Will-o-the-Wisps, Strange Lights Glowing In The Swamp

There are not as many swamp and marshlands today as there used to be. In the past, swamps were drained to provide new agricultural land, or to reduce the chance of disease in nearby towns and villages. Europe lost over half of its wetlands. [ref] Dugan, P. (ed.) 2005. Guide to Wetlands. Buffalo, New York. Firefly Books. 304 p.[/ref] 32% of America’s cropland has been artificially drained. [ref] http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~doetqp-p/courses/env320/lec25/Lec25.html [/ref] However, swamps and marshland used to be a lot more common and navigating through one would have been hard at the best of times. At night, it became even easier to become lost. And the last thing you needed were evil spirits to misguide you. Will-o-the-wisps are described as flickering balls of light. To someone making their way through a swamp at night, it might look like a lantern held by another person in the distance. But should the person try and follow the light, they will wind up deeper into the swamp where there are any number of natural hazards that could mean they would never return. Though the phenomenon of strange lights in wetlands occurs in many locations, the interpretation of the lights differs from culture to culture.… Continue reading

Mount Penglai, The Island of the Immortals

The first emperor of unified China, Qin Shi Huang, was not satisfied with having unified a vast nation, or consolidating a bunch of forts and walls together to initiate the great wall of China, or even having a vast terracotta army — he wished to live forever as well. [ref] https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/2000-year-old-texts-reveal-first-emperor-chinas-quest-eternal-life-180967671/ [/ref] The Emperor was obsessed with finding the secret to immortality. Later in life he would send expeditions to search for magical herbs that could extend life. There have even been located thousands of documents recorded on wooden slats that detail the progress of the emperors request to all his various provinces. [ref] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-42477083 [/ref] While Qin Shi Huang search for immortality is certainly real, one legend from the time, advises that he authorized Xu Fu, his court sorcerer to set sail with three thousand young boys and girls to find Mount Penglai, the legendary home of the immortals. [ref] Howland, Douglas, Borders of Chinese Civilization: Geography and History at Empire’s End p87 [/ref] The Emperor’s hope was that Xu Fu, could bring back the elixir that would let him live forever. However, despite making two journeys, Xu Fu was unsuccessful. Now, modern day Penglai, on the tip of… Continue reading