Currently viewing the tag: "myth"

Now the chi-lin, the Chinese unicorn, is not only an altogether different species from the white European variety or the menacing Persian karkadann; it is also a different matter in its essence from either one. Apart from its singular physical appearance—indeed, there are scholars who claim that the chi-lin is no unicorn at all, but some sort of mystical dragon-horse, given its multicolored coat and the curious configuration of its head and body—this marvelous being is considered one of the Four Superior Animals of Good Omen, the others being the phoenix, the turtle, and the dragon itself. –The Story of Kao Yu by Peter S. Beagle

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about a mythical creature, like the chi-lin, that wanders into modern society.

Journaling Prompt: Would you like to meet a chi-lin, which is a creature that punishes falsehood? Why or why not?

Art Prompt: Chi-lin

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about a mythical creature that they may not have heard from and what we learn from it about the society that imagined it.

Create whatever this visual prompt inspires in you!

the gundestrup cauldron

Cerridwen was not only mother of birth, but also of death and transformation. In another legend, she offers Bran the Blessed her magical cauldron, which can resurrect the dead warriors placed inside it. This Cauldron of Regeneration, womb of the death mother, was one of the most famous treasures of Celtic myth. Bran later was transmogrified into the Fisher King of Grail legend, with the Cauldron of Cerridwen recast as the Holy Grail. The cup, as a universal symbol of the mother-element, water, reflects the womb-vessel, and later, the chalice of resurrection, “the female-symbolic bowl of life-giving blood.”5 As for its feminine characteristics, the Grail dispenses both material food and spiritual solace. It preserves youth and maintains life. It heals knights wounded in battle. It radiates light and a sweet fragrance; it rejoices the troubled heart. In all these ways it is a source of solace and spirituality, elevating man above the animal and toward the divine. It is the guiding symbol, the anima, for which man quests. –From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey through Myth and Legend by Valerie Estelle Frankel

Fiction Writing Prompt: How has resurrection – physical or emotional – played a role in your protagonist’s life? Add to your character sketch.

Journaling Prompt: In what part of your life have you experienced a resurrection? How has that affected you?

Art Prompt: Holy Grail

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the role of resurrection in myths from many cultures and why it is such a powerful symbol.

Photo Credit: mararie on Flickr

Amazon Tomb at Kütahya Museum of Archaeology

Amazons, the female warriors who fought Heracles and other heroes in Greek myth, were long assumed to be an imaginative Greek invention. But Amazon-like women were real–although of course the myths were made up. Archaeological discoveries of battle- scarred female skeletons buried with weapons prove that warlike women really did exist among nomads of the Scythian steppes of Eurasia. So Amazons were Scythian women–and the Greeks understood this long before modern archaeology. –author

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story or scene involving ancient female warriors.

Journaling Prompt: Imagine yourself in ancient times. What role would you play?

Art Prompt: Warrior women

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your readers an historical tale about ancient female warriors.

Photo Credit: voyageAnatolia.tumblr.com on Flickr

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The pot-bellied cauldron full of delicious things simmering away has a permanent place in folk memory. It appears in a number of legends. In the myths of the Celts, who had hearty appetites, the cauldron of abundance magically provides both inexhaustible food an inexhaustible knowledge. Sinister concoctions, on the other hand, bubble in the cauldrons of witchs or malevolent goddesses. In Chinese legend, the elixir of immortality is made in a tripod cauldron- reminiscent of the Irish sheepskin fixed to its three points. Immortality is often the end to be achieved by drinking the boiled liquids of Greek myth. Medea boiled old Kin Pelias himself, claiming that he would be rejuvenated. –History of Food by Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a scene involving a cauldron.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a memory of your family and cooking.

Art Prompt: Cauldron

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a folktale involving a cauldron.

Photo Credit: Marchnwe on Flickr

Disney - Poisoned (Explored)

The shadow archetype, described by Jung’s philosophy, is the characteristics of ourself we most detest, projected onto another person of the same gender, as “the shadow cast by the conscious mind of the individual contains the hidden, repressed, and unfavorable (or nefarious) aspects of the personality.”” However, more than simply the inverse of the heroine, this shadow has hidden positive qualities as well, often strong and assertive where the heroine is silent and passive. And as the dark mother or witch-queen is the heroine’s shadow, the daughter also represents the shadow for the mother – her flaws and unfulfilled desires made manifest. In her battle to achieve a higher consciousness, the heroine pits herself against this shadow, and must integrate it into the self. To Jungian scholars, though the shadow has been buried in the underworld, it has much to offer the questor. –From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey through Myth and Legend by Valerie Estelle Frankel

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a modern myth using the dark mother archetype.

Journaling Prompt: What myth about a dark mother did you hear growing up? What did it mean to you?

Art Prompt: Dark mother

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a classic myth the incorporates the dark mother archetype.

Photo Credit: Joe Penniston on Flickr

Arcadia II

In the twelfth century, a letter started circulating around medieval courts. This letter was from Prester John, the ruler of a utopian Christian nation with utopian societies and perpetual miracles. It was one of the first fantasies about stepping through a special passage to a magical land.
For three centuries, European monarchs sought out the kingdom of Prester John. Cartographers put in on maps, moving it from Asia to Africa to the Americas, as geographic knowledge expanded. Expeditions, many of which never returned, were sent out bringing letters and gifts to the great king. –Esther Ingliss-Arkell

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story or scene set in the time of Prester John.

Journaling Prompt: How do you envision a perfect place? 

Art Prompt: Utopia

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell the story of Prester John and how it captured the imaginations of people.

Photo Credit: Daniel Stark on Flickr

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I think I’ve met this monster. Maybe you have as well. If you’re writing fiction, this monster is an absolute must for your character’s life experiences.

The terrible dragon, with one hundred heads, that guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides, slain by Hercules, was celebrated in classic mythology; so was the Lernean hydra, a monster of the marshes that ravaged the country of Lerna in Argolis, destroying both men and beasts. The number of its heads varies with the poets, though ancient gems usually represent it with seven or nine. Hercules was sent to kill it as one of his twelve labours. After driving the monster from its lair with arrows he attacked it with his sword, and in place of each head he struck off two sprang up. Setting fire to a neighbouring wood with the firebrands he seared the throat of the Hydra until he at length succeeded in slaying it. The fable is usually referred to in illustration of a difficulty which goes on increasing as it is combated. -John Vinycomb, Fictitious And Symbolic Creatures In Art – With Special Reference To Their Use In British Heraldry

Writing Prompt: Create a situation for your protagonist that increases in difficulty as he or she works through it.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a situation that seemed to get harder, stickier, or more painful as you worked through it.

Art Prompt: Hydra

Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Inform your audience what they should do when they run into a situation where the degree of difficulty keeps going up.

Photo Credit: Zaqarbal on Flickr

sailing ship


Humans have fabulous imaginations. Anything we don’t understand, we will create an explanation for. No matter how unlikely our explanation is, it will relieve our anxiety.

The ships of the early navigators, with masts and sails and other requisites for directing their motion or influencing their speed, would be objects of astonishment to the inhabitants of the countries they visited, causing them to be received with the utmost respect and veneration. The ship was taken for a living animal, and hence originated, some say, the fables of winged dragons, griffons, flying citadels, and men transformed into birds and fishes. The winged Pegasus was nothing but a ship with sails and hence was said to be the offspring of Neptune. -John Vinycomb, Fictitious And Symbolic Creatures In Art – With Special Reference To Their Use In British Heraldry

Writing Prompt: Create a scene where a character must create an explanation for something they do not understand. Exercise your description skills.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time when you, as a child, made up a magical explanation for something you didn’t understand.

Art Prompt: Pegasus

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the history of naming ships.

Photo Credit: pareeerica on Flickr

bearded old man

Humans are, by nature, superstitious beings. Our brain is always trying to make sense of the world, and what it can’t explain logically eventually becomes the basis for myth and superstition. Superstitions create anxiety, which requires the use of ritual for calming. Superstitions are not always individual manifestations. they are frequently cultural. And thus we arrive at today’s quote:

…milk was put every Saturday for Greogach, or ‘the Old Man with the Long Beard.’ Whether Greogach was courted as kind, or dreaded as terrible, whether they meant, by giving him the milk, to obtain good, or avert evil, I was not informed. -Samuel Johnson, Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland (free for your Kindle or Kindle software

Writing Prompt: Make a list of the irrational beliefs (superstitions) that each of your characters has. How do they affect their behavior?

Journaling Prompt: Write about a superstition that you have and how it affects your behavior.

Art Prompt: Superstition

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a humorous story about a superstition that got you in trouble.

Photo Credit: medium as muse on Flickr