Superstitions are heavily engrained in our culture. Before you turned five, you probably knew to avoid stepping on sidewalk cracks, lest you break your mother’s back, and to stay away from broken mirrors, or you’d be doomed with seven years of bad luck.
But as you grew up, you probably learned that superstitions weren’t real—and while it might still give you pause to open an umbrella indoors or walk under a ladder, you don’t feel like your luck is in danger. Or is it? Ahead, we polled astrologers to find out the superstitions that just might have merit to them. Read their arguments, and you’ll likely think twice before you throw centuries of sage advice out the window.
1. The evil eye
The “evil eye” is the concept that envious glances from others can bring misfortune. It’s recognized around the world, from Latin America to West Africa to the Mediterranean. That might be because there’s some truth to it.
“The impact of negative energy and focused intent is a topic often discussed in the field of psychology, underlining the idea that our thoughts can indeed influence our surroundings to some extent,” says Raquel Rodriguez, astrologer and founder of Your Zodiac.
Take a real-world example: Imagine you get a promotion at the office instead of your best friend, who is also your coworker. Your coworker might cast you an evil eye, even unintentionally, and start treating you differently, maybe even sabotaging your reputation at the firm.
“There’s a sociological angle to it,” says Rodriguez. “This belief encourages people to be humble and maintain social harmony.” Wear an evil eye amulet to ward off the negativity.
2. Mercury retrograde
Mercury retrograde happens between three and four times a year and lasts about three weeks at a time. “During these periods, the planet Mercury appears to move backward in the sky, and many believe it brings communication and technological mishaps,” says Liz Roby, professional astrologer at Astrologify.
“While science may not entirely endorse this, Mercury retrograde does coincide with times of heightened miscommunication and unexpected glitches,” she notes. Use it as a cosmic reminder to slow down and be mindful in your interactions.
3. Full moon craziness
Another celestial superstition is that the full moon leads to strange behavior and events.
“I know plenty of skeptics will scoff at this, but from a scientific viewpoint, it makes sense: The gravitational pull of the moon does impact the tides and water on Earth,” says Sophia Rose, owner of Wisdom of The Spirit. “Our bodies are mostly made up of water, so it stands to reason the full moon could have subtle effects on humans, too.”
Over the years, she’s noticed that full moons coincide with clients reporting vivid dreams, trouble sleeping, and chaotic days. A 2011 study published in the World Journal of Surgery even found that more than 40 percent of medical staff believe lunar phases impact human behavior.
4. Walking under a ladder
Walking underneath a ladder is considered bad luck in many cultures—and, hey, it’s probably something you should actually avoid.
“Ladders can be unstable, and you might not even notice if someone is on top of it,” says Tina Caro, founder and astrologer at Magickal Spot. “This lack of awareness can potentially lead to accidents, such as objects falling or the ladder itself tipping over.”
Instead of just avoiding walking directly under ladders, make a wide circle around them whenever you encounter one in your path.
5. Spilling oil on the floor
In Hindu astrology, spilling oil on the floor accidentally is considered inauspicious, and could lead to financial damage or unexpected expenses. Again, this is one you’ll want to avoid for practical reasons.
“The slippery surface created by spilled oil poses a significant risk of slipping and injuring oneself,” says Roby. “Cleaning up such a mess is not a straightforward task either: It requires a lot of effort and multiple attempts to completely remove the oil residue and ensure the floor is safe to walk on again.”
Throw some salt or baking soda onto the spill to make cleanup easier. It might not reverse the superstition, but it should ensure no one slips and falls.