Shattered reflections

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(c) original artist.

I should be writing about how dragons are violently gendered (don’t ask) but instead I thought I’d follow through on the mirror idea from yesterday.

I’ve mentioned previously that as a child I had disturbing dreams featuring mirrors. In one of them, perhaps the most memorable, I was dragged through one into the darkness to be slowly eaten. After that I never really liked them much and spend as little time looking into them as possible. I suppose some part of us is nervous when looking into a mirror in case we spot someone over our shoulder who shouldn’t be there.

There have always been superstitions about mirrors and to some extent, about mirror images. Many cultures were suspicious about twins, sometimes killing one of them or simply keeping an eye on them in case one turned out to be evil. In fact, there have been many strange cases involving twins, such as the Swedish motorway incident. Perhaps if I get more time I may investigate the link between mirrors, twins and cultural unease. Let me know if that’s something you’d like to read about.

Mirrors are strongly linked with souls. Many cultures tie your reflection and your soul together – if you damage your reflected soul then your health would suffer. It is said by some that your reflection is your soul and that is why vampires don’t show up in mirrors. It is also said to be dangerous to look at your reflection in a tarnished or broken mirror.

1. Parallel worlds.

One of the first things I remember reading about mirrors was the idea of a parallel world being on the other side. This has been speculated about for a long time and there are numerous sites out there discussing this. Here are a few (some were linked yesterday):

Beyond Science

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There is a game that seems to think along these lines. You should sit before a mirror in a darkened (not fully dark) room at 8pm in winter. You should meet your reflected gaze and keep your attention there for around fifteen minutes. Never look for longer than an hour. You may feel uncomfortable and wish to look away, but resist this impulse. Eventually it is said that you will see yourself as you truly are. But there are also more disturbing consequences. This game seems to hint that there are multiple universes accessed through a mirror and different ones can be accessed depending on the time of day/year/season and the age of the object. In this case the dimension is not a particularly pleasant one and after playing this game you will always feel watched in a room with a mirror. Your reflection may become independent and over time, sentient.

2. Luck

Almost everyone will have heard the old wives tale about receiving 7 years bad luck for breaking a mirror. I remember as a child wondering why 7 years, why not grade it dependent on the size of mirror – it seemed unfair I’d get 7 years bad luck for breaking my compact. Also, why specifically mirrors, why not any reflective surface?

One rational explanation seems to be that in the past when mirrors were expensive, masters became tired of servants breaking them through carelessness. So they told the servants that part of their soul was trapped in the mirror and if they broke it then their soul was also damaged and would take a certain period to recover. The servants living in a more superstitious time immediately believed this and told others.

Another interesting theory is that the Romans (who are said to have invented mirrors) believed that life renewed itself every 7 years. A damaged mirror meant damaged health and this would not be repaired until the renewal.

Actors also believe it is bad luck to see your reflection over the shoulder of another person.

There are supposed to be ways to avert the bad luck should you break a mirror. The most common seems to be destroying the remaining shards, grinding them to dust. In early America slaves believed that if they submerged the broken pieces in a southern flowing river then their bad luck would be washed away over 7 hours. You can also bury the pieces under a tree during a full moon. It is also said that if a mirror falls and breaks by itself then it predicts the death of someone in the household within one year. Either that, or a ghost trapped within the mirror is attempting to escape. Either way, bad times.

3. Mirrors as soul stealers.

Many cultures believed that mirrors stole souls. At one time children below one year of age were not allowed to look into mirrors in case they lost their soul or would fail to thrive and die quickly.

In some places it is still common to cover the mirrors in a house if someone dies to prevent their soul becoming trapped in them. In Bulgaria this was done as it was believed the deceased would linger around the home and carry off any living person reflected in a mirror. In Crotia, mirrors were once buried with the dead as it was believed that if you didn’t trap them that way then they would wander the countryside and hunt the living – over time, becoming vampires. Another reason to cover the mirrors in the room of a dead person is that in another superstition should you see yourself reflected in that room then you will be the next to die. In a slight deviation from this urban legend, if you are reflected in a mirror belonging to someone who is dying, at the crucial moment Death will take your soul instead.

Interestingly mirrors are sometimes covered during sleep as it is thought the soul separates from the body and wanders at this time and can become stuck in mirrors. I thought this may be reference to astral projection.

It was said that if you look into a mirror by candlelight, or while sitting in a dark room then after a short time your own reflected surroundings will change and you will see a world full of demons and ghosts, or perhaps even images of your own death. Mirrors and candlelight are often linked to specific urban legends such as Blue Baby Blue or Bloody Mary.

Most importantly you should never place your bed in a position where it is reflected in a mirror (that’s me screwed). I assume this is linked back to the idea of our astral selves becoming trapped, however other sources say that evil spirits can come and pull you through the mirror when you are at your most vulnerable. It also puts you at risk of possession.

If you stare into a mirror between two white candles then you may see the soul of a loved one who has passed over. However, you may also see a perverse version of your own home, filled with the hungry dead.

4. Mirrors as portals

Instead of linking to numerous parallel dimensions, some believe that mirrors are a portal to a specific place, very close to our own reality, which is filled with spirits and demons. This is linked to the idea of turning days like Samhain, when the veils between these realms are at their thinnest and more powerful (evil) spirits can break through to terrorize the living.

There are meant to be many portals in our world, many of them in old wardrobes or open spaces. However, it is mirrors that are most commonly thought to be entrances and exits to this spiritual plain.

The older a mirror is, the more likely it is to be a portal. Mirrors with a solid backing placed in one position over a long period are thought to be doorways and it is said that the houses containing them will be haunted and dangerous for the living. To prevent a mirror from becoming a portal you should frequently move it around the room, or even to different parts of the house (good luck if it’s attached to a wardrobe). It is also said that backing a mirror with silver or iron prevents negative energy from building within it and it becoming a portal.

It is bad Feng Shui to have a mirror facing a doorway as it will absorb all good energy that enters your home. Feng Shui also agrees that you should never sleep facing a mirror. However, in other cultures a mirror facing a doorway is a good idea as any wicked spirit attempting to enter will be frightened away by its own reflection – thinking there is already another in occupation.

It is also said that if you wish to have a successful Ouija board session then you should have it in front of a mirror, or with one nearby. However, you must destroy the mirror afterwards and remove all pieces from your home or the doorway will remain open.

5. Fortune tellers.

Mirrors are often used for scrying as they are said to predict the future and they are certainly linked to the idea of portents in many cultures. It is said that if a woman sits in front of a mirror while eating an apple and brushing her hair then she will see an image of her future lover. If he/she should be over her left shoulder then they will find great happiness, if they are over her right then he/she will break her heart. However, if she instead sees herself holding dead flowers then she will die before marrying. Cheerful.

On a brighter note, it is said that should a couple first see each other in a mirror then their union will be long and happy.

6. Things in mirrors.

I wasn’t sure what to title this category. There have long been reported sightings of unearthly things in mirrors. Some sources claim that shadow people enter and leave this realm through mirrors. There have also been reports of strange mists and faces that don’t belong.

7. General superstitions.

Always cover a mirror during a thunderstorm or the energy can release any trapped spirits.

Never accept a mirror from a deceased persons home.

A guide on what to do if you break a haunted mirror is here.

Creepypasta about sleeping facing a mirror here

To see a recently deceased relative again you can go into a room with a mirror and turn off the light. Turn around five times and say ‘lady in white.’ Turn once the opposite way and say the name of the deceased person. They will appear in the mirror and you can speak to them for a short time. However, as with any urban legend, doing so can have negative consequences.

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