Currently viewing the tag: "superstition"

Land mine victim 2

…the just world hypothesis. This is a phenomenon where people act as though the world is fundamentally just, so if a person witnesses something that seems to be an injustice, they blame the victim as if the victim had done something to warrant punishment -Alexander Drake, The Invention of Religion

Fiction Writing Prompt: How does the just world hypothesis operate in your story?

Journaling Prompt: Do you believe that people get what they deserve?

Art Prompt: Just World

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the just world hypothesis and challenge them to begin to question some of their assumptions.

Photo Credit: tonrulkens on Flickr

224.365 - August 12, 2010

In one study, participants were presented with an unfavorable horoscope and then asked to choose between either an indulgence (going to a party) or a virtuous alternate (cleaning their home). The results showed that for people who believe they could change their fate, an unfavorable horoscope increased the likelihood of that person going to the party.
Interestingly, the researchers observed that the act of counter-arguing the unfavorable horoscope required mental resources and left the fate-changers unable to resist temptation. Participants who believed in a fixed fate did not exert any mental energy on the subject, and were consequently able to stay focused on the day ahead.
“Conventional wisdom might suggest that for people who believe they can change their fate, an unfavorable horoscope should result in an attempt to improve their fate,” the authors conclude. “Our results showed that reading an unfavorable horoscope actually has the opposite effect on a person.” -Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a scene or a story where your protagonist makes an unlikely decision based on a bad horoscope.

Journaling Prompt: Do you believe in fate?

Art Prompt: Horoscope

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Inform your audience about superstitions that flourish today. 

Photo Credit: meddygarnet on Flickr


Why do people insist on pinky swearing? What’s so special about the pinky? Why is it considered such an honest appendage? -Eddie Wright, Broken Bulbs

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a scene where characters take an oath using a physical token such as the pinky swear.

Journaling Prompt: What ritual do you use when you are making a promise? Do you believe it makes the promise stronger somehow?

Art Prompt: Pinky swear

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell a funny and/or touching story about a promise you made to a friend when you were a kid.

Photo Credit: opacity on Flickr

Confusing Sign_Newhall Street_Birmingham_Sep12

This morning, going against all convention, I turned right instead of left and took my circuit—one of my circuits—in reverse. -Sven Birkerts, The Other Walk

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 is your usual routine? How do you feel if you break routine?

Art Prompt: Routine

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Write about the benefits and dangers of routine. Suggest some ways that breaking a routine can lead to growth.

Photo Credit: Ian Halsey on Flickr

Prester John of the Indies

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: MoonToad NL on Flickr

monsters in de muren

…some monsters in fiction are simply manifestations of the worst parts of us, or a trait that is out of control.
“When ideas get out of control, you get monsters,” says Cook. “Monsters, as an archetype, are simply a reflection of some aspect of our human nature greatly magnified to the level of destruction. That is where you get the werewolf, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or the Hulk — something that’s inside of us that comes out.” -Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Create a monster for your story. Read the entire article at the link above for more ideas.

Journaling Prompt: What is the scariest monster for you?

Art Prompt: Monster

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Write about our fascination with the monster archetype and what we can learn about ourselves by examining it.

Photo Credit: Sytske_R on Flickr

Unknown Couple, Tintype, Circa 1895

Victorians were cautious about giving meat to women or sedentary scholars as it was believed to arouse passions that, finding no outlet, would lead to nervous introversion and illness. But it was regarded as the ultimate food for the strong, aggressive, and manly Englishman. -Lizzie Collingham, Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerers

Fiction Writing Prompt: What does your protagonist believe about different foods, healthy or dangerous?

Journaling Prompt: What foods do you believe help your health? What foods do you believe hurt it?

Art Prompt: Meat is for Men

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Write about a strange dietary fad.

Photo Credit: lisby1 on Flickr

Comet Donati

The splendid comet of 1858, usually called Donati’s, is remembered by many persons yet living. It was, perhaps, both as seen by the naked eye and with the telescope, the most beautiful comet of which we have any record. It too marked a rich vintage year, still remembered in the vineyards of France, where there is a popular belief that a great comet ripens the grape and imparts to the wine a flavor not attainable by the mere skill of the cultivator. There are “comet wines,” carefully treasured in certain cellars, and brought forth only when their owner wishes to treat his guests to a sip from paradise. -Garrett Putman Serviss, Curiosities of the Sky

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story or scene about comet wine and it’s effect on your protagonist.

Journaling Prompt: Write about comets and your history of sky gazing.

Art Prompt: Comets

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Write about mankind’s superstitions around comets.

Photo Credit: E. Weiß on Wikimedia Commons

The Unicorn Tapestries Room:  The Unicorn is Attacked (detail).

alicorn: (now historical) The horn of a unicorn considered as a medical or pharmacological ingredient.

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

Journaling Prompt: What modern day food works like an alicorn for you?

Art Prompt: Alicorn

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

Photo Credit: peterjr1961 on Flickr


The Banshee never manifests itself to the person whose death it is prognosticating. Other people may see or hear it, but the fated one never, so that when everyone present is aware of it but one, the fate of that one may be regarded as pretty well certain. St. John Drelincourt, True Irish Ghost Stories

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about a banshee in the modern world.

Journaling Prompt: What’s your favorite ghost story? What makes it scary to you?

Art Prompt: Banshee

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Create and share a ghost story.