“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious..”, so said Albert Einstein and it is a quote I return to often as I seek to discover ever more wonder in the world around me.
Of all the mysterious natural, or more probably supernatural, phenomena that it is possible to experience, it is likely that one of the most unusual and little explained would be that of the Will O' The Wisp.
To happen upon this eerie green flickering light, that can be seen at night hovering above lakes, ponds and slow moving meandering rivers in the deepest countryside, is perhaps one of the most beautiful, elusive and unnerving encounters one can have. Even today in this bustling, modern, scientifically led world, the wonderful sight of something so enigmatic can tap in to our innermost child-like wonderment and send our imagination soaring into the realms of fantasy, both real and imagined.
Will O' The Wisps, also known by an abundance of other magical names such as 'ghost lights', 'hobby lanterns', 'pixie lights' and many many others, are documented in all parts of the world and in every culture. Here in the UK they are said to be most commonly seen in the wilds of Cumbria and Northumberland.
Many of the names for this phenomenon allude to an ancient belief in fairies, pixies and malicious goblins who lure lonely travellers away from their path and into the unknown. And so most often the Will O' The Wisp has gained a reputation for malevolence and is something to view warily and with great suspicion.
Some believe them to be lost souls, drifting in the dark.
In a few parts of the world however the story is different; in several European countries for example it was (and still is in some rural localities) believed that a Will O' The Wisp marks the location of buried faerie treasure.
Attempts to reproduce this strange, elusive and fragile-looking light scientifically have generally failed and it still remains largely unexplained, adding to its mystery and magic.
So whatever it is, please nobody try to enlighten me as to the true nature of this supernatural wonder. Whether it is a goblin lamp, a lost soul or a clue to buried treasure, I'm happy to sit in the depths of the countryside, just to watch and hope for a glimpse of my own Will O' The Wisp.
(I'd welcome comments from any readers with their own experiences of this or any other natural or supernatural phenomenon)
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