Spirituality is to religion what pineapple is to pizza: they’re often combined but shouldn’t. You can’t really compare the two either, in the same way that you can’t compare pizza to curry. Like Rolling Stones and Beatles, Amsterdam and Paris, cats and dogs: no need to discuss differences or argue which one is better. But if you insist on comparing spiritual apples to religious pears anyway, the difference can best be described as follows: spiritual people are in search of what to believe, whereas religious people are already told what to believe. Spiritual people want to get away from the grip of society, whereas religious people want to tighten that grip. Spiritual people take psychedelic drugs at a Rolling Stones concert in Amsterdam believing they’re a reincarnated cat, whereas religious people believe that this will be your one-way ticket to Hell.

There is also something called superstition, which is often mistaken for a side-product of spirituality. But that’s like calling Domino’s pizza Italian food: it’s a pizza, but lots of people will be offended if you call it Italian, or even food. Nonetheless, Domino’s and Italy at least agree that pizza should be based on dough. Likewise, superstition and spirituality both agree that belief doesn’t require evidence nor rationalization. Difference being is that Italian pizza has flavour and spirituality has purpose. Spiritual people aim to save their soul, enlighten other souls, and protect humanity from inhumanity. Superstitious people, on the other hand, believe strange things for seemingly the sake of it. It defeats all logic. But if you insist on making sense out of it anyway, superstition can best described as follows: it’s the believe that small rituals have the power to influence the imaginary forces of good and bad luck.

My friend believes that amethysts bring good luck. She wears one around her neck at all times to make sure fate is on her side. My sister believes that cacti bring bad luck. She refuses to come near them to make sure disaster won’t strike. My boyfriend believes that our poor sex life is caused by me not looking people in the eye while toasting. More commonly accepted triggers of bad luck are the number thirteen and black cats. Luckily, when you fear that you’ve invoked bad luck, you can undo it by crossing your fingers or touching wood. But what happens when you touch wood thirteen times is unclear. And what happens when you buy a cactus while wearing an amethyst is also somewhat of a grey area. And when twenty people sit in a bus, of which ten have obeyed all rules whilst the other ten have played with their own fate, it’s uncertain who exactly caused the bus to fall off a cliff, killing all twenty passengers.

It’s impressive that luck and fate keep track of millions and millions of people who daily face choices and constantly make right or wrong decisions. At least that’s one thing superstition has in common with religion and spirituality: the algorithms are astonishing. Take for instance Murphy’s law, which predicts that when one thing goes wrong, everything will go wrong. But there are 7 billion of us. Wouldn’t the system crash if everything keeps going wrong for everyone who experiences a small misfortune? Likewise, the number of spiritual people looking for their purpose in life seems to outnumber the purposes available in life. Perhaps that’s why spiritual journeys only start in wealthy communities and never in slums: not enough vacancy. The number of religious people asking for favours also outweighs the favours that God can realistically return. That’s why millions of people pray in vain: not enough capacity.

When you ask believers about the logistics behind their beliefs, the answer will vary. Superstitious people will tell you that it is simply because it is. It’s like asking why marriage is a drain: just accept it and carry on. Spiritual people will tell you that you don’t need to know the answer, because the path will eventually lead you to the truth. It’s like hanging at the airport looking for a destination that you don’t intend on travelling to for the next twenty years. Religious people will tell you to turn to God. As long as you pray, He will give you the answer to everything. But I’m quite a curious person, how much praying does it take? If I start praying now, will it make up for my faithless past? And if I forget to pray on a lazy Sunday afternoon, will I be punished? Perhaps I’d rather be superstitious. Then I can at least pick my own travel destination and don’t risk Hell being the end point. As long as I kiss the floor before boarding the aeroplane, I foresee no problems.

Superstitiously dedicated, I head to the airport and decide on Aruba. I’m welcomed by sunny weather, which is no coincidence because I burned shitloads of chamomile candles in front of my dreamcatcher before I left. But just a few hours later, a huge thunderstorm covers the sky. It must be the fat German sitting next to me… that’s what you get when you share a beach with people who don’t burn their fucking candles. I curse him and go to the bar for shelter. But when I order a glass of wine, I’m told they’ve run out. Yet when the fat German orders a whiskey right next to me, it’s not a problem. Murphy’s law has turned against me, I better retreat and juggle my yin yangs. After an hour of rituals, I head out to the restaurant. When I arrive, I’m informed that the luxurious buffet had to be replaced by fish and chips due to a power shortage. Stunned, I rush out to buy sage bundles so I can smoke the bad spirits out of every corner of the resort.

Hidden behind palm trees under the cover of darkness, I’m caught burning sage. It’s the fat German asking what in God’s name I’m doing. When I explain myself, he laughs and walks away. But soon he returns, holding a mirror. “Isn’t this supposed to bring bad luck as well?” he asks, before breaking it into a million pieces. Horrified, I run back to my bungalow and throw salt in the air. This holiday is turning into a disaster. Then, there’s a knock on the door. It’s the fat German holding a ladder. He grins and threatens to walk underneath it. I beg him not to, but he does it anyway. No yin yang can make up for this shit. I throw my stone collection at him, and he shouts that he’ll get revenge. He starts running but I manage to tackle him halfway, after which we both tumble into the swimming pool. I climb out soaking wet, when I notice that the fat German ain’t moving no more.

What happened after that is somewhat of a blur. People came running to pull the fat German out, and I remember bubbles coming out of his mouth. Sirens and blue lights started arriving, and I recall hand cuffs on my wrists. Blood was seeping from a gap on my forehead, and I remember leaving the premises in a police car. Two days later, I receive a letter from the Aruban Government informing me that I’m suspected of attempted manslaughter. While awaiting trial, I return home. Straight after landing I check myself into the nearest church. Forgive me Jesus, I’m all yours. But because I’ve questioned God’s way in the past, the Christian community has no interest in letting me in. I reach out to spiritualists and offer them to help looking for that path they keep talking about. But the answer is simple: “my aura is too dark.” I return home alone, without a support system. I toss my collection of good luck charms in the bin. It’s a rather strange thought, but from now on I’m gonna be in charge of my own fate.