Egyptian Afterlife: Weighing of the Soul

Arkane Curiosities

The ancient Egyptians believed that all deeds resided in a person’s heart — the bad and the good. When you died, your heart was weighed against the feather of Maat (goddess of truth and justice). This process was called the weighing of the soul and it determined what sort of afterlife you could expect.

Ma’at – A Universe in Perfect Order

The goddess Ma’at was the daughter of Ra and married to Thoth, god of wisdom. But she was so much more than a simple goddess in the mythological hierarchy of Egypt. Ma’at was a primordial force that keep the world working. With Ma’at, the world had order because she kept everything in balance.

The ancient Egyptians believed the universe had an order to it, and it was Ma’at who kept everything in balance. Her name referred to the overarching concept of truth, order, and justice that she represented. The ancient Egyptians believed that the world was maintained through the principles of Ma’at, which included notions of truthfulness, moral integrity, and social harmony.

A Single Feather

The Feather of Ma’at, also known as the Feather of Truth, was a symbolic element in ancient Egyptian mythology and religious beliefs. After death, a person’s soul would enter the Hall of Ma’at in the underworld, where their heart would be weighed against the Feather of Ma’at on a set of scales. 

If the heart was found to be lighter than the Feather of Ma’at, it symbolized that the person had led a virtuous and just life, adhering to the principles of truth and social harmony. The person was deemed worthy to proceed to the eternal paradise known as the “Field of Reeds.”

Should the scales tip unfavorably, signifying a heart burdened with the weight of wrongdoing, a dire fate awaited the soul. Ammit, a fearsome deity with the head of a crocodile, body of a lion, and hindquarters of a hippopotamus, stood ready to devour the heart. The soul of the deceased would then face eternal punishment or be denied access to the afterlife.

The emphasis on the balance between one’s actions and truth echoes the universal human pursuit of leading a morally upright life. The choices we make in life reverberate beyond our existence.

Tim Kane

Strange News Signup

Arkane curiosities: five minute reads on mythology, legend, and supernatural history delivered monthly to your inbox.


Thank you for sign up!

Unraveling the Veil: The Origins of SCP Entities

Arkane Curiosities

In the darkest recesses of our world, where reality intertwines with the unfathomable, lies a secret organization tasked with containing and studying the most extraordinary and perilous entities known to mankind. Welcome to the realm of the SCP Foundation. Step into a world where the laws of nature unravel, and the impossible becomes tangible. But what exactly are these creatures and what are the origins of SCP entities?

The Birth of the SCP Foundation

The SCP Foundation (which stands for Secure, Contain, Protect) emerged in 2007 in the “paranormal” /x/ forum of 4chan. An anonymous user posted the original thread introducing the concept of the SCP Foundation, a secret organization dedicated to securing, containing, and protecting anomalous entities and phenomena. This user was later identified as Moto42. People expanded on the post and soon a wiki was set up to explore the concept of the SCP Foundation. 

To understand the origins of SCP entities, we simply look back to  legends and myths from all over the world. Supernatural beings and unexplained events have always been with us. These stories serve as precursors to the modern SCP entities, hinting at a long history of the abnormal intertwined with human existence.

The First Entity

The annals of the SCP Foundation record the inaugural SCP entity: SCP-001. Often referred to as the “Broken God” or “Gate Guardian,” this entity holds a unique position within the SCP Foundation. It is the subject of intense debate and speculation, with multiple conflicting theories surrounding its true nature.

SCP-001 is a Keter class entity (we’ll explore Keter anomalies in the next post). The Gate Guardian is humanoid in shape and about 700 cubits high (1033 feet). It possessed luminous wings sprouting from its shoulders, back, temples, angles and wrists. 

Where Do SCP Entities Come From?

At the core of the SCP Foundation’s universe are the SCP entities themselves. These entities can take the form of objects, creatures, locations, or even abstract concepts. Each SCP entity is assigned a unique identification number and accompanied by a detailed document known as an SCP entry. These entries serve as containment protocols, scientific analysis, and records of incidents related to the respective SCPs.

There is no single source for the development and discover of SCP Entities. Their origins are a who’s who of supernatural and strange.

Natural phenomena: Some SCP entities arise from natural occurrences or anomalies that exist within the fabric of the world. These could be inherent abnormalities in nature or manifestations of unknown forces.

Human-created anomalies: Certain SCP entities are the result of human experimentation, scientific accidents, or the misuse of advanced technologies. These anomalies can possess dangerous and unpredictable characteristics.

Extra-dimensional or inter-dimensional entities: SCP entities may come from alternate dimensions, parallel universes, or realms beyond conventional human perception. These entities often possess abilities or properties that defy the laws of our reality.

Supernatural or mythological origins: SCP entities can be rooted in ancient legends, myths, and folklore. They may be ancient beings, deities, or spirits with immense power and influence.

Extraterrestrial sources: Some SCP entities have extraterrestrial origins, originating from other planets, distant galaxies, or encounters with unidentified flying objects (UFOs). These entities may have arrived on Earth through various means, bringing with them their unique traits and abilities.

Anomalous artifacts or objects: SCP entities can also be tied to anomalous artifacts or objects with mysterious origins. These items may possess inherent properties that give rise to or house the entity within them.

Collaborative Creation

One of the defining aspects of the SCP Foundation project is its collaborative nature. A community of writers and fans passionately contributes to the ongoing development and expansion of the SCP universe. Individuals can create new SCP entities, provide feedback, and engage in discussions. This collaborative approach has led to a diverse and ever-growing collection of SCP entities, each with its own intriguing narrative and characteristics. As of now, there are over 6000 documented entities.

Tim Kane

Strange News Signup

Arkane curiosities: five minute reads on mythology, legend, and supernatural history delivered monthly to your inbox.


Thank you for sign up!

The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga

Arkane Curiosities

Picture a small thatched hut of warped boards, old rusty nails, and decaying thatch. Bizarre symbols and human skulls adorn the walls. You step too close and the hut rises up, perched atop gigantic chicken legs growing out of the foundation. This is the dancing hut of Baba Yaga, one of the most bizarre and bewildering sights in all of Slavic folklore.

The Dancing Hut

The Dancing Hut was originally a simple wooden cabin, built by Baba Yaga as a place to retreat and conduct her sorcery in solitude. Over time, however, the Hut began to take on a life of its own, growing in size and becoming increasingly twisted and malevolent. Perhaps, Baba Yaga cast a powerful enchantment on the Hut, imbuing it with a sinister sentience that allowed it to move and dance of its own accord.

Why chicken legs? Does Baba Yaga have a fondness for poultry? It might be a nod to the ancient Slavic tradition of using chicken feet in various magical rituals. Baba Yaga simply incorporated this imagery into the Hut as a symbol of her power.

One site mentions that Baba Yaga’s hut might not have always resided atop chicken legs (or курьи ножки meaning chicken bones). Instead it might have sat on smoked legs (курные). This is the practice of setting a house up on wooden struts saturated with smoke to avoid rot. This was common in the houses of the dead where Slavic people stored the ashes of their ancestors. 

Ditching the Broomstick

Baba Yaga didn’t use the conventional methods of flying like a broomstick or flying carpet. Picture, if you will, a gigantic wooden mortar, with a pestle as long as a tree trunk jutting out from one end. Baba Yaga sat in the hollowed-out bowl of the mortar, gripping the pestle like a joystick, cackling maniacally as she hurtled through the skies. Yes, you read that right. A mortar and pestle, the kind used for grinding herbs and spices in the kitchen.

She did incorporate a broom in flying. Not for the flying part, but to keep her peregrinations secret. The witch gripped a broom constructed of silver birch and swept away any traces of her passage. 

Be Warned

For those brave enough to seek out Baba Yaga and her dancing hut, the rewards can be great. The witch is known to possess great knowledge and power, and those who approach her with respect and humility may find themselves blessed with her gifts. 

But be warned: Baba Yaga is a creature of chaos and contradiction, and her dancing hut is but one facet of her strange and otherworldly existence. To encounter Baba Yaga is to embark on a journey that is both perilous and profound, a dance with the unknown that may lead to either enlightenment or destruction.

Tim Kane

Strange News Signup

Arkane curiosities: five minute reads on mythology, legend, and supernatural history delivered monthly to your inbox.


Thank you for sign up!

Baba Yaga Wants to Cook Your Children in a Stew

Arkane Curiosities

A smile filled with iron teeth. Skin wraps her bones like cling wrap. A nose so long it scrapes the ceiling when she sleeps. This is Baba Yaga, a witch who fits all the stereotypes. But in Slavic lore, she is much more than a bogeyman. Some consider Baba Yaga to be a force of nature or even a deity. Yet many tales talk of her voracious appetite and her desire to cook your children in a stew.

She Will Count Your Spoons

Apparently all aspects of cooking fall under Baba Yaga’s domain. In the story called “Baba Yaga and the Brave Youth”, she returns again and again to young man’s house to count his spoons. 

In the tale the youth lives with a talking cat and sparrow (so we’re off to a good start). The youth is a layabout, letting the animals go out into the forest to cut wood. Their only warning is to hide if Baba Yaga shows up to, you know, inventory the spoons. 

Three times the witch appears and each time the youth can’t keep his trap shut. When he sees her touch his spoon, he yells out “That’s my spoon!” The first two times, the cat and sparrow swoop in for the rescue. But the third time is not the charm and Baba Yaga makes off with the youth to cook him in a stew. 

Legend has it that Baba Yaga only counts eating spoons, not stirring spoons. She wants to know how many people are in the house, and maybe if there are any children. 

Beware the Black Geese

Three black geese serve Baba Yaga. Their mission? To fly around in search of delicious-looking kids to eat. In the fairytale of the black geese, the parents warn a young Elena to watch over her brother. 

Elena gets distracted with her friends while the brother plays outside. Cue the malevolent geese. They swoop down and abduct the helpless boy. Knowing she screwed up, Elena sets off to rescue her brother. 

She must hurry. After all, the brother is destined for Baba Yaga’s pot. Yet even in her rush, she pauses to rescue three woodland creatures. She saves a fish out of water, a squirrel caught in a trap and a field mouse with a pebble blocking its home. In gratitude for her help, the animals give her three tokens (a shell, a nut and the pebble). They tell her to throw them over her shoulder if she’s ever in danger. 

Reaching Baba Yaga’s hut, she found the witch asleep and her brother beside the bed playing with bones. A cauldron bubbled on the fire, ready for a little-boy-stew. Elena snuck and and grabbed her brother, but the black geese sounded the alarm.

Elena bolted into the forest with Baba Yaga in chase. Hampered with her brother, Elena could not outrun the witch. Remembering the tokens, she tosses the shell over her shoulder and it becomes a lake. Instead of going around the lake, Baba Yaga leans down and slurps it up. Next Elena tosses the nut and it sprouts into a thick forest. The witch chews through the wood, devouring the trees. 

Finally, Elena throws the pebble. It transforms into a mountain, too high to climb. Baba Yaga can’t drink or eat the mountain, so she returns home empty handed. 

The moral, of course, is to watch over your kids. Nothing like a bit of child-eating to scare your little ones into being good and following the rules. 

Tim Kane

Strange News Signup

Arkane curiosities: five minute reads on mythology, legend, and supernatural history delivered monthly to your inbox.


Thank you for sign up!

Will O’Wisp: Tricksters Who Lure Travelers into Danger

Arkane Curiosities

Blue balls of flames burn in the night, hovering over the marshes. They lure travelers into danger and soon you’re sinking in a peat bog or tumble off a cliff. Also called ignis fatuus (Medieval Latin: “foolish fire”), these tricksters prey on the unsuspecting.

Word Origin

A “wisp” is a bundle of sticks or twisted paper used as a torch. Combined with the name “Will” we get Will-o’-the-wisp (literally “Will-of-the-torch”). Originating in England, these floating lights have crossed the pond and are known as “spook-lights”, “ghost-lights”, or “orbs” in the States. 

Other names for these mischievous nighttime tricksters are Hobby-Lantern, Jack-o’-Lantern, Jenny-Burnt-Tale, Kitty-Candlestick, and Peg-a-Lantern.

Evil Spirits

The Will-o’-the-wisps are considered a kind of evil spirits intent on diverting people off established roads. Their goal is to strand people in the wild with no hope of every reaching the land of the living again. 

On origin story, from Scotland, claims this wispy spirit is actually a deceased blacksmith names Jack. He was denied admittance to hell (which in Scottish lore is known as “the place of the wind of the cold passages, or the wind of the cold channels”). The devil gave Jack a single ember to warm himself as he wandered the mortal plane. It’s this light you see floating over the marshes — the Jack o’Lanten. 

Goblins with Lanterns

In Wales, the Will-o’-the-wisp goes by the name Ellylldan or Pooka (this is where we get the name Puck or Pwca). In this version, a farmer returns home after working the fields and sees a light bobbing before him. A small shadowy figure holds a lantern above its head. 

The farmer follows the light for miles only to find himself on the edge of a high cliff. Far below, a river rages. At this moment, the goblin leaps across the chasm and lands on the opposite side. It utters a malevolent laugh and blows out the lantern, leaving the farmer stranded in the dark. 

Lost Souls

Other versions of this myth have it that the Will-o’-the-wisps are the souls of unbaptized children. They cannot enter heaven and thus must roam the earth forever. They linger in dark forests and deserted places. 

If they spot a person at night, these lost souls hurry over and guide the traveler to water. Not in any attempt to drown the person, but in order to get baptized. 

There is a story from the Netherlands involving a certain Gandshoven from Molenbeek. When he encountered three will-o’-the-wisps, he baptized them. In that instant, thousands more will-o’-the-wisps surrounded him, all wanting the same treatment. Gandshoven spent the whole night baptizing them until the sun rose. 

So if you see a light bobbing mysteriously in the night, maybe leave it be. Who knows where it might lead you.

Tim Kane

Strange News Signup

Arkane curiosities: five minute reads on mythology, legend, and supernatural history delivered monthly to your inbox.


Thank you for sign up!