leading to an unforeseen incident, or a trip to the emergency room, ranging from hearing or thinking, “I’ve never broken a bone.” to, “I feel a sore throat coming on,” to “The weather forecast looks shitty all through your vacation,” to, “Will my book sell well?” I would have to knock on wood immediately exactly eleven times.

(*Excuse me for a second! Obviously writing this has made me think about these things, so I have to go knock on wood 11 times…*)

Okay, I’m back! Phew!

I have no clue why I have to knock eleven times. I’ve been doing this for so many years that I don’t even know when it first started. These superstitions never got in the way of me living a productive happy life, nor did I ever even really think about them. I’ve never even admitted to anyone — not my family, children, boyfriend, or even therapists — because it didn’t really get in the way of, well, anything at all! My knocking, pre-pandemic, to number 11, would only happen maybe twice a week?

But now? I’ve never been so superstitious in my entire life.

I recently asked a psychiatrist whom I saw for sleep issues — who prescribed sleeping pills —- if it was possible to get OCD at my age. Her answer was “highly unlikely.”

Still, knocking on wood to the number eleven has now blossomed, shall we say, into me thinking and acting on the number eleven at least twice, every day, not twice a week. Two quick examples?

First, if I have to reheat something in the microwave, I will always include the number 11 or a multiple of 11. Damn if that piece of pizza only needs 60 seconds to re-heat. I rather overheat it for one minute and eleven seconds. (1.11) Also, when I shower, that bar of soap is rubbed onto my underarms, up and down, 22 times (11 + 11 = 22.) (Again, shh, nobody knows this –well except you, now, reading this. SHH!)

I’m not alone as my superstitions skyrocket. In this article, “How the Pandemic Turned Me Into A Superstitious Person,” we can see the author unravel. She writes, “Something inside me had snapped. What had started as a cursory interest in astrology had snowballed into something toxic and unmanageable.”

Then, two weeks ago, Jenna, my virtual astrologer who lives in the United Kingdom, (who Margaret Atwood introduced me too many moons ago), sent me an email with the subject line, “Rebecca, let me reveal everything to you…” Inside was an offer for me to virtually access Tarot cards.

Jenna has “felt” that I have that I’ve been “questioning a lot of things” and “have been seeking a lot of answers.” She strongly advised me this is my “Chance to seize the opportunities in front of me” and “get the answers you really want and need,” further encouraging me with, “Let’s not wait another second Rebecca, this is your time to shine…” Plus, as she wrote, these tarot cards will “reveal many things to me, open my mindset, and be open to the surprises and understand the importance of these cards.”

Yes, of course I’m not an idiot. And yes, I recognize that pretty much anyone who has been living these past fourteen months have no doubt “questioned a lot of things in life” and “have been looking for answers.”

(And, yes, I recognize that knocking 11 times, or thinking about the number 11, and seeing the number 11 so much more often, all comes down to the fact that the world is now out of control, and I’m doing this knocking-thing because it gives me some sort of control, even though I know it’s superstitious and silly. But, then, I think I have nothing to lose by counting to eleven, so who cares? I’m not injuring anyone. No one notices. And while this does sound like I’m going down a rabbit hole, it still isn’t all consuming or affecting my life at all.)

Emily Balcetis, an associate professor of psychology at New York University, says that part of lockdown-induced anxiety can be a need for control. “Even the most spontaneous of us still have a desire to be able to predict what their circumstances will present for them. When we feel like we don’t have enough control, we construct ways to increase the belief we have control, even if it does not shift our actual ability to affect outcomes. This helps to manage the anxiety that comes with feeling that things are out of order, chaotic or uncertain.” One coping strategy is “through a heightened dependence on rituals and superstitious thought – or magical thinking, as it’s known in psychology circles.”

In any case, for the last 7 or 8 years, I get weekly emails from Jenna, my astrologer. Pre-pandemic, out of the 52 emails she shoots me each year? I would give in about four times, typing in my credit card number, my birthdate, what city, and country I was born, and then waiting about a week to see her in-depth reading in my inbox.

This time when she popped in my inbox, there wasn’t even a pause! I couldn’t turn down Jenna! I felt I truly would be missing out on something! I scrambled to type in my new credit card, and immediately virtually picked out my tarot cards, by tapping on my screen. I received an email from Jenna, this morning, saying she’s received my payment, and has started working on my reading. I should hear from her in 5 or 6 days. (Which is longer than usual, so is she now busier than ever?)

Then, last week, after months and months of my 17-year-old daughter Rowan debating which college she should go to—literally 24 hours before she needed to make a decision—she asked me straight up, “Which one out of the two do you think I should choose?” It was her first time asking me this.

I knew she couldn’t go wrong with either choice. But I asked her, “Are you sure you want to know what I think?”

I didn’t ask because I worried it would skew her decision. As I told her, and after she swore that, yes, she really wanted to know my thoughts, I said, “I’m not exactly sure you should be asking me, because, you know, I believe in signs from the universe, and my gut, and the vibe I feel, so I’m not exactly coming from a ‘rational’ place.” I was being completely honest.

My daughter didn’t care and truly wanted to know about the signs I’ve been seeing, my gut feelings and the vibes I get, nowadays, (more than ever).

Rowan takes after her lawyer father’s “stick-to-the-facts-think-rationally” brain. She’s incredibly rational. But she does also take after me. Whenever we’re on vacation, we see fortune tellers. I sent her off to overnight camp with a box of tarot cards and a Ouija board, much to the dismay of her camp councillors. (Apparently, they draw a line at Ouija boards?) I hosted a sleepover party for my daughter and her friends and hired a fortune teller to give readings to all the girls! I take Rowan to stores that sell crystals, each for different purposes, which she loves and even keeps on her bedside table.

Do they work? Who knows? Do they not work? Who knows?

I told my daughter, “Well, you just happened to be wearing the blue Tufts sweatshirt when you opened three acceptances that night, including Tufts but also? You happened to be wearing blue nail polish!” I also told her, from my own research and what the students had to say, that this one school would embrace both her brain and her quirkiness. I just felt the vibe fit her personality to a tee! Is one of the reasons my daughter chose to go to that school, because I told her she happened have on blue nail polish, the school colour, and that I “felt” a good “vibe?”

And, then, I remembered! I had recently seen a storefront with a flashing red sign that read, “Fortune Teller!” I took a photograph of the phone number, just to have on hand. I asked my daughter, “Do you want to talk to a fortune teller?” Her immediate response was, “YES!”

I scrambled to find the fortune teller’s phone number. Within an hour, I spoke with this fortune teller, texted her a photograph of my daughter, so she could “read” her “energy” from the picture. (After her reading, I got one too! Again, I felt like I needed one!) I wired over $80. I did not ask what this fortune teller told my daughter. Immediately after, though, my daughter spoke one final time, for less than two minutes, to another “rational” brain. And BOOM! She made her decision!

Was it based on rational thinking and all the research she had done on that school or was it because her blue nail polish was a sign from the Universe? In any case, she’s ecstatic, and relieved, with her choice! Now, along with seeing the number 11 everywhere, and counting to 11, I’m also seeing blue everywhere. I do think it’s a weird sign that a f*cking blue jay landed on my backyard fence the following morning after she made her decision, while I was working outside.

And guess what my mother’s getting for a Mother’s Day gift? A book newsletter popped into my inbox and came with the subject line, “Your (Mom’s) May Book Horoscope.” I read “Let the stars (and this list) guide you toward toward their perfect pick.” Well, now my mom’s getting a book for Mother’s Day based on her astrological sign, because this is as good a way as any to buy a gift these days.

And this is why I have stopped ordering Chinese Food. I don’t want the f*cking fortune cookie, because more likely than not, I’ll believe it, and no, I do not have the willpower to NOT open a fortune cookie.

Have you become more superstitious over these last few months?