Sunday, May 15, 2011

Random Magic Pirates! -- re-creation of first post on seafaring superstitions

Well, since Blogger has not seen fit to restore my two posts, I am attempting to recreate them .....  please bear with me if they are not as nice as the originals.  However, I wanted to give anyone who commented the first time another chance.  :)

 Feature: Discussion: Seafaring culture and beliefs
Pirates need a handful of things to be successful:  a well-built ship, steady waters to sail in, and a bit of good mojo.  What do I mean by mojo?  Well, it could be luck, or a bit of superstition -- just something to make sure all's going to proceed in the right direction.  It can be something you can see, like a gold earring, or something you hide in your pocket, like a charm (or even something you whisper, like a prayer of sorts).  Historically, pirates have had their own sorts of lucky charms, so I thought it might be interesting to explore some of those.  Please bear in mind - I did find a lot of information, but it's tricky to verify all of this (considering the pirates in our time now are quite different than those of yore....)

Gold earrings were somewhat common among pirates, but whether they were worn with the belief that they would improve one's eyesight, or pay for one's burial (paying Davy Jones, to be exact) is somewhat debatable.   Earrings, themselves, could be seen as a fashion statement --- but actually, there was a sailor's superstition that wearing a silver ring in the left ear kept the devil from sitting on your shoulder.

Salt was something both sailors and pirates would encounter, and both had the superstition of throwing salt over a shoulder as a way of keeping the devil at bay

I did find this interesting tidbit:  That it was believed that one should not cut nails or hair while at sea.  Apparently, cuttings of hair and nails were offerings made to Proserpina, and it would make Neptune angry to have offerings to another god made in his domain (bringing bad luck upon the ship).   Again, I'm not sure how true this one is, but it would explain the somewhat unkempt appearance of some pirates (and also the trend of dreadlocks among some of them).

No whistling allowed, please.  One of the superstitions I kept coming across was that whistling was forbidden anywhere onboard.  Apparently, it was feared that it would raise a gail (thus the expression "whistling up a storm.")

And watch out for witches.  Apparently, some witches were wind-sellers, selling fair winds to sailors and pirates, promising the ability to call up winds at will.   This could be a good thing, if you bargained with the right witch --- but beware a wind-caller that doesn't like you (does the term "a tempest in a teacup" sound enjoyable?)

And lastly, be gladdened at the sight of the bared breast.  Why yes, you did read that correctly.  Many ships often had a figurehead adorning the bow (the front end, for all you landlubbers).  It was believed that as long as the figurehead remained attached, the ship couldn't sink.  And ... if, during a fierce storm, a woman bared her breasts, the storm would let up (or would be shamed into submission, depending on your source).  So, this is why many figureheads are bare-breasted.  And you thought it was just those dirty-minded pirates putting up a naked lady for giggles......

And lest we leave out a reference to Random Magic, don't forget that there's a magical feather and a rubber duck --- all charms with a significant amount of mojo.

Arrrgh, good work, matey - ye’ve found a secret stash of plunder.

You can play to win this Little Pirate Prize, and plenty of other
wonderful things scattered throughout Random Magic Tour:
Pirates! (May 10-30)

The Nautical Chart

Description: A novel about a modern-day treasure hunt and a ruthless
adventuress on a quest to find a legendary ship sunk by pirates. Trade
paperback, 466 pages.

Summary: A treasure hunt for a ship sunk by pirates off the coast of
Spain is the plot on which Arturo Pérez-Reverte new novel turns, but a
love story is the real heart of this adventure.

A suspended sailor happens on a maritime auction in Barcelona, where
he meets the beautiful Tánger Soto, whose winning bid buys her a
17th-century atlas that may reveal the final resting place of the
Dei Gloria.

Coy, the sailor, is totally smitten, and signs on to help Tánger track
the sunken ship to its grave in waters he's sailed since childhood.
Enlisting the aid of a diver friend, Coy and Tánger stay a few steps
ahead of the crooked salvagers who've been trying to get the atlas,
outmaneuvering efforts to keep them from the treasure and attempts on
their lives.

Perez-Reverte (The Fencing Master, The Club Dumas) is
better at plumbing the mysteries of the human heart than those of the
sea, but The Nautical Chart manages to combine history,
suspense, and obsessive love in a slow-paced but ultimately engrossing
read. (Summary via Amazon)

Ye can carry off this  Little Pirate Prize! Here’s how to win:

* Win this cute pirate prize by:
1. Adding your email address in comments section
2a. In comments, add your Twitter link to this post
2b. In comments, add link to your quick blog mention about this post, (including link to full tour schedule in mention: 

2c. In comments, add your blog post link about this post, the blog post can be brief or detailed, it’s up to you
2d. In comments, add your link to different tour post
that you’ve also enjoyed, and why it was fun to read
2e. (Double, triple or quadruple your chances!) In comments, add your email address plus each of the above in up to four separate entries, for max of four chances to win

* (Helpful info) Yes,you can enter up to four times, giving you not just one but four chances to win this prize!   NOTE: Please include each entry (your email address plus Twitter/blog/tour post link) separately, since each entry will be assigned a separate number for the drawing.

So, one entry might look like this:
Entry #1: Email address + Twitter link

A second entry might look like this:
Entry #2: Email address + blog mention link

And so on.

* (Helpful info) If you need some help to see what the separate
entries look like, please just click here: See Sample Entries
Have fun and good luck!


buddyt said...

Please include me in the giveaway.


Carol T

buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

Anonymous said...

Gah I didn't know you had redone these! I must enter for that giveaway again XD
Twitter link:!/SamanthaYoung6/status/74279429848834048

Anonymous said...
Blog post:!/

Unknown said...

Wow, thanks for sharing such interesting pirate tidbits! I definitely did not realize gold earrings and bare breasts had any significance! Although I thought women were generally not welcomed on board?

And the "no whistling" rule seems crazy! I wonder how pirates made do with that!

Unknown said...

Great post!!! I'm really enjoying going through all the posts on this tour! (don't include me for prize). ARRRRHHGGGG!! *Piraty voice* :)

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