Knock, knock on wood


In many stories that involve ill-fated occurrences, the teller often places the blame on the same, ageless culprit that has been deemed responsible for many of the worlds most unfortunate incidents: poor, crabby, old man Luck.
As an aging fellow with a hunched back and shoulders that get heavier with the weight of each passing year, Luck roams around streets, looking for something to do. Despite what people may think, Luck quite enjoys helping people. He takes pleasure in walking into a grocery store where a poor man is buying a lottery ticket and helping him pick the winning numbers. He helps the unfortunate by walking into a dark alley where a young girl had wandered, and shutting the eyes of the drunken man near her so that she makes her way out safely.
Every day, old man Luck continues to journey from city to city, from neighborhood to neighborhood, always ready to help someone,, until one day he begins to hear angry voices coming from every home, each blaming various situations on him.
Stupid Bad Luck! Luck hears them say. He becomes cranky when they do that.
Irritated, he strolls around again, but this time for a different purpose.
When Luck becomes grumpy, he turns into an unstoppable force and knocks over everything in sight. He can make childrens lunch money slide out of the holes in their back pockets as they skip their way to school, or force students to forget the answer to an important question on their final exam.
Even worse, bad-tempered Luck creates physical injuries. He could make a construction worker tumble off the top of a slippery ladder to his death, , distract a man from the pedestrian ahead of him by persuading the driver to talk on his phone or push two speeding cars together, creating an accident that hurts everyone involved.
Apparently, when Luck grows really grouchy, he takes his place among people in a conversation and waits patiently for one to speak of a person or an object that they hold dear to them. No sooner do the words hit the air does Luck angrily leeches on and twists and twirls them so that if the words were a wish, they become a fear, and if they were a fear, they turn into reality. He does not stop until the speakers worst terrors have been met — until they miserably wish they had never uttered the words in the first place.
Lucky for me, my friend Rana seems to have found the solution to the latter issue.
According to Rana, a spell of bad luck can be easily thwarted through a foolproof method. Upon talking about something that one wishes to protect from Bad Luck, all they have to do is find a wooden surface and rap their knuckles on it a few times.
It comes from an ancient belief, Rana once told me. See, back then, people used to believe that trees had good spirits. So, they would knock on them to tap into their spirit. Search it if you dont believe me.
I decided to take her advice.
After navigating my way through web pages filled with people asking the same question, I landed on an article written by journalist Angela Russell. In her article, Russell explained that although the origin of the superstition isnt known, there are several possibilities. One of them is similar to Ranas advice: tapping on wood allows one to share the trees sacred spirits and protect oneself from Bad Luck.
The Irish, however, have a slightly different account. They believe that by knocking on wood, one would alert the leprechauns within that they were thanking them for their good luck.
In North America, some think that knocking on wood prevents the devil from hearing what was said, thus preventing him from taking action. Others believe that the act comes from a Christian belief that the wood represents the wood Jesus Christ was crucified on.
And across the world, the stories vary.
One question, however, still taunted me. What should one do if no wood is around?
Knock on your head, Rana suggests. Its probably just as hollow.