Sunday, August 31, 2014

Will-o'-the-wisps

Not long ago, I was discussing with a chat friend, Spooky, about some lights he was seeing over a hill near his house (large orange orb lights), and what they might be, assuming they were something paranormal, as there were no cell towers or airport in the area. Now, the first order of business was to determine if they were flying or just floating. Why? Well, are they UFOs or something else? What else? Fairies, Witch lights, Ghost lights, and Hinkypunks.

Which of course, begs the question, what the heck is a Hinkypunk?

Well, we used to call them Boggarts locally (which is technically correct, but seeing as Rowling has popularized the household shape-shifter version of this creature, I just started referring to them as Hinkypunks as she does). Hinkypunks, or Bog Lights are lights that appear in marshy areas. And if a lost traveler follows them, they're lured into deep water, and drown.

So, do you know what happens when you look up Hinkypunk on Wikipedia? You arrive at this page:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinkypunk
Which is actually a copy of this page:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will-o%27-the-wisp

(And if you're curious, this is what you get if you look up Boggart:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boggart )

Because Wikipedia includes Hinkypunks as Will-o'-the-wisps (Ghost Lights, particularly those seen over bogs and marshes, sometimes marking treasure). Okay, fair enough. But what else to they include?

Ignis Fatuus (Foolish Fire)
Jack-o'-Lantern (Jack's Lantern)
Friars's Lantern
Hobby Lantern
Spook-lights
Ghost-lights
Orbs
Ghost Candles
Fairy Lights (Either fairies or lights held by fairy creatures)
Pixy-lights (Leads travelers to danger)
Faeu Boulanger (lost souls)
Aleya (Marsh Ghost-lights)
Chir batti (Ghost-lights)
Hitodama (Soul Orb, human soul)
Hi no Tama (Ball of Flame)
Aburagae
Koemonbi
Ushionibi
Boi-tatá (Fiery Snake's Eye)
Luz Mala (Light [which is] Evil)
Brujas (Witches)
Luces del Dinero/Tesoro (Lights of the Money/Treasure)
Min Min light

Are these really all names for the same phenomenon, or did someone just get so carried away lumping similar phenomenon together that they threw Brujas, which tend to appear over houses and are said to be witches that can turn into owls, and Hinkypunks, that tend to appear in swamps and bogs and lead travelers to their doom?

Its hard to say, but the lights in question were easier to explain, they were just cars....

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