A Field Guide to the Ethereal Spectrum of Night

Those flashes, glimmers and glimpses of light that illuminate the darkness? There are types. Cladistics. Causes and effects. We hope this brief field guide will bring some insight to these nocturnal glimmers.


It is commonly believed that there are but two shades of illuminated darkness: moonlight and starlight. But in my travels I have found there to be a multitude of phenomena that produce what I like to refer to as “darklight.” In this guide, I will offer a description of each type of darklight on the ethereal spectrum and the possible locations where one might encounter the particular phenomenon. The following is not a complete guide, and serves only as a primer. (Rare but unsubstantiated phenomena such as Pixie Light and Demon Light will not be covered.)

Vesper Light

Vesper Light, also known as vespertillia, is an atmospheric dusk-time event where bats fly in such quick, erratic patterns as to supercharge the water molecules in the air, creating a miniature heat lightning in their wake. Optimum conditions for Vesper Light are warm, humid, moonless nights with an overabundance of mosquitoes. During observation, the consumption of alcohol is known to enhance the effect.

Ghost Light

Ghost Light can be found deep in the forest. It manifests as a lone, circular glow with a concentrated white center and a faint purple ring sometimes extending several feet in diameter. It is often accompanied by a stillness of both sound and activity, as if its appearance is a precursor to some woodland play about to be performed. In most cases, the mere act of looking upon it will cause it to wink out of existence.

Fog Light

We all know fog is a common occurrence produced by condensed water vapor, usually as a result of a warm body of air in contact with a colder substrata. Fog light is unconnected to these conditions and speaks to the quality of the light itself: a diaphanous brightening of the dark that can range in size from a doorway to as big as the mouth of an airplane hangar. Fog Light can appear anywhere but is most commonly found in large open areas such as fields or along highways where the traffic is thin, and can last for several seconds before decorporealizing. Some believe Fog Light is, in fact, a portal to another dimension, a chance alignment between two parallel worlds where the barriers are thinnest. It is believed that, every year, Fog Light is responsible for nearly a hundred disappearances around the world. (So keep your distance!)

Memory Light

Memory Light is divided into two categories: Yellow for memories of the past, and Blue for memories of the future. Yellow Memory Light, also called Hobo Light, appears in the company of vagrants and the homeless in the form of a yellow aura. It is postulated that the individual’s strong lamentation (manifestations of guilt or regret) creates a prismatic effect in the heated air close to the body. Yellow Memory Light was often mistaken for distant campfires along riverbanks and under train trestles. Blue Memory Light manifests in a similar fashion but the individuals purported to exude along this spectrum are extremely insightful, playfully imaginative, and live in a thought-world unbound by the accepted constraints of the physical universe. If dreams could be a color, then blue is the color of what could be. The blue aura occurs when the individual experiences a sudden, oftentimes debilitating, withdrawal from the reality of what could be into the reality of what is. Anyone in close proximity of this rare phenomenon will be affected negatively with feelings of sadness and futility.

Glimmer Light

Glimmer Light is the faintest most fleeting on the ethereal spectrum. It is found almost exclusively at cemeteries. Glimmer Light happens so quickly and for such a brief period, it tends not to register to the observer’s eye. Only due to the serendipity of late-night photography did the first case of Glimmer Light become known. Special stroboscopic eyewear has since been created to observe the rare phenomenon, which gave rise to the nationwide grave-watching craze of the last decade, fueled by speculation and misinformation that Glimmer Light was, in fact, the spirits of deceased loved ones still tethered to their physical bodies. The craze quickly declined when it was discovered that observers wearing the special glasses were absorbing much more than fragmentary light, and that the amount of unseen information entering the brain was detrimental, resulting in seizures, catatonia, and even death. Special filters have since been adapted to the glasses — so please, make sure you are using only FDA-approved Glimmer Glasses when hunting for Glimmer Light.

Folk Light

Folk light occurs near woodland trails or in open fields under a full moon. It can sometimes take the form of ball lightning or a will-‘o-the-wisp-type pattern that has given credence to many a local legend about the aforementioned Pixie Light and Demon Light. Folk Light is the most varied on the ethereal spectrum, manifesting in shapes consistent with those witnessed under the thrall of ergot poisoning. Many such reports usually follow a night of reverie at rural music festivals or events that involve the practice of Pagan rituals. Please note that outdoor nudity and uninhibited dancing by themselves will not cause Folk Light to appear.

Bodhi Light

Himalayan climbers have long claimed the existence of Bodhi Light, a seemingly random coalescing of light particles that appears like a miniature swarm of incandescent insects. But the phenomenon has been discredited by the medical profession as a product of low oxygen levels at high altitude. While found almost exclusively at elevations of 10,000 feet or more, it is my belief that the numerous sightings of Bodhi Light around the world — from sheep herders in Pakistan to elk hunters in Colorado — are too similar to be manifestations of individual delirium. And if Bodhi Light is indeed a swarm of high-altitude insects performing a mating ritual, entomologists have yet to collect a single specimen. One thing is for certain: Witnesses to this light have claimed to experience a spiritual awakening, as if in the presence of something divine.

Tidal Light

The most uncommon of lights on the ethereal spectrum can be found in the most common of geographical regions of the world: the coastline. Tidal Light is that rarest of rare phenomenon because it is bound to the very nature of the coastline itself. Tidal Light can appear in a variety of colors based on the saline content of the water that gives it its name. Shimmering waves of blue have been observed as well as arcs of salmony pink, and every shade and geometric configuration in between. Due to a mathematical conundrum called the Coastline Paradox, where the fractal nature of any given coastline can vary in length based on the unit of measurement, the size, intensity and duration of Tidal Light is also in a constant flux. A virtual pinprick of light in a vast sea of darkness. There is no predicting where or when it will show up.

Author’s Note

And so ends our brief tour of the ethereal spectrum of the night. I hope it has, at the very least, piqued your interest in this most unearthly of earthly phenomena. I’m sure, as technological advances illuminate the world around us, and more acceptance of the esoteric nature of the ethereal spectrum grows among the populace, there will be an addendum to this guide at some later date. Until then, with open mind and open heart, good luck and happy sightings!

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Kurt Newton

Kurt Newton

Kurt Newton's odd creations have appeared in numerous pages and on pixelated screens, most notably Cafe Irreal, Radon Journal, Syntax & Salt, Flash Fiction Online, Goldfish Grimm's Spicy Fiction Sushi, Dream of Shadows, Penumbric, Not Deer Magazine and the anthology Unity, Vol. I.

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