Lumens (AKA "spooklights", "pine lights", "witch lights", "faerie-lights", "will-o'-the-wisps", "will-o-wisps", "jack o'lanterns", "corpse lights", "fairy lights", "fox fires", "foxfires", "ghost-lights", "friar's lanterns", "hobby lanterns", "devil lights", "ghost candles", or "feu-follet", "foo lights", "Saint-Elmo's Fires", "ball lightning", "swamp gas", "fireflies", tommyknockers, kobolds, "haints"....)
And coming our way over the broad expanse, skimming along at treetop level, was an oblong cluster of faintly glowing lights. Lights. That’s what they were. Not glowing spheres. Not UFOs or any of that nonsense. They had no discernible substance. They were just light. Globules of light.... I'd never seen light behave that way before — it didn't seem right or natural for light to concentrate itself in a ball. Or perhaps it was the way they moved, gliding through the night with such purpose, cutting through the dark, weaving from tree to tree, floating by the topmost branches, and then forging a path to the next. Almost as if the trees were signposts.
— F. Paul Wilson, "The Barrens (fiction)"
Lumens, "spooklights", or "ghost-lights" are often described as mysterious balls of light that appear in the sky above the treeline, or as glowing lights mistaken for lanterns carried through the woods, which may then dart toward the observer before hovering or dancing nearby as if observing or communicating with the observer, and then hurtling away at incredible speed moments later. They are the eerie, sinister, ethereal, glowing, spherical guardians of special places across the world called "nexus points", where twice a year the “veils” that obscure reality become detached, allowing the Lumens for a short period of time to offer glimpses of the true nature and horrors of our world which are otherwise obscured from man's normal perception.
Several such points are known, including one near the east coast of North America in New Jersey called "The Barrens", one in Tibet, and one in each of the poles. Other nexus points may exist. People brave enough to follow the paths that Lumens traverse through the night skies are ultimately led to nexus points. Animals and vegetation shun areas where Lumens congregate. Other notable wills-o'-the-wisp include St. Louis Lights in Saskatchewan, the Spooklights in Southwestern Missouri and Northeastern Oklahoma, the Marfa lights of Texas, the Naga fireballs on the Mekong in Thailand, the Paulding Lights in Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the Hessdalen lights in Norway.
In urban legends, folklore and superstition, wills-o'-the-wisp are typically attributed to ghosts, fairies or elemental spirits. Modern science explains the light aspect as natural phenomena such as bioluminescence or chemiluminescence, associated with the decay of "swamp gas". In European folklore, these lights are believed to be spirits of the dead, fairies, or a variety of other supernatural beings (Elementals or Demons) which attempt to lead travellers to their demise. Sometimes the lights are believed to be the spirits of unbaptized or stillborn children, flitting between heaven and hell.
Like older legends of Will-o-Wisps, it can be dangerous to follow the Spooklights into the forest, where the victim typically meets some nameless misadventure (supposed to possibly be walking off a cliff, stumbling into a sink-hole, or drowning in a swamp); the Spooklight might thus be supposed to be an offshoot of Faerie legends brought to North America by Scots-Irish settlers. Spooklights also seem to share some space with UFO legends, and thus might be supposed to be UFO sightings complete with any of the trappings of UFO lore, such as encounters with Men in Black and alien beings, lost time and other experiences in common with alien abductions, etc.
Associated Mythos Elements
- setting: Folk Mythos
- alternative races (may be confused with or encountered in company with):