Corpse Candle

By September 20, 2015Urban Websters


A corpse candle is a death omen in the folklore of Wales and elsewhere in the British Isles. Corpse Candles, or canwll corfe, as they are called in Welsh, are mysterious lights which bob over the ground and stop at houses or other sites where a death is imminent. Similar lights are called fetch candles or fetch lights in Ireland and northern England. They seem to be similar to the corpse light phosphorescence, but differ in that they have the distinct appearance of candle flames.

Corpse candles are seen floating through the air at night. Beliefs about them vary by locale. They are said to warn of the death of those who see them, or of someone beloved or someone else known to the party. They appear, it is said, halfway between the doomed person’s home and his grave. In south Hampshire, England the lights are said to accompany the souls of the departed, and are extinguished when the souls leave the earth. Ghostly funerals are said to accompany some lights.

In Welsh lore, a small, pale or bluish corpse candle presages the death of an infant, while a big light presages the death of an adult. Multiple corpse candles reveal the number of persons soon to die. If the lights are approached, they vanish. Corpse candles are widely reported in Welsh coastal areas.

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