Currently viewing the tag: "superstition"

candle on the christmas tree

Not only at Christmas are ceremonial “trees” to be found in Germany. In the Erzgebirge there is dancing at the summer solstice round “St. John’s tree,” a pyramid decked with garlands and flowers, and lit up at night by candles. At midsummer “in the towns of the Upper Harz Mountains tall fir-trees, with the bark peeled off their lower trunks, were set up in open places and decked with flowers and eggs, which were painted yellow and red. Round these trees the young folk danced by day and the old folk in the evening”;? while on Dutch ground in Gelderland and Limburg at the beginning of May trees were adorned with lights.? -Christmas in Ritual and Tradition, Christian and Pagan by Clement A. Miles

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story or scene that involves a ceremonial tree of your own invention or from history.

Journaling Prompt: What do tress mean to you?

Art Prompt: Ceremonial tree

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience something personal about what trees symbolize to you.

Photo Credit: Christoph on Flickr

Ouija board

I acquired my first (and only, so far) Ouija board when I was 12 or 13 years old. I don’t remember exactly where I got it—whether I bought it with babysitting money or received it as a gift. I called my mom to ask if she remembered, and she wasn’t totally sure either. She was, however, suspiciously insistent on assuring me she “wouldn’t have had a problem” with me having it. She then asked my dad whether heremembered how I got it, and he said, “Tell her I ordered it online from a coven of witches.”
So I think I got it as a birthday present. -Katie Heaney

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story or scene involving a pre-teen and an Ouija board.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time when you played with an Ouija board.

Art Prompt: Ouija board

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell a humorous story about a teenage exploration into the mystical realms.

Photo Credit: Dave Winer on Flickr

woman with nose ring b-w

Hindus, for instance, as Mr. Edgar Thurston tells us, “are very particular about catching sight of some auspicious object on the morning of New Year’s Day, as the effects of omens seen on that occasion are believed to last throughout the year.” It is thought that a man’s whole prosperity depends upon the things that he then happens to fix his eyes upon.? -Christmas in Ritual and Tradition, Christian and Pagan by Clement A. Miles

Fiction Writing Prompt: Create a New Year’s Eve superstition for one of your characters OR write a story about using the reading above for inspiration.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a superstition that you or someone in your family believes in.

Art Prompt: Auspicious omen

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about a cultural superstition that you grew up believing.

Photo Credit: Harini Calamur on Flickr

Baby C

This night, O Felim the Harper, shall a girl-babe be born to thee within these castle walls. Loveliest among the lovely shall thy star-eyed daughter be; no harp-strings shall yield such music as her voice, no fairy strains pour forth such wonder-stirring sound. Yet, O Felim, in days to come, because of this fair child shall great sorrow come upon our King Concobar and upon all his realm. In those days shall Erin’s chief glory perish, for if the House of the Red Branch fall, who shall stand? -Celtic Tales, Told to the Children by Louey Chisholm

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story based on the prophecy in this Celtic folk tale.

Journaling Prompt: What prophecy or prediction for the future would you like to believe in and why?

Art Prompt: Prophecy

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience your favorite folk tale.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Stirlen on Flickr

Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales, p. 63

If we wish to know the true history of a people, to understand the causes of its sorrows and its joys, to estimate its worth, and to know how to rule it wisely and well, let us read such old-world tales carefully, and ponder them well. Even if prejudice or ignorance should induce us to undervalue their worth as authentic records of its ancient history, let us remember the undeniable fact, that they are authentic records of its deepest national feelings, and let them, at least, have their weight as such in our schemes of social economy, for the present and the future. -An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800 by Mary Frances Cusack

Fiction Writing Prompt: Add to your character sketch. What tales did your protagonist grow up hearing? How did they affect him or her.

Journaling Prompt: What was your favorite folk tale or fairy tale when you were growing up? What lessons did it teach you?

Art Prompt: Folk tale

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a folk tale from your culture and share what it has taught you.

Photo Credit: plaisanter~ on Flickr

Laugh-Out-Loud Cats #2007

A falling star! What luck! -Artemis Awakening by Jane Lindskold

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 think about when you see a falling star?

Art Prompt: Falling star

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about an upcoming astronomical event and how they can best view it in your area.

Photo Credit: Adam Koford on Flickr


To salute a person who sneezed with some form of benediction, was a pagan custom. It is said to have originated through an opinion of the danger attending it; and the exclamation used was: “Jupiter help me!” In Ireland, the pagan custom still remains, but it has been Christianized, and “God bless you!” is substituted for the pagan form. -An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800 by Mary Frances Cusack

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about a pagan custom that you’ve created. Trace its practice through the centuries.

Journaling Prompt: How do you react if someone around you sneezes or coughs? What protective steps do you take to stay healthy?

Art Prompt: Sneeze

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the origin of some of our customs and rituals.

Photo Credit: Allan Foster on Flickr

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