Ozark folk beliefs about doorways and houses


The magic of doorways lingered on in my culture.  The old folks used to say that you should always leave a neighbor’s house through the same door you came in, to avoid a serious quarrel. 
And never sweep out the front door after dark, for spirits of place linger there.  Could this be a remembrance of a time when food offerings were left to the Sidhe at the back step?
It’s bad luck to step over a broom that’s been knocked over, and to bring an old broom into a new house because you‘re symbolically bringing the dirt (troubles) of the old house into the new.  It’s also bad luck to carry a hoe inside a house, probably for a similar reason.
If you find your initials in spider webs near the door of your new home, you will have good luck for as long as you live there.  My grandfather believed that spiders had supernatural regenerative powers.  He believed that they would come back to life if you killed them.  Another old belief is that if you kill a spider in the morning, you will kill the spirit of one who had entered its body while it was sleeping.  This seems to be a survival of a belief in rebirth/transmigration of the soul similar to one held by the ancient Celts, or it could be a remnant of some Native American belief (Grandmother Spider Woman?).
Also, a house made entirely of new lumber is bad luck to live in.  I think this belief is telling us to not throw out all of the old in favor of the new, but to keep the old ways alive.
It’s bad luck to return home for something forgotten when starting on a trip.  I think this belief could have come from someone getting in an accident after turning back, or some similar misfortune occurring after turning back.  But also, it reminds me of the Celtic belief in always traveling sunwise/clockwise.


3 responses »

  1. Have you ever heard that if you must bring an old broom into a new dwelling to first cleanse it (especially the straw ends) with lavender and pass it through a window instead of the door?

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