Body Modification and Superstition: Friday the Thirteenth

by Cat
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modification superstitions

Friday the 13th has a stigma and flurry of superstitions behind it that go beyond the popular horror movie series.  Superstition is a pseudoscience, and is justified based on the power you give it by believing it’s true. Black cats crossing your path, walking under ladders, and cracking mirrors are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fears and phobias. Superstition is a way for people to bond over a common fear or whimsical folklore. The fear of Friday the 13th is officially called friggatriskaidekaphobia. Some people will completely shut in and change their schedules to avoid the day. Why so scary? Friday the 13th is seen as an unlucky day because the number 12 is a divine number and the number 13 is seen as deviant.

Others look past the stigma and see 13 as lucky. For instance, many people in the piercing and tattoo community will celebrate Friday the 13th by getting new work done that day. A lot of shops even have piercing and tattoo specials that include “Lucky 13” and black cat themed tattoos during this day. Belly rings featuring black cats are also very popular. There are many superstitions and myths surrounding body modification.

urban legends surrounding the tongue piercing

Modern myths and superstitions regarding piercings and tattoos are common. These include instant death from a tongue piercing and exploding or having piercings pulled out from getting an MRI if you have mods.  Like most superstitions, there is some truth behind it, but also fallacy. Nobody has ever died due to a tongue piercing alone. As far as MRIs go, most body jewelry can interfere with imaging or be affected by the magnetism, so jewelry may have to be removed and retainers worn. It was once thought that the iron content in some tattoo ink could cause explosions in an MRI machine, which is also untrue. It was even debunked on the popular “Myth Busters” television show.

Another huge superstition is that getting a lover’s name tattooed on you will jinx the relationship. Although there’s no actual proof whether this superstition is true or not, it does make sense not to put someone’s name on your body permanently. There are so many people out there who need to get cover ups or laser removal, or (my all time favorite) add the word “sucks” beneath the offending name. This may be the tattoo that ends up in your regrets file.

regretable tattoo art and superstitions

Many cultures also believe that ear piercing is protective and keeps evil spirits from entering the body through the ears. Gold jewelry has been worn to cure headaches or prevent drowning. Sailors have even had a superstitious belief that piercing one ear improves failing vision, which is crucial to life at sea. The gold earring also ensured that there would be payment for proper burial if killed.  Some tattoos were also seen as lucky; nautical stars would represent home and bird tattoos were believed to help keep your head above water.

The oldest Egyptian mummies have piercings. Pharaohs were the only ones who were allowed to have belly button piercings, which was a sign of divinity and punishable by death for someone of lower standing. It was also common for Pharaohs and royalty to have both ears pierced as a symbol of power and prosperity. In India nose piercings are very common on women. It is said that when this piercing is performed correctly on the left side, it will result in an easier childbirth. It can also signify marriage and social status. The nose ring is said to protect against the “evil eye,” and in China there is a belief that if one pierces their first daughter their next child will be a boy.

Many cultures believe that piercings and tattoos will bring you closer to god, or are a sign of wealth and power, a right of passage, or an expression of individuality and freedom to do what you want with your own body. Every culture has its own folklore and superstitions regarding body modification, but these should be taken with a grain of salt; it’s up to you to decide what is true, or an irrational fear.  Are you getting any piercings or tattoos to celebrate this Friday the 13th?

by Cat

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