Elf-Fire

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Elf-Fire

The ignis fatuus, or "foolish fire," a name also given to fire obtained by rubbing two pieces of wood together, used in superstitious ways. The elf-fire proper is the phosphorescent light seen hovering over marshy ground. When approached, it appears to recede or vanish suddenly, reinforcing the superstition that it is a mischievous spirit. When seen in graveyards the ignis fatuus is known as a "corpse candle." Among the Russian peasantry it was believed that these wandering lights were the souls of stillborn children, who did not desire to lure people from the path but who got no rest until they found their bodies.