What a Tangled Web…

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We are heading into the final two stories in Dark Divinations. I hope you have been enjoying this series as much as I have enjoyed putting it together.

Today’s story, by Alan Fisher, is “The Moat House Cob,” and it introduced me to a type of divination I had never heard of before–arachnomancy. This type of prophecy is definitely not for the squeamish. It uses the configuration of a spider’s web to foretell where something evil may occur. In this case, an ancient spider (the cob in the title,) foresees something wicked coming to the Tower of London where the “Prophecy Animals” are kept.

I absolutely love the Prophecy Animals. I wish they were real…especially John Dee‘s parrot speaking only Enochian.

Arachnomancy might have been new to me, but its origins are ancient and widespread. And if you would like to do some exploring of the form yourself…there’s an app for that.

Read Dark Divinations for yourself–and explore all the added features at HorrorAddicts.net!

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Is Anybody There…?

Close-up of spiritualistic seance

Today’s Dark Divination is an eerie story about a séance. “Ghost of St. John Lane” by Daphne Strasert tells of a widow who has reluctantly agreed to host a séance. She is intrigued by the thought of meeting the medium, Mr. Moses, so she allows people into her house for the first time since her husband died.

At first, the gathering seems like a waste of time, but who is the face outside the window?

I am not going to give away any of the details, because it is too nice a story to spoil.

Mediumship, and its practitioners, were a big part of Victorian Spiritualism. Communicating with the dead became a lucrative practice in the 19th century. And it provided new economic freedom to many women.

Movies, television, and literature thrive on tales of seances and their consequences.

I even have my own story to share. When my university was putting on Bell, Book, and Candle for summer repertory, the cast decided we would have a séance. This was the first “real” séance I had ever attended–the slumber parties of pre-adolescent girls don’t count.

The four of us proceeded to sit around the table with the lights out and candles lit…and I don’t know if it was the power of suggestion or what, but I saw some things that night I will never forget. My friend Randy’s face started to literally melt like wax. I saw a flaming Mobil Pegasus. Everyone had the impression of fire when we compared notes later. Somewhere, I have a record of what everyone saw. It might make a good story someday. That night, it was terrifying!

How about you? Leave me a comment if you’ve ever had a real, successful séance. I’d love to hear about it. And go read Dark Divinations from HorrorAddicts.net!

 

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My Turn…

Today’s Dark Divination is my story “Broken Crystal.” It concerns a young Irish girl with a gift of The Sight trying to use it the best way she can with a crystal ball, and still appease her mother. 

I had a lot of fun researching this story. This was a particularly good resource I found, as it presented an easy to understand guide and examples I incorporated into the story. It was a little intimidating choosing one of the most familiar divination forms for HorrorAddicts.net‘s anthology, but it was the one that spoke to me.

Here’s another tip for you. If you’re a writer beginning a new piece, you should let the story tell you the PoV it needs. I’ve told this story elsewhere…but when I wrote “Broken Crystal” for Dark Divinations (an anthology I desperately wanted to be a part of) I wrote the first draft in Third Person PoV. I liked it, but it didn’t feel like it was the best it could be. I sent it to a friend for review, and she suggested I try rewriting it in First Person PoV, and it made a world of difference.

I just wish I could afford a nice crystal of my own! Though that’s not as expensive as I thought it would be… (Not that I am psychic. I just think they are cool.)

When I was a kid, I had a lamp kind of like this one, except it sat on a table, and it always reminded me of a crystal ball. It looks like that style has gone the way of the rest of the ’60s. I couldn’t find even a single picture like the original. Ah, well.

My husband has a four-day-weekend, so I have scheduled this to post on Friday, May 22. Hopefully, I figured that out. Either way, I will resume my posting on Tuesday. Sorry for the delay in the Divinations I haven’t yet covered, but we have many projects for the weekend.

And it will give everyone a chance to come to the party on Saturday!

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Photo by Gantas Vaičiulėnas on Pexels.com

 

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Today Our Dark Divination Bakes Bread

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Today’s Dark Divinations post is about Alphitomancy  This intriguing technique goes back to Ancient Greece and involves testing a person’s innocence by feeding them barley cakes or slices of barley bread. In “Breaking Bread,” R.L. Merrill pens the tale of a young woman who fears her husband might be unfaithful, and the consequences of putting to use rites you don’t fully understand…

What is so special about barley? What is it about this cereal grain that suits it to this purpose? I think one reason is that it was hardy, plentiful, and relatively easy to grow. It would, therefore, have been on hand. Today, barley is mainly used in beer and other beverages and as animal feed. There’s even a song about barley’s importance to drink…

If you want to try this form of divination for yourself…here’s a recipe for Welsh Barley Bread. But be careful…

…and join the authors and HorrorAddicts.net as they host a party for Dark Divinations on Saturday, May 23, 2020!

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More on Stichomancy

As mentioned earlier, the story “Miss Mae’s Prayers” by H.R.R. Gorman in Dark Divinations also deals with stichomancy. In this case, it is specifically Biblical. A preacher who is consulted about a passage in the Bible by one of his parishioners is incensed to think a local “witch” is using the Bible to do the Devil’s work. He goes to confront her and finds more than he bargained for.

Again, trying hard to avoid spoilers, that is all I am going to say about the story except it was well-written and worth your read. 🙂

In addition to the articles linked in the earlier post, this site looks like a lot of fun, as it will randomly generate a stichomancy reading for you.

Since I am running so late today, I will close here. Go get your fortune told!

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What Does Your Future Hold?

Fortune Teller
(photo by Vicki MacLeod: used under CC Attribution license.)

 

In today’s Dark Divinations feature, we discuss Stephanie Ellis’s “Romany Rose.” This haunting story is a tale of a man who runs a penny gaff. One night, he hears odd noises outside his establishment, and when he investigates, he finds someone has left a mechanical fortune-telling machine outside his door.

The cards it dispenses have a disturbing way of coming true…

The Romany Rose of the title refers to an old woman with her own agenda. The Romany people, sometimes known as Gypsies–though that name has fallen out of fashion and is quite often considered derogatory in modern culture–have a long and storied history of telling fortunes.

The sinister machine at the heart of this story is fascinating, but it isn’t something I’d want to show up outside my door! If you are a more daring sort, you can order your own fortune-teller for only $11,000!

 

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Ask Quick for Whom the Bell…Tinkles?

Today’s Dark Divinations story from Jon O’Bergh tells the tale of a physical medium who wakes up in a coffin. Luckily, it’s a safety coffin. But there has to be more to the story than that, right? Of course, there is! But I’m not going to tell you what it is…you have to read the story for yourself. I, personally, really liked the depth of character I got from this unusual piece.

The first time I remember hearing about a safety coffin was thirty-five years ago now. It featured in an episode of the late, lamented Western TV show Wildside. If you’ve never heard of it, don’t feel bad. There were only six episodes, and it’s only ever been available on VHS. (I just spent far too long down the rabbit hole looking for a copy…) The town undertaker was a young woman who nearly scared a man to death when she was testing out the bell on one. I still remember the scene fondly after all this time. If you have heard of it, and happen to have a decent copy you could part with, let me know!

Premature burial was a real terror for many people in the Victorian era, as well as many other historical periods, but today’s embalming methods have pretty much done away with the chances of it happening. Have you worried about this possibility?

Read more about this story on HorrorAddicts.net when Jon joins them for an interview tomorrow and a post about the inspiration for the story on Wednesday. And don’t forget to get your copy of Dark Divinations!

 

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