This short prayer was passed to my informant from her godmother’s great grandmother, who lived in long beach California, and was of western European descent. She claims that it has worked “98% of the time,” which is why she loves it.
The informant takes this prayer very seriously, hardly ever sharing it with anyone because “if everybody said it, the parking god wouldn’t listen anymore.” When this prayer is being used, it’s extremely important that it be stated before you get to your destination and see that parking is an issue. Additionally, it may only be used in extreme cases (i.e. a late flight, life or death situation, etc…).
“Lord for us make radiant room.”
The thing that I find most interesting about this prayer is that my informant is not religious whatsoever. While I assume that she doesn’t actually believe in a parking god either, she genuinely believes in the sanctity and sacredness of the prayer. In this way, I believe–whether consciously or not–she is practicing the concept of chaos magick. Chaos magick is a practice that does not adhere to any religion or a specific set of spells or rituals. Instead, chaos magick relies on the idea that simply willing or believing something to be true can cause it to be. Thus, in saying this parking prayer, the user wills a parking spot to be emptied for their use.
This friend of mine has always been one of the most superstitious people I know. Her childhood was split between two households, each with their own unique beliefs and superstitions. Having been quite close for the past few years, I’ve heard innumerable stories regarding strange folk-beliefs her parents taught her as a little girl.
The following was recorded by hand during a group interview with 4 other of our friends in the common area of a 6-person USC Village apartment.
“I think it’s bad luck to wear other people’s glasses because you’re trying to see more of the world than you’re meant to see. Why would you try to see the world through other people’s eyes? It’s the principle of the thing. Why do I have superstitions? Because I don’t have a religion. My dad is really superstitious because he’s really OCD. So like my whole life, we weren’t allowed to eat apples in the house because he thought apples brought a mean energy. He’d always say that they were rude. And we weren’t allowed to park in spaces that were diagonal. He would not park in spaces that had that bar – he’d freak out.”
It’s interesting to view this piece as a sort of cause-and-effect type of deal. Her dad is superstitious because he’s OCD, therefore, he has lots of odd little habits and preferences that was interpreted by my friend as superstition (whether she or her father was the source of this conclusion has been lost to the sands of time). These superstitions bred more superstition – the one about the glasses is an original – which has been passed on to her friends and classmates, and may spread throughout the world. Her father’s condition has created a traceable line of superstitions that have the potential to spread globally. It’s fascinating to witness the overlap and snowballing effect that a few small beliefs can have.