Living Lore: Teagan Geneviene ~ Superstitions You Might Find in Atonement Tennessee

Sue, thank you so very much for hosting me today. I’m delighted that you wanted to talk about old superstitions.

Teagan’s recent release

The first writing advice I heard was something I took to heart ― Write what you know. When I wrote Atonement, Tennessee I followed that guidance and created a fictional southern town where the urban fantasy takes place. Of course, the second novel, Atonement in Bloom, is also set there.

I made it a very small, rural town so some of the manners and personalities I grew up with would not seem out of place. The townsfolk would be familiar with the old superstitions that were often quoted to me.

tilt shift photography of yellow flower plants with spider web


I’ve always wanted to collect old southern superstitions. I wish I had written them down back in the day, because I’m sure I’ve forgotten many. I agree with Sue that so much of that kind of thing is lost. Some of them are fun or charming. Others, not so much…

From my grandmother:

  • If a young woman left her handkerchief outside overnight, a spider would weave a web on it. The next morning the dewdrops on a spiderweb would reveal the name of her future husband.
  • A dream dreamed on Friday and told on Saturday will come true, no matter how old.
round copper-colored coins


  • Never give anyone a purse or wallet without adding at least a penny to it. Else you will be made poor.
  • Never give someone a knife without also giving them a penny. Else they will harm you with it (whether or not they mean to).
  • If dogs howl three nights in a row, someone will die. (Wasn’t she full of cheery thoughts?)
  • Dogs and cats attract lightning. She warned me that I should put my pets outside in a storm rather than cuddle them. I refused to do so and held them tighter every time it thundered. As you might guess, I didn’t exactly have the happiest childhood…
black dog wearing blue denim collar


From other relatives:

  • If your pets are extra playful, there’s going to be a change in the weather.
  • Bees won’t sting you during a month with a name that has an “R” in it. (I refuse to test that one – I have anaphylactic reactions to bee stings.)
  • It’s too early in the year to go barefoot outside if the whippoorwill hasn’t begun to call.
  • Any chore that you do on New Year’s Day – you will be doing all year.
  • For every black-eyed pea you eat on New Year’s Day, you’ll get a penny. (The dads would give the kids the penny for each pea – as long as they didn’t eat too many. Although I like them now, I didn’t like black-eyed peas back then. I asked if I could have a dollar instead. That was not well received. I didn’t even get the pennies for the five peas I ate.)
  • If your nose itches, company is coming.
  • If your ears are burning, somebody is talking about you.
assorted-color umbrella hanging on gray wires


From my playmates:

  • Never open an umbrella indoors. (I didn’t understand that one. Was it going to rain inside if I did? That rather appealed to me, so I tried several times with no effect.)
  • Hold the stem of an apple. Twist it once for each letter as you recite the alphabet. The letter on which the stem breaks will be the first letter of your boyfriend’s name.

My little friends and I used that one a lot. It gave us fits, trying to make the stem break on letters that were very early, or later in the alphabet. Based on my former husband’s name, the apple was right. I recommend eating pears in stead.

red apple in person's palm


Sue, thank you again. I hope I’ve provided some superstitions that are a little more interesting than breaking mirrors or walking under ladders. Thanks for reading everyone. Hugs!

PS: You can also visit me at these sites:

Teagan’s Books

Amazon Author Page

Amazon UK Author Page

Social Media:

Twitter   Facebook   Pinterest   YouTube   LinkedIn

How did your granny predict the weather? What did your great uncle Albert tell you about the little green men he saw in the woods that night? What strange creature stalks the woods in your area?

So many of these old stories are slipping away for want of being recorded. legendary creatures, odd bits of folklore, folk remedies and charms, and all the old stories that brought our landscape to life…

Tell me a story, share memories of the old ways that are being forgotten, share the folklore of your home. I am not looking for fiction with this feature, but for genuine bits of folklore, old wives tales, folk magic and local legends. Why not share what you know and preserve it for the future?

Email me at and put ‘Living Lore’ in the subject line. All I need is your article, bio and links, along with any of your own images you would like me to include and I’ll do the rest.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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36 Responses to Living Lore: Teagan Geneviene ~ Superstitions You Might Find in Atonement Tennessee

  1. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Marcia says:

    Fun superstitions, Teagan. The penny in the purse or wallet is one my grandmother swore by, and black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day were considered good luck, though I never got any pennies for them. Oh, and the strange creaturer that walks the swampy woods around here is called the Skunk Ape. He’s kinda like Big Foot, only he smells worse. Hence the name. 😀 Great post. Thanks Sue and Teagan!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A lovely post, Teagan and Sue. The bee theory is not correct, I got stung in September and was very ill. Opening an umbrella in the house is supposed to be unlucky. Hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I laughed when you suggested eating pears instead 🙂
    These are great old superstitions, Teagan. I hadn’t heard the one about the dog howling three nights in a row before. DH says it would be the dog that died if that happened, lol

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha! Believe me, Jacquie, I can relate to that. I just deleted a page full comment of my latest bad neighbor/bad dog rant. o_O.
      I’ve actually thought of a couple more this morning that would be even more unusual than any of these. Thanks for visiting. Mega hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Eliza Waters says:

    Some of these are familiar, or just a bit different. My mother and her mother were a source of many. If your nose itched, you were going to kiss a fool. If your left palm itched, you would receive money, if the right, you’d meet someone. If you killed a spider, it would rain. I’m sure there are plenty of others, but these are a few I remember.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Oh, I remember the apple twist and think of it every time I eat an apple. My mother was from deep East Texas and had many superstitions. Thanks for the reminders!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. What a lovely subject to write about, Teagan. I’ve no idea what a whippoorwill is and, from now on, I’ll never do any work on New Year’s Day. The ‘bee’ one is interesting, although I also heard to never eat pork when there is an ‘R’ in the month because you’ll end up ill.
    I can’t help but think about how many single men there are out there whose names start with letters towards the end of the alphabet. For me, I was always told that an apple a day will keep the doctor away. But what good is that when you like apples and happen to fall in love with somebody who is a doctor?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Hugh. That seems vaguely familiar about not eating pork at certain times. I was looking (you know my inner research geek couldn’t resist). I’ve noticed that many superstitions about food and health involve (or are rooted in) a seasonal/climate factor… which would explain why they vary from one part of the world to another.
      I found something about “Pigs should only be slaughtered when there’s an “R” in the month and under a full moon.” That would fit with cooler temperatures (USA). One assumes that in times with less technology, it was difficult to quickly dress and preserve the meat in hot weather.
      LOL, I had a similar question about apples keeping the doctor away (after I grew up). And I want to repel doctors because…? 😉 Many thanks for visiting with this very interesting comment. Mega hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Adele Marie says:

    I loved this post, Teagan, Sue. Some of them I’m familiar with, the umbrella for instance, but there were new ones which I hadn’t heard of “the handkerchief” outside was a delightful one and I can’t help imagine a spider spinning her matchmaking web. xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Adele. I have to agree that is a picturesque superstition. My mother’s mother managed to leave that one bit of loveliness. Of course, when 10 year old me got a handkerchief and tried it… there was no web. She said it meant I would never marry. Horsefeathers — I wish she had been right! 😀 LOL. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. olganm says:

    Fabulous post from Teagan, as usual. I am familiar with a few of these superstitions, even if I come from quite a different neck of the woods. I’ll have to give it some thought… Thanks, Sue. Another great idea for a series of posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Reblogged this on Art by Rob Goldstein and commented:
    from Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo


  11. Soooz says:

    It’s fascinating just how universal these superstitions are. I’ve heard many of them over the years. As for Bees? You have my understanding and my sympathy. I too have severe anaphylactic reactions to bee stings. I needed resuscitating twice last time. Not a good look.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. If someone sweeps under your feet, you’ll never get married. ( wish I had listened.)
    If you get your front wet while washing dishes, you’ll marry a drunk. I used to get absolutely drowned when I washed dishes. (Yep…married a drunk, had a drunk monster-in-law and now I have a drunk son.)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. D.L Finn, Author says:

    I heard some similar ones growing up. I have opened an umbrella in the house, too…so far so good. I completely forgot about the apple and the letter of your future spouse, I can remember twisting really hard when I got to the letter I wanted it to break on. I’ve heard when the pets get hyper expect an earthquake…and when the kids get hyper snow. The latter is a bit more accurate. Fun list:)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: Folklore, fairies and memories? Be my guest! | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

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