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"Ghost Lights" / Money Connection?


Gone But Not Forgotten
Aug 21, 2001
Purely for your enjoyment...(Hopefully! ;) )...

Ever since I was MUCH younger, my Mother has relayed a ghost story of sorts, from HER youth, that intrigued me... in large part because, taking her at her word (Hey, we are talking about my MOTHER here! :D ), there was tangible evidence to go with the tale.

The story transpires in Italy, pre-WWII. My Mother, then a child, was sent into a "wine cellar" of sorts on an errand. Ahead of her, she saw a light, much akin to a lantern-light, bobbing slightly in the darkness. There was no other way in or out of the cellar, and as she approached the light, calling out, assuming someone was there (brave girl), the light winked out. When my Mom got to the spot, she found a pile of coins. She took them to her Mother - and apparently endured a bit of a thrashing over the find, as they were not well off, and her Mother could not understand where the coins could have come from.

My Mother's recollection is so vivid (I have left out incidental details), and the bit about her Mother's reaction to the coins so believable, that I always assumed things happened pretty much as described. That left skeptical young me to figure out HOW it happened... the first thing I thought of, of course, was that the light WAS a lantern -- someone else had been down there. My Mother insisted, however, that the layout of the place precluded that...no one could have slipped by her, and there was no handy hiding place.

Some years later, in one collection of Forteana or another, I came across an entry on "ghost lights" - apparently, a fairly common tale in folklore throughout Europe, that holds that if you see a ball of light, you should find a way to mark the spot, so that you can return and dig, as you will likely find coins?

The tale still intrigues me... anyone else familiar with this "ghost light"/money connection?

I can't think of any examples off the top of my head, but there are a few literary mentions; Bram Stoker used them in Dracula, near the start, as Harker is driven to the castle. He sees strange blue lights in the dark. Later, the Count tells him legends of blue flames that mark the sites of buried treasure, if only one were bold enough to mark the spot...
that if you see a ball of light, you should find a way to mark the spot, so that you can return and dig, as you will likely find coins?

I've not heard this, but there is a long tradition that light phenomena mark the sites of veins of ore. The best source for this stuff is probably Paul Devereux's work on earthlights.
Of course, I forgot that Spriggans glow sometimes, as well as tapping. One could conjecture that this is a folk-memory of pre-Christian burials, guarded by spirits. Though whether the spirits are real or not...
If it was an earth-light type thing, related to the location and type of rock the cellar was built on, then the conductivity of the coins might have been enough to trigger the visible manifestation at that location rather than anywhere else, perhaps.
The "earth light" suggestion is intriguing, but would seem to require that SOMEONE went down into the cellar and, for reasons unknown, left a pile of coins....

But an interesting idea...