Why Is Walking Under A Ladder Meant to Be Unlucky?

Why Is Walking Under A Ladder Meant to Be Unlucky?

26th February 2020

Then there is the possibility that you accidentally knock the ladder and cause an accident. This isn’t an issue when a fixed access ladder is being used, but people still instinctively avoid doing it.  

The Ancient Egyptian Theory

It has been suggested that another reason for not walking under ladders comes from Ancient Egypt about 5,000 years ago. This theory points out that the triangle shape was regarded as being sacred.

This explains the form of the Pyramids and we can also see that a ladder leaning against a wall forms a triangle. The theory is that passing through a triangle would be an act of desecration. They say that you might even have seen a god going up or down it as you passed.

The Links to Christianity

Other sources suggest that the fear of going under a ladder dates back to slightly more recent times. They think that it is based on a ladder resting against the crucifix, meaning that it came to be seen as a symbol of death and possibly even of betrayal.

Another opinion is that it represented the Holy Trinity of Christianity. As with the Egyptian theory, the fact that a ladder forms a triangle when raised against a wall explains this idea.

Walking to the Gallows

Criminals who were being taken to the gallows in 17th century England had to walk under a ladder. Remember that a ladder or some form of stepladder needed to be placed against the gallows if the condemned prisoner needed to climb up to a suitable height.

Meanwhile, those who were getting set free would take an alternative route, avoiding the gallows and the ladder propped against it.

The Possible Remedies

While we can’t be sure why or when this superstition began, there are some possible remedies you can turn to if you ever walk under a ladder without realising it.

Among them is walking backwards under the same ladder. However, if we go back to the practical reasons then this appears to be even more dangerous than walking under it in the first place.

Another option is to spit on your shoe but you can’t look at the shoe again until it has dried. Alternatively, you might want to cross your fingers and keep them that way until you see the first dog that you meet.

Some people will say “bread and butter” as they walk under the ladder, while others put their thumb in between their index finger and middle finger until they emerge unscathed at the other side.