- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /
65

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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THE MOUNTAIN PEOPLES
65
holy trees where weddings, too, are held. In a
sacred grove only the priests belonging to it can
take part in brewing the beer. If anyone else dåres
to fell a tree there, or even break off a twig, the
god of the place strikes him with a serious illness
or death. In a holy grove by Abanokan in the
Trusso gorge it is Samt Ilya (Elias) who strikes the
evil-doer with blindness, and to get his sight back
again he must sacrifice an ox. 1
Holy trees and groves are found among many
peoples; wc have also had them in the north
(cp. Upsala). At Borte (Mo, Telemark) there was a
grove that was held so sacred that not even the grass
there could be cut or grazed, as otherwise someone
would have a misfortune.3
A curious circumstance is that under certain
trees in the sacred groves of the Ossetes great heaps
of twigs can be seen : anyone passing by a sacred
grove of this kind is bound to put a twig or a bit of
wood there as an offering to the god of the place.
In Norway there are many places where the same
custom is followed, and the same great heaps of
twigs may be seen by paths in the forest, where
passers-by leave a twig according to an old custom,
whose reason no one knows. In some places small
stones are left in the same way as offerings.
In olden times unhewn stones some three metres
high were often set up on Ossete graves ; they may be
something of the same kind as our own bauta stones.
1 C. Hahn, Kaukasische Reisen und Studien, Leipzig, 1896, pp. 124 f.;
and Avs dem Kaukasus, Leipzig, 1892, p. 63.
3 Cp. Moltke Moe, in Amund Helland, Norges Land og Folk, VIII,
Bratsberg Amt, vol. i, pp- 4*5 ff-> Kristiania, 1900.

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