As long as people have been trying to come to terms with and understand the mysteries surrounding death, there has been folklore about death.
Folklore, commonly referred to as folk wisdom or folk ways, was used to help explain significant life passages such as death. It offered beliefs about life after death and the nature of the human soul. Such information, still passed from one generation to the next, still includes tips on how to avoid it or at least postpone its arrival. If that can’t be managed, then what to do when faced with its inevitability.
Here are some superstitions and omens from across the globe that could signal death may be on its way.
- If you see your shadow without a head on New Year’s Eve, it is an omen that you will die within the year.
- If the seat someone was sitting in briefly appears to be empty, it means that person will soon die.
- Hearing the shriek of an old hag, also called the “hag of the mist” in days gone by, is a bad sign, and means those who see or hear her will die.
- In England and Germany, seeing a “woman in white” means that someone you know will soon die.
- In Scotland, seeing a dark gray man, or shadow figure, is a sign of coming death.
- To see a flame in the floor in front of you is a sign that a sick person in your household may soon die.
- To hear a watch-ticking sound in the wall or in a piece of furniture is a sign someone in the family will die.
- In Scotland, it is a sign you will die if you see a shadowy image of yourself.
- In England, to see your double – also known as doppelganger – is also a sign that you will die.
- One European tradition says that to see the spirit of a still-living person is an omen of that person’s death, but only if the face of the spirit cannot be seen plainly.
- In New Zealand, it was considered a very bad sign to see the figure of a still-living friend. If the person’s face wasn’t visible, it meant he would die soon.
- In some cultures, seeing the spirit of a still-living person going away from you is an omen of that person’s death.