Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Fairytale: Rune of wealth


Long ago and before today, there were riches hidden beneath every hill. Some of this has been talked about by fools and little good has come of it, for anything stolen out of Elfland bears a price too dear for most to pay.

It is true that a burial mound still stands not far from here and once it was filled with faery gold. At one time music could be heard rising from that place at night and it was known that the hill was hollow. Chests of treasure had been buried there many ages ago and for almost as long, people had tried to get them out again. 

One night not long ago two lads went up the hill to claim the gold, sturdy with bronze bands about it and large bronze rings at each side. Clever as they were in their greed, the youths decided that a rope should be placed through these rings and one of them would pull the chest up from above, while the other pushed from below. So that is what they did, but as the chest reached the top of the hole, one of the rings broke free. The chest fell back down into the ground, crushing one fellow beneath it and the sides of the pit caved in, burying everything under the dark soil.

The luckier of the two ran fast and soon returned with help. For three days no sound was heard at the hill but the scraping of shovels against hard stone and soft earth. Nothing was found, neither lost lad nor lost gold, and so all the earth was shoveled back and a loaf of bread was left atop the hill for good measure.

Two went to the hollow hill but only one returned. And he came away with only a single ring of bronze to remind him of that night. Whats become of the ring I do no know. This much I can tell you: No one has dug there since. Indeed, a few will even visit that place, for now a low and doleful sigh is often heard coming from within the lump at night. All other music is gone from that hill.


In Elfland, wealth is reckoned differently than it is among mortals. Gold has little value in and of itself. No doubt such baubles are kept by the elves because they delight the eye and do not tarnish or diminish with the passing of time.

On very rare occasions, faeries may make a gift of gold or other money to a mortal. This may be kept but it must never be spoken of, for upon the day the gift is mentioned, it will turn to earth or rubbish in your hand. Generally, thought, faery money ought not to be trusted, as it often turns into leaves in the sunlight. Therein is a lesson about the true nature of wealth.

This rune reminds us that some treasures are more valuable when they are left in the ground. For many thousands of years, both elves and our ancestors worked to fill the earth with wonders: golden torques, singing swords, resplendent chalices, bright carved gems gleaming with light of sun and moon. But these are not for you. They are gifts to the dead, sacrifices to the hill-gods of old, places in the ground for the sake of remembrance. The real gifts of Elfland are not found within the earth but in the heart, in a song, dance, revelry, cleverness, fond memories of the past and the love of the land for its own sake aside from hidden riches of its depths.

Draw this rune in mud or leaf mold on your own eager hand every time you forget the difference between what you own and what owns you.

- Brian Froud, Artist and Writter