Earthlight (EL) sightings may date back as far as recorded history. Possible Earthlight encounters may be described in the Bible. In areas of the globe where ELs occur, reports of sightings go back decades if not centuries and millennia. In ancient times, the science to explain Earthlights did not exist. Aboriginal people used religion, superstition and the supernatural to describe and explain phenomena that they experienced but could not comprehend.

Worldwide, Earthlights have evoked strong associations with ghosts and spirits in those who witnessed them. In Marfa, Texas, where Earthlights frequently occur, around 1850 an Apache chief named Alsate was executed by the Mexican Rurales. Native Americans believed the lights were the spirit of Alsate, trying to rejoin his people. In Australia, aboriginal people believed light sightings to be the spirits of their ancestors who watch and control them. In parts of the American south, the lights are known as “ghost lights” and are associated with the supernatural. Even in Southern Arizona, sightings are called “spook lights.” Other cultures regard Earthlights as natural but unexplainable. In Yakima, Washington, Native Americans accepted frequent sightings of lights dating back to legends of their great grandfathers as well as contemporary sightings as part of “mother earth.” Sightings have occurred near fault lines in the UK, prompting author Paul Devereux to coin the phrase “Earthlight” used by this web site. Accounts of contemporary Marfa Texas close up encounters can be found in a book by Judith M. Bureske, Ph. D. 1

There may be some basis in reality for association of the Earthlights with the paranormal. People who have had close encounters with the lights often report unusual sensations, which they have interpreted as mystical or even religious experiences. This may be due to an explainable phenomenon-- human encounter with strong time-varying magnetic fields. Preliminary measurements indicate strong magnetic activity in the vicinity of Earthlights. Canadian neurophysiologist, Michael Persinger, has demonstrated in the laboratory that he can create “religious,” or subjectively “paranormal” experiences in volunteers wearing a helmet that induces such magnetic fields in their brains.

Why have so few scientific studies been done on the Earthlight phenomenon? Probably because Earthlights have been so closely associated with mythological, superstitious, and supernatural lore that many scientists have mistakenly denied the phenomenon exists rather than appreciate the attempts of uneducated populations to describe and document the indescribable.

IEA believes there is a basis of truth in most legends, and that by carefully investigating the gestalt behind the legend, rather than interpretations or taking them at face value, valid and valuable information can be uncovered that may lead to new insights. We take legend seriously as the verbal record of ancient echoes that may have future reverberations.

Page by Marsha Hancock Adams Feb 15, 2004

1.  ”The Marfa Lights”, Bureske, Judith M. , Ocotillo Enterprises, P.O. box 195, Alpine, Texas 79831  <back>