Predicting the Future Using Cats

Arkane Curiosities

If you own a cat, then you possess the ability to divine the future. Throughout history, people have developed various unusual and often superstitious methods of divining the future, yet none is stranger than Ailuromancy, or predicting the future using cats. It works pretty much how it sounds. You watch the movements of said cat, and their actions reveal future outcomes, if it’s in the mood that day.

Egyptian Dreams

Since Egyptians had a thing for cats, it’s no wonder they developed this in the art of ailuromancy. One type of divination involved writing a question on a small tablet along with the name of a deity. The tablet was washed and placed inside a dead cat’s mouth (probably because a live cat wouldn’t tolerate such foolishness). Then the diviner would gain the answer the question in a prophetic dream. 

Weather Alerts

A sneezing cat could mean rain in the coming days. Even washing their faces vigorously can mean rain. If the cat turns its tail to a fire or any substituting heat source, it foretells possible heavy rain or hard frost. Curling up with forehead touching the ground foretells a storm coming your way. 

Visitor Predictor

Apparently cats can foresee visitors. If a famine licks its ears three times, check which direction it’s looking. This is where you can expect a visitor to come from. What’s more, you can divine the gender, too. If it puts its paw around the right ear, expect a male visitor. Left ear, a lady. No indication for other fluid genders. 

Fickle Luck

A cat following you is a sign of money coming your way. Yet if a black cat crosses your path, you’re sure to have bad luck. Except, should you find one white hair on a black cat, this means the cat is good luck. If you look into a cat’s eyes too long, it will bring you only bad luck.

A Warning of Sickness

Should you have sickness in your house, make sure you keep the cat close by. If it leaves and won’t be coaxed back inside, then the ill person may die. Likewise, if a cat sneezes three times in a row, the whole family will come down with a cold.

The Devil’s Creature

The worst act of ailuromancy dates back to 16th century Scotland. A person would roast a cat alive on a spit in a ritual called taghairm. Supposedly, this would summon the devil to protect the cat, who by now was screaming in agony. The devil would beg the person to relent and end the cat’s suffering. Yet the cruel SOB who started this torment would hold out until the devil had promised to fulfill a certain future request. Only then, could the cat’s misery come to an end. So who is the evil one in this scenario?

Thankfully, this sort of practice doesn’t happen anymore. Instead, we can settle for interpreting the whimsical doings of cat as it predicts future rain or perhaps a visitor. 

Tim Kane

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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

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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

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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

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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

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