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Manx Proverb

by Bernadette Weyde
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When trees in calm air move, then speak the dead.”

We know that Odin was the god of both wind and storm and war. To him the temple in Upsala was erected and the great treasures were kept there. Every nine years the people celebrated here a great festival in his honour, when human and animal sacrifices were made to him. It lasted nine days and the victims consisted of 99 men, 99 horses, 99 cocks and 99 hawks. With their blood Odin was propitiated. The grove and the trees on which the slaughteied bodies were suspended were held sacred and it was death to him who disturbed its precincts.

The above proverb takes us back to these old Norse pagan rites and before the introduction of Christianity had rooted out these dire customs. The sacrifices were principally made to propitiate him in times of war, or to appease him.

It was believed that when the wind and storm played in the trees, that the god clamoured for fresh victims.

We see then, how very old our Manx proverb is. The Manx executioner was the ‘fer chroghee‘ or ‘crogheyder‘, and the old fashioned way to deal with the condemned was to hang him up on the tree, just as the pagan Norse priesthood did with their human and other victims in the sacred grove of Upsala and elsewhere.


(source: artwork, The Hanging Tree by ‘somecoolusername’; text from Manx Notes & Queries (1904), edited by Charles Roeder)

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