Nicola Kirk: Author and Collector of Paranormal Stories and Other Strange Encounters

Posts tagged ‘black shuck’


Dreaming Of The Impossible Again…

I was paying attention a blog I read last night. It had said that the best way to go about being noticed in blogging is to read other people’s blogs. This sounds like a sensible thing to do, but I haven’t been doing it. I have been too absorbed in writing my own. So last night I set some time aside to have a read of some other people’s blogs – and I’m glad I did. One person, Mountain Hollow Paranormal, wrote that they liked looking around graveyards with big old gravestones.  So do I! I really don’t go in for these uniform graveyards where people are reduced to little diddy stones all of the same size. Where is the atmosphere? Where is the individuality we had when we were alive? Oh, woe is the uniform graveyard! Anyway, I read a few blogs, left some comments (because as a blogger I love receiving other people’s comments on my blog, so share and share alike) and went to bed.

And then… the dream struck. And I’m afraid I must firmly point the finger of blame for this supremely weird dream at my fellow bloggers. Yes, my friends, you woke the ‘monster of weirdness’ who was quietly snoozing deep in my subconscious.

I Don’t Do Summer Dresses!

I dreamed I was sitting in the garden of a lovely manor house which was a bit run down and the gardens now resembled a small, somewhat overgrown meadow. It was the most gorgeous day and the sky was blue with a few wispy clouds and I was wearing a pretty little summer dress (I don’t think I’ve owned a pretty little summer dress in my life – it’s boots and jeans all the way, I’m afraid). I had the distinct impression I was just a little girl but that was only to begin with. As the dream went on I seemed to gain a few years along the way. I was sitting on the grass, looking around and on the end of the gabled part of the country house was the date 1531. This, for some reason, seemed very significant to me. It was a date I had to remember. I got up and began walking along a path formed of shorter, already trodden down grass towards a little road between two houses. I had a doll in my hand and was slightly unnerved to hear a dog running after me. It sounded like a big dog too. I tried to hide my fear and looked around to see a great, hairy, black German Shepherd running after me. But, fortunately for me and my dolly, this dog was friendly – it meant me no harm. I was even vaguely pleased to see it, with its great tongue lolling out of its mouth. It seemed to me that I had acquired my own Black Shuck.  Who would have thought it? Even in my dream I felt as if parts of my research into the World of Weird were rolling together to form one big crazy dream. I wondered if I had got the setting for the dream from the book I’m currently reading: The Favoured Child by Philippa Gregory. She writes some amazing books… anyway, I digress.

As I walked down the road between the two houses, it appeared that the road led to the churchyard. Along either side of the road were planks of wood and (you know how you just know things in dreams) I knew they were made of yew. This I put down to the knowledge that yew trees are commonly grown in churchyards. While I stood to one side of the road, I saw a group of Chinese people heading my way.  They were wearing dull grey robes edged with dark red.  They were all hooded and carrying tiny bundles in their arms, which were also wrapped in dull grey fabric. There were other Chinese people also walking along the planks on either side of the road and I understood this was because they were the ‘overseers’ and they were important enough to warrant walking on the planks in the belief that if they did so, Death would not be able to follow in their footsteps – I thought this detail was oddly insightful (or should I say creative) for me. The other people walking in the road were not offered this luxury. I could only see their mouths under their hoods and they were all forming an ‘O’ shape, reminiscent of the Dementors from the Harry Potter movies. The tiny bundles in their arms were dead babies that they were taking to the churchyard. This, I think, was brought to my dream partly by some research I have recently done to try and find the location of a grave for someone and Mountain Hollow Paranormal’s blog that I read last night where they had noticed there were a collection of children’s graves in the corner of the graveyard they had recently looked around.

What Are You Doing In My Dream, Scary Chinese Man? 

As we walked along together, with me trying to be as invisible as possible and the Chinese group not even giving me so much as a passing look, I noticed an old rundown bookshop at the top of a short winding set of stone stairs which were covered with dead brown leaves. Those who know me will know that book shops of any kind are like magnets to me and I was in there like a shot. There wasn’t a soul to be seen at first and I noticed a strange looking green paperback book which I picked up and started leafing through. The book seemed to fall open to a certain page and as I began reading I was stunned to find it happened to be all about the incident I’d just witnessed outside and I understood what I’d seen had actually happened a long time ago (I wonder if that’s why the 1531 seemed particularly relevant – had it happened in that year?) and I’d most likely been watching a bunch of ghosts reenacting a very sad past event. Where the Chinese element came into it, I have no idea. Perhaps I was feeling particularly multicultural last night. Who knows.

I noticed, when I was in the book shop, that I seemed to have become rather more advanced in years and I was no longer a little girl in a summer dress. And not only that, there were three other men in the book shop with me. If you thought the dream had been weird up to now, I was in for another example of how devious and wacky my psyche can be when it wants to.

She’s Got To Get Everywhere These Days…

Outside the book shop, down a different flight of steps was the ladies toilet. It reminded me more of a dungeon, but it was, strangely enough, nice and clean (brownie point for the book shop owner). I went down to have a look only to find… Lady Gaga. Unfortunately for Gaga, she wasn’t looking her usual exuberant self. Actually, she was a bit dead. Very dead, as it goes, because she was more skeleton than flesh (and, contrary to belief, baby, she wasn’t born that way…). This was, as you can imagine, a rather horrifying discovery and I ran out of the toilet, looking for the men to console me. Men will make everything better, a little voice in my head told me. Whilst looking for the men, I looked out of the book shop window and could see there was a gent’s toilet across the other side of the road, but it was inundated with flies which were pouring out of the entrance. One of the guys I’d seen in the book store was trying his best to see where the flies were coming from and, to my horror, I realised that the owner of the book shop had somehow died in the toilet and that’s where all the flies were coming from. Horrors! What was going on here?

I joined up with the three men outside the bookshop and I was feeling particularly overwrought by now, words pouring from my lips in a slightly hysterical but slurred rush (I suspect I may well have been talking in my sleep at this point, but I don’t recall my husband giving me a shove, so perhaps I was doing it quietly).

By this time I was back at my current age (don’t ask, I’m not telling you what it is), and one of the men I was with was looking at me intently while I was babbling on about what I’d seen and wondering what it could all possibly mean. Then he leaned in to give me a kiss. Which was nice, at first, and all rather exciting until I noticed I had a bit of KFC in my mouth. Well, I hadn’t been eating KFC so, I thought, somewhat disgusted, it must have been his. Then I found another bit… and, oh yuck, was that another bit? I was going off the man who was kissing me more and more, and it didn’t help matters when he started to giggle in a rather psychotic way. Now, this part of the dream I can partly put down to the fact I’d had some KFC before bed (won’t be doing that again in a hurry)…

As with most people, I dream but don’t often recall all the details like this. I wonder why it is some dreams are more vivid than others and stay with you for a long time. And so, dear fellow bloggers and readers with a curious bent who have stayed with me through the course of the above dream, it is time to crack out the psychology and dream books. What did all that actually mean!?  I look forward to reading your comments.


(c) Nicola Kirk 2012 and 2012

No Rest For The Wicked – Graveyard Guardians

Many people are frightened of graveyards, it’s only natural, but is it the sight of all those headstones and tombs that makes you uneasy or… is there something else watching you?

It might take a bit of time but if you can hunt down the first grave in a cemetery you might just get to meet the Graveyard Guardian.  The legend is that the spirit of the first person laid to rest in a graveyard  remains on the earthly plane to keep an eye on comings and goings and keep the other graveyard residents safe.

Unfortunately, in times of old, some villagers were a little too impatient to wait for someone to die of natural causes and fill the role.  According to an article by Marq English in issue 45 of Paranormal Magazine (p74), ‘it is believed that the early inhabitants of Cheam (in Surrey) butchered the village simpleton by cutting his throat and allowing the blood to spill into the graveyard so his spirit would be its first Guardian’.  So if we learn nothing else today, don’t visit Cheam when they’re opening a new graveyard.

According to there is a legend that people used to be buried alive in new graveyards to create a guardian.  These guardians were known as ankou.

The ankou is also mentioned by Frenchman Anatole Le Braz, who was a collector and translator of Breton (Brittany) folklore in the 19th Century.  In his best-seller, “The Legend of Death”, Anatole writes:

The Ankou is the henchman of the Death (oberour ar maro). The last dead of the year, in each parish, becomes the Ankou of this parish for all the following year. When it has been, in a year, more death than usual, one says about the Ankou:

War ma fé, heman zo eun Anko drouk.

“On my faith, this one is a nasty Ankou.”

The Black Shuck, a strange creature whom I have written about previously, occasionally also takes on the role of graveyard guardian, although whether the shuck is the spirit of the first graveyard resident or a completely different paranormal being in its own right is unclear:

One notable story from Australia perhaps provides evidence of the persistence of the black dog legend beyond its native Europe. In Picton, NSW, there is a wonderful historical graveyard attached to the beautiful church of St Mark. Within the churchyard, the ghostly form of an enormous dog has been seen – even on one occasion chasing people out of the graveyard.”

So if you do decide to visit a graveyard, you’d better behave yourself.  You don’t know who, or what, might be watching.


©Nicola Kirk and 2010

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