ignis fatuus

A will-o'-the-wisp, also called Jack-o'-Lantern, spunkie, walking fire, and Fair Maid of Ireland. Milton calls it Friar's Lantern, and Sir Walter Scott Friar Rush with a lantern (see Friar Rush). In Russian superstition it is the spirit of a still-born child, flitting between heaven and the Inferno.

In Tiree, Scotland, they were called fairy lights (teine-sìth), and were said to be produced by birds. In Skye and the northern islands the were called the "Uist light" (Solus Uithist).



  • Campbell, J.G. (1902). Witchcraft & Second Sight in the Highlands & Islands of Scotland. Glascow: James MacLehose and Sons, p. 171.
  • Cobham Brewer, E. (2001). The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Cassell reference.