THE little Elves of
Darkness, so says the old
Iroquois Grandmother, were wise and
They dwelt under the Earth, where were deep
forests and broad plains. There they kept captive
all the evil things that wished to injure human
beings,—the venomous snakes, the wicked spiders,
and the fearful monsters. Sometimes one of these
evil creatures escaped and rushed upward to the
pure air, and spread its poisonous breath over the
Upper World. But such happenings were rare,
for the Elves of Darkness were faithful and strong,
and did not willingly allow
the wicked beasts and
reptiles to harm human beings and the growing things.
night was lighted by the Moon's soft rays,
and the woods of the Upper World were sweet with
of the Spring flowers, then the Elves of Darkness left
the Under World, and creeping from their holes,
held a festival in the woods. And under many a tree
where the blades of grass had refused to grow,
the Little People danced until rings of green sprang
up under their feet. And to the festival came the
of Light,—among them the Tree-Elves, Flower-Elves,
and Fruit-Elves. They too danced and made merry.
But when the moonlight faded
away, and day began to break,
then the Elves of Darkness
scampered back to their holes,
and returned once more to the Under World,
while the Elves of Light began their daily tasks.
For in the Springtime these Little People of Light
hid in sheltered places. They listened to the
of the seeds that lay covered in the ground,
and they whispered to the Earth until the seeds burst
their pods and sent their shoots up
to the light.
Then the little Elves wandered through the woods
bidding all growing things look up to the Sun.
tended the trees, unfolding their leaves,
and feeding their roots with sap from
The Flower-Elves unwrapped the baby buds,
and tinted the petals of the opening flowers,
and played with the Butterflies and Bees.
But the busiest of all were the Fruit-Elves.
Their greatest care in the Spring was the
When the ground softened from the frost,
the Fruit-Elves loosened the soil around each
Strawberry root, that its shoots might push through
to the light. They shaped the plant's leaves,
and turned its blossoms toward the warm rays of the
They trained its runners, and helped the timid
form. They painted the luscious berry,
and bade it ripen. And when the first Strawberries
blushed on the vines, these guardian Elves
protected them from the evil insects
that had escaped from the world of darkness
The old Iroquois Grandmother tells how
when the fruit first came to earth, the Evil One,
Hahgwehdaetgah, stole the Strawberry Plant,
and carried it to his gloomy cave, where he hid it
And there it lay until a tiny sunbeam pierced the
damp mould, and finding the little vine,
carried it back to its sunny fields.
And ever since then the Strawberry Plant has
and thrived in the fields and woods. But the
fearing lest the Evil One should one day
steal the vine again, watch day and night
over their favourite. And when the Strawberries
the Elves give the juicy, fragrant fruit
to the Iroquois children as they gather the
Spring flowers in the woods.
Iroquois Creator of Evil & Ruler of
A North American myth of the Iroquois describes
Hahgwehdaetgah, the creator
of evil and ruler of the underworld. The
Iroquois believe that the
kingdom of Hahgwehdaetgah lies at the bottom of
an abyss below the earth.
It is filled with the broken bodies of enemy
warriors slain in battle.
The realm is one of despair, regret, and an
overwhelming sense of failure,
but not of physical suffering.
Hahgwehdaetgah and his twin brother
Hahgwehdiyu, a good god, were born of the
Hahgwehdaetgah killed his mother during
childbirth and then went on to
create all things vile: horrible monsters,
fierce beasts, and all manner of
plagues and disasters. He was despised by
all other creatures and by
his virtuous twin.
Eventually the two brothers fought a
battle to determine who would rule the
earth. Hahgwehdaetgah tried
use trickery, but the good god knew his
brother's evil ways and was able
defeat him with an enchanted arrow.
Hahgwehdiyu exiled his brother to
the underworld, where he oversaw a kingdom of
spirits. They are shape-shifters who can
return to earth to terrorize
the living. Hahgwehdaetgah also became
overlord of the dead.