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Otherworldly Words: Will-o’-the-wisp

Perfect for Halloween Night, will-o’-the-wisp is the ghostly light in the woods that is always just in front of you. 

So much of nature has inspired our tales of horror as we grapple with understanding the difference between the natural world and the preternatural. I’ve long thought the much maligned full moon lit the way for early humans, so we ventured out more on a full moon. And while we could see better, we still could not see well in the dark. Each winds swept branch cast the shadow of a creature of the night.

And the will-o’-the-wisp? According to Dictionary.com:

“in meteorology, a mysterious light seen at night flickering over marshes; when approached, it advances, always out of reach. In popular legend it is considered ominous and is often purported to be the soul of one who has been rejected by hell carrying its own hell coal on its wanderings.”

Whether a wandering spirit or a fire on the water, like the full moon, it continues to fuel our imaginations.

The will-o’-the-wisp Wikipedia page is loaded with great information.

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