Currently viewing the tag: "superstition"

mon-polydactyly

A unique prehistoric Pueblo culture thrived in the high desert of Chaco Canyon about a thousand years ago. Scientists have known about polydactyly among these people for years, based on images and skeletal remains showing extremities with extra fingers and toes. But past research revealed only hints about its importance to the ancient culture.

Initially intrigued by the divine powers attributed to polydactyls among the Maya, researchers led by anthropologist Patricia Crown of the University of New Mexico conducted a comprehensive review of evidence for the condition at the canyon’s sacred Pueblo Bonito site.
The findings, published today in American Antiquity, indicate that the society did not view six-toed individuals as supernatural, but this form of polydactyly did grant them exalted status in life and in death.

“We found that people with six toes, especially, were common and seemed to be associated with important ritual structures and high-status objects like turquoise,” says Crown, who is also a past National Geographic grantee. –Extra Fingers and Toes Were Revered in Ancient Culture by Aaron Sidder

Fiction Writing Prompt: Create a religion for your world that reveres some physical attribute that few people have. 

Journaling Prompt: What part of your body do you wish you could change?

Art Prompt: Polydactyly

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the Pueblo culture of Chaco Canyon.

Photo Credit: ReSurge International on Flickr

fri witch doctor

obeah n
  • A form of folk magic, medicine or witchcraft originating in Africa and practiced in parts of the Caribbean.
  • A magician or witch doctor of the magic craft.
  • A spell performed in the practice of the magic craft; an item associated with such a spell.

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

Journaling Prompt: What do you believe about magic?

Art Prompt: Obeah

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

Photo Credit: African Zulu Witch Doctor on Wikimedia

thurs death

And death was a soft thing, soft and black, cool and sweet and gracious. He slipped into it as a swimmer slips into the surf and it closed over him and held him and he felt the pulse and beat of it and knew the vastness and sureness of it. –Time and Again by Clifford D. Simak

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about a character and what happens after he/she dies.

Journaling Prompt: What do you believe the process of death will be like?

Art Prompt: Death

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about near death experiences.

Photo Credit: Design_Ex on Flickr

tuesday ritual

Native societies did not think of themselves as being in the world as occupants but considered that their rituals created the world and keep it operational. -Marshall McLuhan, College and University Journal, Volumes 6-7, American College Public Relations Association, 1967, p. 3

Fiction Writing Prompt: Create a ritual for your story’s culture or a personal ritual for one of your characters.

Journaling Prompt: What is your most important ritual?

Art Prompt: Ritual

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a humorous story about one of your rituals.

Photo Credit: danielle tineke on Flickr

wednesday vampire

The causes of vampiric generation were many and varied in original folklore. In Slavic and Chinese traditions, any corpse that was jumped over by an animal, particularly a dog or a cat, was feared to become one of the undead. A body with a wound that had not been treated with boiling water was also at risk. In Russian folklore, vampires were said to have once been witches or people who had rebelled against the Russian Orthodox Church while they were alive.

Cultural practices often arose that were intended to prevent a recently deceased loved one from turning into an undead revenant. Burying a corpse upside-down was widespread, as was placing earthly objects, such as scythes or sickles, near the grave to satisfy any demons entering the body or to appease the dead so that it would not wish to arise from its coffin. This method resembles the Ancient Greek practice of placing an obolus in the corpse’s mouth to pay the toll to cross the River Styx in the underworld. It has been argued that instead, the coin was intended to ward off any evil spirits from entering the body, and this may have influenced later vampire folklore. This tradition persisted in modern Greek folklore about the vrykolakas, in which a wax cross and piece of pottery with the inscription “Jesus Christ conquers” were placed on the corpse to prevent the body from becoming a vampire.

Other methods commonly practised in Europe included severing the tendons at the knees or placing poppy seeds, millet, or sand on the ground at the grave site of a presumed vampire; this was intended to keep the vampire occupied all night by counting the fallen grains, indicating an association of vampires with arithmomania. Similar Chinese narratives state that if a vampire-like being came across a sack of rice, it would have to count every grain; this is a theme encountered in myths from the Indian subcontinent, as well as in South American tales of witches and other sorts of evil or mischievous spirits or beings.

In Albanian folklore, the dhampir is the hybrid child of the karkanxholl (a werewolf-like creature with an iron mail shirt) or the lugat (a water-dwelling ghost or monster). The dhampir sprung of a karkanxholl has the unique ability to discern the karkanxholl; from this derives the expression the dhampir knows the lugat. The lugat cannot be seen, he can only be killed by the dhampir, who himself is usually the son of a lugat. In different regions, animals can be revenants as lugats; also, living people during their sleep. Dhampiraj is also an Albanian surname. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about vampires.

Journaling Prompt: Do you enjoy reading about vampires or watching vampire movies? Why or why not?

Art Prompt: Vampire

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the origins of the vampire legend.

Photo Credit: Samet Kilic on Flickr

Thursday Poltergeist

Poltergeist is the term assigned to those apparently meaningless noises and movements of objects of which we from time to time hear accounts. The word is, of course, German, and may be translated “boisterous ghost.” …

Professor Barrett, in the paper to which we have already referred, draws certain conclusions from his study of this subject; one of the chief of these is that “the widespread belief in fairies, pixies, gnomes, brownies, etc., probably rests on the varied manifestations of poltergeists.” –St. John D. (St. John Drelincourt) Seymour, True Irish Ghost Stories

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story involving a poltergeist.
Journaling Prompt: Do you believe in poltergeist or other supernatural events?

Art Prompt: Poltergeist

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell a dramatic story about a poltergeist.

prophet friday

presage v
  • (transitive) To predict or foretell something.
  • (intransitive) To make a prediction.
  • (transitive) To have a presentiment of; to feel beforehand; to foreknow.

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

Journaling Prompt: What do you believe about predicting the future?

Art Prompt: Make a prediction

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

Photo Credit: stainedglassartist on Flickr

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story with a plot driven by fairies and changelings. 

Journaling Prompt: Do you believe in fairies? Would you like to?

Art Prompt: Fairies

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about fairies and changelings.

Photo Credit: The Changeling by John_Bauer,_ 1913 on Wikimedia

witch thurs

“But what can I do?” cried she, spreading out her arms helplessly. “I can not hew down trees, as my father used; and in all this end of the king’s domain there is nothing else to be done. For there are so many shepherds that no more are needed, and so many tillers of the soil that no more can find employment. Ah, I have tried; hut no one wants a weak girl like me.”

“Why don’t you become a witch?” asked the man.

“Me!” gasped Mary-Marie, amazed. “A witch!”

“Why not?” he inquired, as if surprised.

“Well,” said the girl, laughing. “I’m not old enough. Witches, you know, are withered dried-up old hags.”
“Oh, not at all!” returned the stranger.

“And they sell their souls to Satan, in return for a knowledge of witchcraft,” continued Mary-Marie more seriously.

“Stuff and nonsense!” cried the stranger angrily.

“And all the enjoyment they get in life is riding broomsticks through the air on dark nights,” declared the girl.

“Well, well, well!” said the old man in an astonished tone. “One might think you knew all about witches, to hear you chatter. But your words prove you to be very ignorant of the subject. You may find good people and bad people in the world; and so, I suppose, you may find good witches and bad witches. But I must confess most of the witches I have known were very respectable, indeed, and famous for their kind actions.”
“Oh. I’d like to be that kind of witch!” said Mary-Marie, clasping her hands earnestly. –“The Witchcraft of Mary-Marie”, in Frank L Baum’s American Fairy Tales (1908)

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of a girl who wants to become a witch.

Journaling Prompt: Write about your favorite fairy tale witch.

Art Prompt: Witch

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

Photo Credit: Terri Kahrs on Flickr

sat ghosts

Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living. –2001 – A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke

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: Do you believe in ghosts? Have you had any experiences with them?

Art Prompt: Ghosts

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a story about an experience you had that cannot be explained logically.

Photo Credit: M. Accarino on Flickr