Currently viewing the tag: "superstition"
In 1898, when Bert Barrett was 13 years old, a shotgun blew off almost half of his left arm in a terrible hunting accident. In compliance with the laws of the time, he buried his severed appendage. The marker reads simply: “His arm lies here. May it rest in peace.” The rest of Bertram’s body is buried 11 miles away at Oak Hill Memorial Park, and his story is the source of local campfire tales.
After his amputated limb was interred at Hacienda Cemetery, the rest of Richard Bertram Barrett went on to live a very successful life. He went on to become the Chief of Sanitation for the Santa Clara County Health Department, and the road that bisects the cemetery in which his arm is buried is named for him. In 1959, he passed away at the ripe old age of 74. Though the man rests in peace, local legend tells that Bertram’s left arm comes alive on Halloween night to seek out the rest of him, buried eleven miles away from the verdant pioneer cemetery. –Grave of Bert Barrett’s Left Arm
Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of a haunted body part.
Journaling Prompt: Write about the creepiest campfire story you ever heard.
Art Prompt: Haunted arm
Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a tall tale about a haunted body part.
Photo Credit: eflon on Flickr
The consultation of the ancestors is more usually called necromancy, a vigorous tradition which is discernible from Aeneas to Hamlet. The major reasons for consulting the ancestors usually fall into the following categories, in order to:
1. Divine or gain a prophetic insight about the future.
2. Regain lost knowledge.
3. Access ancestral wisdom by oracular means.
4. Discover ancestral precedents for legal validation.
5. Reconnect one spiritual tradition with another.
6. Gain healing or revelation by proximity to an ancestral tomb.
Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story or scene that involves communication with the dead.
Journaling Prompt: How do you feel about seances, Ouija boards, mediums, etc? Do you believe we can talk to the dead?
Art Prompt: Talking to the dead
Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the history of necromancy.
Photo Credit: The astrologer of the nineteenth century (1825) on Wikimedia
“Ah, yes,” La’Rita whispered as she looked deeper into the bones. Images danced and twirled across the table, outlined by the dim candlelight. Her empty eyes poured over the phantasms, one by one. Stiff metal birds soared through the open sky, dropping massive pipes. La’Rita shuddered, feeling a sinister force was responsible for the contraptions. The form of an ancient staff passed through her vision. It held within it a great power. Metal boxes on wheels and metallic belts rolled across broken and burning landscapes, fire bursting from their elongated snouts.
Her body shook, spasms rushing up from her feet.
Apparitions whirled around La’Rita, changing, appearing, and dissipating into air. The tremors grew. La’Rita’s entire body shook. She struggled to stay in her chair.
A grizzled man wisped by her eyes. Then the fit ceased. He’d gone by fast enough that La’Rita hadn’t a chance to notice his features. Only his dark skin. She squinted her eyes, spotting the faintest aura in the air. A man with a fine mustache. La’Rita’s head throbbed as if a miner were taking a pick to it. The room shook. Was it her moving or the room?
Her gaze met the phantasmal man’s wretched eyes. The ghostly image made La’Rita sick to her stomach. Utter evil oozed out of this simple-looking man. Too much to bear. Her eyes rolled back. Darkness descended. –The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff by Lane Heymont
Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a scene involving a fortune teller or a seance.
Journaling Prompt: Have you ever had your fortune read?
Art Prompt: Reading the Bones
Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the history of reading the bones.
Photo Credit: Riza Nugraha on Flickr
Spring-heeled Jack is an entity in English folklore of the Victorian era. The first claimed sighting of Spring-heeled Jack was in 1837. Later sightings were reported all over Great Britain and were especially prevalent in suburban London, the Midlands and Scotland.
There are many theories about the nature and identity of Spring-heeled Jack. This urban legend was very popular in its time, due to the tales of his bizarre appearance and ability to make extraordinary leaps, to the point that he became the topic of several works of fiction.
Spring-heeled Jack was described by people who claimed to have seen him as having a terrifying and frightful appearance, with diabolical physiognomy, clawed hands, and eyes that “resembled red balls of fire”. One report claimed that, beneath a black cloak, he wore a helmet and a tight-fitting white garment like an oilskin. Many stories also mention a “Devil-like” aspect. Others said he was tall and thin, with the appearance of a gentleman. Several reports mention that he could breathe out blue and white flames and that he wore sharp metallic claws at his fingertips. At least two people claimed that he was able to speak comprehensible English. –Wikipedia
Fiction Writing Prompt: Create a character that terrorizes a whole city.
Journaling Prompt: Write about a character from a folk tale that scared you as a kid.
Art Prompt: Spring Heeled Jack
Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the legend of Spring Heeled Jack or another frightening character from a folk tale.
Photo Credit: Spring Heeled Jack as depicted by anonymous artist – English penny dreadful on Wikimedia
When Columbus first arrived in the New World, he described the indigenous people as friendly and causing no problems. He had been told by Queen Isabella to treat these people with respect and kindness, except if it became clear they are cannibals, in which case, all bets were off. Initially, the Spanish were looking for gold and, when they didn’t find it, they figured that the next best thing was slaves.
Lo and behold, when Columbus came back, the indigenous people who had previously been classified as friendly were suddenly described as cannibals, so you could do anything to them. You could enslave them, take their land, murder them, and treat them like pestilence. And that’s exactly what happened, with the result that a lot of the islands were de-populated. The idea of cannibalism as a taboo was used to de-humanize the people encountered on these conquests. –Cannibalism—the Ultimate Taboo—Is Surprisingly Common by Simon Worrall
Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story involving cannibalism.
Journaling Prompt: How do you feel about the way that Columbus and other explorers dealt with natives in the new world?
Art Prompt: Cannibalism
Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about cannibalism in the natural world.
Photo Credit: A Cannibal Feast in Fiji, 1869 on Wikimedia
The ancient Egyptians called the place in which the Ka, the souls of the dead, awaited reincarnation “the beanfield.” In the sixth century BC, as we saw above, Pythagoras the originator among other things of the word philosophy who use various religious themes to illustrate his teachings, refused to escape his murders by crossing a beanfield. He was acting in conformity with a major taboo. To his disciples, as to those who adhered to Orphic believes, eating beans denoted devouring one’s own parents, and fast causing serious interruption in the cycle of reincarnation (where as in many primitive systems of thought the practice of cannibalism permitted assimilation and was a kind of reincarnation). –A History of Food by Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat
Fiction Writing Prompt: Create a superstition or religious belief for your protagonist involving a bean field.
Journaling Prompt: What do you believe about reincarnation?
Art Prompt: Bean field
Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the symbolism of the bean field in ancient societies.
Photo Credit: Michael Nukular on Flickr
Chance is a funny thing and it is easily mistaken for portent. –Faitheist by Chris Stedman
Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story in which the conflict arises from a character misreading a chance occurrence.
Journaling Prompt: Have you ever made the mistake of taking a random event as a sign?
Art Prompt: Chance
Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a humorous story about a random occurrence you thought was a sign.
Photo Credit: Mark Strozier on Flickr
Trigg was a prosperous grocer with a twin-gabled shop in Middle Row, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, as well as a number of other properties. He was a church warden, an overseer of the parish, and an important man locally. It is said that one night, he and two friends witnessed grave robbers at a local graveyard, and they vowed to make sure that this would not happen to them. Trigg stated in his will that his body should be committed for a minimum of 30 years to “the West end of my Hovel to be decently laid there upon a floor erected by my Executor, upon the purlin for the same purpose, nothing doubting but that at the general Resurrection, I shall receive the same again by the mighty power of God.” According to Gentleman’s Magazine of 5 Feb 1751, Trigg’s will stated that he supposed that he would return to life after 30 years and then his estate would revert to him, and that he ordered that the barn be locked with the key inside his coffin so that he could let himself out. Shortly before he died, Trigg had negotiated with the parish authorities to rent his barn as the town’s workhouse…
Trigg died in Letchworth, Hertfordshire on 6 October 1724 before renovations could be carried out on his barn… Therefore, his remains were placed in a lead-lined coffin of oak and pine and hoisted into the rafters of the barn behind the shop, about 10 feet (3.0 m) above the ground. –Wikipedia
Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of an unusual will provision.
Journaling Prompt: What do you want done with your body after you die?
Art Prompt: Grave robbers
Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the strange story of Henry Trigg’s coffin.
Photo Credit: Henry Trigg’s coffin on Wikimedia
The Shroud of Turin or Turin Shroud (Italian: Sindone di Torino, Sacra Sindone [‘sa?kra ‘sindone] or Santa Sindone), a length of linen cloth bearing the image of a man, is believed by some Christians to be the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth, although three radiocarbon dating tests in 1988 dated a sample of the cloth to the Middle Ages. The shroud is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, northern Italy. The Catholic Church has neither formally endorsed nor rejected the shroud, but in 1958 Pope Pius XII approved of the image in association with the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus…
…The image on the shroud is much clearer in black-and-white negative than in its natural sepia color, and this negative image was first observed in 1898 on the reverse photographic plate of amateur photographer Secondo Pia, who was allowed to photograph it while it was being exhibited. A variety of methods have been proposed for the formation of the image, but the actual method used has not yet been conclusively identified. Despite numerous investigations and tests, the status of the Shroud of Turin remains murky, and the nature of the image and how it was fixed on the cloth remain puzzling. The shroud continues to be both intensely studied and controversial. –Wikipedia
Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story involving a mystery around a religious relic.
Journaling Prompt: Are mysteries surround religious relics important to your faith or not? Why?
Art Prompt: Shroud of Turin
Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the history of the Shroud of Turin.
Photo Credit: Shroud of Turin on Wikimedia
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
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Tag Cloudanimals anxiety art prompt behavior belief brain character character sketch children communication complications conflict consequences control culture death decisions description dysfunction emotions fear feelings first line human nature internal monologue journaling prompt neurosis psychology quirks relationships religion risk ritual scene spam of the week speechwriting prompt superstition surprise survival visual prompt war water weather word of the day writing prompt