Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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The Bride-Crown of the Elves: A Tale of the Driftless Country

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

The hills hereabouts are full of the Hidden Folk, just like back in Norway.

They're fine-looking folk, the elves, with an eye to beauty themselves, and sometimes it so happens that one of them casts an eye on a fair young maid and marries her. And then she's never to be seen again, for she becomes a Woman of the Hills.

Well, there was a fine young girl, and didn't she just disappear one day, and weeks and weeks go by and everyone agrees that she must have been Taken.

Well, and so she was. And on her wedding day she says to the Blue Man that's to be her husband—they call them the Blue Men for their clothing, you know—“Let me just step outside to take one last look at the beautiful red Sun.” And she does that.

Now it so fell out that there was a young lad out hunting that day, and he sees the hill open up and the girl step out of it, all dressed in her wedding finery, and wearing a golden crown.


Now in them days all the men wore vests, and didn't this lad's have fine silver buttons down the front of it. So being a lad of quick wit, he twists one off and puts it into the barrel of his gun, and fires it off over her head. And so she was freed, for silver breaks the spell.

Well, away they went back to her family, and maybe she married him and maybe she didn't, but any rate she married someone and had a family of her own. I never heard what happened to the rest of the Hidden Folk's finery, but the crown they still keep in that family. They loan it out to brides for miles around, and she wears it through all the days of her wedding. But then she has to give it back.

My own mother wore that crown on the day of her wedding, as well I should know, for often she told me of it. And didn't she have two fine children herself, and one of them telling you this tale.

That would be up around Westby, then. There's lots of Norwegians up there.




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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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