In the soft glow of a candle's flame on a chilling Halloween night, the vintage mirror in a hallway becomes more than just a reflective surface. It transforms into a portal, a silent watcher bearing age-old secrets and tales that chill a soul. These aren't just ordinary stories; they span millennia and civilizations, revealing the mysteries and superstitions that have haunted humankind. From whispered legends in dark corners to stories told in hushed tones around campfires, mirrors have always harboured an uncanny ability to enthrall, terrify, and mystify. In honour of All Hallows' Eve, let's journey beyond the silvered glass and into the realm of myths, superstitions, and eerie tales that mirrors have mirrored through time.
The Duality: Vanity and Truth
In many cultures, mirrors have stood as symbols of vanity. Even ancient Greek mythology regales us with the tale of Narcissus, the handsome youth who fell in love with his reflection in a pool of water. His inability to detach from the allure of his image led to his tragic end, serving as a cautionary tale on the dangers of vanity.
Conversely, they have also been seen as tools of truth and introspection. The phrase "to hold a mirror up to someone" means to reveal their true nature or actions, a concept prevalent in literature and art.
Seven Years of Bad Luck: Breaking a Mirror
Almost universally recognized, the superstition of breaking a mirror bringing seven years of bad luck is deeply rooted in ancient beliefs. The Romans believed that life renewed itself every seven years. If a person were to break one, it would shatter their soul, and the soul would take seven years to renew. Today, while we might not believe in the fragmentation of the soul, the lingering unease from accidentally breaking a mirror persists.
Mirrors and the Soul
Many cultures have believed that mirrors have the power to capture one's soul. This has led to customs such as covering them in the room of a deceased person. In some Jewish traditions, mirrors are covered during the shiva (mourning) period, redirecting the focus from physical appearance and vanity to introspection and remembrance.
Similarly, various indigenous tribes around the world have avoided these looking glasses, fearing that they might capture or harm the soul or that evil spirits might use them as gateways.
The Mirror as a Spiritual Portal
Mirrors have been regarded as portals to other dimensions or realms in myriad tales and folklore. In Chinese folklore, the "moon in the mirror" is a symbol of the unreachable or unattainable – the idea that some things, like the moon's reflection in water or a mirror, can never be grasped.
Perhaps the most iconic is Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking-Glass," where Alice enters a fantastical world by stepping through a mirror. The narrative reflects (pun intended) the idea that mirrors can be gateways to parallel or alternate realities.
Vampires and Mirrors: Absence of a Soul
The belief that vampires cast no reflection dates back to ancient times and is rooted in the myth that mirrors reflect the soul. Being soulless creatures, vampires cannot have their image captured by mirrors. Literature and film have popularized this folklore element, further embedding the mystery of mirrors in pop culture.
Divination and Scrying: Predicting the Future
From the mystical pools in ancient temples to the ornate hand-held looking glass of Victorian seers, reflective surfaces have been used for divination or scrying. Nostradamus, the famed 16th-century seer, is believed to have gazed into a bowl of water to predict the future, a practice akin to mirror scrying.
Bloody Mary: The Chilling Children's Game
Almost every child has heard the spine-chilling tale of Bloody Mary. The game involves chanting "Bloody Mary" in front of a mirror, usually in a dimly lit or candle-lit room, with the hope (or fear) of summoning her spirit. In its various forms, this legend serves as a testament to the unease and intrigue they can instill.
Nowruz: Mirrors, Rugs, and Renewal
In the vibrant tapestry of folklore, the Persian New Year, or Nowruz, offers a unique weave. Central to the Haft-Seen table, an arrangement of seven symbolic items traditionally displayed for Nowruz, is a mirror. This mirror reflects all gathered around the table, symbolizing self-reflection and a hopeful gaze into the year ahead. Alongside it, candles represent enlightenment and happiness. But beyond the table, the Persian rug is another crucial element of Nowruz. As families clean their homes in preparation for the new year, these rugs are taken outside, beaten to release accumulated dust, and washed, signifying a fresh start. Much like the reflection of the present and future, the rug binds the family's daily life, capturing memories and moments only to be refreshed and made ready for new ones. Together, the mirror and rug encapsulate the spirit of renewal, a core tenet of Nowruz.
Reflecting on the Mystique of Vintage Mirrors
From mere superstitions to deeply ingrained cultural beliefs, mirrors have always captivated our imagination, often blurring the line between reality and the supernatural. They are powerful symbols embodying duality – representing truth yet illusion, vanity yet introspection.
Next time you gaze into one, take a moment to reflect not just on your appearance but on the rich tapestry of myths and legends associated with that shimmering surface. Who knows? You might just catch a glimpse of something beyond the ordinary – a portal to the unknown.
Decorative and Vintage Mirrors at Around the Block
As the veil between worlds thins this Halloween, consider adding a touch of mystique to your home with a decorative or vintage mirror from Around the Block consignment. We offer a wide selection of contemporary and vintage mirrors that are sure to add that special something to your home. Wall mirrors from Around the Block come in various styles, including neoclassical, vintage, mid-century modern, and even Hollywood glam. Whether you want a sleek, modern look or something more vintage, shop our selection of decorative and vintage mirrors online or visit our store to see our complete collection. However, be warned this Halloween! While you admire our selection of ornate frames and aged patina, be sure to peek closely... for you might not be the only one looking back. Happy Haunting!