Fireflies in the Forest: 24 Poems and Meditations of the Soul


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The earliest attempt to scientifically explain the causes of ignis fatuus was by the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta in when he discovered methane. He proposes that natural electrical phenomena like lightning interacting with marsh gas may be the cause of ignis fatuus. Early critics of the marsh gas hypothesis often dismissed it on various grounds including the unlikeliness of spontaneous combustion, the absence of warmth in some observed ignis fatuus, the odd behavior of ignis fatuus receding upon being approached, and the differing accounts of ball lightning which was also classified as a kind of ignis fatuus.

Owens in Folk-Lore from Buffalo Valley This is a name that is sometimes applied to a phenomenon perhaps more frequently called Jack-o'-the-Lantern, or Will-o'-the-Wisp. It seems to be a ball of fire, varying in size from that of a candle-flame to that of a man's head. It is generally observed in damp, marshy places, moving to and fro; but it has been known to stand perfectly still and send off scintillations.

As you approach it, it will move on, keeping just beyond your reach; if you retire, it will follow you. That these fireballs do occur, and that they will repeat your motion, seems to be established, but no satisfactory explanation has yet been offered that I have heard. Those who are less superstitious say that it is the ignition of the gases rising from the marsh.

But how a light produced from burning gas could have the form described and move as described, advancing as you advance, receding as you recede, and at other times remaining stationary, without having any visible connection with the earth, is not clear to me. However, the apparent retreat of ignis fatuus upon being approached might be explained simply by the agitation of the air by nearby moving objects, causing the gases to disperse. This was observed in the very detailed accounts of several close interactions with ignis fatuus published earlier in by Major Louis Blesson after a series of experiments in various localities where they were known to occur.

Blesson observed that the water was covered by an iridescent film, and during day-time, bubbles could be observed rising abundantly from certain areas. At night, Blesson observed bluish-purple flames in the same areas and concluded that it was connected to the rising gas.

He spent several days investigating the phenomenon, finding to his dismay that the flames retreated every time he tried to approach them. He eventually succeeded and was able to confirm that the lights were indeed caused by ignited gas. On visiting the spot at night, the sensitive flames retired as the major advanced; but on standing quite still, they returned, and he tried to light a piece of paper at them, but the current of air produced by his breath kept them at too great a distance.

On turning away his head, and screening his breath, he succeeded in setting fire to the paper.


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He was also able to extinguish the flame by driving it before him to a part of the ground where no gas was produced; then applying a flame to the place whence the gas issued, a kind of explosion was heard over eight or nine square feet of the marsh; a red light was seen, which faded to a blue flame about three feet high, and this continued to burn with an unsteady motion.

As the morning dawned the flames became pale, and they seemed to approach nearer and nearer to the earth, until at last they faded from sight. Blesson also observed differences in the color and heat of the flames in different marshes. The ignis fatuus in Malapane, Upper Silesia now Ozimek , Poland could be ignited and extinguished, but were unable to burn pieces of paper or wood shavings.

Similarly, the ignis fatuus in another forest in Poland coated pieces of paper and wood shavings with an oily viscous fluid instead of burning them. Blesson also accidentally created ignis fatuus in the marshes of Porta Westfalica , Germany, while launching fireworks. In modern science, it is generally accepted that most ignis fatuus are caused by the oxidation of phosphine PH 3 , diphosphane P 2 H 4 , and methane CH 4.

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These compounds, produced by organic decay , can cause photon emissions. Since phosphine and diphosphane mixtures spontaneously ignite on contact with the oxygen in air, only small quantities of it would be needed to ignite the much more abundant methane to create ephemeral fires. This might explain the "viscous moisture" described by Blesson. One attempt to replicate ignis fatuus under laboratory conditions was in by British geologist Alan A. Mills of Leicester University. Though he did succeed in creating a cool glowing cloud by mixing crude phosphine and natural gas, the color of the light was green and it produced copious amounts of acrid smoke.

This was contrary to most eyewitness accounts of ignis fatuus. Cold flames are indeed typically bluish in color and as their name suggests, they generate very little heat. Cold flames occur in a wide variety of compounds, including hydrocarbons including methane , alcohols , aldehydes , oils , acids , and even waxes. However it is unknown if cold flames occur naturally, though a lot of compounds which exhibit cold flames are the natural byproducts of organic decay. A related hypothesis involves the natural chemiluminescence of phosphine. They successfully created a faint cool light by mixing phosphine with air and nitrogen.

Though the glow was still greenish in color, Garlaschelli and Boschetti noted that under low-light conditions, the human eye cannot easily distinguish between colors. Furthermore, by adjusting the concentrations of the gases and the environmental conditions temperature, humidity, etc. Garlaschelli and Boschetti also agreed with Mills that cold flames may also be a plausible explanation for other instances of ignis fatuus.

In , professors Derr and Persinger proposed that some ignis fatuus may be geologic in origin, piezoelectrically generated under tectonic strain. The strains that move faults would also heat up the rocks, vaporizing the water in them. Rock or soil containing something piezoelectric, like quartz , silicon , or arsenic , may also produce electricity , channeled up to the surface through the soil via a column of vaporized water, there somehow appearing as earth lights. This would explain why the lights appear electrical, erratic, or even intelligent in their behavior.

The will-o'-the-wisp phenomena may occur due to the bioluminescence of various forest dwelling micro-organisms and insects. The eerie glow emitted from certain fungal species, such as the honey fungus , during chemical reactions to form white rot could be mistaken for the mysterious will-o'-the-wisp or foxfire lights. There are many other bioluminescent organisms that could create the illusions of fairy lights, such as fireflies. Light reflecting off larger forest dwelling creatures could explain the phenomena of will-o'-the-wisp moving and reacting to other lights.

The white plumage of Barn owls may reflect enough light from the moon to appear as a will-o'-the-wisp; hence the possibility of the lights moving, reacting to other lights, etc. Ignis fatuus sightings are rarely reported today. The decline is believed to be the result of the draining and reclamation of swamplands in recent centuries, such as the formerly vast Fenlands of eastern England which have now been converted to farmlands. In literature, will-o'-the-wisp sometimes has a metaphorical meaning, describing a hope or goal that leads one on but is impossible to reach, or something one finds sinister and confounding.

They are described as lights which consume gold, and are capable of shaking gold pieces again from themselves. The Will o' the wisp makes an appearance in the first chapter of Bram Stoker 's Dracula , as the Count, masquerading as his own coach driver, takes Jonathan Harker to his castle in the night. The following night, when Harker asks Dracula about the lights, the Count makes reference to a common folk belief about the phenomenon by saying that they mark where treasure is buried.

In that anti-Tractarian skit, the hero, the Rev. Hilary Oriel, writes an account to his friend Clement Loyola of his proposed alterations in his church. When Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee make their way through the bogs the spindly creature Gollum tells them "not to follow the lights" meaning the will o' the wisps. He tells them that if they do, they will "keep the dead company" and "have little candles of their own". In the books, a hinkypunk is a one-legged, frail-looking creature that appears to be made of smoke. It is said to carry a lantern and mislead travelers.

Die unendliche Geschichte and Ralph Manheim's English translation begins in Fantastica, when a will-o'-the-wisp goes to ask the Childlike Empress for help against the Nothing, which is spreading over the land. The film based on the book does not contain the Will -o'-the-wisp. Aytch", about witnessing "jack-o-lanterns ignis fatui " while standing watch late in the night near Corinth, Mississippi in early October In classical music , one of Franz Liszt 's most challenging piano studies the Transcendental Etude No.

The German name of the phenomenon, Irrlicht , has been the name of a song by the classical composer Franz Schubert in his song cycle Winterreise. Additionally, the first solo album of electronic musician Klaus Schulze is named Irrlicht. Finally, the second movement of Edward MacDowell's "Woodland Sketches" is titled Will-o-the-Wisp and reflects other composer's portrayal of the phenomena as mysterious.

The album Sorceress by Swedish band Opeth , contains the track "Will O The Wisp", using the term 'wisp' as a short form of whispering. Several bands have written songs about or referring to will-o'-the-wisps, such as Magnolia electric Co. The will-o'-the-wisp is also referred to during the song "Maria" in The Sound of Music. The Gathering , and Small World Underground , frequently with reference to folklore of the phenomena misleading or harming travellers.

The Final Fantasy series also pays tribute to the tradition of a will-o'-the-wisp being a lantern-carrying individual, with the Tonberry creature. I come from a farmer crippled with arthritis and. I come from a home where beans and cornbread were our usual dinner. I come from a home where we had slices of Spam interleaved with pineapple slices and called it good.

I come from heading to Southern California as soon as I graduated high school. I come from the baptismal pool at Central Baptist and from every Billy Graham crusade I could get to, seeking relief from my sins. So put that in your pipe. Attached is a few photos of a mosaic mural that was created by high school students in Skillman NJ. The school had a racial slur etched into the exterior wall some years ago. I am a teaching artist who was hired to work with the student population to create art work to permanently cover the word.

This template was perfect for the students to use to create a group poem from all voices in the class. The relief tile imagery is inspired from that group poem. Where once was ugliness, now is beauty. Thank you for your work and for inspiring this beautiful mosaic. I am told that I am from the place where my ancestors lived, but there wrong, I am not from a piece of land but from the people who lived there. Thank you Cheryl C. A new one by Carrie Black. How this phrase reaches the poet in us, the storyteller, the survivor!

I am from baking cake with my mom, going to the movie theater with my dad, and playing with my sister. Isabel I am from cutting my left foot in a glass vase open and broke, and sitting in the hospital for seven months, and missing my mom for a long time. I am from playing X Box One , eating breadsticks, getting dirty, visiting my cousin and going to the park. I am from a big fight with my sister and she got grounded, but we are still best sisters forever.

I am from the car shop because I like cars a lot. Sometimes I help my mom drive the car. I am from ice cream and I like it. I am from liking to pet the cat. I am from my favorite place, school. Conner I am from cookies to eat, learning at school, phones, play flowers. I am from war. Look at the Video section for a new poem with music and color and words from Daniel Broten…stunning! Here is a new one just sent in…These continue to amaze…and validate the richness that is our world and our country…. I am from pink shag carpet, from Coppertone sun tan lotion, and my bologna has a first name.

I am the view from the hill overlooking Loon Lake, lapping up peace from the rhythm of the waves. I am from deep purple lilacs at the cabin, ladybugs resting on yellow pillows at the center of daisies. I am from being late to everything, and people who always listened to my jokes, and being the only morning person in a congress of night owls, from George and Esther, and we prayed for a baby and God gave us you. From do as I say not as I do, and beware of strangers. I am from flannel graph Jesus and knowing all of the best hiding places for Sardines.


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From falling in love on a bus line in Burbank, the ten Great Dane puppies born in the refrigerator box in the kitchen, and that time the house was quiet and dim after dad went blind. I am from the top drawer in the dining room chest, a dig worthy of an archaeologist, where I sift through report cards,. I am from cinnamon toast and honey milk, and from warm beds with more than enough pillows. I am from enough time for me with enough time for you. I am from the good witches on the wrong side of the tracks, from tarot cards, tai chi, spells, lesbians and wild redheads.

I am from Elvis records and hot pink curlers in blonde hairs. I am from two women. A poet and a painter. I am from the one who thins her own forest with a chainsaw, and from the one who is in love with language. I am from dust, from in the beginning was the Word and the spit of Christ mixed with the soil of seeing. I am from the particles of a love pure enough to raise the dead and put peace in the heart of my chaos. I am from learning to love the Lord from African Americans who took me under their wings into the streets of creation.

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I am from Native Americans who showed me where I live smudged me from childhood and would not let me forget. I am from the United States, occupied territory, red. My teachers have called me to action, Aho! I am from my sister Cinnamon, a bad ass on a motorcycle with a devil-may-or-may-not care blues song blazing. I am from my brother the Carpenter hammering out an uncertain future with many daughters to call his own.

I am from my sister in the deserts of Mexico with her miracle child holding the family secrets. I am from willing to die for love dreams and from ten years of prayers and miscarriages. I am from matriarchs and yet finally choose: I will not walk the path of the Matriarch. I am from the Northern parts of California from more homes than I can count from rolling green hills and grey blue beaches and seagulls that love pepperoni pizza. I am from the walk on the wild side with a Prince tattoo from his love symbol. I am from the need to gather the women, the mending power of circle and drum and feather.

I am from ancient Russian women grandmother shamans and Scandinavian grandfathers who made musical instruments.

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I am from the kitchen of the Red Madonna Mother of the all seeing all forgiving One whose enormous tent stretches from star to star. I am from Her mothership and from His Gospel. I am from legends. I am from freedom. I was born for hot summer days with nowhere to go with my West Virginia lover in a white convertible. I am made from adventure, that is my middle name now. I am forged from the riddle bone of my Muse who loves leopard print and ghetto saloons eats chocolate with peanut butter by candlelight, she writes poetry from a red chair at midnight.

I am from the colors of woman from a sisterhood who seek to serve to transform wounds into wonders through the alchemy of dancing paintbrushes. I am from mermaids who sing each to each who tell tall green tales to salty sailors seducing them with martinis, two olives please. I am flown from wonder woman and her glass plane.

I am pulled from stardust into matter, I am star woman. I am pulled to the gravity of earth, I am earth woman. I am from the need for justice for all and kindness falling in love with each day like a school girl crush. Where the mysteries of the universe drop colored ribbons like clues just on the other side of the narrow gate. The day before we get the keys to our new live work space.

On the eve of Passover. I am from where the entrance of homes is decorated by drawing patterns with rice flour. I am from endless oceans and flowing rivers, glorious sunshine, and golden meadows, forests with sheltering trees and winding paths over rocky, root-covered earth. I am a traveler, a seeker of the way, of the destiny that belongs only to me. I have scars, seen and unseen, reminders of how the hands of time have shaped and transformed me.

I am the glistening newborn that emerges from rough, weathered skin time after time in the process of becoming. I am my ancestors, brothers and sisters, a tiny strand in the universal thread, yet one that shines as brilliantly as each other one. I am here and I am now, learning to greet and live in each moment as it arrives. I am from a Midwest college town that prides itself on education but never knew what to do with students like me. I am from people who live and love and laugh in spite of those who have tried to silence their voices.

I am from Napa, California but live now in N. Minnesota—seeking connections, kids, gardening, art peace and justice! I am from a small rural town where community is a big influence in supporting education. How can we strengthen that bond in other school districts? I am from suburban Minnesota. From a family with love and support, encouraging me to make a change. I am from a working- class family and Europe through Ellis Island, who were welcomed.

I am from strong, smart women who fight for who athey are and what they stand for. I am from strength. I am from 19 states, 12 countries and 4 continents, a true mongrel of a man and citizen of the world! I belong to a family…that values belonging…that cares for others…that believes education is important for all!

I am from a small farming centered town. I am from a divorced family with five children. I am from a family that supports whatever you do. I am from speaking without cursing, feeling the love of the teacher and student without being like them. I am from the heart of Minnesota, with the dream to travel the world. I am from a hard-working, family-oriented and loving background. I am from wanting to learn more, grow more, and trust more.

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I am from wanting to be an educator and an activist. I am from unknown origins. I as adopted …. Until I had my DNA test.. Got nothing but love for all peoples. I am from a family of educators. We are strong believers of life long learning. We believe in the power of education and where it will take you. I am a descendant of indigenous women that struggled before me so I can dream and succeed.

I continue the journey for my children and their children. I drink the lake and it is the essence of who I am, with all its peace, its fury and is soul emanates from my pores. I am from fields of hoary allysium in the hands of bridal Barbie. I am from Christmases where santa might not come, loud laughing dinners, forty- five minutes away from anything. I am from an immigrant mother who loves this country.

She raised me to always be kin, respectful, non-judgmental. It has served me well in my role as a union leader. I am from an immigrant family from Mexico, two working parents with a third grade education, who raised seven children. The believed in the power of education. I am from a mother who grew up in the time of hate. But she raised me to be blessed and to support others in their will to lives good lives.

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Fireflies in the Forest: 24 Poems and Meditations of the Soul Fireflies in the Forest: 24 Poems and Meditations of the Soul
Fireflies in the Forest: 24 Poems and Meditations of the Soul Fireflies in the Forest: 24 Poems and Meditations of the Soul
Fireflies in the Forest: 24 Poems and Meditations of the Soul Fireflies in the Forest: 24 Poems and Meditations of the Soul
Fireflies in the Forest: 24 Poems and Meditations of the Soul Fireflies in the Forest: 24 Poems and Meditations of the Soul
Fireflies in the Forest: 24 Poems and Meditations of the Soul Fireflies in the Forest: 24 Poems and Meditations of the Soul
Fireflies in the Forest: 24 Poems and Meditations of the Soul Fireflies in the Forest: 24 Poems and Meditations of the Soul
Fireflies in the Forest: 24 Poems and Meditations of the Soul Fireflies in the Forest: 24 Poems and Meditations of the Soul
Fireflies in the Forest: 24 Poems and Meditations of the Soul Fireflies in the Forest: 24 Poems and Meditations of the Soul
Fireflies in the Forest: 24 Poems and Meditations of the Soul Fireflies in the Forest: 24 Poems and Meditations of the Soul

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