Schuppel’s Scoop: knock on wood


Claire Schuppel/Adobe Stock

Claire Schuppel writes about her experiences with superstitions and negative energy.

Claire Schuppel, Arts & Life Editor

I don’t consider myself to be a very superstitious person (or as Michael Scott would say, “I’m a little stitious”), but there are certain actions that are so deeply ingrained in my routines that I can’t help but acknowledge them. Along with my superstitions, I am also a strong believer in the power of energy in the universe, so I take a lot of spiritual precautions to avoid “bad juju.”

The superstition that I cannot get past is knocking on wood. I don’t know why I have the inclination to knock on wood whenever there’s the possibility of jinxing myself, but I can’t help but do it. For example, if someone says, “Professor Smith is grading our tests, knock on wood,” I can’t risk not getting that good grade because I didn’t knock on a piece of wood.

The origins of my go-to superstitious action are seemingly all over the place with the History channel reporting on multiple theories. Some people would knock on tree trunks for spirits to offer protection, some would knock to thank the spirits, and others would do it to protect themselves from evil energy. 

I’m not sure why I feel protected every time I knock on wood, but it provides me with comfort. Any deliberate actions I take to rid negative energy in my life always bring me solace as if they speak louder than words in my mind.

Along those same lines, I (like most of the population) avoid walking under ladders – though this is not a problem I run into frequently. Again, there are a few reasons why people avoid this. The aptly named Ladders UK Direct wrote on this, saying that the origins can be traced back to ancient Egypt. “Ladders were left in the tombs of the deceased so that they could ascend up to the heavens when they were ready. The Egyptians believed that the space between the ladder and the wall was home to good and evil spirits.” So, walking in that space could disturb said spirits. 

They also reported that Christianity frowns upon walking under ladders, as the triangle is a famous symbol for the Holy Trinity. It was a sinful act to go through that threshold. When criminals were sentenced to hanging in the 17th century, they had to walk under ladders to get to the gallows. This could have been a way of reminding them of the sins they committed that brought them to that situation. 

As previously mentioned, my superstitions go beyond that of not shattering mirrors or black cats walking in my path, but they also enter the spiritual realm. I take ridding myself of bad energy very seriously which I think has helped me feel safer.

Sitting in the most haunted room in the reformatory, casually checking out the photos I took. (Claire Schuppel)

One of my favorite examples I have of this is when my mom, my uncle and I visited the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, the very haunted filming location for “The Shawshank Redemption” (a favorite of mine). My mom gave us little bags of salt to put in our pockets, a way of protecting ourselves from negative energy. Thanks to this, I felt more than comfortable sitting in the most active room for ghosts to hang in (pictured on the right)!

Another practice my mom introduced into my life was the magical powers of amethyst. I had a lot of nightmares as a kid (my scariest was the “Zoboomafoo” lemur kidnapping me), so my mom taught me to press my hand into the stone every night when I was around six years old. Amethyst is a great crystal for helping insomnia and nightmare prevention and I have sworn by it since, as I rarely have nightmares. I’ve fallen asleep with it in my hand many times as it comes as a great comfort to me. I do believe that crystals have a lot of protecting powers, but amethyst is still the only stone I have been loyal to; much more research is needed for me to use more in my day-to-day life.

I’m sure the list of “precautions” I take is much longer, as they are so heavily integrated in my life, but that is what makes humans so unique: we create these little rituals that help us feel comfortable. As previously mentioned, it’s my way of finding comfort in the universe when I am alone or need something tangible to hold onto – a safety blanket, per se.

Of course, as with everything, there is a limit to where this can be unhealthy, doing more harm than good. If you feel as if your daily preventative measures have gotten to an extreme, please contact a mental health professional or doctor.