Corpse Lights

Corpse Lights are phosphorescent lights seen floating about the air at night, which are believed to be harbingers of death. They are white, red, or blue and are seen both indoors and outdoors. They hug the ground, float in the air, hover over the roof of the doomed, or appear over the chest of the doomed. Corpse lights are called by various names, including Corpse Candles, Jack-O’-Lantern,  ignis fatuus, corposant, fetch-candles, and fetch-lights.

Since they often appear in marshy areas, the lights may be produced by marsh gas. Another possible explanation is that they may be produced by atmospheric conditions. Nonetheless, numerous accounts exist in folklore of their seemingly supernatural appearance.

See Also:

Further Reading:

  • Leach, Maria, and Jerome Fried, eds. Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979.


The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits– Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – September 1, 2007