We’ve all got that one relative, the one who insists on giving you tarot readings, or won’t let you say the word “Macbeth” in their presence, or keeps referring to the house ghost every time the pipes get a bit creaky.
Whether it’s avoiding breaking mirrors because it’s bad luck, keeping dismembered rabbit body parts about your person because it’s good luck, or eating far more Chinese food than is really healthy just so you can live your life according to the instructions of the fortune cookies, everyone has a little bit of superstition in them, a few rules that they will refuse to break to protect their good fortunes.
But you know, it’s fine for people to have their own beliefs, and in their jobs they’re in relatively unimportant positions where they can’t do any damage, in their retirement home or running a shop or teaching in primary school.
Surely nobody with beliefs like that would ever get into a position of real power, right?
Hong Kong’s Government Spends Millions on Feng Shui
Feng shui is the Chinese practice of orienting your rooms in such a way as to allow energy to flow through them in the best possible way. It’s a subjective but highly thought of art, and it’s widely agreed that nothing can screw up your feng shui like somebody building a railway line right past your house.
As with any other construction project damaging someone’s home, the government will often pay out compensation to people whose feng shui has been damaged by a nearby construction project, normally to the cost of a “tun fu” cleansing rituation, a ceremony conducted at the site of the damaged feng shui to, well, cleanse it.
This was until 2010, when the South China Morning Post badgered Hong Kong city officials into admitting that at least £6 million had been spent on compensating people whose feng shui was damaged by nearby projects.
Of course, after admitting this the Chinese government admitted that this was actually all just a scam by landlords and feng shui specialists to rip money off the government.
No, I’m kidding. They said there would be improvements in “operational transparency” on the feng shui payments and stricter guidelines on the practice.
Easington Council Hires Ghostbusters
There was something strange in the neighbourhood of the Fallon family in County Durham. Sabrina Fallon called the police to her home one night after a serious of loud bangs terrified her two children.
“It all started before Christmas. We were away and my sister’s husband had the keys,” Sabrina told reporters. “He let himself in one night and heard whispering and banging from upstairs. He shouted out: ‘You better get out or I’m calling the police. He said my dressing gown then came floating down the stairs and landed at his feet. He ran out and rang me crying like a girl saying something awful had happened – I thought he was drunk, but when we came back we heard the bangs and whispering.”
The family wanted to be rehoused, but the council offered to pay half of the fee for a medium to exorcise the house, something they described as a “cost effective solution”
Andrew Burnip, a housing manager from the council said: “This family was absolutely distraught and believed what was happening – that is not to say that the council believed. What we saw was a relatively small amount to pay for an outcome which in effect saved the taxpayer many hundreds, if not thousands of pounds.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean Mr Burnip dared stay a night in the house…
Bombay High Court Rules Astrology is Science
When Janhit Manch, and India-based NGO, sought action against astrologers, tantriks, practitioners of Vastu shastra and other people who sell things that are technically known as “made up” it didn’t expect much of a battle. It was wrong.
The court ruled that “So far as prayer related to astrology is concerned, the Supreme Court has already considered the issue and ruled that astrology is science. The court had in 2004 also directed the universities to consider if astrology science can be added to the syllabus. The decision of the apex court is binding on this court.” So as far as the Indian government is concerned, Brian Cox and Mystic Meg are in the same game.
This is a rule that’s caused a great deal of frustration to India’s real scientists, who are working on things like the country’s own working space programme.
Iceland Won’t Let You Build on Land Owned by Elves
In Iceland elves are big deal. Not the cute, point eared ones that help Santa, or the sexy, strangely androgynous ones in Lord of the Rings, but the badass rock-dwelling ones of ancient folk lore. The ones you don’t want to mess with.
It’s not unheard of for a road to be diverted if it’s likely to go through a rock that’s considered a potential elf home. In the town of Kopavogur the aptly named “Elfhill Road” was narrowed from two lanes to one in the seventies, because equipment broken down every time they tried to move a large rock believed to be an elf home. The rock is still there today.
Brenda is the blogger behind Baby Sashanmom.com and lives in a haunted house with perfect feng shui, even though the elves do keep moving things around…