Scotland can be a bit damp occasionally so there is often mist, dew, fog, snow and rain, not always at the same time, but when we walk up the bing it’s not unheard of to encounter a Brocken spectre which is when the sunlight goes past your head and is reflected back from water droplets. As a result it appears that the head of your shadow is illuminated. In the days when we could fly you’d sometimes see an illuminated shadow of the aircraft in the clouds below. I suppose if your head wasn’t there, it would be brighter, though obviously you wouldn’t be able to see it without correctly positioned eyes. I must experiment with a camera held to the side at arm’s length.
Stories of Angels, and other apparent mysterious beings with halos might be the result of this effect. Consequently any important religious individual had to have a halo although it would take a very dim flock minding shepherd to be fooled by it unless mist was very rare indeed.
S. T. Coleridge obviously didn’t credit woodsmen with much nouse.
And art thou nothing? Such thou art, as when
The woodman winding westward up the glen
At wintry dawn, where o'er the sheep-track's maze
The viewless snow-mist weaves a glist'ning haze,
Sees full before him, gliding without tread,
An image with a glory round its head;
The enamoured rustic worships its fair hues,
Nor knows he makes the shadow he pursues!
Carl Jung in Memories, Dreams, Reflections wrote:
... I had a dream which both frightened and encouraged me. It was night in some unknown place, and I was making slow and painful headway against a mighty wind. Dense fog was flying along everywhere. I had my hands cupped around a tiny light which threatened to go out at any moment... Suddenly I had the feeling that something was coming up behind me. I looked back, and saw a gigantic black figure following me... When I awoke I realized at once that the figure was a "specter of the Brocken," my own shadow on the swirling mists, brought into being by the little light I was carrying.
Obviously a complete fabrication, as is popular in psychoanalysis, as the lamp would have to be held behind him at some distance. Not logical for someone under the impression they were being followed, even in a dream. Thanks to Wikipedia for the quotes.
I would suppose a very dense head would provide a brighter halo through gravitational lensing, leading to the thought that angels (lit Messengers) might be denser than most mortals, but that’s getting into etherial matters.
The top of the bing casts a distinctly pyramidal shadow, and so standing on the top provides a good spectre in the water droplets on the moor. Scarcely visible so far away in the photo sadly, but a good demonstration of why early monument builders utilised pyramidal shapes. We might describe them as ‘heaps’, a stable long term structure which might represent some mountain or other, but not inherently mystical.
The cats are also able to perceive meaning when, if not exactly wrong, it isn’t what they think it is. Here Button is following the antics of a CGI squirrel on the TV while Custard, her mother, has found true happiness curled up under the Christmas tree on a crepe paper forest floor. I must see if I can replicate the environment for later. Illusions can be comforting.
Especially since the virus seems to have become more contagious in London, we are set up for a quiet Christmas, and intend to do any gathering of the clans after it has been neutralised, however, a few presents are sent, cards written and posted or emailed, decorations hung and tree assembled. I even put up a few extra lights to jolly the drive up, though the weather now (21st and sleeting) means few will be out to see them. On the 25th, the weather men tell us, there is a chance of snow which always makes the place look tidy. We shall see.
I cannot remember it ever snowing on Christmas Day, but the seasons have shifted so much that I wouldn’t be surprised.
(Why does spell-check insist on a capital D in day?)
There were a few inches on the 15th but it melted shortly after. A villager, Steph I think, snapped this by the village tree though, before it melted, and there is still some up on the hills. Last year the early snow was in November, and we had snow in June I think while visiting Shetland, but that is further north from here than Winchester is south. We get a bit more being 1000 feet from sea level.
In the ever changing world of gadgets, affordable ones anyway, I found a thermal imager which looked effective. It isn’t happy putting images on the mac computer, but works with an old windows machine. Mostly it is for spotting heat leaks, so I don’t really need to record the images, but given a bit of fiddling it can be done. So far there don’t seem to be any unexpected cold spots in the house and I’ll check the outside when the walls are dry and the wind has died down. A wet wall gets wind chill just like skin, which is why it can be worth putting water repellant coatings on glass windows and cars. For those interested the idea is that the most energetic (hottest) water molecules get evaporated most easily, so they take more heat with them, leaving the cold ones behind. Here we have a well insulated cat. My beard is less effective.
We had a look at the great conjunction, but as yet clouds have blocked any good pictures.
I looked on the internet for images but most news outlets decided reality wasn’t real enough and produced pointless mockups like this below. What the Express thought they were doing, I know not, but it is well up to their usual accuracy. On the right a more truthful picture (unfortunately I have lost the attribution)