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SUPERSTITION
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[ Also see Alchemy Apparitions Belief Credulity Curses Delusion Fairies Fear Gods Ignorance Mermaids Miracles Religion Skepticism Terror Theology Witches Wonder Worship ]

Superstition is the poetry of life. It is inherent in man's nature; and when we think it is wholly eradicated, it takes refuge in the strangest holes and corners, whence it peeps out all at once, as soon as it can do it with safety.
      - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Dish yer rabbit foot'll gin you good luck. De man w'at tote it mighty ap'fer ter come out right en' up wen deys any racket gwine on in de neighborhoods, let 'er be whar she will en w'en she may; mo' espeshually ef de man w'at got it know 'zactly w'at he got ter do.
      - Joel Chandler Harris,
        Brother Rabbit and his famous Foot

Danger is the very basis of superstition. It produces a searching after help supernaturally when human means are no longer supposed to be available.
      - Benjamin Robert Haydon

We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible. You cannot educate a man wholly out of the superstitious fears which were implanted in his imagination, no matter how utterly his reason may reject them.
      - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

That the corruption of the best thing produces the worst, is grown into a maxim, and is commonly proved, among other instances, by the pernicious effects of superstition and enthusiasm, the corruptions of true religion.
      - David Hume

Superstition is the only religion of which base souls are capable.
      - Joseph Joubert

There are proselytes from atheism, but done from superstition.
      - Junius (pseudonym, possibly of Sir Philip Francis)

Superstition changes a man to a beast, fanaticism makes him a wild beast, and despotism a beast of burden.
      - Jean Francois de la Harpe

Superstition always inspires littleness, religion grandeur of mind; the superstitious raises beings inferior to himself to deities.
      - Johann Kaspar Lavater (John Caspar Lavater)

A foolish superstition introduces the influences of the gods even in the smallest matters.
  [Lat., Minimis etiam rebus prava religio inserit deos.]
      - Titus Livy, Annales (XXVII, 23)

Superstition, idolatry, and hypocrisy have ample wages, but truth goes begging.
      - Martin Luther

There is but one thing that can free a man from superstition, and that is belief. All history proves it. The most sceptical have ever been the most credulous.
      - George MacDonald

The greatest burden in the world is superstition, not only of ceremonies in the church, but of imaginary and scarecrow sins at home.
      - John Milton

Piety is different from superstition. To carry piety to the extent of superstition is to destroy it. The heretics reproach us with this superstitious submission. It is doing what they reproach us with.
      - Blaise Pascal

Why is it that we entertain the belief that for every purpose odd numbers are the most effectual?
      - Pliny the Elder (Caius Plinius Secundus),
        Natural History (bk. XXVIII, ch. V)

Force first made conquest, and that conquest law,
  Till Superstition taught the tyrant awe,
    Then shar'd the tyranny, then lent it aid,
      And gods of conqu'rors, slaves of subjects made:
        She, 'midst the lightning's blaze and thunder's sound,
          When rock'd the mountains, and when groan'd the ground,
            She taught the weak to bend, the proud to pray
              To Power unseen, and mightier far than they:
                She, from the rending earth and bursting skies,
                  Saw gods descend, and fiends infernal rise;
                    Here fixed the dreadful, there the blest abodes;
                      Fear made her devils, and weak hope her gods.
      - Alexander Pope

Superstitious notions propagated in infancy are hardly ever totally eradicate, not even in minds grown strong enough to despise the like credulous folly in others.
      - Samuel Richardson

I think we cannot too strongly attack superstition, which is the disturber of society; nor too highly respect genuine religion, which is the support of it.
      - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Midnight hags,
  By force of potent spells, of bloody characters,
    And conjurations horrible to hear,
      Call fiends and spectres from the yawning deep,
        And set the ministers of hell at work.
      - Nicholas Rowe, Jane Shore
         (act IV, sc. I, l. 240)

Superstition, in all times and among all nations, is the fear of a spirit whose passions are those of a man, whose acts are the acts of a man; who is present in some places, not in others; who makes no places holy and not others; who is kind to one person, unkind to another; who is pleased or angry according to the degree of attention you pay him, or praise you refuse to him; who is hostile generally to human pleasure, but may be bribed by sacrifice of a part of that pleasure into permitting the rest. This, whatever form of faith it colors, is the essence of superstition.
      - John Ruskin

They that are against superstition oftentimes run into it of the wrong side. If I wear all colors but black, then I am superstitious in not wearing black.
      - John Selden

Religion worships God, while superstition profanes that worship.
      - Seneca (Lucius Annaeus Seneca)

Look how the world's poor people are amazed at apparitions, signs and prodigies!
      - William Shakespeare

I pull in resolution, and begin
  To doubt th' equivocation of the fiend,
    That lies like truth.
      - William Shakespeare, Macbeth
         (Macbeth at V, v)

Some devils ask but the parings of one's nail,
  A rush, a hair, a drop of blood, a pin,
    A nut, a cherry stone;
      But she, more covetous, would have a chain.
        Master, be wise; and if you give it her,
          The devil will shake her chain and fright us with it.
      - William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors
         (Dromio of Syracuse at IV, iii)


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