Stairs in the Woods

Arkane Curiosities

Stairs have to lead somewhere, right? But with the urban legend, “Stairs in the Woods”, these enigmatic stairs lead nowhere. A popular urban legend and creepypasta, the legend typically involves hikers, campers, or explorers stumbling upon a staircase in the middle of the woods, seemingly out of place and disconnected from any structure or building.

Staircases Out of Place

Picture this: a remote, isolated location within the woods, devoid of any man-made structure. Yet, right in the midst of this natural beauty, a staircase emerges—completely out of context and utterly surreal. These staircases, often made of wood or stone, stand mysteriously isolated, beckoning those who come across them to unravel their enigma.

Key elements of the legend include:

Isolation and Unusual Placement: The stairs are often described as being in a remote or isolated location within a forest or wilderness area, far away from any recognizable structures.

Appearance and Design: The stairs are usually made of stone and often appear pristine or well-maintained, despite their strange location and lack of any nearby structure. They may look brand new or very old, with varying designs.

Unexplained Mystery

The origin and purpose of the stairs are never clear. No one knows how or why they were placed there. Some think they are the remains of structures that have rotted away, leaving the stone stairs behind. Others wonder if these stairs lead to another world or even hell. 

Tim Kane

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Grúacach: Wild Goblins of Ireland and Scotland

Arkane Curiosities

In the folklore of Ireland and Scotland, amidst the emerald landscapes and misty hills, resides wild goblins called Grúacach (also Gruagachs or even Brownies). These spirits are often associated with the land and are believed to inhabit certain natural features or landmarks, rather than constructed houses.

Helpful Spirits

The Grúacach is described as a small, hairy, humanoid figure, often depicted as having wild, untamed hair and a disheveled appearance. It dresses in animal hides or simple clothing, and possessing a playful or helpful disposition.

Grúacachs reside in and around homes, especially in remote or rural areas, where they form a close bond with the family or individuals — assisting with household chores, farming tasks, and general maintenance of the home. 

Given the ability to become invisible, they prefer to operate in secret, shying away from direct acknowledgment. But you can reward the Grúacach with a jug of cream. 

Though generally gentle and helpful, Grúacachs will often scuttle about and get under your feet. Also, if they feel unappreciated, neglected, or slighted in any way, they might play tricks or pranks on the occupants of the home.

If your Grúacach becomes a nuisance, simply invite over a member of the clergy. These spirits have a great fear of priests and will there presence will drive the Grúacach away. 

Nature Guardian

The Grúacach is believed to have a strong connection to nature, particularly the forests and streams. It is said to be protective of the natural world and the creatures inhabiting it. They are often associated with specific ancient sites, sacred groves, or notable landmarks. It’s believed that they dwell within or near these areas, watching over them. 

Since the Grúacach is impervious to extreme temperatures, they can live in any cave, hollow or cleft in the landscape. All around Ireland and Scotland, you’ll find large stones leaned together called Grúacach houses. 

While these spirits are generally helpful, they can display mischievous behavior if angered or mistreated. A Grúacach may engage in pranks or mischief to teach a lesson to those who disrespect nature or its dwelling. It’s customary in Irish and Scottish folklore to treat these beings with caution and respect. People would avoid disturbing their dwellings or disrespecting the natural sites associated with them.

Rooted in Celtic Lands

The legend of the Grúacach is deeply rooted in Irish and Scottish culture, and it embodies respect and reverence for nature and the environment. It also serves as a cautionary tale to treat the natural world and its creatures with care and appreciation.

Tim Kane

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Twirl Till You Puke – the Art of Gyromancy

Arkane Curiosities

Imagine spinning around rapidly until you’re dizzy enough to take a tumble. That’s the essence of gyromancy. This age-old art has twirled its way through history, captivating curious minds and spinning seekers into new realms of insight. Take a spin down the memory lane of gyromancy’s history, followed by a twirl into the peculiar world of falling gyromancy. And remember, it’s not the future until you twirl till you puke.

Gyromancy Through the Ages

To truly appreciate the peculiar charm of falling gyromancy, we must first explore the roots of gyromancy itself. This ancient practice has been a part of human fascination for centuries.

Gyromancy derived from the Greek words “gyros” (meaning “circle” or “turn”) and “manteia” (meaning “divination”). The Greeks believed that spinning could unlock mystical insights into the future, making gyromancy one of their cherished divination methods.

Getting Dizzy for Divination

Before you start, draw a circle of letters on the ground or floor, preferable when the moon was in an appropriate astrological position. Then start spinning. You walk in circles or even stumble around. When you eventually fall, and you will fall, the letter you land on is indicated. These seemingly random characters are then pieced together to form words, phrases, or sentences, serving as the divination message.

Interpreting the results of falling gyromancy is where the true magic lies. With no standardized rules to abide by, interpretations are as diverse as the seekers themselves. It’s a mix of intuition, context, and symbolism, making each reading unique and personal.

Spinning Coins

Another method saves the puking and lets a coin do all the spinning. The set up is the same as before, only you need a much smaller circle of letters, something that could fit on a table or possibly even a ouija board. 

Make a nick on one edge of the coin. This will serve as a pointer. Then spin the coin as you concentrate on your query. Words are eventually spelled out by using the letters the coin “points” to.

The Final Spin

So, the next time you find yourself twirling in thought, perhaps consider giving gyromancy a spin – who knows what whimsical messages may await when you take a tumble in pursuit of ancient wisdom!

Tim Kane

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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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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

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