USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘spiritualism’
Customs
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Ghost Light

“So the ghost light is that light you leave on in the back of a stage, or any theater. And you do it for, like, the spirits in the theater, or like, um, the souls of the departed who wish to participate.”

This folk object/tradition was described by a friend while we were eating lunch at a restaurant. I asked him when he had first heard of this tradition.

“Uh, my production and design overview class, uh, freshman year of high school.”

Customs
Magic
Material

Ghost Light

“The ghost light, oh. Honestly I don’t know a whole lot. I remember, I know…so what it looks like is, it’s this…it’s kind of like a stand that has wheels, with a light on top. Usually blue, I think. At least, the one I saw was blue. Um, and I believe it’s there…I know it’s there at the beginning of plays. Like, I think it’s to light up the stage so that there’s some sort of lighting so that people can see somewhat and don’t fall, ‘cause stages are dangerous.”

This folk object/tradition was described by a friend after class ended. She worked in theaters (where this tradition takes place) during high school, but she does not anymore.

I asked what she knew about the origin of the name:

“I haven’t really heard many stories about it that have to do with the name. Um, yeah, I don’t remember why it’s called ghost light. Maybe ‘cause it floats, and people are like, ‘Floating lights are ghosts!’ But I really don’t know.”

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