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The Number Nine in Manx Folklore

by Bernadette Weyde
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Odd numbers belong to the gods above, even numbers to the gods below. The latter seem to have the chief say in most men’s lives and deaths, nevertheless, the number nine is potent above all other numbers in Manx superstition.

Manannan’s house has nine doors,”

a saying which I have heard without fully understanding and which may be connected with the nine waves or the ninth wave, which have a mystic significance.

To walk nine times round a little hill, a standing stone or an old site, works wonders.

Nine sips of water from a sacred well go far to restore the health.

A drowned man will not come to the surface of the sea until the ninth day.

In the vegetable kingdom the number nine operates in this way.  After walking over a stretch of country for the first time in one’s life, a nine-fold plait should be made of grass, rushes or other suitable material taken from the ground in question. It should be made as soon as possible – before sleeping at any rate. Or better still, make it while walking and carry it till familiar ground is reached. It is thought this is done to bind powers of the place – the earth-spirits – from doing mischief to a trespassing stranger.


* In the case of a relation drowned off the Manx coast, I have found this belief to be true.

(source: A Second Manx Scrapbook by W Walter Gill (1932); photograph http://bit.ly/2kFtpjF)

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