Currently viewing the tag: "superstition"

The Holy Pool of St. Fillan

At Strathfillan, there is a deep pool, called the Holy Pool, where, in olden times, they were wont to dip insane people. The ceremony was performed after sunset on the first day of the quarter, O. S.,* and before sunrise next morning. The dipped persons were instructed to take three stones from the bottom of the pool, and, walking three times round each of three cairns on the bank, throw a stone into each. They were next conveyed to the ruins of St Fillan’s chapel; and in a corner called St Fillan’s bed, they were laid on their back, and left tied all night. If next morning they were found loose, the cure was deemed perfect, and thanks returned to the saint. The pool is still (1843) visited, not by parishioners, for they have no faith in its virtue, but by people from other and distant places. –The Book of Days: A miscellany of popular antiquities in connection with the calendar, etc , W & R Chambers

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of a miraculous healing at a holy pool.

Journaling Prompt: Do you believe in miracles?

Art Prompt: Miracle

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the story of a pilgrimage to a holy place.

Photo Credit: Willie Angus on Flickr

Babe Ruth in a Red Sox uniform

The Curse of the Bambino was a superstition evolving from the failure of the Boston Red Sox baseball team to win the World Series in the 86-year period from 1918 to 2004. While some fans took the curse seriously, most used the expression in a tongue-in-cheek manner. This misfortune began after the Red Sox sold star player Babe Ruth, sometimes called The Bambino, to the New York Yankees in the off-season of 1919–1920. Before that point, the Red Sox had been one of the most successful professional baseball franchises, winning the first World Series and amassing five World Series titles. After the sale they went without a title for decades, even while the Red Sox won four American League championships from 1946 to 1986, as the previously lackluster Yankees became one of the most successful franchises in North American professional sports. The curse became a focal point of the Yankees–Red Sox rivalry over the years. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about a sports rivalry.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a superstition that you have that may be holding you back.

Art Prompt: Cursed

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the story of The Curse of the Bambino.

Photo Credit: Dennis S. Hurd on Flickr


The world did not end with a bang, nor did it end with a whimper. It was more of a chomp. And a slurp. –The Complex by J Rudolph

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write about the end of the world.

Journaling Prompt: How do you believe the world will end? Do you believe you’ll be around to experience it?

Art Prompt: The End of the World

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell a touching story about something that happened that made you feel like your world was coming to an end.

Photo Credit: Vince on Flickr

'Evening On The Estuary' - Dulas, Anglesey

The Great Storm of 1703 arrived from the southwest on 26 November (7 December in today’s calendar). In London, 2,000 chimney stacks collapsed. The New Forest lost 4,000 oaks. Ships were blown hundreds of miles off-course, and over 1,000 seamen died on the Goodwin Sands alone. News-bulletins of casualties and damage were sold all over England – a novelty at that time. The church declared that the storm was God’s vengeance for the sins of the nation. Daniel Defoe thought it was a divine punishment for poor performance against Catholic armies in the War of the Spanish Succession. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of a devastating storm.

Journaling Prompt: Why do you think extreme weather happens?

Art Prompt: Storm!

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the story of how man has attributed weather to various causes.

Photo Credit: Kris Williams on Flickr

dead cities

In the 14th century, the Black Death wreaked havoc in Europe. More than a third of the population died during the epidemic. This tiny island close to the Lido is reputedly haunted by the souls of thousands of exiled plague victims who were supposedly buried here.

As in many other places, the official record is somewhat different. Contrary to legend, there is no evidence that the island is home to a secret cemetery containing 160,000 bodies. But that doesn’t stop the story from continuing to be told. –Cursed: Take A Journey to the Scary Side of Geography by Simon Worrall

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story based in Lido during the time of the Black Death.

Journaling Prompt: Write about the scariest place you’ve ever been.

Art Prompt: Graveyard

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a story about the Black Death and its affect on Europe.

Photo Credit: Jes on Flickr

The Oaks Revisited

Kalpavrikshas are wish-granting trees which fulfill the desires of people in initial stages of worldly cycle as per Jain Cosmology. … There are 10 Kalpavrikshas which grant 10 distinct wishes such as an abode to reside, garments, utensils, nourishment including fruits and sweets, pleasant music, ornaments, fragrant flowers, shining lamps and a radiant light at night. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about someone who visits a Kalpavriksha to make a wish.

Journaling Prompt: If you could have one wish granted, what would it be?

Art Prompt: Kalpavriksha

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the lore surrounding Kalpavrikshas and other wishing trees. 

Photo Credit: Sandy/Chuck Harris on Flickr

Amityville Horror

…the Amityville murder house is probably one of the most famous houses in America. The story about what happened there, as told in the horror book and movie, is a hoax. It’s not true. But there was a mass murder there that took place in the house prior to that. I think what inspired the Lutz family to write their book was that they got freaked out while living there, and they had to have an excuse as to why they skedaddled in the middle of the night. I think a lot of people have that internal debate: “Could I live there? Would it freak me out? What if I lived next door?” –Cheryl Eddy

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about a family that moves into a house where a terrible murder has taken place. 

Journaling Prompt: How would you feel if you found out you were living in a place where something awful happened? How would you deal with it?

Art Prompt: Haunted house

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a scary story about a haunted house.

Photo Credit: Edward Simpson on Flickr


The Ouija board debuted in 1890 and it was the next in a long line of devices that had been invented to allow people to communicate with spirits. These weren’t intended to be pretend; they were deadly serious…
These were religious tools used with serious intentions. Entrepreneurs, however, saw things differently. They began marketing them as games and they were a huge hit.
Mediums resented this, so they kept innovating new and more legitimate-seeming ways of communicating. In addition, the planchette scribbles were often difficult to read. The idea of using an actual alphabet emerged and various devices were invented to allow spirits to point directly to letters and other answers.
In the 1920s, mediums came under attack from people determined to prove that they were liars. Houdini is the most famous of the anti-spiritualists and Hodge argues that he “ravaged spiritualism.”… Most mediums ended up humiliated and penniless.
“But the Ouija,” Hodge says, “just came along at the right time.” It was a hit with laypeople, surviving the attacks against spiritualists. And, so, the Ouija board is one of the only widely recognized artifacts of this time. –Lisa Wade

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story involving an Ouija board.

Journaling Prompt: Did you ever play with an Ouija board? What was the experience like?

Art Prompt: Ouija board

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a humorous or dramatic story about trying to talk to the dead.

Photo Credit: Lucy on Flickr

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


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.
“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