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Saturday, 23 May 2015

About the Will O'the Wisp

About the Will O'the Wisp

Hi, dear friends and followers. Today we take a look at the legends of The Will O' the Wisp, not to be mistaken with orbs but with some similarity in appearance, but any other similarity stops there. Thank you for visiting my blog, and welcome back again

The Will o' the Wisp is the most common name given to the mysterious lights that were said to lead travellers from the well-trodden paths into treacherous marshes. The tradition exists with slight variation throughout Britain, the lights often bearing a regional name.

There are various explanations for the Will o' the Wisps, the most general being that they are malevolent spirits either of the dead or non-human intelligence. They have a mischievous and often malevolent nature, luring unwary travellers into dangerous situations. Wirt Sikes in his book British Goblins alludes a common story about a Welsh Will o' the Wisp (
Pwca or Ellylldan); a peasant, who is travelling home late in the evening sees a bright light travelling before him, 

looking closer he sees that the light is a lantern held by a "dusky little figure" which he follows for several miles, suddenly he finds himself standing on the edge of a great chasm with a roaring torrent of water rushing below him. At that moment the lantern carrier leaps across the fissure, raises the light over its head and lets out a malicious laugh, after which it blows out the light leaving the unfortunate man far from home, standing in pitch darkness at the edge of a precipice. They were not always so dangerous, and there are tales told about the Will o' the Wisp being guardians of treasure, leading those brave enough to follow them to sure riches.

In many places the Will o' the Wisp were associated with spirits of the dead who could not enter either heaven or hell, malignantly wandering the earth leading foolish travellers astray. Katherine Briggs mentions the Shropshire 'Will the Smith' in her book, A Dictionary of Fairies: St Peter allowed a wicked blacksmith named Will a second chance to live a wholesome life on earth, but he lived it in such evil that he was doomed to wander the earth in purgatory. The Devil allowed him one grace, a burning piece of pit coal to warm him on his desolate walk through the wild lands, which he uses to lead wanderers into the marshes. 

The lights were also seen as death omens, and when seen within graveyards they were known as corpse lights. These were said to light the path of a coming funeral - from the victims home to the graveyard - in the form of small flickering flames. In other tales the light were often said to appear in places where a tragedy was about to occur.

More mundane explanations for the Will o' the Wisp come in the form of marsh gasses - natural methane - formed from rotting vegetation. The gas was thought to sometimes ignite spontaneously forming standing flames over boggy ground. It has also been suggested that the little understood phenomena of ball lightning may have been the cause of sightings.

Some Regional Names
There are many names for what is essentially the same phenomenon, these are as follows:
Hertfordshire & East Anglia: The Hobby Lantern
Lancashire: Peg-a-Lantern
Cornwall & Somerset: Joan the Wad
East Anglia: The Lantern Man
Somerset & Devon: Hinky Punk
Shropshire: Will the Smith
Worcestershire: Pinket
The West Country: Jacky Lantern, Jack-a-Lantern
Lowland Scotland: Spunkies
Wales: Pwca, Ellylldan
Norfolk: Will o' the Wikes
Warwickshire & Gloucestershire: Hobbedy's Lantern
North Yorkshire & Northumberland: Jenny with the Lantern

Other names
Corpse candles: Related to graveyards and funeral processions.
Ignis Fatuus: The Latin name which means foolish fire.

The Legend Behind the Will O’ the Wisp in the Movie "Brave"

“Some say our destiny is tied to the land, as much a part of us as we are of it. Others say fate is woven together like a cloth, so that one’s destiny intertwines with many others. It’s the one thing we search for, or fight to change. Some never find it. But there are some who are led.” This quotation is spoken by Princess Merida as an introduction in Disney Pixar’s movie "Brave." Merida is seen riding through the forest looking to change her fate, when she sees tiny blue lights that form a path beckoning her to follow them.

Scotland is full of legend and folklore and its said that will o’ the wisps are either mischievous spirits of the dead, or spirits such as fairies, which lead travelers off the beaten path. The bright blue will o’ the wisps in "Brave" seemed so alive that it would be hard for anyone to resist the temptation to follow them, including a princess looking for her place in the world.

Travelers—particularly those who venture out after sunset on unfamiliar pathways—beware of the will o’ the wisps.

So what are they, really, and what part do they have in this movie?

“The will o’ the wisps are in a lot of Scottish folktales,” says “Brave” director Mark Andrews. “They were said to lead you to treasure or doom—to change your fate—but they’re an actual phenomenon of swamp and bog gas seeping up through the earth and interacting with the natural resources to create the blue flames. People would follow these lights thinking they were little fairies, and basically drown or get sucked down into the bogs.”

It is said—though by whom is a bit of a mystery—that on certain days for certain travelers in certain parts of the world, little lights dance on the horizon, whispering tempting invitations or pledging the answers to lifelong questions, the realization of dreams, a key to secret treasures, in general a change of fate.

The animated lights, will o’ the wisps, lead Merida to a mysterious location where she finds the witch’s cottage that holds the power to change her destiny, although not necessarily for the better.

Charmed and curious, unsuspecting travelers follow the floating lights, mesmerized by their whispers, their promises. Yet no matter how long or how fervently they follow, they never quite touch the beautiful beacons whose flickering lights eventually fade and disappear, leaving the inquisitors, the dreamers, and the treasure seekers lost and alone.

“We made the wisps like actual little spirits,” Andrews continues. “They’re almost like Marley’s ghost in a way, because Marley’s ghost isn’t an evil spirit. Even though he’s frightening, he’s trying to warn Scrooge to change his ways. That’s what the wisps are doing. There’s a duality to them, because they’re either good or evil. They lead Merida into more and more trouble, but in the end, they’ve led her exactly where she needs to go.”

So be careful of your paths and steps and the lights you follow, lest the will o' the wisp lead you into a swamp - or worse!

Thank you very much again, dear friends, for visiting my blog. Please share your thoughts with us, if you will. have a great Week.

ڰۣIn Loving Light from the Fairy Ladyڰۣ

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