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A will-o'-the-wisp, will-o'-wisp or ignis fatuus (Template:IPAc-en; Medieval Latin for "foolish fire") is an atmospheric ghost light seen by travellers at night, especially over bogs, swamps or marshes. It resembles a flickering lamp and is said to recede if approached, drawing travellers from the safe paths. The phenomenon is known by a variety of names, including jack-o'-lantern, friar's lantern, hinkypunk and hobby lantern in English[1] folk belief and is well attested in English folklore and in much of European folklore.


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https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/large_1984_1535_1.jpgEngraving by T. W. Cook A spectral light is spotted upon the misty moors one night and by chance there are travelers who are lost, the Will-o'-the-Wisp's light is an alluring sight, but a savvy traveler knows that the light of the Wisp may only lead them further astray. The light itself is supposed to resemble a flickering flame. The explanation for the lights is that the areas where the flames were often seen were bogs, and the flames were the result of methane combustion in the air.



What the Will-o-the-Wisp is depends on the mythology, sometimes it can be a ghost when it's played straight, other times it can be a fairy or demon, it goes by many different names and most of the time a Wisp is malicious, but on rare occasions they can be helpful. The Latin name for it is ignis fatuus, 'fool fire'.


Will-o'-the-Wisps tend to appear in desolate locations with a macabre history, appearing as vengeful apparitions or a lost soul wondering aimlessly. Wisps in video games function as a (usually) weak enemy found in graveyards or swamp locations.

See Hitodama Light for the Japanese equivalent, Faux Flame when it's a supernatural illusion of fire conjured up by someone, and Spark Fairy for fairies or magical insects depicted as a point of light. Treacherous Spirit Chase is also similar.

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