BALLS OF LIGHT:
A SPECTRUM OF STRANGENESS
With contemporary Ufology focusing it's
attention on "high strangeness" incidents such as abductions and alleged
"retrievals" of extraterrestrial craft, other less spectacular UFO
phenomena (as a consequence) attract insufficient levels of scrutiny. Because of
this, many important questions concerning the true nature of the UFO remain
unresolved. Ufology currently pays little heed to observations of distant Lights
In The Sky (LITS. To a large degree this attitude is valid, as the vast majority
of such events are explicable as rudimentary misperceptions of astronomical
bodies, aircraft and laser displays. However, the so-called BOL - or Ball Of
Light - phenomenon deserves greater attention. The majority of BOL incidents
allude to observations of a luminous 10-20 cm diameter oval, round or spherical
form (often yellow, orange, red, blue or silver in hue), which often appear to
be a mere few metres away from the participant. The term BOL can be occasionally
misleading, with some reports involving non-spherical stimuli; however the
majority have forms based on a circular/spherical configuration.
The questions this phenomena raises are
(for Ufologists at least) profound;
1: Are BOLs mundane in nature, or do they have a more exotic explanation?
2: Do BOL reports involve a single phenomena, or several?
3: Are they related to the more seemingly "material" class of UFO event?
Whatever the actual answer is to question "1", it will very markedly effect our approach to questions "2" and "3", which, in turn, will markedly effect our perspective of UFO and other related phenomena.
"The CLOSE/FAR" EFFECT IN RELATION
TO CONVENTIONAL LIGHT STIMULI:
The scientific method implores us to examine (and, if the supporting evidence is
there, accept) the premise that BOLS are mundane in nature. For example, could
such events be instigated by the veritable host of conventional stimuli
responsible for false UFO events? At first sight, it would seem that planets and
aircraft running-lights have little relevance to reports of a close-proximity
light phenomenon. However, it is not always certain that a BOL was as close to a
participant as an observer alleges. A bright planet (for example) may be
mistakenly perceived as only being as distant as an "adjacent" landmark in the
sighting location (such as a tree or a factory chimney), due to perceptional
factors. This illusion involves several kinds of distinct effects; the equation
of brightness with distance and other brain processes (which depend on highly
subjective cognitive processes). When dealing with other more grossly distorted
phenomenon (such as the mirage phenomenon proposed by science writer Steuart
Campbell  ), where an object acquires - either objectively or subjectively -
a larger-than-normal angular size, false estimations of close proximity are
likely to be even more common. Outside of the generalised evaluation procedure
utilised by most serious Ufologists, no intensive examination of BOL events
based on the premise of radical misperception has been conducted. However, given
the fact that some events, despite being subjected to detailed examination,
cannot be convincingly accounted for in terms of mundane phenomenon, we are
therefore urged (in the light of such incidents) to examine other options.
Where simple misperception can be ruled out, Ball Lightning (almost by definition) presents itself as the next most likely "natural" cause for BOL incidents. Stereotypically, Ball Lightning (BL) manifests during electrical storms, appearing as a red-orange spheroid 30cms or less in size. It's motions and manner of extinction (following a typical "life span" of no more than 5 seconds) are both diverse and exotic . Although sharing some common attributes with this phenomena, BOLs also differ from it in a number of ways(for example tending to be visible for longer periods and appearing in all weather conditions). Physics has had a very hard time attempting to account for BL; theories concerning it's supposed mode of generation are legion. However, the similarities between BL and BOLS do lend notable strength to the view that the majority of BOLS comprise of "ionised" particles and are generated in a different (but related) manner to "standard" Ball Lightning. There are also other equally rarefied (but still prosaic) potential causes for Ball Of Light events;
It is known that (in some rare instances) owls can become contaminated with a fungus capable of notable levels of luminosity; it's brightness once estimated as being similar to that of a bicycle lamp some 300-400 yards away. The colour of this luminous effect is often stated to be either reddish or (a pale) reddish/yellow. An unaware observer often perceives this phenomena as a ghostly light performing low-level stop/start, swooping, rising and falling motions (related, in actuality, to the hunting behaviour of birds of prey). By their very nature, luminous birds are normally seen in or close to woodlands at night (the fungus responsible associated with rotting tree-stumps, which infect owls using these contaminated nesting sites). The best documented examples (to date) of this effect occurred in Norfolk between 1907 and 1908 .
WILL'O THE WISPS:
Will-o'-the-wisp, also known by the Latin
term Ignis Fatuus ("Foolish Fire"), is a luminous manifestation usually observed
in close proximity to marshy areas . It is often described as being akin to a
lantern in appearance, seemingly "suspended" about two to six foot from the
ground. It is often reported to be continually in motion; "rising" and "sinking"
vertically, "zigzagging", and/or "gilding" horizontally. It is renowned for
disappearing suddenly and reappearing again at another location close by. It's
brightness can vary in comparable intensity, from that of a candle to that of a
lighted torch, and may fluctuate whilst under observation. It's colour often
seems to be governed by it's current level of luminosity; blue/purple when at
it's dimmest level, red/yellow when at it's brightest.
There are many reasons to suspect that some gaseous emission associated with decomposed matter is responsible for this phenomena, although it is popular nowadays to doubt this traditional explanation. However, it is true to say that it's exact method of generation is not yet fully understood (as is the case with other natural phenomena such as ball lightning, or even (come to that) conventional lightning!). Furthermore, some commentators suggest that luminous birds may be responsible for non-standard observations of will-o'-the-wisps, along with some apparitional events (as some have suggested that will-o-the-wisps themselves account for some hauntings!). In addition, it is probable that, with "Will-o'-the-wisp" being a pre-UFO era "blanket" term for any form of "unconventional" lights, some reports may refer to even more exotic phenomena (such as the "earthlight" effect proposed by Paul Devereux and others).
The classical "Spooklight" mainly originates
from America and Australia. Similar lights are known of in other parts of the
world, but are more rigidly linked to cultural "myths" (such as "will o' the
wisps", ghosts, etc) and thus - as a result of such traditions - are not lumped
together as a distinct effect. In the case of America and Australia (with it's
dominant population of mixed "old world" colonists) no firm cultural
interpretation has been fixed upon these lights, allowing them to become a
phenomenon in their own right. Spooklights typically manifest as distant light
sources which perform anomalous motions and actions, such as suddenly vanishing,
splitting up into several smaller lights, changing colour, etc. They are often
utilised to "prove" the validity of the earthlights hypothesis. While the
evidence for earthlights is compelling (and "conventional" earthquake lights are
themselves a well-established phenomena), the writer feels that most spooklights
are accountable in more prosaic terms, as a brief examination of such claims
will hopefully demonstrate;
1: MARFA, PRESIDIO COUNTY, TEXAS, USA:
Anomalous lights were first reportedly
seen in this region during 1883. Today, the majority are observed at dusk in
front of the Chinati mountains, from an old airport situated approximately 50
miles away . The lights are reported to be akin to a car headlight or
basketball in size, and yellow, white, green, blue, or red in hue. Often the
lights seem to disappear in one spot and reappear in another. They may seem to
move diagonally or horizontally (sometimes very rapidly) and/or in a manner akin
to a erratically bouncing ball. One or more lights may be seen; occasionally a
single light may even split up into 2 to 5 separate lights! A recent study has
suggested that 90% of these events were attributable to car head-lamps, rendered
outlandish by various perceptional, optical and meteorological effects .
2: BROWN MOUNTAIN, BLUE RIDGE COUNTY, N. CAROLINA, USA:
The first recorded spooklight event from
this locus occurred in 1910 (although others were allegedly observed during the
1880's) . The lights are often reported to be reddish, yellowish or white in
hue, with any number being observed during a single manifestation! Their
reported range of motions are extensive, but the lights are often reported to
disappear and reappear, and may perform motions with incredibly rapid bursts of
speed. As with the luminous phenomenon at Marfa, the lights are often observed
at some distance from one of several "choice" observation points. A study
conducted in the 1920's discovered good reasons to suspect these lights were
generated by trains, cars and other ground lights distorted by temperature
inversions induced by the regions' topography .
3: WARENDA STATION, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA):
This area is host to the famous "Min-Min"
(named after the now derelict Min-Min hotel claimed to be the focus of
this phenomena) . The lights are reported to resemble glowing footballs and
are stated to perform the various motions atypical of spooklights (i.e bouncing,
rolling, spiralling, zigzagging and/or hovering). When approached, the lights
appear to recede, staying a notable fixed distance from an observer even when
chased for miles. A light may also appear to follow an observer (but always
remains the same distance from the participant concerned). All the above
examples of "Spooklights" exhibit attributes common to mirages and distant
natural light sources. The erratic rapid bursts of speed, sudden disappearances,
advancing/receding motions, even the splitting of a single light into several
luminances are all typical of inversion-effected light sources. The fact that
several investigations into spooklight manifestations have concurred with this
view only strengthens this supposition. Although not every instance can be
explained in terms of artificial ground-light sources, any remaining cases could
well have been generated by bright stars and planets, effected by either
meteorological or perceptional factors. Even spooklights not subject to detailed
investigation (such as the Min-Min lights) exhibit the archetypal "symptoms" common in astronomical IFO incidents (such as
"pacing" an observer, etc.).
It is all too evident that spooklights are not the "royal road" to the comprehension of anomalous lights they first appeared in the 1980's. To be fair, some commentators view the majority of spooklights from any given region as mundane in nature, with maybe around 10%-5% of sightings requiring a more complex explanation. Furthermore, there is still reasonable justification for keeping the door ajar for tectonically- generated "spooklights"... Long Valley, New Jersey, USA is the home of the so-called "Hookerman lights" (so named after their supposed connection to a late 19th century railway disaster). This light is seen along a stretch of the (now disused) High Bridge Railroad. It manifests as a dull yellow flickering lantern-like light, seemingly swinging from side to side in a manner akin to a pendulum. This phenomena was investigated by the Vestigia group during the late 1970's. They claimed that electrical resistivity instruments and Geiger counters seemed to register the Hookerman light's presence. Furthermore, (according to their research) the track ran close to a geological fault-line, and that earth tremors along it would often occur a few days after a light been observed . However, a recent field investigation conducted by earthlights researcher Paul Devereux into the "Hookerman light" has now cast considerable doubt on Vestigia's conclusions. The findings of his reinvestigation strongly suggest that this particular luminous manifestation merely resulted from mistaken observations of car headlamps and similar mundane light-sources. Nonetheless, many areas host to repeated "spooklight" manifestations possess geological features (theoretically) conductive to earthlight generation. Hence, dismissing ALL spooklights as prosaic light-sources may - in regards to reaching a true understanding of these effects - be a very dangerous generalisation! On leaving aside the more "mundane" forms of BOL manifestations, we are then faced with a diversity of occurrences displaying a plethora of unconventional characteristics. Some such instances may simply involve the interplay of psycho-social preconceptions, which results in some BOLs being (subjectively) endowed with spurious "attributes". However, in regards to markedly outlandish BOL manifestations, the likelihood of such elementary processes being responsible becomes notably tenuous. Such cases appear to suggest that, in some instances, BOLs may be far more complex phenomena than they appear on initial examination.
THE CORPSE CANDLE:
Out of all claimed BOL phenomena, the "Corpse Candle" is without doubt the most overtly "supernatural". Typically, such incidents involve the (supposed) observation of a small glowing mass hovering either in very close proximity to the house of a dying person, by the site of a future fatal accident or near a road where a funeral cortege will pass along in the next few days . A Corpse Candle is usually claimed to resemble a hovering "tongue" of flame, or a globe of light akin to a car headlamp. Folklore alleges it's colour and size portends the sex and age of the person soon to die (red for a male, white for a female, with a small light indicating a child, a larger one an adult). Observations of more than one Corpse Candle are said to indicate group deaths. Some "reports" attribute dynamic motions to such lights; one allegedly entered a house, travelled up the stairs, went under a bedroom door and then exited the dwelling as per it's manner of ingress! There are claims of corpse candles being seen in very close proximity to sick people (in one instance resting on the abdomen of a pregnant woman who later gave birth to stillborn twins). Another instance involved a light repeatedly entering and exiting the mouth of a dying man !
The majority of alleged Corpse Candle incidents originate from Scotland & Wales. These regions are also "host" to more generalised types of apparitional luminances, more typical of "standard" BOLs but still possessing notable "supernatural" dimensions. They often reoccur in one specific spot, and are normally associated with legends accounting for their presence. Sometimes the phenomenon is associated with an apparitional figure, the actual presence of which is usually conjectural (but is purportedly observed in some instances). Whatever the case, nearly all such lights (for example the Gealbhan of Scottish folklore ) are claimed to be harbingers of death. It is hard to determine whether such events are will-o'-the-wisps, spooklights, a little-understood natural phenomena, a "supernatural" manifestation or a mixture of all the aforementioned!
The folkloric explanation for Corpse Candles is that they are death-vigil spirits, come to both portend death and guide the recently deceased into the afterlife. Corpse Candles also appear to have Biblical roots, in that the Holy Spirit is described in the New Testament as resembling "tongues of fire" (such as in the account of the Pentecost feast in "Acts 2") . What place does this phenomena have in contemporary society? The majority of recorded Corpse Candle events occurred during the 17th-19th centuries. Hence, many originate from periods when the natural world was poorly understood, and when even mundane phenomena (such as comets and shootings stars) were widely believed to be portents of death and disaster. However, Corpse-Candle"/"Gealbhan"-like events are nevertheless still claimed to occur in the modern world. A December 1992 edition of the BBC1 religious affairs programme "Everyman", documented the duties of Canon Angus Macqueen, who's parish was at that time based at South Uist in the Outer Hebrides. In a long discussion of how the inhabitants had fused Christian and ancient Celtic/Pagan beliefs, observations of balls of light called "Drakes" (an old word for dragon) were related, which were claimed to be portents of death. These "Drakes" were (when manifesting) usually seen either high or low in the sky, early in the evening or before dawn. They were often appeared to travel very slowly through the heavens and were commonly associated with a "tail". It is interesting how their time of appearance is consistent with that of the planet Venus, and their other reported characteristics have basic factors in common with shooting stars, planets and stars (as is the case with some other 17th-19th century examples of "portent-lights"). Whatever the case, similar accounts have appeared throughout history; even the Anglo Saxon Chronicle contains several instances of similar phenomena . Such events may even be the root upon which belief in the existence of dragons was based upon in Western societies!
With a lack of good quality observations pertaining to corpse candles we must suspend judgement on this phenomena. However, several mundane possibilities come to mind; disease-carrying luminous insects, incidental sightings of will-o-the-wisps, even luminous glows associated with certain cancers and wounds (a rare, but fairly well documented phenomena ). More distant lights could (as stated above) be astronomical or meteorological in origin. It should be noted that mirages usually occur during spells of hot weather....as did outbreaks of disease before the notable 19th century drive for widespread sanitation. Given that the typical corpse candle claim originated from the pre (or early) industrial era (when mortality rates were higher than today), it would be more than likely that someone would die the week some odd light was seen!
THE 1905 WELSH REVIVAL LIGHTS:
Other than corpse candles there are other examples of apparently supernatural light phenomena, such as those observed in the Barmouth Area throughout 1905. This phenomena seemed to be focused around Mary Jones (a middle-aged Methodist lay-preacher), during a major religious revival. Strange lights would often appear at places she was about to preach, and others were reported to hover over the homes of those who found (or reaffirmed) their faith in those days of heady Christian fervour. The lights were either reported to resemble star-like bodies or balls and ovals of light, or glowing arches, bars, and luminous forms "suspended" upon incandescent "arms". The lights were generally undynamic in regards to motion, but several reports refer to lights making jumping motions, rushing or coming together (sometimes with a loud peel of thunder), or balls of fire rising from the ground and bursting. Other visions of a more conventional religious nature were also reported. Eventually, the lights vanished as suddenly as they came, leaving Mary Jones to die in obscurity in 1937 .Later commentators (such as Paul Devereux) have commented on the heavy concentration of earth-faulting in the Barmouth region. Could these events be attributable to "earthlight" activity? Could even the religious revival itself have been caused by an alteration in the geophysical/electrical environment, which (though subtle neural influences) have induced various "mystical" experiences amongst certain susceptible people . More down-to-earth commentators suggest the events were staged hoaxes using lanterns. As with all historical Balls Of Light little can now be ascertained with certainty at this late date.
UFO's; THE BOL CONNECTION:
between the natural and supernatural comes the Ufological! BOLs as we know them today are basically a component of the UFO phenomenon (or mythos, depending on your perspective). Some Ufologists consider them to be the most (maybe only) material aspect of the UFO phenomenon, others as an immaterial irrelevance, others still as a by-product or manifestation of extraterrestrial spaceflight technology! Whatever the case, the majority of reliable, comprehensive reports of this phenomena have been during the "age of the UFO" (1947 to the present). "Ufological" BOLs are often described as resembling a red, orange or silvery luminous sphere. They have been seen at all altitudes. They may induce radio disturbance, form ground-traces and induce biological effects ranging from pins and needles to supposed instances of dermal tanning and (so-called) "klieg conjunctivitis". As a phenomenon, Ufological BOLs seem more related to ball lightning than spooklights (being associated with spin-off "energy" manifestations); however, like spooklights, they are known to occur repeatedly within a given region. In addition, areas host to repeated "Ufological" BOLs are also host to other types of UFO experiences (such as "structured disc" events, entity encounters and "abductions"), whereas spooklight zones usually only feature one general type of manifestation .
In Ufology, Ball Of Light events tend to get swamped because of our ignorance, with the acronym "UFO" being used as all-enveloping label for all forms of unknown aerial phenomena. The significance of BOL events is also often "lost" due to the deficiencies of the UFO classification systems currently in use. For example (in the Hynek system ) if a BOL is seen at a distance it is labelled a "Nocturnal Light", but if one is viewed at close proximity it "becomes" a "CE I" or "CE II" (depending on it's effects on the environment), and is hence lost in a welter of "metallic" discs, cigars, etc. This may be a serious problem if BOLs and the more "material" forms of UFO are not related phenomenon! Balls Of Light are the oldest form of UFO phenomena we have on record; the first such events being, of course, the "Foo Fighters" of WWII . Even today, observations of high-altitude spherical forms associated with aircraft are still reported, exhibiting behaviour comparable with their wartime predecessors. In contemporary Ufology, reports of BOLs are much more prevalent than observations of the "craft-like" exotics, with approximately 80-90% of events involving this class of UFO stimuli). So (at least in this regards) it could be said that UFOs are mostly BOLs! Nevertheless, we still have 10% of the "exotics" to contend with. The "Old ETH" perspective is that BOLs/UFOs are alien spacecraft; small BOLs being robotic "flying eyes", larger BOLs being flying saucers enveloped by ionised air produced by it's propulsion system! Observations of UFOs which seemed to resemble partially-luminated craft appeared to support this contention.
However, more "radical" Ufologists believe many "exotics" actually involve BOL-like phenomenon that have "acquired" an illusory body via perceptional processes (resulting, for example, in two unconnected points of light being perceived as an unluminated body with two luminated windows!). They further cite the rarity of classic "flying saucer" observations before 1947, compared with the multitude of pre-WW2 BOL incidents on record. Another important factor is the rarity of physical evidence for "exotics". There is some, but not much (and none of it conclusive). However, if "exotics" are indeed much more uncommon than Balls Of Light, the evidence for them would also be much rarer. Hence, we should not dismiss their existence on paucity of data alone, as it may be consistent with their rate of manifestation!
Whatever the case, there are other factors which point to a common link between BOLs and "exotics". Both types exhibit identical motion characteristics (such as sudden stops at high speed, hovering, sudden, rapid acceleration, etc) and share other common features, such as colour changes. Many observations of BOLs are consistent with a "dumb" light phenomena, comprising of nothing more than charged particles and governed by the conventional laws of physics. However, Hilary Evans' benchmark seminal work "BOLs" (published in PROBE REPORT magazine ) drew attention to light-ball events where the phenomena seemingly displayed "intelligent" behaviour, namely;
a: Adopting trajectories which appeared purposeful and guided.
b: Exhibiting "evasive" motions and/or actions, inferring the phenomena was
aware of the observer's presence (even their thoughts!).
Examples include those recorded by a skywatch team established in the 70's by Harley Rutledge (a solid-state physicist) in Missouri, USA. Many instances of supposed anomalous phenomena were recorded. More notably, those involved in the project became convinced that the observed stimuli appeared to exhibit awareness of their presence. Lights would seemingly respond to project members' thoughts or actions, or exhibit signs of "shyness" (i.e would suddenly disappear behind a tree whilst being watched) . More recently, Project Hessdalen recorded many similar instances of "interactive" lights; i.e lights reacting to communication attempts via a laser beam and lights showing an awareness of both the environment and project observers .
The perception of such behaviour is, of course, prone to many subjective processes. To begin with, it is impossible (in some instances) to determine whether a reported BOL action is self-originated or due to it following the laws of physics. To illustrate this point further, phenomena similar to that seen at Hessdalen and Missouri were observed at Warminster, England from the mid 1960's to the late 1970's. The region became notorious for the (usually) innocent perceptional and subjective aggrandisement of otherwise normal phenomena (due to it's dubious status as a supposed "UFO Mecca!"). As a result, even the most mundane satellite, bright planet or aircraft became transformed into spacecraft sensitive to the thoughts and presence of attendant skywatchers! The problem was further confounded by the fact that most observers were over-enthusiastic, belief-driven and poorly informed about IFO phenomena in equally large measures [27,27a]!
Of course, we cannot expect complete "conformity" to established physical laws by a little-understood phenomena! More interestingly, examination of BOL incidents reveal that some observers have a previous history of alleged psychic experiences. This begs the question "why?" (and may also give us an important clue to the nature of these events). It is a question we can only answer with more questions, until further work is done to clarify this aspect of the problem. Is this apparent "clustering" effect simply coincidence? Could at least some observers be prone to lucid hallucinations which just happen to resemble balls of light (some potential processes being already well known to neurology)? Are the lights created by the observer via a unknown psychical process, similar to the alleged spirit-forms manifesting in the sťance rooms of the late 19th century? Could such an observer be simply sensitive to the process which creates them? Could the phenomena only occur in the imagination of the psychic and be transmitted (via ESP) to the other observers, as a form of shared "psychic hallucination"? The only certainty in this matter is our ignorance!!
ENTITIES AND LUMINOUS PHENOMENON:
There are a substantial number of events in which anomalous "entities" are closely associated with BOL-like effects or manifestations. It is sometimes claimed that luminous phenomena "metamorphoses" into such beings, but more often the "figure" concerned is simply enveloped by a circular "cocoon" of light. Virtually every class of apparitional being has been associated with such luminous effects; from Marian visions to "UFO humanoids". In regards to the former, many claimed observations of the Blessed Virgin Mary (B.V.M)  are intimately associated with luminous phenomena and light effects in general. The observed entity is often claimed to fluoresce, or be enveloped by a soft or brilliant glow. A Marian figure supposedly observed at La Salette, France, in 1846 was reportedly surrounded by a dazzling light, as was the B.V.M "seen" at Pontmain, France in 1871. At Beauraing, Belgium (1932),the observed entity was said to glow as "if she had an electric light-bulb inside". In other instances, the "B.V.M" entity is associated with partially-luminous features such as small glowing "stars" (either floating close to the figure or located on "her" raiment). Whatever rig adorns her, or whatever pyrotechnics accompany her, it has been remarked by many commentators on how little the figure resembles a Jewish woman from proto-Christian times!.
It is interesting to note that on many
occasions Marian entities can only be seen by a select few individuals (with the
remainder only able to see the participants "reacting" to it's supposed
presence). This phenomena rarely occurs in UFO entity encounters - the
well-known Maureen Puddy encounter being a notable exception. This Australian
witness had been the focus of a number of high-strangeness UFO incidents over a
twenty year period. Her experiences culminated in a major UFO entity event,
which occurred in the presence of two respected UFO researchers. Although all
too aware of the witnesses' marked emotional reactions to her encounter, the
ufologists were unable to see the UFO entity concerned !
Before too many comparisons are made, one must sound a note of caution at this point. It is an unfortunate fact that Marian apparitions have unfortunate common elements which reoccur to an almost stereotypical extent. Such events nearly always occur in strong Catholic regions, or at least involve devoted "Orthodox" Catholics. Secondly, they nearly all involve poorly-educated children (or young adults) from poor, isolated rural regions. To confound things further, nearly all such reports are also documented by devoted (often orthodox) Catholics! One fears that facts not fitting an established "pattern" or belief are likely to be suppressed (either at grass roots level or at a later stage). One also must suspect that cultural conditioning plays a strong part in these events (it would be interesting to study the visionary experiences of peoples from non-Christian faiths).
When facing such questions one returns to the light
phenomena associated with Marian apparitions. Is this the "light of truth", a
sign of the divine purity of such manifestations, or is this light an indication
of the true origin of the experience itself? Light also plays an equally
important role in observations of UFO entities; beings more closely associated
with Balls Of Light in both the context of the experience concerned and cultural
expectations. When Marian and UFO entities are compared, interesting
similarities become apparent (despite the markedly different nature of these
experiences). To begin with, many UFO entities are reported to be luminous. Such
instances include the 1955 Kelly-Hopkinsville, USA incident (where the
"goblin"-like entities glowed with a yellowish light ) as well as the 1976
Talavera, Spain affair (where a tall, oddly-proportioned figure, seemingly
composed of small points of light, allegedly glowed with a greenish-hued
incandescence! ). Another oddly-proportioned tall "entity" was also
purportedly observed at Risley, Cheshire, in March 1978; the entity concerned
glowing with a white light and exhibiting non-physical attributes (viz floating
and walking through a steel mesh fence in true ghost fashion! ). As with
Marian figures, other supposed UFO occupants may not themselves glow, but can be
associated with luminous features. This may range from "beams" emitted from an
entities eyes, to lights "worn" or "carried" about it's "person".
A more obvious and direct link between UFO entities and BOLs is suggested by research conducted by Nigel Mortimer and Greg Long . They state that some abduction events are proceeded by observations of orange-coloured balls of light. Additionally, they have uncovered BOL reports associated with "missing time", alterations of an observers emotional state, as well as anomalous "empathic" sensations. A claimed link between high and low strangeness events is not new, being first alleged by John Keel in the late 1960's .Given that the above entity claims are indeed authentic, we are confronted with diverse possible solutions. It has been suggested that humanoid shapes associated with BOL phenomena are illusions, resulting from the observer "reading" a human-like form in dark (or alternately-hued) areas of a luminous body. This would certainly account for the often poorly-formed cartoon-like morphology of "UFO" entities.
Other commentators have suggested that entity events are induced by perception-altering energy emissions emitted by an exotic natural phenomena. Opinion is divided on whether these supposed energy emissions effect all, or only select "sensitives" positioned within it's "sphere of influence". It has been further proposed that light-ball phenomena may be "idioplasmic"; i.e. sensitive to "psycho kinetic" manipulation! But if some BOL phenomena can alter perception, they could also be involved in events with no obvious "light-ball" connection, such as sightings of non-luminous "lifelike" ghosts and UFO entities. If a light-ball has the potential to effect emotional states and memory, may it also effect perception; creating all manner of experiences (the nature of which could be possibly determined by the witnesses' belief system)? This would, of course, mean that various different types (or "phases") of light-ball phenomena exist, as many "BOLs" are observed at very close quarters without any resultant entity event. .Many BOLS seemingly imply an interactive relationship between light-balls and human consciousness, possibly in ways not "permitted" by our current physics and biology! Some may be sensitive to human crisis situations and/or to the wishes (and presence) of their observer(s). Further research is required to determine whether these reactions are valid or have, in actuality, a more prosaic solution.
In conclusion, what can we now say in regards those three questions listed at the beginning of this article? It appears that, yes, many BOLS are mundane in nature. Others seem to involve a rare "energy" phenomenon with far-from-certain specified parameters (or mode of generation!). Some of the attributes of this latter class of BOL seem (for want of a better word) "paranormal"; however, this may be simply due to a (current) lack of understanding concerning the actual processes involved. BOL events appear to involve a wide spectrum of phenomena, ranging from illusory effects, common "IFO" stimuli and rare natural manifestations of many kinds (even sometimes a combination of the illusory and material). Other instances appear to involve phenomenon currently beyond our full understanding. One is reminded of Charles Fort's remark that a circle can be measured from any initial point. The BOLs round/spherical shape is a universal form, shared by many different phenomenon. One has to understand (i.e. "measure") one before the others can be comprehended. As a result, if the BOL Phenomenon in Toto is correctly "measured" the "sum" of it's "true circle" (i.e. the answer) can be arrived at! We are still uncertain of the reality-status" underlying UFO (and UFO-related) phenomena. But, whatever the case, it is clear that a link can be made between Balls Of Light and other forms of UFO experience. It is the nature of this link which still remains unresolved.
Despite this, a good case can be made to
support the contention that (at least) some "craft-like" UFO sightings may be
instigated by the more unusual forms of BOL phenomena. However, the extent to
which such BOLs are responsible for UFO "exotics" will depend upon the extent to
which they can "effect" an observer's perception (a question we cannot as yet
satisfactory answer). How then can we bridge these many conceptual gaps? The
examination of historical sources clearly has it's place, and may shed light on
important clues to the nature of BOLs (and how they were perceived and
comprehended in past ages). However, the most important elements of the Ball Of
Light phenomena are still occurring today. Hence it is prudent to concentrate on
this data, rather than information from the past (the latter rendered
problematical due to it's age). This effort should not only involve examination
of case studies, but also field projects focused on the areas where "repeater"
Ball Of Light phenomena reportedly occurs.
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[27a] Dewey, S. and Ries, J (2006) In Alien Heat. The Warminster Mystery Revealed.
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