In folklore, a will-o'-the-wisp, will-o'-wisp or ignis fatuus (pronounced [ˈfa.tu.us]; Medieval Latin for "fool's fire") is an atmospheric ghost light seen by travelers at night, especially over bogs, swamps or marshes. The phenomenon is known in English folk belief, English folklore and much of European folklore by a variety of names, including jack-o'-lantern, friar's lantern, hinkypunk and hobby lantern, and is said to mislead travelers by resembling a flickering lamp or lantern.[1] In literature, will-o'-the-wisp sometimes have a metaphorical meaning, e.g. describing a hope or goal that leads one on but is impossible to reach, or something one finds sinister and confounding.[2]

Will-o'-the-wisp appear in folk tales and traditional legends of numerous countries and cultures; notable will-o'-the-wisp include St. Louis Light in Saskatchewan, Marfa lights of Texas, the Naga fireballs on the Mekong in Thailand, and the Hessdalen light in Norway. While urban legends, folkore, and superstition typically attribute will-o'-the-wisps to ghosts, fairies, or elemental spirits, modern science often explains them as natural phenomena such as bioluminescence or chemiluminescence, caused by the oxidation of phosphine (PH3), diphosphane (P2H4), and methane (CH4) produced by organic decay.

Arnold Böcklin - Das Irrlicht -1882.jpeg
An 1882 oil painting of a will-o'-the-wisp by Arnold Böcklin.


Will-o-the-wisp and snake by Hermann Hendrich 1823
The Will o' the Wisp and the Snake by Hermann Hendrich (1854–1931)

The term "will-o'-the-wisp" comes from "wisp", a bundle of sticks or paper sometimes used as a torch, and the name "Will", thus meaning "Will of the torch". The term jack-o'-lantern (Jack of the lantern) originally referred to a will-o'-the-wisp.[3] In the United States, they are often called "spook-lights", "ghost-lights", or "orbs" by folklorists and paranormal enthusiasts.[4][5][6]

Folk belief attributes the phenomenon to fairies or elemental spirits, explicitly in the term "hobby lanterns" found in the 19th century Denham Tracts. In her book A Dictionary of Fairies, K. M. Briggs provides an extensive list of other names for the same phenomenon, though the place where they are observed (graveyard, bogs, etc.) influences the naming considerably. When observed in graveyards, they are known as "ghost candles", also a term from the Denham Tracts.

The names will-o'-the-wisp and jack-o'-lantern are explained in etiological folk-tales, recorded in many variant forms in Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Appalachia, and Newfoundland. In these tales, protagonists named either Will or Jack are doomed to haunt the marshes with a light for some misdeed. One version from Shropshire is recounted by Briggs in A Dictionary of Fairies and refers to Will the Smith. Will is a wicked blacksmith who is given a second chance by Saint Peter at the gates of heaven, but leads such a bad life that he ends up being doomed to wander the earth. The Devil provides him with a single burning coal with which to warm himself, which he then uses to lure foolish travellers into the marshes.

An Irish version of the tale has a ne'er-do-well named Drunk Jack or Stingy Jack who, when the Devil comes to collect his soul, tricks him into turning into a coin, so he can pay for his one last drink. When the Devil obliges, Jack places him in his pocket next to a crucifix, preventing him from returning to his original form. In exchange for his freedom, the Devil grants Jack ten more years of life. When the term expires, the Devil comes to collect his due. But Jack tricks him again by making him climb a tree and then carving a cross underneath, preventing him from climbing down. In exchange for removing the cross, the Devil forgives Jack's debt. However, no one as bad as Jack would ever be allowed into heaven, so Jack is forced upon his death to travel to hell and ask for a place there. The Devil denies him entrance in revenge but grants him an ember from the fires of hell to light his way through the twilight world to which lost souls are forever condemned. Jack places it in a carved turnip to serve as a lantern.[7][8] Another version of the tale is "Willy the Whisp", related in Irish Folktales by Henry Glassie. Séadna by Peadar Ua Laoghaire is yet another version—and also the first modern novel in the Irish language.



Mexico has two equivalents as well. In one they are called brujas (witches), folklore explains will-o-the-wisp to be witches who transformed into these lights. The reason for this, however, varies according to the region. Another explanation refers to the lights as indicators to places where gold or hidden treasures are buried which can be found only with the help of children, in this one they are called luces del dinero (money lights) or luces del tesoro (treasure lights).

The swampy area of Massachusetts known as the Bridgewater Triangle has folklore of ghostly orbs of light, and there have been modern observations of these ghost-lights in this area as well.

The fi follet (or feu-follet) of Louisiana is derived from the French incubus/succubus. The legend says that the fi follet is a soul sent back from the dead to do God's penance, but instead attacks people for vengeance. While it mostly takes part in harmless mischievous acts, the fi follet sometimes sucked the blood of children. Some legends say that it was the soul of a child who died before baptism.[9][10]

Will-o-the-wisp is a part of the folklore in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela and Uruguay.

Boi-tatá (Portuguese pronunciation: [bojtaˈta]) is the Brazilian equivalent of the will-o'-the-wisp.[11] Regionally it is called Boitatá, Baitatá, Batatá, Bitatá, Batatão, Biatatá, M'boiguaçu, Mboitatá and Mbaê-Tata. The name comes from the Old Tupi language and means "fiery serpent" (mboî tatá). Its great fiery eyes leave it almost blind by day, but by night, it can see everything. According to legend, Boi-tatá was a big serpent which survived a great deluge. A "boiguaçu" (a cave anaconda) left its cave after the deluge and, in the dark, went through the fields preying on the animals and corpses, eating exclusively its favorite morsel, the eyes. The collected light from the eaten eyes gave "Boitatá" its fiery gaze. Not really a dragon but a giant snake (in the native language, "boa" or "mboi" or "mboa").

In Argentina and Uruguay the will-o'-the-wisp phenomenon is known as luz mala (evil light) and is one of the most important myths in both countries' folklore. This phenomenon is quite feared and is mostly seen in rural areas. It consists of an extremely shiny ball of light floating a few inches from the ground.

In Colombia, La Candileja is the will-o-the-wisp ghost of a vicious grandmother who raised her grandchildren without morals, and as such they became thieves and murderers. In the afterlife the grandmother's spirit was condemned to wander the world surrounded in flames.

In Trinidad and Tobago a Soucouyant is a 'Fire Ball Witch' that is literally a witch that takes on the form of a flame at night. This spirit is, like the other versions, evil -- It enters homes through any gap it can find, and drinks the blood of its victims.


Aleya (or marsh ghost-light) is the name given to a strange light phenomena occurring over the marshes as observed by Bengalis, especially the fishermen of West Bengal and Bangladesh. This marsh light is attributed to some kind of marsh gas apparitions that confuse fishermen, make them lose their bearings, and may even lead to drowning if one decided to follow them moving over the marshes. Local communities in the region believe that these strange hovering marsh-lights are in fact Ghost-lights representing the ghosts of fisherman who died fishing. Sometimes they confuse the fishermen, and sometimes they help them avoid future dangers.[12][13]

Will-o'-the-wisp of Russia
A Japanese rendition of a Russian will-o'-the-wisp

Chir batti (ghost-light), also spelled chhir batti or cheer batti, is a strange dancing light phenomenon occurring on dark nights reported from the Banni grasslands, its seasonal marshy wetlands[14] and the adjoining desert of the marshy salt flats of the Rann of Kutch[15] near Indo-Pakistani border in Kutch district, Gujarat State, India. Local villagers have been seeing these sometimes hovering, sometimes flying balls of lights since time immemorial and call it Chir Batti in their KutchhiSindhi language, with Chir meaning ghost and Batti meaning light.[14]

Similar phenomena are described in Japanese folklore, including Hitodama (literally "Human Soul" as a ball of energy), Hi no Tama (Ball of Flame), Aburagae, Koemonbi, Ushionibi, etc. All these phenomena are described as balls of flame or light, at times associated with graveyards, but occurring across Japan as a whole in a wide variety of situations and locations. Kitsune, mythical yokai demons, are also associated with will 'o the wisp, with the marriage of two kitsune producing kitsune-bi (狐火), literally meaning 'fox-fire'.[16] These phenomena are described in Shigeru Mizuki's 1985 book Graphic World of Japanese Phantoms (妖怪伝 in Japanese).[17]


In European folklore, these lights are believed to be spirits of the dead, fairies, or a variety of other supernatural beings which attempt to lead travelers to their demise. Sometimes the lights are believed to be the spirits of unbaptized or stillborn children, flitting between heaven and hell.

In Sweden, the will-o'-the-wisp represents the soul of an unbaptized person "trying to lead travellers to water in the hope of being baptized".[18]

Danes, Finns, Swedes, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, and Irish people and amongst some other groups believed that a will-o'-the-wisp also marked the location of a treasure deep in ground or water, which could be taken only when the fire was there. Sometimes magical tricks, and even dead man's hand, were required as well, to uncover the treasure. In Finland and several other northern countries, it was believed that early autumn was the best time to search for will-o'-the-wisps and treasures below them. It was believed that when someone hid treasure, in the ground, he made the treasure available only at the Saint John's Day, and set will-o'-the-wisp to mark the exact place and time so that he could come to take the treasure back. For then he could be fulfilled with treasures.

The Aarnivalkea, in Finnish mythology, are spots where an eternal flame associated with will o' the wisps burns. They are claimed to mark the places where faerie gold is buried. They are protected by a glamour that would prevent anyone finding them by pure chance. However, if one finds a fern seed from a mythical flowering fern, the magical properties of that seed will lead the fortunate person to these treasures, in addition to providing one with a glamour of invisibility. Since in reality the fern produces no flower and reproduces via spores under the leaves, the myth specifies that it blooms only extremely rarely.


The will-o'-the-wisp can be found in numerous folk tales around the United Kingdom, and is often a malicious character in the stories. In Welsh folklore, it is said that the light is "fairy fire" held in the hand of a púca, or pwca, a small goblin-like fairy that mischievously leads lone travellers off the beaten path at night. As the traveller follows the púca through the marsh or bog, the fire is extinguished, leaving them lost. The púca is said to be one of the Tylwyth Teg, or fairy family. In Wales the light predicts a funeral that will take place soon in the locality. Wirt Sikes in his book British Goblins mentions the following Welsh tale about púca.

A peasant travelling home at dusk sees a bright light traveling along ahead of him. Looking closer, he sees that the light is a lantern held by a "dusky little figure", which he follows for several miles. All of a sudden he finds himself standing on the edge of a vast chasm with a roaring torrent of water rushing below him. At that precise moment the lantern-carrier leaps across the gap, lifts the light high over its head, lets out a malicious laugh and blows out the light, leaving the poor peasant a long way from home, standing in pitch darkness at the edge of a precipice. This is a fairly common cautionary tale concerning the phenomenon; however, the ignis fatuus was not always considered dangerous. There are some tales told about the will-o'-the-wisp being guardians of treasure, much like the Irish leprechaun leading those brave enough to follow them to sure riches. Other stories tell of travelers getting lost in the woodland and coming upon a will-o'-the-wisp, and depending on how they treated the will-o'-the-wisp, the spirit would either get them lost further in the woods or guide them out.

Also related, the Pixy-light from Devon and Cornwall is most often associated with the Pixie who often has "pixie-led" travellers away from the safe and reliable route and into the bogs with glowing lights. "Like Poltergeist they can generate uncanny sounds. They were less serious than their German Weisse Frauen kin, frequently blowing out candles on unsuspecting courting couples or producing obscene kissing sounds, which were always misinterpreted by parents."[19] Pixy-Light was also associated with "lambent light"[20] which the Old Norse might have seen guarding their tombs. In Cornish folklore, Pixy-Light also has associations with the Colt pixie. "A colt pixie is a pixie that has taken the shape of a horse and enjoys playing tricks such as neighing at the other horses to lead them astray".[21][22] In Guernsey, the light is known as the faeu boulanger (rolling fire), and is believed to be a lost soul. On being confronted with the spectre, tradition prescribes two remedies. The first is to turn one's cap or coat inside out. This has the effect of stopping the faeu boulanger in its tracks. The other solution is to stick a knife into the ground, blade up. The faeu, in an attempt to kill itself, will attack the blade.[23]

The will-o'-the-wisp was also known as the Spunkie in the Scottish Highlands where it would take the form of a linkboy (a boy who carried a flaming torch to light the way for pedestrians in exchange for a fee), or else simply a light that always seemed to recede, in order to lead unwary travelers to their doom.[24] The spunkie has also been blamed for shipwrecks at night after being spotted on land and mistaken for a harbor light.[25] Other tales of Scottish folklore regard these mysterious lights as omens of death or the ghosts of once living human beings. They often appeared over lochs [26] or on roads along which funeral processions were known to travel.[27] A strange light sometimes seen in the Hebrides is referred to as the teine sith, or "fairy light", though there was no formal connection between it and the fairy race.[28]


The Australian equivalent, known as the Min Min light is reportedly seen in parts of the outback after dark.[29][30] The majority of sightings are reported to have occurred in the Channel Country region.[29]

Stories about the lights can be found in aboriginal myth pre-dating western settlement of the region and have since become part of wider Australian folklore.[29] Indigenous Australians hold that the number of sightings has increased alongside the increasing ingression of Europeans into the region.[29] According to folklore, the lights sometimes followed or approached people and have disappeared when fired upon, only to reappear later on.[29][30]

Natural explanations

In modern science, it is generally accepted that will-o'-the-wisp phenomena (ignis fatuus) are caused by the oxidation of phosphine (PH3), diphosphane (P2H4), and methane (CH4). These compounds, produced by organic decay, can cause photon emissions. Since phosphine and diphosphane mixtures spontaneously ignite on contact with the oxygen in air, only small quantities of it would be needed to ignite the much more abundant methane to create ephemeral fires.[31] Furthermore, phosphine produces phosphorus pentoxide as a by-product, which forms phosphoric acid upon contact with water vapor, which can explain "viscous moisture" sometimes described as accompanying ignis fatuus.

The idea of the will-o'-the-wisp phenomena being caused by natural gases can be found as early as 1596, as mentioned in the book Of Ghostes and Spirites, Walking by Night, And of Straunge Noyses, Crackes, and Sundrie forewarnings, which commonly happen before the death of men: Great Slaughters, and alterations of Kingdomes, by Ludwig Lavater, in the chapter titled "That many naturall things are taken to be ghoasts":

Many times candles & small fires appeare in the night, and seeme to runne up and downe... Sometime these fires goe alone in the night season, and put such as see them, as they travel by night, in great feare. But these things, and many such lyke have their naturall causes... Natural Philosophers write, that thicke exhilations aryse out of the earth, and are kindled. Mynes full of sulphur and brimstone, if the aire enter unto it, as it lyeth in the holes and veines of the earth, will kindle on fier, and strive to get out.[32]

In 1776, Alessandro Volta first proposed that natural electrical phenomena (like lightning) interacting with methane marsh gas may be the cause of ignis fatuus.[33] This was supported by the British polymath Joseph Priestley in his series of works Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air (1772–1790); and by the French physicist Pierre Bertholon de Saint-Lazare in De l’électricité des météores (1787).[34]

Early critics of the marsh gas hypothesis often dismissed it on various grounds including the unlikeliness of spontaneous combustion, the absence of warmth in some observed ignis fatuus, the odd behavior of ignis fatuus receding upon being approached, and the differing accounts of ball lightning (which was also classified as a kind of ignis fatuus).[34] An example of such criticism is the following by the American anthropologist John G. Owens in Folk-Lore from Buffalo Valley (1891):

This is a name that is sometimes applied to a phenomenon perhaps more frequently called Jack-o'-the-Lantern, or Will-o'-the-Wisp. It seems to be a ball of fire, varying in size from that of a candle-flame to that of a man's head. It is generally observed in damp, marshy places, moving to and fro; but it has been known to stand perfectly still and send off scintillations. As you approach it, it will move on, keeping just beyond your reach; if you retire, it will follow you. That these fireballs do occur, and that they will repeat your motion, seems to be established, but no satisfactory explanation has yet been offered that I have heard. Those who are less superstitious say that it is the ignition of the gases rising from the marsh. But how a light produced from burning gas could have the form described and move as described, advancing as you advance, receding as you recede, and at other times remaining stationary, without having any visible connection with the earth, is not clear to me.[35]

However, the apparent retreat of ignis fatuus upon being approached might be explained simply by the agitation of the air by nearby moving objects, causing the gases to disperse. This was observed in the very detailed accounts of several close interactions with ignis fatuus published earlier in 1832 by Major Louis Blesson after a series of experiments in various localities where they were known to occur.[36] Of note is his first encounter with ignis fatuus in a marshland between a deep valley in the forest of Gorbitz, Newmark, Germany. Blesson observed that the water was covered by an iridescent film, and during day-time, bubbles could be observed rising abundantly from certain areas. At night, Blesson observed bluish-purple flames in the same areas and concluded that it was connected to the rising gas. He spent several days investigating the phenomenon, finding to his dismay that the flames retreated every time he tried to approach them. He eventually succeeded and was able to confirm that the lights were indeed caused by ignited gas. The British scientist Charles Tomlinson in On Certain Low-Lying Meteors (1893) describes Blesson's experiments as thus:

On visiting the spot at night, the sensitive flames retired as the major advanced; but on standing quite still, they returned, and he tried to light a piece of paper at them, but the current of air produced by his breath kept them at too great a distance. On turning away his head, and screening his breath, he succeeded in setting fire to the paper. He was also able to extinguish the flame by driving it before him to a part of the ground where no gas was produced; then applying a flame to the place whence the gas issued, a kind of explosion was heard over eight or nine square feet of the marsh; a red light was seen, which faded to a blue flame about three feet high, and this continued to burn with an unsteady motion. As the morning dawned the flames became pale, and they seemed to approach nearer and nearer to the earth, until at last they faded from sight.[34]

Blesson also observed differences in the color and heat of the flames in different marshes. The ignis fatuus in Malapane, Upper Silesia (now Ozimek, Poland) could be ignited and extinguished, but were unable to burn pieces of paper or wood shavings. Similarly, the ignis fatuus in another forest in Poland coated pieces of paper and wood shavings with an oily viscous fluid instead of burning them. Blesson also accidentally created ignis fatuus in the marshes of Porta Westfalica, Germany, while launching fireworks.[34][36]

One attempt to replicate ignis fatuus under laboratory conditions was in 1980 by British geologist Alan A. Mills of Leicester University. Though he did succeed in creating a cool glowing cloud by mixing crude phosphine and natural gas, the color of the light was green and it produced copious amounts of acrid smoke. This was contrary to most eyewitness accounts of ignis fatuus.[37][38] As an alternative, Mills proposed in 2000 that ignis fatuus may instead be cold flames.[37][39] These are luminescent pre-combustion halos that occur when various compounds are heated to just below ignition point. Cold flames are indeed typically bluish in color and as their name suggests, they generate very little heat. Cold flames occur in a wide variety of compounds, including hydrocarbons (including methane), alcohols, aldehydes, oils, acids, and even waxes. However it is unknown if cold flames occur naturally, though a lot of compounds which exhibit cold flames are the natural byproducts of organic decay.[37][40]

A related hypothesis involves the natural chemiluminescence of phosphine. In 2008, the Italian chemists Luigi Garlaschelli and Paolo Boschetti attempted to recreate Mills' experiments. They successfully created a faint cool light by mixing phosphine with air and nitrogen. Though the glow was still greenish in color, Garlaschelli and Boschetti noted that under low-light conditions, the human eye cannot easily distinguish between colors. Furthermore, by adjusting the concentrations of the gases and the environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, etc.), it was possible to eliminate the smoke and smell, or at least render it to undetectable levels. Garlaschelli and Boschetti also agreed with Mills that cold flames may also be a plausible explanation for other instances of ignis fatuus.[39]

In 1993, professors Derr and Persinger proposed that some ignis fatuus may be geologic in origin, piezoelectrically generated under tectonic strain. The strains that move faults would also heat up the rocks, vaporizing the water in them. Rock or soil containing something piezoelectric, like quartz, silicon, or arsenic, may also produce electricity, channeled up to the surface through the soil via a column of vaporized water, there somehow appearing as earth lights. This would explain why the lights appear electrical, erratic, or even intelligent in their behavior.[41][42]

Glow worm lampyris noctiluca
Glowing firefly (Lampyris noctiluca)

The will-o'-the-wisp phenomena may occur due to the bioluminescence of various forest dwelling micro-organisms and insects. The eerie glow emitted from certain fungal species, such as the honey fungus, during chemical reactions to form white rot could be mistaken for the mysterious will-o'-the-wisp or foxfire lights. There are many other bioluminescent organisms that could create the illusions of fairy lights, such as fireflies. Light reflecting off larger forest dwelling creatures could explain the phenomena of will-o'-the-wisp moving and reacting to other lights. The white plumage of Barn owls may reflect enough light from the moon to appear as a will-o'-the-wisp; hence the possibility of the lights moving, reacting to other lights, etc.[43]

Ignis fatuus sightings are rarely reported today. The decline is believed to be the result of the draining and reclamation of swamplands in recent centuries, such as the formerly vast Fenlands of eastern England which have now been converted to farmlands.[38]

Reported light locations


United States
Argentina and Uruguay
  • Luz Mala
  • Farol de Mandinga
  • Farol del Diablo




See also


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  2. ^ "Will-o'-the-wisp". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Houghton Mifflin. 2007.
  3. ^ Harper, Douglas. "Jack o'lantern (n.)". Online Etymology Dictionary. Archived from the original on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
  4. ^ Wagner, Stephen. "Spooklights: Where to Find Them". About.com. Archived from the original on 2007-10-22. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
  5. ^ Floyd, Randall (1997). "Historical Mysteries: Ghostly lights as common as dew in Dixie". The Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved December 8, 2007.
  6. ^ "Ghost Lights and Orbs". Moonslipper.com. Archived from the original on March 11, 2007. Retrieved November 18, 2011.
  7. ^ Hoerrner, Mark (2006). "History of the Jack-O-Lantern". buzzle.com. Retrieved May 9, 2007.
  8. ^ Leslie O'Malley (2015-10-15). "HISTORY OF THE JACK O'LANTERN AND THE LEGEND OF STINGY JACK". authenticireland.com. Retrieved 2017-12-11.
  9. ^ Melton, J. Gordon (1999). The Vampire Book. Visible Ink Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-1578592814.
  10. ^ "North American Vampires". VampireUnderworld.com. 2012-03-25.
  11. ^ "O BOITATÁ" [The BOITATÁ]. Terrabrasileira.net (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on December 18, 2009. Retrieved November 18, 2011.
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  13. ^ "Blog post by the author Saundra Mitchel of the novel "Shadowed Summer" at Books Obsession". Booksobsession.blogspot.com. October 9, 2009. Retrieved November 18, 2011.
  14. ^ a b D V Maheshwari (August 28, 2007). "Ghost lights that dance on Banni grasslands when it's very dark". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on January 14, 2009.
  15. ^ "I read somewhere that on dark nights there are strange lights that dance on the Rann. The locals call them cheer batti or ghost lights. It's a phenomenon widely documented but not explained." SOURCE: Stark beauty (Rann of Kutch); Bharati Motwani; September 23, 2008; India Today Magazine, Cached: Page 2 of 3 page article with these search terms highlighted: cheer batti ghost lights rann kutch [1], Cached: Complete View - 3 page article seen as a single page [2]
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  23. ^ Folklore of Guernsey by Marie de Garis (1986) ASIN: B0000EE6P8.
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  26. ^ Alasdair Alpin MacGregor (1937). The Peat Fire Flame: Folktales and Traditions of the Highlands and Islands. Moray Press. pp. 284-285.
  27. ^ John Gregorson Campbell (1902). Witchcraft and Second Sight in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. James MacLehose and Sons. pp. 169-172.
  28. ^ John Gregorson Campbell (1900). Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. James MacLehose and Sons. pp. 6-7.
  29. ^ a b c d e Pettigrew, John D. (March 2003). "The Min Min light and the Fata Morgana. An optical account of a mysterious Australian phenomenon" (PDF). Clin Exp Optom. 86 (2): 109–20. doi:10.1111/j.1444-0938.2003.tb03069.x. PMID 12643807.
  30. ^ a b Kozicka, M.G. "The Mystery of the Min Min Light. Cairns", Bolton Imprint
  31. ^ Joris Roels & Willy Verstrae (2001). "Biological formation of volatile phosphorus compounds" (PDF). Bioresource Technology. 79 (3): 243–250. doi:10.1016/S0960-8524(01)00032-3. PMID 11499578. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-19.
  32. ^ Lavatar, Ludwig (1596). Of ghostes and spirites, walking by night: and of straunge noyses, crackes, and sundrie forewarnings: which commonly happen before the death of men: great slaughters, and alterations of kingdoms. Blough-Weis Library Susquehanna University. Thomas Creede. pp. 51–52.
  33. ^ Ciardi, Marco (2000). "Falling Stars, Instruments and Myths: Volta and the Birth of Modern Meteorology" (PDF). In Fabio Bevilacqua & Lucio Fregonese (ed.). Nuova Voltiana: Studies on Volta and His Times. Editore Ulrico Hoepli. p. 43.
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  41. ^ Persinger, Michael A. (1993). Perceptual and Motor Skills. "Geophysical variables and behavior: LXXIV. Man-made fluid injections into the crust and reports of luminous phenomena (UFO Reports) — Is the strain field an aseismically propagating hydrological pulse?".
  42. ^ Derr, J.S. (1993). Perceptual and Motor Skills. "Seasonal hydrological load and regional luminous phenomena (UFO reports) within river systems: the Mississippi Valley test.".
  43. ^ A Review of accounts of luminosity in Barn Owls Tyto alba.


External links

El amor brujo

El amor brujo (Love, the Magician, literally, Spell-bound Love or The Bewitched Love, sometimes translated as Wedded by Witchcraft) is a ballet composed in 1914–15 by Manuel de Falla to a libretto by Gregorio Martínez Sierra. In 1916, Falla arranged a rendition of the work for sextet and small orchestra and the following year he made a concert version, also for small orchestra. Later, he fashioned a piano suite from it and finally, a second ballet version (1925) that features expanded orchestration, elimination of the narration, small cuts and plot changes, and a different order to the numbers.The work is distinctively Andalusian in character with the songs in the Andalusian Spanish dialect of the Gypsies. The music contains moments of remarkable beauty and originality; it includes the celebrated "Danza ritual del fuego" (Ritual Fire Dance), "Canción del fuego fatuo" (Song of Wildfire, or Song Of The Will-o'-the-Wisp), and the "Danza del terror" (Dance of Terror).

Ghost light

Ghost light or ghostlight may refer to:

Atmospheric ghost lights, lights (or fires) that appear in the atmosphere without an obvious cause

Brown Mountain Lights, lights that can be seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, USA

Hessdalen lights, unexplained lights observed in rural central Norway

Light of Saratoga, a legend from the Big Thicket region of southeast Texas, USA

Maco light, occasionally seen between the late 19th century and 1977 in North Carolina, USA

Marfa lights, a phenomenon reported in west Texas, USA

Min Min light, an unexplained light phenomenon that has often been reported in outback Australia

Naga fireball, a phenomenon said to be seen annually on the Mekong River

Paulding Light, a light that appears in a valley outside Paulding, Michigan

The Spooklight, a ghost light on U.S. Route 66

St. Elmo's fire, a weather phenomenon of an electrical aura

St. Louis Light, also known as the St. Louis Ghost Light, Saskatchewan, Canada

Will-o'-the-wisp, also called ghost-light in some countries, a natural phenomenon producing a ghostly light sometimes seen at night or twilight over bogs, swamps, and marshes

Ghost light (theatre), a light left lit overnight in a theater

Hebridean mythology and folklore

The Inner and Outer Hebrides off the western coast of Scotland are made up of a great number of large and small islands. These isolated and mostly uninhabited islands are the source of a number of Hebridean myths and legends. It is a part of Scotland which has always relied on the surrounding sea to sustain the small communities which have occupied parts of the islands for centuries, therefore, it is natural that these seas are a source for many of these legends.


A jack-o'-lantern (or jack o'lantern) is a carved pumpkin, turnip, or other root vegetable lantern associated with Halloween. Its name comes from the phenomenon of a strange light flickering over peat bogs, called will-o'-the-wisp or jack-o'-lantern. The name is also tied to the Irish legend of Stingy Jack, a drunkard who bargains with Satan and is doomed to roam the Earth with only a hollowed turnip to light his way.

Jack-o'-lanterns are a yearly Halloween tradition that came to the United States from Irish immigrants. In a jack-o'-lantern, the top of the pumpkin or turnip is cut off to form a lid, the inside flesh is scooped out, and an image — usually a scary or funny face – is carved out of the rind to expose the hollow interior. To create the lantern effect, a light source, traditionally a flame such as a candle or tea light, is placed within before the lid is closed. However, artificial jack-'o-lanterns with electric lights are also marketed. It is common to see jack-o'-lanterns on doorsteps and otherwise used as decorations prior to and on Halloween.

Jacques Rigaut

Jacques Rigaut (French: [ʁiɡo]; 30 December 1898 – 9 November 1929) was a French surrealist poet. Born in Paris, he was part of the Dadaist movement. His works frequently talked about suicide and he came to regard its successful completion as his occupation. In 1929 at the age of 30, as he had announced, Rigaut shot himself, using a ruler to be sure the bullet would pass through his heart.He is buried in the Cimetière de Montmartre.

Rigaut's works include:

Agence Générale du Suicide

Et puis merde!

Papiers Posthumes

Lord PatchogueHis suicide inspired the book Will O' the Wisp by Pierre Drieu la Rochelle. The movie The Fire Within from Louis Malle is based on this book. The movie Oslo, August 31st directed by Joachim Trier, released in 2011, is also largely based on Will O' the Wisp although the narrative takes place in contemporary Norway. The Granada-based Spanish indie pop band Lori Meyers has a song entitled "La Vida de Jacques Rigaut" (The Life of Jacques Rigaut) with its lyrics relating with his life.

Lady Blue

Lady Blue may refer to:

Lady Blue (anime), a 4-episode OVA in the anime series La Blue Girl

Lady Blue, a fictional character in The Animals of Farthing Wood (TV series)

Lady Blue (TV series), an American crime drama starring Jamie Rose

"Lady Blue", a song by Leon Russell on Will O' the Wisp (album)

"Lady Blue", a song by Enrique Bunbury on Flamingos (album)

Lady Blue (song)

"Lady Blue" is the 1975 hit love song by singer-songwriter Leon Russell. It was a track on his LP album, Will O' the Wisp.

The song reached number 14 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 on Nov. 1, 1975.

The first live play of the song in a concert was by George Benson on September 30, 1977 at The Roxy in West Hollywood, CA. Edgar Winter and Leon Russell performed Lady Blue live on July 28, 1987 at Hunts in Burlington, VT.

Marfa lights

The Marfa lights, also known as the Marfa ghost lights, have been observed near U.S. Route 67 on Mitchell Flat east of Marfa, Texas, in the United States. They have gained some fame as onlookers have ascribed them to paranormal phenomena such as ghosts, UFOs, or will-o'-the-wisp, etc. However, scientific research suggests that most, if not all, are atmospheric reflections of automobile headlights and campfires.

Peggy, the Will O' the Wisp

Peggy, the Will O' the Wisp is a lost 1917 American drama film directed by Tod Browning.


Pishachas (Sanskrit: पिशाच, Piśāca) are flesh-eating demons in Hindu theology.

Theology describes them as the sons of either Krodha (figuratively "Anger") or as Dakṣa’s daughter Piśāca. They have been described to bulging veins and protruding, red eyes. They are believed to have their own languages, known as Paiśāci.

According to one legend, they are sons of Kashyapa and Krodhavasa, one of the daughters of Prajapati Daksha. The Nilamat Puran of the 7th century mentions the valley of Kashmir being inhabited by two tribes: the Nagas and the Pisachas.

Piśācas like darkness and traditionally are depicted as haunting cremation grounds along with other monsters like bhutas and vetālas. Piśācas have the power to assume different forms at will, and may also become invisible. They feed on human energies. Sometimes, they possess human beings and alter their thoughts, and the victims are afflicted with a variety of maladies and abnormalities like insanity. Certain mantras are supposed to cure such afflicted persons and drive away the Piśāca which may be possessing that particular human being. In order to keep the Piśāca away, they are given their share of offerings during certain religious functions and festivals.

The origin of Piśāca is unknown, although it may be the personification of the will-o'-the-wisp. Pāṇini, in his Aṣṭādhyāyi, described the Piśāca as a "warrior clan". In the Mahābhārata, the "Piśāca people" (equivalent to the modern day Pashtun people) are said to live in barbaric parts of Hindu Afghanistan and they are descendants of Prajāpati Kaśyapa.

Simonside Dwarfs

The Simonside Dwarfs, also known as Brownmen, Bogles and Duergar, are a race of ugly dwarfs, particularly associated with the Simonside Hills of Northumberland, in northern England. Their leader was said to be known as Roarie.In F. Grice's telling of the traditional story The Duergar in Folk Tales of the North Country (1944), one of them is described as being short, wearing a lambskin coat, moleskin trousers and shoes, and a hat made of moss stuck with a feather.

The legendary dwarfs of Simonside were mentioned in the local newspaper, the Morpeth Gazette, in 1889, and in Tyndale’s Legends and Folklore of Northumbria, 1930. They delighted in leading travellers astray, especially after dark, often carrying lighted torches to lead them into bogs, rather like a Will-o'-the-wisp. The menacing creatures would often disappear at dawn.

The word duergar is likely to be derived from the Old Norse word for dwarf or dwarfs (dvergar), but it may also come from the dialectal words for "dwarf" on the Anglo-Scottish border which include dorch, dwerch, duerch, Duergh and Duerwe amongst others with the added Norse -ar plural. These Border words for "dwarf", like the Standard English form, all derive from the Old English dweorh or dweorg via the Middle English dwerg.

Sketches of Spain

Sketches of Spain is an album by Miles Davis, recorded between November 1959 and March 1960 at the Columbia 30th Street Studio in New York City. An extended version of the second movement of Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez (1939) is included, as well as a piece called "Will o' the Wisp", from Manuel de Falla's ballet El amor brujo (1914–1915). Sketches of Spain is regarded as an exemplary recording of Third Stream, a musical fusion of jazz, European classical, and styles from world music.

Spider (solitaire)

Spider is a type of patience game. It is one of the more popular two-deck solitaire games.

The Fire Within

The Fire Within (French: Le feu follet [lə fø fɔlɛ], meaning "The Manic Fire" or "Will-o'-the-Wisp") is a 1963 French drama film directed by Louis Malle. It is based on the novel Will O' the Wisp by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle which itself was inspired by the life of Jacques Rigaut. The film stars Maurice Ronet, Jeanne Moreau—who had previously worked with Ronet and Malle in Elevator to the Gallows—as well as Alexandra Stewart, Bernard Noel, Lena Skerla, Hubert Deschamps and Yvonne Clech. The score features the music of Erik Satie.

Will O' the Wisp (album)

Will O' the Wisp is the sixth studio album by Leon Russell. The album was released in 1975 on Shelter Records. It peaked at No. 30 on the Billboard albums chart and remained on the chart for 40 weeks. The album cover was designed and illustrated by artist/actor Gailard Sartain.

It features the hit single, "Lady Blue", which reached No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The album was certified gold in 1976.

Will O' the Wisp (novel)

Will O' the Wisp (French: Le feu follet) is a 1931 novel by the French writer Pierre Drieu La Rochelle. It has also been published in English as The Fire Within. It tells the story of a 30-year-old man who after military service, followed by a few years of cosmopolitan, decadent life, has become burned out, addicted to heroin and tired of living. The author's source of inspiration for the main character was the surrealist poet Jacques Rigaut (1898–1929).The novel has been the basis for two feature films, Louis Malle's The Fire Within from 1963 and Joachim Trier's Oslo, August 31st from 2011.

Will o' the Wisp (comics)

Will o' the Wisp (Dr. Jackson Arvad) is a fictional character, a supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. He is a physicist who gained control over the electromagnetic attraction between his body's molecules, allowing him to adjust his density (like the Vision). He is most often a foe of Spider-Man.

Willie Fleming

Willie Fleming (born February 2, 1939) is a former professional Canadian football player with the Canadian Football League's BC Lions. Fleming played collegiately as a halfback at the University of Iowa, where he was a member of the Hawkeyes' 1959 Rose Bowl championship team. He is a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, the BC Sports Hall of Fame, and the BC Lions Wall of Fame. Fleming's number 15 jersey is one of eight numbers retired by the Lions. In 2003, Fleming was voted a member of the BC Lions All-Time Dream Team as part of the club's 50th anniversary celebration. In 2006, Fleming was voted to the Honour Roll of the CFL's Top 50 players of the league's modern era by Canadian sports network TSN.Fleming earned the nickname "The Wisp" or "Will 'o the Wisp" because of his elusive running style.

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