Will-o-Wisp of the West

This all happened back when I was in middle school and on vacation with my family in New Mexico.  I was with my family when this happened and witnessed this spirit with my cousin.  It was late at night out on the mountain road, and my family had decided to park at one of the rest stops on the mountain side.  My father and my uncle stopped off so that my mother and aunt could take pictures of the nearby city of El Paso at night.  My cousin and I were bored sitting at the rest stop and found out fairly quickly that there was a nearby trail we could walk on.  We gained the quick permission from both of our parents and were off down the trail.  

We traveled down the dirt path quite a far distance, looking out towards the city as we continued down past the numerous bushes and cactus plants.  The weather was fair, with light winds and no interruptions from local wildlife.  It was the perfect night to go out for a quick hike.  But for my cousin and I, that all quickly change when we came into contact with what I can only describe as both a miracle and a curse.  I hadn't noticed the spirit for awhile, but my cousin claimed to have seen it out of the corner of his eye well before it decided to make its presence known.  

A spirit in the form of what looked like a white ball of fire floated out in front of us and forced both my cousin and me to come to a stop.  I had heard legends of this thing as a child but had never imagined that I would ever encounter one in person.   Being this close to the spirit, my heart nearly skipped a beat as its light grew brighter.  Floating just a few feet away from my cousin and I was a will-o-wisp.  Legends tell of these spirits leading people off of their regular paths and into the wilderness, but other tales tell of a more sinister and malevolent type of will-o-wisp.  Spirits who are buried in the wilderness out of foul play are said to come back as vengeful will-o-wisps and will start fires in the wilderness if people come too close and agitate the spirit that rests there.

I told my cousin to wait as I moved in a little closer to the spirit.  I stopped and froze as the light emanating from the spirit grew intensely brighter.  I could feel the heat and energy it was emanating now.  I tried to take a step back but froze again as the spirit flew in closer.  It was only a mere six inches away from my face now.  This time I stood still, hoping that this spirit would spare us.  The air around the spirits was very heated now, and being just a few inches away felt like being just inches away from a searing hot oven or from a glowing piece of metal.  We felt like we were being slowly cooked by the spirit as it made its way around us and began to examine us.  After a few minutes of standing there, the spirit decided that we were not a threat and floated off into the brush, never to be seen again.  

My cousin and I ran back to our parents' vehicles in a hot sweat.  We wanted to tell them what had happened, but we knew they wouldn't believe us.  I told my parents that we saw a rattlesnake and got nervous when the snake started getting louder and raced back as quick as we could.  It wasn't until I got home did I realize how close to death we really were out in those mountains.  Few people escape encounters with a vengeful will-o-wisp.  Most stories involving will-0-wisps retell the aftermath of someone who angered them.  They are known to torch entire forests and large areas of land when they are angered.  I was very close to having been incinerated that night, and I'm glad that I'm one of the few who can retell this tale with clarity.  My advice to anyone who wishes to pursue one of these spirits is simple; don't.  Don't follow one of these spirits, regardless of what you think their intentions are, because only bad things can come from an encounter with a will-o-wisp.


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