Growing up in the northeast, I picked up a lot of superstitions. I still have them, and still practice a combination of old and newly made up preventative actions. Here are a few:
1. I hold my breath when driving past a cemetery. Several friends have realized this and take full advantage, driving painfully slow. If I’m driving, it’s still tricky, and some graveyards (that huge one in Queens, for instance) have been downright treacherous. I really don’t remember where or whom I learned this from, but I think it has something to do with not inhaling stray ghosts. (When I lived in Manhattan, some ten years ago, I held my breath as the subway car doors closed, for the same reason.)
2. I whistle when driving through tunnels, but only the kind cut through natural structures, like mountains or giant trees. A lot of people honk to scare off the hobgoblins, evil spirits and other ill-wishing residents therein, but I’ve taken to whistling for some reason. It doesn’t echo like honking does, but it always comes out more naturally, like a simultaneous greeting and troll-repellant.
3. Upon leaving haunted houses/grounds, I don’t look back. Very likely someone’s watching me go. I’ve been through a lot of old abandoned houses and strange places in the woods, but only four have felt really inhabited by spirits. Each time, when I left there was the sense it was past time for me to go, and it seemed like if I turned to look back at the house/cabin/hotel/patch of stones, either it wouldn’t be there anymore, or it would be crowded with angry ghosts.
4. I have no fear of black cats; Professor Fang, a stray I took in five years ago, is all black and crosses my path constantly, especially at meal times. However, I do have a healthy respect for one-eyed cats, and dogs; beyond the wrenching sadness there is for this creature that has somehow, mostly likely in a violent manner, lost an eye, I think about their other senses, and how heightened they must be. Cats and dogs hear far more than humans do; how have their brains compensated for the loss of half (or all) their vision? Can they hear and smell even more powerfully? These animals, when I see them in shelters, or, occasionally out on the streets, seem like signs of something approaching, warnings maybe, reminding me to be more aware.
If anyone happens to read this, please feel free to comment, and do tell if you have superstitions of your own and how you “combat” them. I might even try to compile them into a future piece (crediting you, certainly), as I find them extremely interesting and kind of forgotten in American folklore.