I'm the quintessential West Virginian: my ancestry is a healthy mix of Scot-Irish, Cherokee, and some Welsh and German thrown in for good measure. Along with other aspects of these cultures, such as language, food, etc., that were melded together to create my heritage, the ghost stories and superstitions played a major part in shaping the belief system and way of life for those in the Hinton mountains. While there are literally thousands of superstitions, ranging from death omens to foretelling marital bliss, I've picked out a few that relate specifically to my favorite subject...ghosts! And as for the ghost stories that were passed down to me, well, those will be discussed in later posts!
*A person born with a caul over his face will have the gift of second sight, and be able to see and converse with spirits and ghosts. My maternal grandfather was born with such a caul.
*The seventh son of a seventh son will also have increased psychic abilities and be able to converse with spirits.
*A person who never meets their twin will have psychic abilities. My father, while not claiming to be psychic in any sense, had a twin sister who died as a baby.
*When a candle starts to flicker and there is no breeze or draft present, a spirit is near. If the flame should turn blue or abruptly flare up, the spirit is strong...and very near. If a candle lit during a religious ceremony unexpectedly blows out, an evil spirit is near.
*Never rock an empty rocking chair; you're inviting ghosts in.
*If you WOULD happen to encounter a ghost or spirit, ask the spirit "In the name of the Lord, what is it that you want?" They have to tell you why they are there.
*Since animals can see ghosts and spirits, removing the inner eyelid from a dog and wearing it like a contact lens will give the wearer this ability as well. For a more humane (and less disgusting) method, simply crouch down behind a dog, and look between its ears to see what it sees.
*If you hear your name being called and no living person is around, DO NOT answer! It's a spirit with bad intentions.
*However, if you hear your name being called while you're asleep, it means you slipped too far into unconsciousness and too close to death. The angels were calling you back.
*When someone dies, all mirrors and reflective surfaces must be covered with black cloth so that the person's spirit does not become trapped in those items.
*The funeral procession must take a different route home from the one they took to the cemetery so that the ghost of the deceased cannot follow them.
This is just a VERY small sampling of some of my favorite ghostly superstitions. Please feel free to add your own in the comment section.