Journal article Open Access
Local legends may contain information about real geological events of the past. Earthquake lights (EQL) can occur in the atmosphere over earthquake epicenter areas and adjacent faults before and during quakes. They may look like diffuse airglow, flashes, fiery pillars, and luminous balls. EQL may cause a mystical experience probably due to the influence of their electromagnetic fields on the brain. Subjective perception and interpretation of EQL depend on religious and cultural traditions. We study a stereotype of EQL interpretation in the legends of the Greek Orthodoxy exemplified by the legends about the foundation of two shrines: St. George Monastery near the Cape Fiolent, Crimea and the Panagia Tripiti Church in Aigion, Peloponnese. It is argued that the similar interpretation of EQL observation in the Crimean and Peloponnesian legends were caused by similar natural and economic living conditions of the Greek population in the both regions in the Middle Ages. We also consider some examples of EQL observation took place in other regions and their interpretation in other denominations. Differences and relations between EQL of mechanoelectrical and degassing origin are discussed. Finally, we consider the role of active faults in the production of a mystical experience and sacralization of an affected landscape.