Apr

29

will-o-the-wsipAside from all the games named after the frigid weather in Scotland where the only thing to do in the winter was drink and play checkers — the Ayrshire Lassie et. al. — there is a game named after another common situation: the Will of the Wisp. How often do we see a market move which is beautiful but can't be acted upon? A move in Japan where the bid and ask is one or two minis a side, or a move on a holiday in Europe when the US isn't open. Or a move in one market that — had your own market been open — you could have aced. What other will of the wisps are there in markets and life besides the checker game where it looks like you have a win, but it's really a loss, forgetting about the romantic situations for a moment.

Ken Drees elaborates:

From Wikipedia:

The will-o'-the-wisp can be found in numerous folk tales around the United Kingdom, and is often a malicious character in the stories. In Welsh folklore, it is said that the light is 'fairy fire' held in the hand of a pwca (compare Puck), a small goblin-like fairy that mischievously leads lone travelers off the beaten path at night. As the traveller follows the pwca through the marsh or bog, the fire is extinguished, leaving the man lost. The pwca is said to be one of the Tylwyth Teg, or fairy family. In Wales the light predicts a funeral that will take place soon in the locality.

Wirt Sikes in his book British Goblins mentions a Welsh tale about pwca. A peasant traveling home at dusk spots a bright light traveling along ahead of him. Looking closer, he sees that the light is a lantern held by a "dusky little figure", which he follows for several miles. All of a sudden he finds himself standing on the edge of a vast chasm with a roaring torrent of water rushing below him. At that precise moment the lantern-carrier leaps across the gap, lifts the light high over its head, lets out a malicious laugh and blows out the light, leaving the poor peasant a long way from home, standing in pitch darkness at the edge of a precipice. This is a fairly common cautionary tale concerning the phenomenon; however, the Ignis Fatuus was not always considered dangerous.

There are some tales told about the will-o'-the-wisp being guardians of treasure, much like the Irish leprechaun leading those brave enough to follow them to sure riches. Other stories tell of travelers getting lost in the woodland and coming upon a will-o'-the-wisp, and depending on how they treated the will-o'-the-wisp, the spirit would either get them lost further in the woods or guide them out. Also related, the Pixy-light from Devon and Cornwall is most often associated with the Pixie who often has "pixie-led" travelers away from the safe and reliable route, and into the bogs with glowing lights. "Like Poltergeist they can generate uncanny sounds. They were less serious than their German Weisse Frauen kin, frequently blowing out candles on unsuspecting courting couples or producing obscene kissing sounds, which were always misinterpreted by parents." Pixy-Light was also associated with "lambent light" which the "Old Norse" might have seen guarding their tombs.

In Cornish folklore, Pixy-Light also has associations with the Colt Pixy. "A colt pixie is a pixie that has taken the shape of a horse and enjoys playing tricks such as neighing at the other horses to lead them astray". It may well be said that the wild colt pixy would sometimes bedevil regular horses on a ride and cause them to lead their human masters into a predicament or hazard, and might have yielded the pixy - horse name variation.

In Guernsey, the light is known as the faeu boulanger (rolling fire), and is believed to be a lost soul. On being confronted with the spectre, tradition prescribes two remedies. The first is to turn one's cap or coat inside out. This has the effect of stopping the faeu boulanger in its tracks. The other solution is to stick a knife into the ground, blade up. The faeu, in an attempt to kill itself, will attack the blade.

Easan Katir comments:

Similarly, the Tibetan Book of the Dead warns against following the dully-glowing lessers lights beguiling the in-transit soul to fall to the lower bardos. Rather, seek the clear white light to the heavenly lokas and beyond.

Coincidentally, Darby O'Gill and the Little People aired on the movie channel yesterday, featuring a very young Sean Connery, thematically followed, as one would almost predict, by The Gnome Mobile, featuring a perennially-old Walter Brennan, and the usual Disney stable of supporting roles. One observed a striking resemblance of the GS CEO with a gnome, that same sly impish grin.


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