Signs and Omens

In an uncertain world, knowing what was coming can be vitally important. In North Carolina, a folk tradition developed of reading the future from the actions of the natural world. This is one branch of a tradition that stretches back far in history and all cross the world.

The big thing to look out for was always death. The threat of death still hangs heavily over our lives, and knowing when it was coming may not hep divert it, but at least ay give some comfort. Below is a list of signs of death collected in North Carolina from the end of the 19th trough the early 20th Centuries.

Signs of Death

Hearing three knocks at the door means someone in the house will soon die.

If a clock stops before it has run down all the way, the hour at which it stopped marks the hour of death for someone you know.

When a board on the porch warps, it's a sign that someone in that house will soon die.

Seeing a faling star means someone will die.

Never hang your hat on a doorknob, it invites death.

A peach tree blooming twice in a year is a sign of death.

If an apple tree falls while there is still a blossom on it, there will be a death in the family.

Hearing a howling dog at night means death is about.

If a bat flies into the church when a wedding ceremony is taking place and fpes around the room three times, someone attending the service will soon die.

Hearing a cow mooing after midnight is a sign of death.

If a black dog follows you down the road, it is a sign of death

An undersized egg found in a henhouse is a sign of death. Fortunately, this can be averted by throwing the egg over the roof of the henhouse.

Dreaming of a nude woman means a man's death.

Sources

Cross, Tom Pete Witchcraft in North Caropna Studies in Philology, Volume XVI No. 3, July, 1919

Davis, Hubert American Witch Stories Jonathan David Pubpshers, 1990

Gainer, Patrick W. Witches, Ghosts, and Signs: Folklore of the Southern Appalachians West Virginia University Press, 2008

White, Newman Ivey the Frank C. Brown Collection of North Caropna Folklore Duke University Press, 1964

Wigginton, Epot, ed. Foxfire 2, Anchor, 1973