Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Monk and nun ghosts

Shadow in treesI've heard that ghosts of nuns and monks are common in the UK (see here, for instance). I say 'heard' because I've not come across many contemporary accounts personally. So, either my sample of ghosts is atypical or the monk / nun form may be disappearing. I was prompted to think about such ghosts by a recent experience.

I was out and about when I caught sight of what appeared to be a nun's wimple. It was an oval white shape with a yellowish circle in the middle. For a few seconds it really WAS a nun, to me anyway. I was startled as it was not a place where I'd ever expect to see a nun. Given that fact, I wondered if it might be a ghost. And when the 'nun' vanished, to be replace by a white sign, my ghost suspicion was confirmed. It was a classic misperception ghost. I could not see the writing on the sign from a distance making its true identity unobvious. The circle in the middle, giving the impression of a face, was actually a picture. The yellow colour was not obvious from at the distance where I originally saw the ghost.

The experience demonstrated to me why monks and nuns ought be fairly common as misperception ghosts. All you really need is a dark shape resembking a figure, such as a shadow, with a lighter area suggesting a face in an appropriate position. Then you have the classic monk in a habit. I tried taking some photos of suitable shadows in foliage to see if one resembled a monk or nun.

The photo (above right) is the nearest I got to a shadowy 'monk' figure. The 'ghostly figure' is in the centre of the photo. There is a suggestion of a 'cowl' at the top, formed by some leaves. It looked like a ghostly monk figure, briefly, when seen with the naked eye. However, in the photo it is possible to examine the image at leisure so its inadequacies become plain to seek. I only spent a few minutes trying to get shadow 'monk' type photos. I'm sure that with a bit more effort I could get a reasonably convincing photo of such a ghost.

So, if monk ghosts are relatively easy to misperceive, why haven't I seen them before? And why have I not come across many contemporary reports of them? I think it may be because such dark figures are more likely to be labelled as shadow ghosts these days. As far as I recall, shadow ghosts only appear to have come to prominence relatively recently. Are monk ghosts and shadow ghosts different interpretations of the same basic kind of apparition? If anyone has any information on the history of monk ghosts and shadow ghosts I'd be interested to hear about it.

PS: By coincidence (or not), a few days after taking these photos I saw two real nuns. It was the first time I'd seen any in years!

No comments:

Post a Comment