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‘Don’t Split the Pole’ Superstition: Is Splitting the Pole Bad Luck?

Have you heard the expression ‘Don’t split the pole’? This saying refers to a superstition associated with walking in a group or with a partner.

Well, you may have heard it is unlucky to step on cracks, but splitting the pole while walking is also said to bring bad luck. Yes, according to lore, if you split the pole you may face unlucky consequences. Nevertheless, you may wonder if this is actually true.

So, What does splitting the pole superstition mean? Where did it come from? And finally, is splitting the pole bad luck? Let’s find out.

What Does Splitting the Pole Mean? Exploring ‘Don’t Split the Pole’ Superstition

Contrary to the wording of this phrase, you don’t need a saw to split a pole. This saying refers to walking with a partner or in a group; When you encounter an obstacle, such as a pole, tree, or mailbox, it is considered bad luck for the group to split up.

'Don't Split the Pole' Superstition: Is Splitting the Pole Bad Luck?

Thus, if part of the group walks to the left and the other heads to the right to navigate around a pole or other obstacle, it is considered “splitting the pole.” This is traditionally considered an unlucky gesture sure to bring grief to the parties involved.

So rather than breaking apart to walk around the obstruction, it is considered lucky for everyone to stick together. Therefore, remaining on the same side as you walk around the pole is neutral and can help you avoid the presumed bad luck.

Splitting the Pole and Bad Luck: Where did this Superstition come from?

While the origins and exact reason for this superstition – like much folklore – is obscure, there are some theories as to why you should never split the pole.

First and foremost, humans survive as social beings. There is safety in large numbers, and everyone knows sticking together is always the most secure option.

Thus, this superstition likely stems from the understanding that breaking apart from the group can have serious consequences. Perhaps walking down a modern sidewalk and encountering a tree is less threatening than navigating a forest centuries ago, but the lesson of sticking together for safety is reinforced by this superstition.

Stepping apart for a moment to walk on opposite sides of a tree or traffic cone won’t challenge your survival in modern times. But this superstition likely comes from a time in which breaking from the crowd, or from a partner, could lead you to become lost. Hence, being the odd one out could have serious consequences.

Secondly, It is believed that splitting the pole means a quarrel will trouble your relationship. This could also relate to the deep desire to maintain peace and harmony through conformity. A group that walks in the same direction is following a herd mentality that ensures no one challenges the group. This superstition could imply that going against the group and walking on the other side of the obstruction symbolizes a rift in relationships.

When you split the pole, you are symbolically and physically allowing something to come between your group of friends or yourself and your partner. This can represent a subconscious division in the relationships that manifests as a falling out.

What to do if you Split the Pole?

Is it really bad luck to split the pole? Probably not. But it can mean you aren’t on the same vibration as your partner or friends. But if you want to ensure no harm comes to your relationship, you can reverse the bad luck traditionally associated with this action.

If you split the pole accidentally and want to protect yourself from bad luck and disagreements, all those involved should say the phrase “Bread and Butter” or “Salt and Pepper.” It is believed that uttering these phrases protects you from the consequences of splitting the pole.

The reason is often attributed to the nature of bread and butter, being like a close relationship among friends or between partners. Once butter is on the bread, it’s stuck, and can’t be separated. It is unclear exactly where this superstition originated, but it has been recorded in the southern United States, particularly in Louisiana.


If you’re walking with friends and you encounter an obstacle on your path, walk around it without choosing opposite routes. But if you get stuck or forget and split the pole, don’t panic. Saying ‘Bread and Butter’ can reinforce the connection in your relationship and relieve any bad luck.

Of course, you can always take your chances, but why risk the connection in your relationship? Walking on the same side reinforces your connection. It affirms that no matter what, you are on the same side, literally. You can’t go wrong if you stick together, just as humans have learned to do for survival for generations.

You can tell when a group is attuned to each other when they walk in step without thinking. A happy couple naturally takes the same path, walking in harmony with each other. Perhaps splitting the pole isn’t a portend of bad luck, but a sign that you are not as aligned with your friends as you thought. Avoid any conflicts by synchronizing with your loved ones.

Angela Kaufman is a Certified Intuitive Consultant, Psychic Medium, Intuitive Empowerment, Life Coach and an LCSW. She is an amazon published author and was Featured on several shows like Discovery Channel’s A Haunting, Echoes from the Past (2007) 14 Degrees: A Paranormal Documentary, Tune In to Wellness Today with LisaMarie Tersigni, and Empowering Entrepreneurs with Melissa Carter as well as numerous radio interviews. She is the author of Queen Up! Reclaim Your Crown When Life Knocks You Down - Unleash the Power of Your Inner Tarot Queen and also co-authored three books on metaphysical spirituality (Sacred Objects, Sacred Space; Everyday Tools for the Modern Day Witch | Wicca What's the Real Deal? Breaking Through the Misconceptions | The Esoteric Dream Book; Mastering the Magickal Symbolism of the Subconscious Mind). Angela regularly conducts workshops, the Inner Queen coaching program and loves writing articles, that blend social criticism with spirituality.