Ghost Lights

28th November 2018. Reading Time: 5 minutes General, Famous Paranormal Cases. 2515 page views. 2 comments.

In mythology and folklore dating back centuries, there have been reports of ‘ghost lights’.  Lets look at the some of the stories.  Are they really ghost lights or are they atmospheric?

In mythology and folklore dating back centuries, there have been reports of ‘ghost lights’. I am not talking about the orbs that we catch on our cameras. These are seen with the human eye and have been documents since before cameras existed. Lets look at the some of the stories. Are they really ghost lights or are they atmospheric?


Hitodama refers to Japanese folklore. They are considered to be the human soul which have detached from their ‘host bodies’. They often appear in cemeteries and look to be red, orange or blue-white orbs. They float close to the ground.

They are often seen on warm summer nights and tend to be in areas where people have recently passed such as a cemetery or house. Most of the time they are seen just before or just after the moment of death which is when the soul is considered to leave the body and return to the ether. The ether (the place above the sky).


Onibi is also a part of Japanese folklore. These are said to be the spirits born from the corpses of humans and animals and appear as blue, white, red or yellow coloured fire balls and described as demon fire. They are said to be resentful and float at eye level. They drain a person’s life force and are said to sometimes manifest the faces and voices of their victims. The lights usually appear and lure a traveler into the forest where they meet their death by ‘demon fire’. The orbs surround their victim and suck the life from them.

They can be very small only the size of a candle or as big as a human. There can be only 1 or 2 or there have been reports of up to 20 at a time. It is often mistaken for a distant lantern much like the next tale.


Will-o-the-wisps date back to the 13th century but were well known long before it was documented on paper. Cornish, Nordic and Aborigine people would often warn people about the dangers of these lights. Shakespeare referred to these lights using their Latin name ‘ignus fatuus’ in King Henry IV. They were referenced in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

This particular light is considered to be an omen. It appears as a ball of light which can sometimes be so bright it can hurt your eyes or so dim that you have to squint to see it. It is often blue in colour, however red lights have also been reported. Some people have reported seeing a dark figure carrying the light like it was a torch or lantern.

The lights according to mythology are carried by spirits who are in purgatory and shut out of heaven and hell. The lights appear to predict the future and appear to people before their death and often lead them to their fate.

Reports of these lights are during warmer months in marsh and wetland type areas.

The story is said to be a Blacksmith by the name of Will. He was a trouble maker and when he died and went to heaven, Saint Peter told him to be better in his next life. The second time around, he got into even more trouble. He was cursed to roam Earth forever. Much to the Devil's delight in Will's actions, he gave Will coal to keep him warm at night. Will used this to light his lantern and lure poor souls to their deaths.

Min Min Lights

Here in Australia, I have spoken to many who have witness the Min Min Lights. They are said to be fluorescent hovering balls that appear just above the horizon. Indigenous Australians believe that these lights are the spirits of their elders.

They are usually white in colour, but they can also appear to be green, yellow red and very rarely blue. When you approach them, they seem to move away. The local legends was that if the light caught up with you, that was the end.

Modern Day Ghost Lights

There is a large ORB debate in the paranormal community. While we know that our cameras can create this orb effect, people still claim to see these lights with their own eyes. In fact many will argue that it is a true orb if you see it with your own eyes. People who are very sensitive to the paranormal claim to see them all the time during their paranormal investigations. I am not overly sensitive to the paranormal, but I have experienced this once in my life and I don't have an explanation for it. I was at J Ward prison for the criminally insane and I was standing outside the underground kitchen. I suddenly saw what looked like a bright flickering orb type thing float down from the top of the window and dissapeared. It was strange because it was like it was floating down, it wasn't fast like something was falling and it wasn't slow like a bug or spider. I said 'Look at the light' very loudly. What made this experience interesting was that there were investigators upstairs recording an EVP session. They saw this light and saw it floating down and said so on their recording. You can then hear me faintly saying look at the light. So here was this strange light seen by 3 different people not influenced by the other. I don't know what this light was. There were no lights turned on and I didn't have a torch on so I don't think it was a reflection. Coupled with the fact there were noises coming from inside the kitchen and no one was in there. I don't have an explanation for it and today it remains the only time I have seen a ball of light like that with my own eyes.

Is it a natural phenomena?

There are a few different explanations which scientists believe can account for this phenomena. In the same way fireflies can react to light, they believe that there may be a type of bioluminescent fungus or algae which could produce light in the right conditions. Another explanation is a mixture of natural gases name methane, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Methane is known to spontaneously combust when they come into contact with air. Is this what causes a burning ball of light?

What is interesting particularly with a lot of the cases pertaining to the ‘ghost lights’ is that they are all documented during warmer months in areas where there is water, moisture or it is raining. Does this make it the perfect combination for atmospheric ghost balls?

Some say they are mistaken as headlights, while other explanations are that they are UFO's. There are reports worldwide and ghost lights appears throughout folklore and mythology over centuries. It is a very real phenomena but what exactly causes it? Have you seen ghost lights with your eyes? Tell me your experience in the comments below.

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  • Kenda Elise 4 years ago

    Great piece! Yes, I've seen "para-luminescence" on several occasions; Both with my own eyes and on-camera. I find the folk tales about spectres carrying lanterns particularly intriguing because there are a couple of reputable investigators, that I know and trust personally, who (having come into contact with an orb whose appearance was accompanied by Spirit sound effects - - footsteps, knocking, etc. - - ) have documented a "semi-physical" Spirit "form" (face, full-body) either trailing along BEHIND or being projected BY one particular "Orb." One case was documented as a photograph, the other, MIRACULOUSLY, caught on video. Me, personally, I see orbs when I'm conducting EVP sessions (not born a natural medium, this is how I know when Spirit's entered the space); I happen to be taping audio on one such day when, upon hearing me audibly remark that I've seen someone enter the room as an orb, Spirit says, "That's the light INSIDE us... It's what the scholars call the ANGELS." Another time, I'm present and recording when an orb appears in a room and proceeds to do nothing short of AERIAL ACROBATICS (fly-bys, zooming all over the place, and bouncing off a sofa as though it's a trampoline!!). That evening, I'm thrilled to find Class A EVP and VERY distinctive PATTERN KNOCKING on my recordings captured in that same space. (Pretty talented dust motes if you ask me! Lol)

  • Chris Ward 5 years ago

    My father was living in the Ukraine in the late 1930s and used to cross a forest from his village to go to a dance in the local town. The forest was renowned for these ghost lights and even respectable people saw them, like the schoolteacher's wife who was terrified when one followed her horse and buggy. They couldn't understand why my Dad wasn't afraid to cross the forest alone. He did see a light on several occasions. It always maintained a distance - he estimated half a mile - keeping a level and not varying around trees, over fallen logs or such, so it couldn't just be a human with a lamp. I think he considered it supernatural. In retrospect, it could have been an omen, because families in his village were rounded up by Stalin's USSR in 1939 and taken to Siberian work camps.