Currently viewing the tag: "superstition"

Just outside of the tiny town of Vik, whose population hovers just above 300, lies the famed black pebble beach called Reynisfjara. Towering, hexagonal basalt columns rise from the dark sand at the base of Reynisfjell Mountain, and 216-foot rock pillars called Reynisdrangar jut out of the turbulent North Atlantic Ocean just off the coast.

According to Icelandic folklore, these pillars actually used to be trolls. While dragging a three-mast ship towards land, the trolls were taking too long to reach the shore, and at the break of dawn were instantly turned to stone. Even today, it is believed that if you drive near by the cliffs you can hear their wails and moans, as they long for their home in the mountains. –The Eerie Folktales Behind Iceland’s Natural Wonders by Austa Somvichian-Clausen

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of the trolls before they were turned into stone.

Journaling Prompt: What is your favorite story about living beings turned into stones? What is it that appeals to you about this story?

Art Prompt: Trolls

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about a local legend.

Photo Credit: Christian Rüfli on Flickr

I still remember that moment as if it was yesterday. I was nine years old when I first encountered La Guadalupe. I traveled with Abuela from my hometown Yabucoa, a small town on the southeast coast of Puerto Rico, to Ponce, the island’s second major city. We were going to visit Abuela’s relatives.

“First things first, ” Abuela announced when we arrived. “We will go the Ponce Cathedral to pay our respects to the Virgin of Guadalupe.” –Lillian Comas

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of someone who is going to pay homage.

Journaling Prompt: Who do you or would you travel to pay homage to?

Art Prompt: Paying homage

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the history of a local shrine that people travel to.

Photo Credit: Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P. on Flickr

If you watch by the gate at midnight on All Hallows Night to see who will die within the coming year you are in danger of being the first comer yourself and you will become the “Churchyard Walker” and the guardian of the graveyard until another foolhardy and impious person disturbs the Service of the Dead. –Remains of Gentilism and Judaism by John Aubrey

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of someone who watches at the gate on All Hallows Night and becomes a Churchyard Walker..

Journaling Prompt: Write about a superstition that you have or have heard of regarding graveyards and how you feel about it.

Art Prompt: Watching by the Gate

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about superstitions surrounding graveyards.

Photo Credit: Des D. Mona on Flickr

For a ghost story, the tale of Violet Saville Devohr was vague and underwhelming. –The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai

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 the scariest camp fire story you ever heard.

Art Prompt: Ghost story

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a spooky ghost story with a twist at the end.

Photo Credit: Yosomono on Flickr

I’m not scared of the woods. I’m scared of being lost in the woods, unable to find my way back to the main road and the brush where I hid the bike. Mostly, I’m scared about what else might be in the woods hunting the deer hunters. –The Omega Project by Steve Alten

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a horror story about something that hunts the hunters in the woods.

Journaling Prompt: What scares you about being in a wilderness area.

Art Prompt: Hunted

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about common fears about going out into the wilderness and what they can do to stay safe.

Photo Credit: Nick Vidal-Hall on Flickr

In 1898, when Bert Barrett was 13 years old, a shotgun blew off almost half of his left arm in a terrible hunting accident. In compliance with the laws of the time, he buried his severed appendage. The marker reads simply: “His arm lies here. May it rest in peace.” The rest of Bertram’s body is buried 11 miles away at Oak Hill Memorial Park, and his story is the source of local campfire tales.

After his amputated limb was interred at Hacienda Cemetery, the rest of Richard Bertram Barrett went on to live a very successful life. He went on to become the Chief of Sanitation for the Santa Clara County Health Department, and the road that bisects the cemetery in which his arm is buried is named for him. In 1959, he passed away at the ripe old age of 74. Though the man rests in peace, local legend tells that Bertram’s left arm comes alive on Halloween night to seek out the rest of him, buried eleven miles away from the verdant pioneer cemetery. –Grave of Bert Barrett’s Left Arm

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of a haunted body part.

Journaling Prompt: Write about the creepiest campfire story you ever heard.

Art Prompt: Haunted arm

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a tall tale about a haunted body part.

Photo Credit: eflon on Flickr

The consultation of the ancestors is more usually called necromancy, a vigorous tradition which is discernible from Aeneas to Hamlet. The major reasons for consulting the ancestors usually fall into the following categories, in order to:
1. Divine or gain a prophetic insight about the future.
2. Regain lost knowledge.
3. Access ancestral wisdom by oracular means.
4. Discover ancestral precedents for legal validation.
5. Reconnect one spiritual tradition with another.
6. Gain healing or revelation by proximity to an ancestral tomb.

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story or scene that involves communication with the dead.

Journaling Prompt: How do you feel about seances, Ouija boards, mediums, etc? Do you believe we can talk to the dead?

Art Prompt: Talking to the dead

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the history of necromancy.

“Ah, yes,” La’Rita whispered as she looked deeper into the bones. Images danced and twirled across the table, outlined by the dim candlelight. Her empty eyes poured over the phantasms, one by one. Stiff metal birds soared through the open sky, dropping massive pipes. La’Rita shuddered, feeling a sinister force was responsible for the contraptions. The form of an ancient staff passed through her vision. It held within it a great power. Metal boxes on wheels and metallic belts rolled across broken and burning landscapes, fire bursting from their elongated snouts.

Her body shook, spasms rushing up from her feet.

Apparitions whirled around La’Rita, changing, appearing, and dissipating into air. The tremors grew. La’Rita’s entire body shook. She struggled to stay in her chair.

A grizzled man wisped by her eyes. Then the fit ceased. He’d gone by fast enough that La’Rita hadn’t a chance to notice his features. Only his dark skin. She squinted her eyes, spotting the faintest aura in the air. A man with a fine mustache. La’Rita’s head throbbed as if a miner were taking a pick to it. The room shook. Was it her moving or the room?

Her gaze met the phantasmal man’s wretched eyes. The ghostly image made La’Rita sick to her stomach. Utter evil oozed out of this simple-looking man. Too much to bear. Her eyes rolled back. Darkness descended. –The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff by Lane Heymont

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a scene involving a fortune teller or a seance.

Journaling Prompt: Have you ever had your fortune read?

Art Prompt: Reading the Bones

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the history of reading the bones.

Photo Credit: Riza Nugraha on Flickr

Spring-heeled Jack is an entity in English folklore of the Victorian era. The first claimed sighting of Spring-heeled Jack was in 1837. Later sightings were reported all over Great Britain and were especially prevalent in suburban London, the Midlands and Scotland.

There are many theories about the nature and identity of Spring-heeled Jack. This urban legend was very popular in its time, due to the tales of his bizarre appearance and ability to make extraordinary leaps, to the point that he became the topic of several works of fiction.

Spring-heeled Jack was described by people who claimed to have seen him as having a terrifying and frightful appearance, with diabolical physiognomy, clawed hands, and eyes that “resembled red balls of fire”. One report claimed that, beneath a black cloak, he wore a helmet and a tight-fitting white garment like an oilskin. Many stories also mention a “Devil-like” aspect. Others said he was tall and thin, with the appearance of a gentleman. Several reports mention that he could breathe out blue and white flames and that he wore sharp metallic claws at his fingertips. At least two people claimed that he was able to speak comprehensible English. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Create a character that terrorizes a whole city.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a character from a folk tale that scared you as a kid.

Art Prompt: Spring Heeled Jack

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the legend of Spring Heeled Jack or another frightening character from a folk tale.

When Columbus first arrived in the New World, he described the indigenous people as friendly and causing no problems. He had been told by Queen Isabella to treat these people with respect and kindness, except if it became clear they are cannibals, in which case, all bets were off. Initially, the Spanish were looking for gold and, when they didn’t find it, they figured that the next best thing was slaves.

Lo and behold, when Columbus came back, the indigenous people who had previously been classified as friendly were suddenly described as cannibals, so you could do anything to them. You could enslave them, take their land, murder them, and treat them like pestilence. And that’s exactly what happened, with the result that a lot of the islands were de-populated. The idea of cannibalism as a taboo was used to de-humanize the people encountered on these conquests. –Cannibalism—the Ultimate Taboo—Is Surprisingly Common by Simon Worrall

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story involving cannibalism.

Journaling Prompt: How do you feel about the way that Columbus and other explorers dealt with natives in the new world?

Art Prompt: Cannibalism

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about cannibalism in the natural world.

Photo Credit: A Cannibal Feast in Fiji, 1869 on Wikimedia