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For hundreds of years bells have been an integral part of religious and social ceremonies and events. The truth behind these rituals reveals a supernatural and bewitching past. Even today their so-called strange powers govern the way modern man lives.

It is very likely that the superstitions surrounding bells date back well into ancient times. Many animals in Ancient Egypt and other ancient cultures wore bells around their necks to ward off evil spirits. In Asia Minor and nearby kingdoms the bell evolved into the Evil Eye charm and even today in modern Turkey such charms are used for animals and children alike.

In Medieval Europe and Britain the ringing of a bell was thought to make witches on broomsticks crash to the ground. It also warded off snakes and mice.

In early Christian churches the ringing of the bell indicated a person's death and not only summoned the congregation to prayer, but warded off any evil spirits drawn to the death scene. In the ancient Catholic the Bell, Book and Candle Ritual of Excommunication the tolling bell represented the loss of a parishioner to sin. During harvest times church bells were rung to ensure a good crop. Their sound was thought to ward off the evil spirits who brought on storms and pestilence. It also protected the local community from plague and misfortune.

In 18th century Scotland superstition stated that the ringing of the bell at the Chapter of St. Fillan could cure insanity. The ill person was dipped in the Saints' Pool and the one foot high bell was put on his or her head. The person would be cured immediately. Also the grease from this famous bell was used to treat skin problems and other ailments.

Even in 19th century Britain and Europe the tolling of a bell without the aid of a bell puller was considered an omen of an impending death. However, the bell could also ring if a saint had been present or a crime had been committed.

Bells also became associated with weddings and childbirth. For a marrying couple the ringing would give protection from misfortune and even today no wedding is without a mini set of wedding bells. However if the bell tolled before the ceremony was complete the couple would be afflicted with bad luck, usually the premature death of either one of them.

Childbirth, a painful experience, was thought to be eased by the saintly properties of the ringing. Superstitions dating back to the Ancient Egyptians and Romans stated that a baby would be gifted with the sixth sense if it was born during the third, sixth, ninth or twelfth hours of the bell ringing. Some were even thought to be able to see spirits or ghosts.

In paganism and witchcraft dating back to Celtic Europe and Britain tiny hand bells were made of metal and buried near graves to resurrect the dead. The tolling of the bell, even in the 19th century, put fear in sailors worldwide. It prophesized a shipwreck or another pending disaster. Even the ship's bell, the apparent soul of the ship or boat, was thought to ring continuously during a sinking, broken or not.

British folklore tells of the ghostly bells of submerged villages. Even in modern times people in Shropshire, Blackpool, and Cardigan Bay area have reported hearing the bells of nearby lost villages ringing from deep beneath the ocean waves.

Though the bell is still a prevalent part of 21st century life, it is doubtful that many of these superstitious traditions will die. Human nature is no match for its fear or apprehension of the unknown and despite modern communications and advancements there is still an uncharted region of the world that no one can control. It is this lack of control over the unknown that feeds the ongoing superstitious traditions of the ringing of the bell.