“When Darkness prevailed, the lights would come”

The Strange Phenomenon of Will o the Wisp


Halloween is known worldwide to be the celebration to ward off horrors while children dress up as their favorite spooky characters and go trick or treating. It is full of amazing adventures and incredible scares along with some very amazing parties throughout the night. Today, on this Spook-acious occasion, I have brought to you an incredible story. A story about a very strange phenomenon called “Will o the Wisp” or the Aleya Ghost Lights in West Bengal.

Related – Halloweentown Oregon

Will o the Wisp : The Phenomenon

Sometimes when you walk around in a forest or area full of swamps and marshes at night, you could come across some strange lights floating around at a distance. “Strange” because these lights seem to float around and some people claim they’ve seen it change colors as well. So they are basically lights, but they are spooky.  

will o the wisp

The most terrifying reason why these lights are considered to be “the lights of doom” is because it is believed that the curious travelers who came across these glimmering flickering lights and decided to follow them, have ended up drowning. DEAD! Another interesting fact about Will o the Wisp or the Aleya Ghost Lights (as called in West Bengal) is that it’s occurrence is not limited to some parts of Sunderban in Bengal. These lights have caught attention of many travelers and locals in many other places around the globe including the UK, Finland, North America, Latvia, Estonia and Australia even.  

will o the wisp

The Legend of Will o the Wisp 

The legend of these spooky light phenomenon is different for different places it has been observed in. Majorly, it is believed to be the spirits of the local fishermen who were drowned or died due to any circumstances. So they do the same with the travelers or any person who does the mistake of following the lights.

Aleya Ghost Lights in West Bengal

There are actually two stories behind the legend of Aleya ghost lights in West Bengal.   The first legend is about a Tigress, her cub and a Prince.   A long, long time ago, there lived a kingHis name was King Srutanjaya and his kingdom was spread from Bengal all the way till Burma, at the time. He had a son, a prince called Alyanjaya or Aleya.   

will o the wisp
will o the wisp

  When Aleya hit puberty, his father started his training so he’d be the true heir for the throne. Once, the King took his son along with a few soldiers into the dense forest of Sunderban for teaching Aleya how to hunt.  

They spent most of the day searching for the Bengal Tigers but with no success. Until late in the evening, nearby a swampy area, they found a Tigress along with her little cub.

Aleya aimed for the cub, but the Tigress somehow figured it out and took the arrow instead. It was hit, but had enough strength to get her cub to safety so he can run along within the forest. Her cub ran into the deep, dark forest while his mother was killed and hunted down.  

After a while, it is believed that the cub got caught up in the swamps and drowned to death.   A few months later, Aleya and his soldiers came to the very spot to find another beast to hunt. But this time, fate had something else in store for him.   

While searching the grounds, Aleya happened to be at the exact spot where he found the Tigress with her cub when suddenly he fell into the swamps and drowned to his death. None of the soldiers were able to save him.   

It is believed by the locals that the death was caused by the spirit of the Tigress and her Cub and they even claim that the ghostly lights roaming around the forest areas at night are actually the Tigress and her Cub who are hunting down the villagers while trying to save the other tigers from the “real beast” (us humans).  

will o the wisp
will o the wisp

The other legend states that a few fishermen who were drowned in the swamps, now haunt the people who they catch walking around or sailing through the waters in the night.

The Irish Tale of Jack | Legend of Jack’ o Lantern

According to this Irish legend, Jack was the name of a blacksmith who was very fond of drinking and manipulating others around him to suit his needs.    One day, he met the Devil, who had come to take his soul to hell. Jack somehow persuaded the Devil himself to grant him two wishes before he takes him. The Devil agreed.   

will o the wisp
will o the wisp

Jack’s first wish was to drink Ale in the Bar. The Devil or Satan granted him this wish. After having a couple of rounds of Ale, Jack put forward his second and last wish. He told the Devil to turn into a gold coin so he could pay the bartender. The Devil agreed.  

But instead of giving the coin to the bartender, Jack put the coin containing Satan in his pocket which already contained a crucifix. The crucifix didn’t allow the Devil to come out of the coin.    

Jack made a deal with the Devil that he’d only free him if he promises to only return for his soul ever again. The Devil agreed and vanished into the door to Hell.  

will o the wisp
Jack o Lantern

  A few years passed and Death arrived. Jack was rejected to enter Heaven due to his life being full of lies and deceit and his bad behavior. And Hell couldn’t accept him due to the deal.   So Jack was left on earth as on orb of light, doomed to roam around till eternity. Thus, Jack became Jack o Lantern, a form of Will o the Wisp. And a symbolism for Halloween, as well.

Mysterious Luring Lights of the Dark

Will o the Wisp are said to be appearing harmless, rather friendly light flickers in the dark, dense lands in the middle of the night. But its just a luring mechanism of these mischievous brutes!    They lure the people by their glorious glimmers and then it is believed either the person dies of drowning in the swamps and marshes, or goes completely insane.   

will o the wisp
will o the wisp

Science Behind the Legend

Being a global phenomenon, the Will o the Wisp or Ghost Lights have even come under the mind labs of many different scientists and researchers all over the globe. Many people have suggested the scientific reasoning behind the night flickers.    In the most early accounts in 1776, Alessandro Volta  suggested that in the areas with dense marshes and swamps, the natural lightening could react with the gases in the marsh, like methane while producing some amounts of light as a result.  

will o the wisp
will o the wisp

But not very later on, the Volta Theory was rejected when people stated that the lights seemed to follow them and even receded when someone followed them at some places. As if they had a mind of their own. SPOOKY!   The most recent accounts for an explanation for the Will o the Wisp or Aleya Ghost Lights happened to arrive in the year 1993.

Professor Persinger and Professor Derr concluded that these lights are actually the result of geological activities and that the tectonic strains on the earth’s surface caused the lights. Due to the electrical appearance, the lights seemed to be intelligent.

There are many theories still doing rounds at different parts of the world. Some claim it to be a scientific occurrence, while some believe it to be ghostly apparitions. Some even believe the ghost lights to actually be light sources carried by small goblin- like fairies. Who mean no harm, but are just mischievous.   

will o the wisp
will o the wisp


The legend associated with the glowing Ghostly lights or the Will o the Wisp or Aleya lights are many.

There are things that we don’t fully understand in the world. And maybe we don’t even need to. I don’t know if it’s all true. I have no idea if it’s all mere ‘lores. The important thing here, people, is that its fascinating. The world is fascinating. And open. And ready for us to explore and to find out about things on our own.  

(PS- just ’cause I said “find out on our own” does not mean you head straight to any flickering light you see in the middle of the night in a dense forest and die and then haunt me till eternity, aight! πŸ™‚      

H A P P Y  H A L L O W E E N  F O L K S


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