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   Author  Topic: Cherokee "ghost light" legends  (Read 1606 times)
Vance Pollock
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Cherokee "ghost light" legends
« on: October 6, 2013, 04:09:58 PM »
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I ran across a couple of references which I think might describe things similar to the Brown Mountain Lights from Cherokee legends. The thing that struck me most was the location of one such fire spirit being Rattlesnake Knob. Though the location mentioned in this excerpt is in Swain County, the site where several early 1900s observation expeditions were camped, near Loven's Cold Spring Lodge in Burke County is also called Rattlesnake Knob. Could it be that this was in fact the same location described by the Cherokee in older legends and mistakenly applied to more immediate surroundings in later years?

from Myths of the Cherookees, by Mooney, p. 404:

ATSI'LA-WA'Ï: "Fire's relative," a peak, sometimes spoken of as Rattlesnake knob, east of Oconaluftee river and about 2 miles northeast of Cherokee or Yellow Hill, in Swain county. So called from a tradition that a ball of fire was once seen to fly through the air from
the direction of Highlands, in Macon county, and alight upon this mountain. The Indians believe it to have been an ulûñsû'tï (see number 50), which its owner had kept in a hiding place upon the summit, from which, after his death, it issued nightly to search for him.
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p. 335:

There is one spirit that goes about at night with a light. The Cherokee call it Atsil'-dihye'gï, "The Fire-carrier," and they are all afraid of it, because they think it dangerous, although they do not know much about it. They do not even know exactly what it looks like, because they are afraid to stop when they see it. It may be a witch instead of a spirit. Wafford's mother saw the "Fire-carrier" once when she was a young woman, as she was coming home at night from a trading post in South Carolina. It seemed to be following her from behind, and. she was frightened and whipped up her horse until she got away from it and never saw it again.
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