Walking Under a Ladder

Among certain Asiatic countries criminals were hanged from the seventh rung of a ladder which was propped against a tree. Since it was supposed that death was contagious, people were forbidden to walk under that ladder for fear that they would "catch death".

Ladders have been a popular symbol in the myths of many countries. They signify both good and evil. The Egyptians believed them good, for they said it was a ladder that rescued their sun god Osiris when he was imprisoned by the spirit of Darkness. So the ladder became a favorite sign to show the ascent of gods. Small ladders were placed in the tombs of Egypt's kings to help them climb heavenward. Today, miniature ladders are still carried as lucky charms by Egyptians as well as by some Americans.

In other parts of the world, walking under ladders was forbidden for various reasons. One of the most primitive beliefs was that a leaning ladder made a triangle with the wall and floor, a symbol of life. Anyone walking through this Sacred Triangle would be punished by spirits unless counter-charms were used.

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