A SECRET history of magic and superstition may be hidden in the walls of historic Northern Rivers homes, a local researcher says.
In a ground-breaking study of Australian houses pre-dating the 1930s, Myocum man Ian Evans has unearthed hundreds of old shoes, dead cats, garments and children's toys and trinkets, deliberately hidden in wall cavities, under floorboards and behind chimneys.
He said the objects were used to ward off evil spirits, and protect human occupants from harm.
Dr Evans's five-year study uncovered hundreds of hidden objects in houses all over Australia, and he now believes the practice, although undocumented, was common and widespread.
He is yet to find evidence of it in the Northern Rivers, but said it may have already been discovered unknowingly by renovators or builders.
Dr Evans said the earliest immigrants brought the ritual with them from England as a way of bringing comfort amid unfamiliar surroundings. It continued up until the 1930s.
His largest finding of concealed objects was in a house in Tasmania, where there were at least 38 shoes, two parasols and two hats, as well as other personal items.
They had been used as "decoys" to keep evil spirits away.
As for the dead cats, Dr Evans says it may have been seen as a way of keeping out "spiritual vermin".
"It's very hard for people with a third-millennium mindset to understand the important role that magic played in the lives of Australians in the period before about 1935," Dr Evans said.
Dr Evans would love to hear about any local "finds" and can be contacted on 66847677.
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