Currently viewing the tag: "superstition"

Myths & Mysteries

All that one can say is that these tales are not to be taken as history in any rigid sense of the word, but must for the most part be regarded as mere hints, caught from chaos, and coming down through a hundred broken mediums… –The Story of Ireland by Emily Lawless

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a tale that presents an alternate version of a myth.

Journaling Prompt: Write about your favorite legend, tale, or myth. What is it that appeals to you? How does it inspire you?

Art Prompt: Historical tales

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about your favorite legend, tale, or myth and explain what it taught you about life.

Photo Credit: Sharon Brogan on Flickr

Flooded

In the absence of scientific explanations, our ancestors were forced to conclude — quite reasonably — that hardships such as plagues, floods, and famines were instigated by supernatural forces beyond their comprehension and control, that human behavior may have been responsible for bringing it on, and that “corrections” in this behavior might help prevent future problems. What’s more, the socio-cultural adaptations required to survive these hardships inevitably led to dramatic changes in human organization, cooperation, and moral values.
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“When life is tough or when it’s uncertain, people believe in big gods,” noted Russell Gray in a statement. He’s a professor at the University of Auckland and a founding director of the Max Planck Institute for History and the Sciences in Jena, Germany. “Prosocial behavior maybe helps people do well in harsh or unpredictable environments,” he says. –George Dvorsky

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story set in a harsh climate and create a religious system for your characters.

Journaling Prompt: How does the strength of your faith vary according to your life circumstances?

Art Prompt: Harsh weather – big god

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about a religious revival that occurred during extreme circumstances.

Photo Credit: chiaralily on Flickr

Devil

To anyone blessed with the gift of discernment, it was obvious: the Devil was at work in QZ Solutions. –Be Careful What You Pray For by Kathleen Jowitt

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 mysterious happenings at your school or work.

Art Prompt: The Devil at Work

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell a humorous story about strange  happenings at your workplace.

Photo Credit: elycefeliz on Flickr

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.
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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

ancestralspirit

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, Curious.com

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