Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Writing Prompts - The Tutelary Spirit

Create some sort of tutelary spirit, kami or deity. Give it a personality and quarks. Than create festivals and religious ceremonies around these.

Further information;
The tutelary kami is what defined the nature of many of the local festivals in Japan’s past. For it was believed that in order to have a good harvest and continued fortune people needed to draw the mountain kami down into the rice paddies. To do this they held festivals in the kami’s honor and or to lure them to the excitement of the event. Such festivals were also designed to build a relationship with the kami. 

Far from being ubiquitous each set of kami had their own personality and could even be a completely different type of being. In the story of the ‘Mountain Kami and the Ugly Fish’ a kami who was extremely sensitive and easily embarrassed discovered he was ugly and so fled up into the mountains to hide. Without his presence the plants began to wither and die, until the people of the village figured out how to get him to come back down. (read the Story)

In one village the woman would wear only loincloths and tell dirty jokes when they planted the rice in order to get the mountain kami to come into the field to watch and listen to them.
In yet another story an old farmer and his grandfather had to walk high into the mountains and wake the rain causing kami which was sleeping within a rock it had possessed. Because this kami had overslept people would do things to insure he was awake when they prayed to him. (Read the Story)

In still another case people offer the mountain kami rice porridge because she is said to have lots of children whom she has difficulty feeding. This is in part based on the fairly common motif that many mountain kami have one child for each month of the year.

In yet another story the spirit of a bear was said to reside in a rock. This spirit protected the village, travelers around the village and would make it easier to push or pull a heavy cart up a hill. (Read the Story)

In some parts of Europe people believed that the field spirit lived within the last sheaf of grain and so would make this into a straw figure with which all the men would dance at the harvest festival in order to show their appreciation (when the spirit manifested as a female). 

In other cased field spirits could appear as predatory animals such as wolves and so people needed to be careful when entering the field. Further they might keep this field spirit in the barn to keep it from escaping into the wilderness in the winter.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Writing Prompts From Japanese Folk Life - 1

Koi on the Black Market
During the 1900’s the price of Koe increased so much it became illegal to sell them. Write the story of a poor tenant farmer who decides to supplement his income by stealing a koi and then tries to sell it.

Once he gets it he has has no idea who to sell it to, however, so he goes to the Yakuza.

A few points to keep in mind; Japanese farmers tried to keep a years supply of food in storage in case of famines which were common. People wouldn't let their daughters marry a person who couldn’t keep this food supply as they didn’t want to see their daughters starve when a famine hit.

Five Writing Prompts to Keep You Warm

1-With nothing to do one cold winters day some boys in a small Polish City in the 1920's take turns pretending to smoke so that they can watch each other get scowled by the elder ladies of the village. And even though they are brave enough to face the wrath of a woman who'll box their ears they encounter something that startles them all back to their mothers.

2-A powerful hermit wizard in the mountains of Japan is going stir crazy in his cave because he pissed off a tribe of powerful serpents with shape shifting powers. Now he can't leave until winter comes and he's getting serious cabin fever.

3-Some Christmas elves creep into a house in Japan to check on things in that country for the first time (back when the Japanese first started celebrating Christmas with a Santa Claus). While inside they run into some Chochinobake (Mischievous paper lanterns that have come to life because they are more than a hundred years old). This is a strange encounter between the spirits of two different places, in order to figure out what happens when they meet each other you need to give characterization to mythical beings.

4-Write a story about Woden as Santa. Riding around hunting evil spirits while also delivering presents and luck to people.

5-In one folktale the yukionna marries a woodsmen who doesn't know who she is, than later leaves him because he finds out. Now he has to raise the children of a snow woman all alone. Write a scene from this.