Will o' the wisp
A will-o'-the-wisp or ignis fatuus (Medieval Latin: "foolish fire") is a ghostly light. It is seen by travellers at night, especially over bogs, swamps or marshes.
It looks like a flickering lamp and is said to go farther back if approached. This draws travellers from the safe paths. This is a folk belief in a lot of English folklore and in much of European folklore. They are often said to be the work of fairies or elemental spirits. Some people thinks will o' the wisps are souls, spirits or spaceships.
Scientists try to use a natural explanation. Some says they are gas, like methane, that goes up from the ground and burns. Other people says they are electric things, like ball lightning. One flying ball of light was explained: it was an owl that had a bright stomach. Sometimes animals or fungus make some light - this is called bioluminescence by scientists or foxfire.
There are many old and new stories about will o' the wisps around the world. These lights have different names in different cultures and languages. Some of the names are jack-o'-lantern, hinkypunk, hobby lantern in English.
Reported light locations[change | change source]
- Ferbane in Ireland
- Hessdalen light in Norway
- Martebo lights in Sweden
- Paasselkä devil in Finland
- Virvatuluke in Estonia
- United States
- Arbyrd/Senath Light of Missouri
- Bragg Road ghost light (Light of Saratoga) of Texas
- Brown Mountain Lights of North Carolina
- Gurdon light of Arkansas
- Hornet ghost light or Spooklight of Missouri-Oklahoma state line
- Maco light of North Carolina
- Marfa lights of Texas
- Oviedo Lights of Florida
- The Paulding Light of Michigan's Upper Peninsula
- Skinwalker Ranch lights of Utah
Other pages[change | change source]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Will-o'-the-wisps.|
References[change | change source]
- A Review of accounts of luminosity in Barn Owls
- Marie Trevelyan (1909). Folk-Lore and Folk-Stories of Wales. London. p. 178. Retrieved 2010-09-18.