Staring into the holes of objects or text until you hallucinate. This was a practice of some Jewish mystics, and for some reason reminds me of The Wonderful Life of Henry Sugar (which I haven’t read in decades, and should probably re-read).
“…some Qumran scholars have spent many hours staring into the lacunae in these tattered fragments until they saw all the missing letters float into their appropriate positions…”
An Arval was a Viking funeral feast, and there was bread baked for the occasion. Some sources claim the bread was wrapped in the favorite hymn of the deceased. They were decorated with a heart symbol to represent the dead soul, and that reminds me of grief-eaters – and that sounds like a great story seed.
“…I shall not hear your trentals,
Nor eat your arval bread;
For the kin of you will surely do
Their duty by the dead…”
The Stone of Relief
Sententiae Antiquae relates the story on their blog of the river, Strymon, which created a special stone in its bed to stop grief. Anyone who found it would get relief from their pain.
“A stone created by this river is called the pausilypos [“grief-stopper”].”
In case you need something steampunky and horror-ific, you can turn to the early experiments of galvanism where people lit up dead brains and made muscle bits and such twitch. Oh, and occasionally went too far…but I’ll let you read that on your own. Consider yourself warned!
“[Shelly’s husband Percy] even tried to cure his sister’s sores with electricity. Although she survived, the family cat was not so lucky and was electrocuted.”
That’s four little quick trips into historical weirdness – one for each week of August. If you’d like more inspiration, you can pledge at my Patreon.