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Nature, superstition, illusion, jack-o'lantern, ignis fatuus

Description of this motif: Will-o'-the-wisps are ghosts of unrighteous people, who with their light attempt to decoy people to get lost and to get them to walk into swamps. – so wrote J.M. Thiele in Danmarks Folkesagn (1843-60), 1968, vol. 2, p. 238. Will-o'-the-wisps are usually only rather insignificant in Hans Christian Andersen's tales. In The Will-o'-the-Wisps Are in Town they play a main part, though.

Example :

The tale has not been translated (by Hersholt) and is therefore quoted in Danish. Further information and links.

(...) imellem Elverkrattet, saae man ved Fuldmaanens Skin, hvorledes Elverpigerne som lette Taager svingede sig i lystige Dandse, Elverkongen stod med en Sølv-Krone paa Hovedet, der skinnede med blaaligt Skjær i Maanelyset; dybt nede i Mosen legede Løgtemændene Tagfat om en lille Høi, hvor engang en hellig Munk havde nedmanet en Natteaand (...)