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Min Min Lights and Jack O Lanterns


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SJMcKenzie
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Wasn't sure whether to put this here or in UFOs or just in Folklore...

I notice there is nothing on the database so far on the Min Min Lights. Are the owners aware of this tale of ghostly lights haunting a ruined pub and graveyard in outback Queensland. I know this is mysterious Britain, but still, you have one Australian entry, and there are some interesting parallels with the Jack 'O Lantern, Spunkie, and Will O Wisp...

This account is from here:

"Min Min now is nothing but the light. History tells that it was once a roaring shanty notorious for 'lambing down' the shearers on sunset run, with a 'dead house' and a graveyard nearby. So many were its crimes and murders of kerosene and brimstone, that in righteous anger they burnt it to the ground. The place was stories and desolation- but the dead men would not be forgotten on their stoney plain. Just as a rider was passing by, out of that graveyard came the biggest Jack-O'-Lantern in Australia!"
The Min Min Light legend has long spoken of the light appearing soon after the Min Min shanty had burnt to the ground. Three sightings, in quick succession, allegedly started the mystery. The "Sunday Mail Magazine" of March 2, 1941 contains the earliest renditions of these reports that I could find and it dates them as occurring some 60 years earlier, that is, in the early 1880s or thereabouts. This places the genesis of the Min Min Light legend as contemporary with the establishment of the town of Boulia itself.
The first of these tales is in part consistent with the evocative legend related by Ernestine Hill and tells of an unfortunate stockman who encountered the light, soon after the Min Min shanty or hotel was burnt down. He was riding from Warenda Station to Boulia on a somewhat cloudy night. At about 10 pm, as the stockman passed the Min Min locality a strange glow appeared right in the middle of the little cemetry located at the rear of the old hotel. The glow appeared to grow to the size of a small watermelon, hover over the graveyard, and then move off in the same direction the stockman was travelling. Terrified, the man galloped towards Boulia with the light allegedly following him all the way, until he reached the outskirts of town. Not surprisingly, police and locals gave the poor man's story little credence.
However, in rapid succession, 2 further reports came to light, which seemed to substantiate the stockman's experience. A married couple visiting the district, who apparently did not know of the stockman's story, reported seeing the mysterious light, while riding on a track into Boulia from one of the stations. The light intensified in brightness while they watched and then moved away. The couple then followed the light onto the hard, plain country, for a few minutes. When they turned back to the track the light, which had been receding, began to advance and follow them. Legend does not detail how the light disappeared, but the couple were most anxious to find out from the locals what the light was. No one could provide an explanation.
Likewise for the next report that came in a few nights later. Another station hand said he had seen the light rise up out of the old Min Min hotel graveyard and go bounding up and down through the air across the stony plain.

Anyway, a recent scientist has put the whole thing down to a Fata Morgana, which is basically a mirage at night: 

“Wonderful during the day, such Fata Morgana can be terrifying at night when a single light source gives no hint that it is actually part of a mirage emanating from a great distance. Even hardened Outback observers can break down when they are unable to interpret the unusual optical properties of the light in terms of their own, very different, past experiences.

“The unusual terrain of the Channel Country makes the favourable atmospheric conditions more likely, while its isolation increase the impact of a single light source since the observer knows that it cannot be produced locally but sees it apparently there in front.”

Professor Pettigrew said some people would prefer not to have the Min Min's mystique probed by city slickers.

I must be one of those city slickers. I far prefer the ghost story.

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Ian Topham
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Thanks for this Steve, your

Thanks for this Steve, your right I had never heard of them before.  The reason we'e introducing experiences from all around the world is to highlight any possible similarities and differences that might discovered.  By the way, we've two Australian article up now :).

Mauro
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Joined: 15 Oct 2008
A similar story...

Mac, I heard this story a long time ago but pretty much forgot about it. Thanks for the detailed descriprion, really fascinating.
Anyway I remember hearing a similar story from my mother. As I have already related she hails from an Alpine valley in Italy (hence my name) and I still have lots of relatives there.
Many years ago, when sealed lead coffins were still reserved for the most affluent, will-o'-the-wisp were a pretty common sight in graveyards. Popular opinion put them down to putrefying matter releasing gas which was in some way ignited by static or other natural causes: a perfectly sound explanation.
Anyway one of my relatives (she's long dead now) was employed as factotum for the village priest. She cooked, washed his clothes, attended to his house and rang the bells in the small hours of the morning. The church and the rectory are at the hedge of the village, quite near the graveyard. One morning she was going to ring the bells at 5 AM when she saw a will-o'-the-wisp in the graveyard: not an uncommon sight. But she was absolutely terrified when she saw the globe of light coming her way. Obviously she was terrified and started to run. She always mantained that the light followed her to the doorstep.
My grand-granmother, which lived to a ripe old age and was somewhat of a local authority (her husband, my great-grandfather, was a decorated war veteran and owned the only public house of the area and she was the only formally trained midwife of the valley), always shunned at any notion of supernatural. She had to travel alone, often at night and in foul weather, to reach her patients in the most isolated parts of the valley, and "never saw anything out of the ordinary".
Perhaps this relative of mine had a highly imaginative nature or a particular sensitivity because, a few years later, she said to have seen the ghost of one of the former village priests, long dead and buried, walking around the church while reading his breviary.

__________________

"Louhi spoke in riddled tones of three things to achieve: find and catch the Devil's Moose and bring it here to me. Seize the Stallion born of Fire, harness the Golden Horse. He captured and bound the Moose, he tamed the Golden Horse. Still there remained one final task: hunt for the Bird from the Stream of Death"

-Kalevala, Rune XIII-


SJMcKenzie
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Joined: 1 Nov 2008
<i>Popular opinion put them

Popular opinion put them down to putrefying matter releasing gas which was in some way ignited by static or other natural causes: a perfectly sound explanation.

Yes, the "marsh gas" or rotting corpse gas explanation was the one I had always heard and suits damp areas, but the area in which the lights occur in Australia is a dry, undulating plain. I guess there is still a graveyard...

The Fata Morgana explanation really fits the Min Min tale. The Australian scientist I quoted above has actualluy 'made' a Will O Wisp and many people witnessed it. Makes me wonder if the same explanation could be applied to lots of sightings in Europe and the UK. 

Anyway thanks for your personal accounts. I'm doing a story on Will O' Wisps and am looking about for interesting ideas on the subject. The Will O Wisp does seem to be seen more commonly in graveyards than not - but perhaps people are more sensitive / easily spooked when they are in graveyards...

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Daniel Parkinson
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Joined: 22 Jul 2008
Where do corpse lights fit

Where do corpse lights fit into this, probably just another name for a Will O Wisp, but I always thought this term was used for ones associated with graveyards, and as a bad omen.

Mauro
User offline. Last seen 2 years 11 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 15 Oct 2008
I think the Min Min lights

I think the Min Min lights could perhaps fit into that fast phenomelogy called "earthlights". While we are only beginning to study them properly (mostly thanks to the advances in the field of spectrometry, allowing for more rugged and cheaper instruments which can be used in the field), we can be 100% sure that they are multicausal. The Hessdalen Lights are a good case, though sadly the research has been cut short once an acceptable explanation was found... but there was still much work to do.

I'll be completely honest now... I have never properly understood the difference between "Will-o'-the-Wisp", "ghostlights" and "corpse lights". I have always assumed that the first term is used to decribe any unusual light of unknown origin.

__________________

"Louhi spoke in riddled tones of three things to achieve: find and catch the Devil's Moose and bring it here to me. Seize the Stallion born of Fire, harness the Golden Horse. He captured and bound the Moose, he tamed the Golden Horse. Still there remained one final task: hunt for the Bird from the Stream of Death"

-Kalevala, Rune XIII-




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