Thursday, April 23, 2015

Gremlin Bells: Fighting Off Bad Luck

Did you ever see the Twilight Zone episode with William Shatner called “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet - 1963”? The monstrous Gremlin, that was on the outside of the plane trying to sabotage the wing engine, was a real menace. I also remember as a kid watching a Merrie Melodies Cartoon (“Falling Hare - 1943”) with Bugs Bunny, where he was trying to comically fight off a small Gremlin with a hat shaped a little like an airplane. In the movie Gremlins (1984), there was one good gremlin (Gizmo) who was accidentally splashed with water, which created the other problematic gremlins. These problematic gremlins eventually ran amok through the town of Kingston Falls. These examples were loosely based on the Gremlin, an evil spirit bent on wreaking havoc and misfortune to those they visit. Nasty creatures!

That's not a gremlin...Captain.

Gremlins have a long mythical history of being mischievous and mechanically inclined. One of the origins of the word Gremlin comes from an old English word “gremain”, meaning “to vex”. These little terrors were very popular during World War II when the work force was in full-bore and accident rates were through the roof.  Before mankind started making really complex machinery, the “imp” was the mischievous little monster that would thwart people in their endeavours. Perhaps the Gremlin is an evolution of the Imp, as the machinery and complexities of the world have evolved - so too did this creature.

Although this story was covered a few years ago, I believe it is time to revisit the idea behind the Gremlin Bell. The theory goes that you can benefit just by having a Gremlin Bell hung low to the ground to fend off the evil road spirits that want to harm riders. But, the effect can be much better by giving the Gremlin Bell as a gift of protection. This isn’t another “friendship bracelet”, or “lucky rabbit’s foot” kind of good luck charm. But (and I think this is the best part of gifting the Gremlin Bell to a rider), is that you are genuinely wishing protection for that rider.

Other good luck charms found around the world include:

Nazar from Turkey: this is a ward against the evil eye: a curse believed to be cast by malevolent glares. These glares were often given to a person when they were unaware and cause misfortune or injury.
Because people would wander around the market places, they were very concerned about building up ill-intent through too many bad looks. Even if it wasn't intended, these bad looks were believed to cause illness, injury, and bring the recipient really bad luck.
Evil Spirit: “I’ve got my eye on you! ;-)”
Me: “Stop looking at me, you’re creeping me out  little. Perv.”

The fig sign is also sold as a charm and was once used in Ancient Rome to ward off the evil spirits of the dead. The charm is in the shape of a clenched fist, with the thumb tucked inside, and is now believed to ward off the evil eye as well, but the gesture is considered mildly obscene in some European countries and is closely related to the “finger” here in the U.S. F-you evil spirits!

Frogs, in Japan, are considered good luck charms for travelers, as they are thought to ensure their safe return. Although, I would not necessarily want to keep a frog in my saddlebag or pocket, a frog charm is perfectly acceptable. They were also seen as a fertility deity due to the number of eggs the females produce.

Vulture heads: yep, believe it or not, in Africa vulture heads are actually sought out and hunted to sell to people looking for good luck and foresight. Because vultures have such great vision, ancient cultures believed that vultures could see into the future. Protecting those that posses one to veer clear of danger. And, even though this is kinda cool, I’m only imagining the really dumb vultures from the old Looney Toons cartoons being the ones to get their heads removed.

Pendant of St. Christopher: St. Christopher is the man who carried Christ the child across the river with the child Christ and the weight of the world on his shoulders. This pendant is believed to protect travelers on their journeys. Heavy.

The idea behind these pendants and charms is pretty amazing considering the legends behind them. But it is the meaning behind receiving one of these that is makes it all the more meaningful, and powerful. If someone gives you a Gremlin Bell, it means that they want you to be protected and safe through your travels. The rules behind the Gremlin Bell are that you can purchase one for yourself, but the power is doubled when you receive on as a gift. For some of us, we may not believe in the meaning behind these charms, but for those giving us their good will you have to feel really fortunate knowing that someone cares about you and your safety. If you know someone that rides a motorcycle, appreciate their love of the open road and gift them some extra safety. What kind of lucky charms do you believe in? Are there any practices that you or someone who rides do to protect themselves from evil spirits? What would you suggest riders do before they take their ride? The world is a crazy place, and we could all use a little extra protection and good will. Be safe out there. Enjoy the ride.

If you’d like to see our previous post on Gremlin Bells, you can read it at .

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