Back to Home Page or Contents Page or Past and present beliefs or Index

Corpse Candles


Mysterious phosphorescent lights often observed over marshes and churchyards. Frequently they are called other names: fetchlights, jack-o'-lanterns, and dead men’s lights, but technically termed ignis fatuus. Supposedly they presage death. Their size supposedly indicates the age of the victim, a small light indicates an infant’s death, especially if the light is pale blue. They may be seen as erratic, seeming to disappear and reappear behind the percipient; they appear on or near the earth, in the air, over lakes, or on the sea. Their color may be red, white, or blue.

It is thought they are caused by gaseous emanations or luminous insects. A.G.H.