Cemeteries, Superstitions and Hoodoo

One common superstition is that a rabbit’s foot is a good luck charm. Mr. Stanton’s poem, The Graveyard Rabbit, teasingly references this – and with good reason. It seems that just having a rabbit’s foot is not enough. That rabbit must have been captured or shot in a graveyard. As one might expect, these beliefs originated in hoodoo, the folk magic brought here from Africa.

Just acquiring your rabbit in a graveyard still may not be enough. The phase of the moon at the time of the capture can also impact the value of your charm – some calling for a full moon while others call for a new moon. Take this interesting account for instance:

The matter of chief interest with us is the rabbit’s foot which the Austrian Ambassador found in the pocket of Hon. Booker Washington’s overcoat. Everybody knows, of course, so it need not be explained at length, that his excellency, Mr. Hengelmuller, and Prof. Booker Washington, head of the famous negro college at Tuskegee, Ala., happened to visit President Roosevelt on the same day and at about the same hour. The Ambassador escaped first and, in the hurry of his craving for fresh air, took Prof. Booker Washington’s overcoat in mistake for his own. As he passed down the asphalt semi-circle, reveling in the peace and serenity of the surroundings, he reached for a pair of gloves and, after dragging the deep Charybdis of the pocket, rose to the surface with a rabbit’s foot. No gloves — just the left hind foot of a graveyard rabbit, killed in the dark of the moon.

Whatever your beliefs in rabbits’ feet or lucky charms, this is the time of year when anything remotely associated with a graveyard takes on special significance. Enjoy the traditions of Halloween – jack o’lanterns and trick or treating – but remember the special magic of the Graveyard Rabbit as the genea-community makes him a symbol of our fascination with dead relatives.

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