Slide 29

Robert I Anderson: 

…any “Mistake in the Procedure, some rash Word spoken, or some Rule of Art neglected, the Guardian Spirit had Power to sink it deeper into the Earth and convey it out of their reach.”

Benjamin Franklin: 

“…Franklin noted “that through some mistake in the procedure, some rash word spoke, or some rule of art neglected, the guardian spirit had power to sink [the treasure] deeper into the earth and convey it out of their reach.” ”

Buried Treasure Tales in America                                            


“The professional treasure seeker knows lots of things. He realizes, for instance, that a sleepwalker may lead one to treasure, that treasures sink into the earth when something is wrong, that slipping treasures can be tied with a white silk thread and saved, and that various times of the day and month are more auspicious for hunting than others. [22]

He understands the complicated business of divining rods, as well as other rituals for locating treasure sites (37, 40). He knows that the surest way to lose a treasure is to speak while digging, and could tell you that the purpose of many “land spirits” and “plat-eyes” is to frighten you into breaking the rule for silence (5, 11, 12, 13, 17, 27, 41). He knows, too, that speaking is allowed in only one case — when one reads from the Bible, the hymn book (3, 7, 51), or the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, a pamphlet of superstitions, black magic, and other ends.” That the Christian God and ritual is used to recover treasure seems logical in view of the fact that the origin of much treasure involved bloodshed and crime, as was explained by a South Carolina fisherman:   “Tredger berrit fum spiteful, gredge an’ greedy killin’, robbin’ an’ murdah.” [24]

Wealth of such origin could well be viewed as devil’s goods. The spirits that guarded treasure were certainly creatures of evil as well. The area under the ground — where treasure usually was — had long been regarded as devil’s domain. It is not surprising, then, that the forces of good would be called upon to aid in the recovery of buried wealth. Some treasure hunters do enlist the help of the devil in locating treasure. In one case, when a pious Christian attempted to dig for treasure located with the help of the devil, demons and saucer-eyed birds came from the hole and mocked all the good men. [25]

In most tales, however, “conjuring” is done in the name of the Christian God and the precautions that are taken can be related without much difficulty to Christian ritual and belief. In addition to reading the Scriptures and the hymnal, and using a book attributed to Moses, the greatest of all conjurers, the spirit controller observes other practices.

He will not hunt treasure with anyone who has shed blood. [26] He may remain sexually continent for four days before going on the hunt. He cleans his pockets of tobacco. [27]”