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Devil’s Oak – Dreimaņi Oak (Velnozols — Dreimaņu ozols)

Location
State:
Latvia
Region:
Vidzeme
County:
Mazsalaca
Parish:
Sēļi
Other references to the location
The oak is situated in Sēļi parish, 400 m N from the former Sēļi school, on the left side of the road, in a small wood cluster (the stop “Skola”)
Coordinates
lat=57.8477777778, lon=25.1833333333
57° 50' 52" N, 25° 10' 59" E
Description

The only Devil’s Oak in Vidzeme where until as late as 1950 the custom of catering spirits was preserved. The circumference of its trunk is 5.45 m, height 21 m, projection of its crown is 333 m², age ~270 years. (Eniņš, 2008) Currently the place has been looked after, cleaned from bushes and

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trees, direction and information signs provided in 4 languages. The place is looked after by the Sēļi Parish municipality. The sites nearby: Aņģīši Devil’s Stone, Pantene Sacred Spring, Jenki Cross Stone, the place of Tūtere Oak. The closest settlements: Sēļi, Pantene, Mazsalaca.

Narrative

As a cult site the place is connected with the legends about the superstition of Sēļi Parish people and the legend that the former owner of the Dreimaņi homestead considered the Devil living in the oak his god. Food was duly brought to the Devil day by day. Upwards Burtnieki Lake in the Sēļi Parish very superstitious people lived. Still in 1952 when linguist Vija Dambe was collecting place names, everybody in the area, including teachers, believed in ghosts and devils. In the Dreimaņi homestead the Devil had long since been taken as an adopted son, therefore the owner never lacked wealth, however, since several generations one of the family members always lost his life tragically. “The homestead was so rich that the landlady lent money to the baroness. Then after their delivery two of the Dreimaņi mother’s children became blue and dead as if strangled. The third child was delivered outside the homestead and was delivered healthy, grew up and later managed the farm. In Dreimaņi homestead there was a beautiful barn with peculiar pillars. That was the place where the owner fed the Devil. By the Devil’s Oak “the old Dreimaņi mother and Verners [...] catered the devil” as well. (G. Eniņš. 100 Most Secular and Holiest (100 dižākie un svētākie). 2008) “The owner of the Dreimaņi homestead held the Devil the deity of his homestead. [...] Food and other sacrifices were also laid by other people from the surroundings to earn the devil’s grace as the devil frequently deceived and frightened them and it was difficult to pass him at night. The Devil was a real help for the landlord. When thieves wanted to steal apples in autumn, the Devil tortured them in all possible ways. [...] nevertheless, the Devil was a trouble for other people in the surroundings [as well] as he did harm and frightened them. (Emma Vēbere, Sēļi parish, compiled by I. Ruberte. Legends of Valmiera Surroundings (Valmieras novada teikas). 1999) Although legends have it that the sacrifices to the devil were brought to a hollow, there is another version that in 1960 the hollow was made by a man to reach bees. (Eniņš, 2008)

Attraction
The place is well looked after, the oak is visually very impressive. A unique cult site that was used until as late as 1950s.
Availability
An idication sign from the road Mazsalaca–Sēļi (at the stop former “Skola”) and at the very oak. Can be accessed by car only in summer. The site can be visited free of charge.
Infrastructure, management, facilities
There is an information stand.
Local info
There is an information stand.
Capacity
10 - 40
Publicity
Known
Legal Status
Private

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