July 13, 2009

White Horse Magic!

Feeling lucky?

My last post I noted Ethan Allen wanted to reincarnate as a white stallion (and may have done so). It's no accident he selected a white horse for his next body, because they loom large in the folklore of New England.

Here are some examples of lore about white horses:
  • A person should count the horses that walk by them, but only those that are white. After three white horses have gone by, the wisher should shake hands with the first person they see, and make a wish. The wish will come true.
  • To bring yourself riches, spit over your pinky when you see a white horse.
  • It is said that dreaming about a white horse is a sign of trouble. This is an example of the well-known oneiric principle that dreaming of something positive (for example a marriage, a birth, or a lucky white horse) often foretells its opposite (spinsterhood, death, or misfortune). However...
  • Some 19th century Yankees claimed instead that dreaming about a white horse foretold riches for the dreamer.
Clearly, these all made a lot more sense when New England was rural, agricultural, and horses were the transportation of choice. I think it would take me a lifetime to see three white horses go by in my neighborhood today.

(All horsey magic courtesy of Clifton Johnson.)

1 comment:

Rich Clabaugh said...

Great post Peter! Our New England ancestors sure found a way to make a superstition out of pretty much anything.