Currently viewing the tag: "superstition"

Blue Gold Game 2013 - University of Notre Dame

Games are like any unscripted situation in which no one knows the results until they occur. Although this is what makes sports (and reality shows) so exciting, it’s also what drives fans to distraction. They want to know the outcome, and they want that outcome to be favorable. They also know realistically that they can’t control it, though, and this is the crux of the superstition. If I can’t actually influence an event’s outcome, but I think I can (through my superstition), I’ll at least feel a little bit less anxious.
For many people, not having control over an outcome is a frightening proposition. For these uncontrollable situations in life, the more important it is, the more likely you will be to try to dream up ways to control its outcome even though it may be unrealistic for you to do so. –Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D.

Fiction Writing Prompt: Put your protagonist in a situation where he or she has no control over the outcome. Show  us the internal monologue, especially the magical thinking.

Journaling Prompt: What are your rituals in situations where you have no control over the outcome?

Art Prompt: Superstitions in times of no control

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a humorous story about the superstitions and rituals that influence you on game day.

Photo Credit: gbozik photography on Flickr


Ancestral spirits, it seems, were once believed to be immanent in the fire that burned on the hearth, and had to be propitiated with libations, while elsewhere the souls of the dead were thought to return to their old homes at the New Year, and meat and drink had to be set out for them. The Church’s establishment of All Souls’ Day did much to keep practices of tendance of the departed to early November, but sometimes these have wandered to later dates and especially to Christmas. In folk-practices directed towards the dead two tendencies are to be found: on the one hand affection or at all events consideration for the departed persists, and efforts are made to make them comfortable; on the other, they are regarded with dread, and the sight of them is avoided by the living. –Christmas in Ritual and Tradition, Christian and Pagan by Clement A. Miles

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story where the conflict is created by an ancestral spirit.

Journaling Prompt: What do you believe about what happens after we die?

Art Prompt: Ancestral spirits

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about various cultural beliefs about ancestral spirits and how these beliefs shape the culture.

Photo Credit: xxx on Flickr

closet-monster double-take

…every morning, the closet door was open. sharon made sure to shut it just before she tucked hazel into bed, and always pushed against it until she heard the click of the latch. it was almost a ritual, and she wouldn’t begin hazel’s bedtime story until the door was secure. she even thought about putting a slide lock on the outside of the door, but didn’t want to provoke any questions from the already nervous six year old. –Nothing to be Afraid Of by Esmi Rowan

Fiction Writing Prompt: Use the first line of the week as the starting point or inspiration for a scene, story, poem, or haiku.

Journaling Prompt: Write about something you were scared of as a child.

Art Prompt: Behind the closet door

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: prompt

Photo Credit: David W. McKelvey on Flickr

Ghost in the Dream

In 1873, a man was convicted of murdering his wife based on the testimony of a ghost. Erasmus Shue, a West Virginian blacksmith, claimed to have discovered his wife dead at the foot of their staircase. By the time authorities arrived, he had dressed the corpse in a high-necked dress. He then cradled her head so tightly the coroner could only examine the limbs. After the funeral, during which Shue acted erratically and insisted on wrapping a scarf around the corpse’s neck, Shue’s mother-in-law claimed she was visited by the ghost of her daughter. The ghost said Shue had beaten her regularly and strangled her in a fit of rage over not making meat for dinner. The mother-in-law badgered the authorities until they agreed to exhume the body. Sure enough, there were thumb bruises and a broken neck hidden by the scarf and high-collared dress. Shue was tried for murder, and the key testimony was the mother-in-law recounting the visit from the ghost and the eerily accurate information it provided. The jury needed only an hour to find Shue guilty of murder. –Justin Kitch,

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of a murder trial that hinges on the testimony of a ghost.

Journaling Prompt: What is the strangest story you’ve ever heard about a ghost?

Art Prompt: Testimony of the ghost

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience an interesting story about unusual testimony in a court trial.

Photo Credit: Keoni Cabral on Flickr

Voodoo Doll

In 1942, reports were streaming in from around the world about “voodoo” death: South American Tupinamba men, condemned by medicine men, died of fright. Hausa people in Niger withered away after being told they were bewitched. Aboriginal tribesmen in Australia, upon seeing an enemy pointing a hexed bone at them, went into convulsions and passed away. “Voodoo” death, according to Cannon, was real: “It is a fatal power of the imagination working through unmitigated terror.”… –Daphne Chen

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about voodoo death.

Journaling Prompt: What do you believe about superstitions like voodoo death?

Art Prompt: Voodoo death

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about voodoo death and the contagious fright involved that caused so many death.

Photo Credit: Davide Restivo on Flickr

Throwing a Coin for Luck

propitious adjective
  • presenting favorable conditions; favorable: propitious weather.
  • indicative of favor; auspicious: propitious omens.
  • favorably inclined; disposed to bestow favors or forgive: propitious gods.

Fiction Writing Prompt: Use the word of the week in whatever you write today.

Journaling Prompt: What things do you see as a propitious sign that things are going to go your way?

Art Prompt: Propitious

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt:Use the word of the week in your article or speech.

Photo Credit: Josh Vaughn on Flickr

On Pilgrimage

Mirrors appeared so magical that they were quickly integrated into somewhat bizarre sacred rituals: During holy pilgrimages, it became common practice for well-off pilgrims to take a mirror with them. When visiting sacred relics, they would position themselves so that they could catch sight of the bones in the mirror’s reflection. Back home, they would then show off these mirrors to friends and relatives, boasting that they had brought back physical evidence of the relic by capturing the reflection of the sacred scene. Before turning to the printing press, Gutenberg had the start-up idea of manufacturing and selling small mirrors for departing pilgrims. –How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story based on something that seems commonplace now being transported back to medieval times.

Journaling Prompt: Do some mirror work and then write about your experience.

Art Prompt: Magical mirrors

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the history of mirrors and their impact on civilization in different eras.

Photo Credit: Jim Forest on Flickr

? Paradis perdu ? Paradise lost ?

They said the tree of love bloomed in a valley, its roots thrusting deep into the fertile earth, its trunk twenty arm-length’s thick and steady, a shudder of gold-tipped leaves making up its crown. From the limbs red fruits drooped, as large the head of a child. Any lovers that committed to each other in the shimmer of the tree’s leaves were blessed. –Syrek and the Curious Blessing by Sylvia Hiven

Fiction Writing Prompt: Use the first line of the week as the starting point or inspiration for a scene, story, poem, or haiku.

Journaling Prompt: What do you believe blesses a relationship? 

Art Prompt: Tree of Love

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the key factors in having a blessed relationship.

Photo Credit: nicolas_gent on Flickr

Let Them Sleep Who Do Not Know

In Roumania St. Andrew’s Eve [Nov. 30] is a creepy time, for on it vampires are supposed to rise from their graves, and with coffins on their heads walk about the houses in which they once lived. Before nightfall every woman takes some garlic and anoints with it the door locks and window casements; this will keep away the vampires. At the cross-roads there is a great fight of these loathsome beings until the first cock crows; and not only the dead take part in this, but also some living men who are vampires from their birth. Sometimes it is only the souls of these living vampires that join in the fight; the soul comes out through the mouth in the form of a bluish flame, takes the shape of an animal, and runs to the crossway. If the body meanwhile is moved from its place the person dies, for the soul cannot find its way back. –Christmas in Ritual and Tradition, Christian and Pagan by Clement A. Miles

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story set on St. Andrew’s Eve in Romania.

Journaling Prompt: Do you or someone in your family have a superstitious ritual? Write about it.

Art Prompt: St. Andrew’s Eve

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about some of the old world superstitions that are being popularized on TV and in movies today.

Photo Credit: Annadriel on Flickr

Italians on Comb

The Hebrew for bee is dbure, from the root dbr, meaning ‘word’…indicating the bee’s mission to reveal the Divine Word, the Truth.
The ‘truth’, a message from above, was thought to be passed on by bees in their honey so that the elect could express the truth in scholarship and poetry. Accordingly, bees were supposed to have settled on the lifps of Plato, Pindar, and the well-named Saint Ambrose of Milan as children… the women of the Ivory Coast and Senegal still rub a baby’s lips with honey as soon as it has uttered its first cry of fury at being born…
There is still an Eastern custom whereby a spoonful of honey is poured into the palms of a newly married couples’s hands. They must lick it off for each other as a sign that they will now take all their food together, and it is said to ensure that the husband will not lift his hand to his wife except to caress her, and none but loving words will spring to the wife’s lips – not just during the aptly named honeymoon but forever after. –A History of Food by Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story or scene that uses what this reading teaches about the symbolism of bees.

Journaling Prompt: Write about bees and the feelings they create in you.

Art Prompt: Bees

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the symbolism of bees.

Photo Credit: De Anna on Flickr