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Seeing A St. Elmo's Fire: How Does It Look Like?

Updated on June 9, 2013
What did you saw?
What did you saw? | Source

Among many other Philippine mythological creatures such as the goblin, diwata (fairy) tikbalang (demon horse) and the kapre which is similar to the Big Foot, seeing a santelmo or St. Elmo's fire (will o wisp) was another story that goes around in the provinces and rural areas.

St. Elmo's fire is described as a ball of light from those people who had seen it. Hearing stories mostly when I was a child by elder people but more from my grandmother and parents. And for those with the lingering thought that santelmo was made up to scare children and to be obedient, it wasn't, as I had witnessed one myself.

How does will-o-wisp looks like?

I'm always all ears and entertained listening to paranormal stories from my parents when they are talking about experiences, specially my dad. And I remember being told, "never follow a St. Elmo's fire as it mislead people that follows them." Someone who follows this ball of light would be lead astray and who knows where the ball of light would lead them. And in cases, this people would be missing and lucky if you had been spotted by someone while following the fire as you just had been save from getting lost.

And that's the case with my grandmother. She lives with us in the banana grove that was in the middle of the rice field. I was about 7 or 8 years old and the nearest neighbor was on the other side of the river. Our nipa house was surrounded with bananas, few fruit bearing trees such as mangoes and a tamarind tree close to the bamboo grove on the river bank.

After one fun and busy afternoon of my parents, watering and pulling off weeds while younger brother and I playing with the dogs, grandma still wanted to stay outside, cleaning the yard and continue gardening while mom went inside and started her kitchen work for dinner. And us being kids, was told as always to stop playing before dusk and better go inside before we step onto unseen creatures such as the nuno (goblin). That was probably before 5 pm. Thou already inside the house, mom and dad calls out to grandma to remind her to come in but grandma just love gardening and would stay outside until dusk.

When it's getting dark and we started lighting the gas lamps, mom called out to grandma once again for her to come inside. And there's no answer. So dad went outside to get grandma. And when they got home, dad said," glad I went outside to get mom. I saw her walking to the opposite direction, she's heading toward the river bank."

And what grandma said when mom asked her? She said she had decided to head home and she just followed a light that she thought was coming from the gas lamp from the house. That was 27 years ago but I remember it vividly like it was just weeks or months ago.

Relocating to the roadside area feels way better as neighbors as close by, transportation and stores. But still I hear paranormal stories from my playmates and few says an experienced with a santilmo. Again, described as a ball of light my two playmates said they were being chased by it and when it got close to them, it feels hot as if it was a fire and they really believed that they could get burn with it so they run away with all their might. They swore they we're telling a true story as they knew that we, their playmates might not believe in it.

Then my turn to see a St. Elmo's fire (santilmo) when I was in high school. I like hanging out in our rooftop on a clear night sky watching the moon and the stars when we were living in Lucio Laurel, a barangay in the town of Gloria, in the province of Oriental Mindoro. It just gives me comfort sitting up there when I was depressed or bored, all I have to do is climb up to my bunk bed, then through the small window I can get up in the rooftop. That feeling of being up there overlooking the rice field is such a view.

And one of those clear night sky with the moon full, I spotted a roundish light on the rice field. The first thought that got in my mind was that, who would ever go in the middle of the rice field about 9 - 10 pm in the evening to do farm work holding a lamp? Unless this guy is up to something. I remember trying to figure out whose the man was that could be holding the light which is moving horizontally but from that distance and it was in the evening, I just can't see a figure.

The rice field and the bamboo grove on the river bank.
The rice field and the bamboo grove on the river bank.

Mindoro Oriental, on the map.

And so I just watch the movement of it. And then it went to a different area which was near the river bank. Still, the small ball of light continuously move horizontally in a moderate, smooth pace and I was entertained watching it. And then it got higher, as high as standing person. By then I knew no man was holding it as it won't get that high.

But when the ball of light became a little bit bigger, from where I am at the rooftop it looks as big as a basketball and it just went up so quick as high as the tallest bamboos on the river bank, I got goose bumps and had just realized that what I've been watching could be a St. Elmos' fire. I got scared and hurriedly went back inside the house and told my dad and younger brother when they came home. Of course they either didn't believe me and one said that's what happened when I hang around strange places like the rooftop.

Have you seen a St. Elmo's fire or will-o-wisp?

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    • precy anza profile imageAUTHOR

      precy anza 

      6 years ago from USA

      I had read about it too, that it was caused by swamp gas. But I'm not sure if I would believe on it after what I saw :)

    • Paradise7 profile image


      6 years ago from Upstate New York

      I always though St. Elmo's fire was caused by swamp gas.


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