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Oera Linda Book


Chapter I: Okke, my son -

1. You must preserve these books with body and soul. They contain the history of all our people, as well as of our forefathers.

2. Last year I saved them in the flood, as well as you and your mother; but they got wet, and therefore began to perish. In order not to lose them, I copied them on foreign paper.

3. In case you inherit them, you must copy them likewise, and your children must do so too, so that they may never be lost.

4. Written at Liudwerd, in the year 3449 after Atland was submerged - that is, according to the Christian reckoning, the year 1256.

5. Hidde, surnamed Oera Linda - Watch!

Chapter II: Beloved successors -

1. For the sake of our dear forefathers, and of our dear liberty, I entreat you a thousand times never let the eye of a monk look on these writings.

2. The monks are very insinuating, but they destroy in an underhand manner all that relates to us Children of Frya.

3. In order to gain rich benefices, they conspire with foreign kings, who know that we are their greatest enemies, because we dare to speak to their people of liberty, rights, and the duties of princes. Therefore they seek to destroy all that we derive from our forefathers, and all that is left of our old customs.

4. Ah, my beloved ones! I have visited their courts! If Wr-alda permits it, and we do not show ourselves strong to resist, they will altogether exterminate us.

5. Written at Liudwerd, in the year 803 of the Christian era. Liko, surnamed Oera Linda.


Chapter I: Thirty years after the day on which the folk-mother was murdered by the commander Magy was a time of great distress -

1. All the states that lie on the other side of the Wrsara had been wrested from us, and had fallen under the power of Magy, and it looked as if his power was to become supreme over the whole land.

2. To avert this misfortune a general assembly of the people was summoned, which was attended by all the men who stood in good repute with the femmes. Then at the end of three days the whole council was in confusion, and in the same position as when they came together. Thereupon Adela demanded to be heard, and said:

3. "You all know that I was three years burgh-femme. You know also that I was chosen for folk-mother, and that I refused to be folk-mother because I wished to marry Apol; but what you do not know is, that I have watched everything that has happened, as if I had really been your folk-mother. I have constantly travelled about, observing what was going on. By that means I have become acquainted with many things that others do not know.

4. "You said yesterday that our relatives on the other side of the Wrsara were dull and cowardly; but I may tell you that the Magy has not won a single village from them by force of arms; but only by detestable deceit, and still more by the rapacity of their dukes and nobles.

5. "Frya has said we must not admit amongst us any but free people; but what have they done? They have imitated our enemies, and instead of killing their prisoners, or letting them go free, they have despised the counsel of Frya, and have made slaves of them.

6. "Because they have acted thus, Frya cared no longer to watch over them. They robbed others of their freedom, and therefore lost their own.

7. "This is well known to you, but I will tell you how they came to sink so low. The Finnar women had children. These grew up with our Children of Frya. They played and gamboled together in the fields, and were also together by the hearth.

8. "There they learned with pleasure the loose ways of the Finnar, because they were bad and new; and thus they became corrupted in spite of the efforts of their parents. When the children grew up, and saw that the children of the Finnar handled no weapons, and scarcely worked, they took a distaste for work, and became proud.

9. "The principal men and their cleverest sons made up to the wanton daughters of the Finnar; and their own daughters, led astray by this bad example, allowed themselves to be beguiled by the handsome young Finnar in derision of their depraved fathers.

10. "When the Magy found this out, he took the handsomest of his Finnar and Magyarar, and promised them red cows with golden horns to let themselves be taken prisoners by our people in order to spread his doctrines. His people did even more. Children disappeared, were taken away to Upsaland, and after they had been brought up in his pernicious doctrines, were sent back.

11. "When these pretended prisoners had learned our language, they persuaded the dukes and nobles that they should become subject to the Magy - that then their sons would succeed to them without having to be elected.

12. "Those who by their good deeds had gained a piece of land in front of their house, they promised should receive in addition a piece behind; those who had got a piece before and behind, should have a complete circuit; and those who had a complete circuit should have a whole freehold. If the elders were true to Frya, then they changed their course, and turned to the degenerate sons.

13. "Yesterday there were among you those who would have called the whole people together, to compel the eastern states to return to their duty. According to my humble opinion, they would have made a great mistake.

14. "Suppose that there was a very serious epidemic among the cattle, would you run the risk of sending your healthy cattle among the sick ones? Certainly not. Every one must see that doing that would turn out very badly for the whole of the cattle. Who, then, would be so imprudent as to send their children among a people wholly depraved?

15. "If I were to give you any advice, it would be to choose a new folk-mother. I know that you are in a difficulty about it, because out of the thirteen burgh-femmes that we still have remaining, eight are candidates for the dignity; but I should pay no attention to that.

16. "Tuntia, the burgh-femme of Medeasblik, who is not a candidate, is a person of knowledge and sound sense, and quite as attached to our people and our customs as all the rest together. I should further recommend that you should visit all the burghs, and write down all the laws of Frya's Tex, as well as all the histories, and all that is written on the walls, in order that it may not be destroyed with the burghs.

17. "It stands written that every folk-mother and every burgh-femme shall have assistants and messengers - twenty-one femmes and seven apprentices.

18. "If I might add more, I would recommend that all the respectable girls in the burghs should be taught; for I say positively, and time will show it, that if you wish to remain true Children of Frya, never to be vanquished by fraud or arms, you must take care to bring up your daughters as true Frya's daughters.

19. "You must teach the children how great our nation has been, what great men our forefathers were, how great we still are, if we compare ourselves to others.

20. "You must tell them of the wizards, of their magical deeds and distant travels. All these stories must be told by the fireside and in the field, wherever it may be, in times of joy or sorrow; and if you wish to impress it on the brains and the hearts of your sons, you must let it flow through the lips of your wives and your daughters."

21. Adela's advice was followed.

22. These are the reeves under whose direction this book is composed:

23. Apol, Adela's husband; three times a sea-king; reeve over Astflyland and over Lindawrda. The burghs Liudgarda, Lindahem, and Stavia are under his care.

24. The Saxman Storo, Sytia's husband; reeve over Hagafenna and Walda. Nine times he was chosen as duke, that is, commander. The burghs Buda and Mannagardaforda are under his care.

25. Abelo, Jaltia's husband; reeve over the Sudar Flyland. He was three times commander. The burghs Aken, Liudburch, and Katsburch are under his care.

26. Enoch, Dywek's husband; reeve over Westflyland and Texland. He was chosen nine times for sea-king. Waraburch, Medeasblik, Forana, and Fryasburch are under his care.

27. Foppa, Dunro's husband; reeve over the Siugon Elanda. He was five times sea-king. The burgh Walhallagara is under his care.

Chapter II: This was inscribed upon the walls of Fryasburch in Texland, as well as at Stavia and Medeasblik -

1. It was Frya's Day, and seven times seven years had elapsed since Fasta was appointed folk-mother by the desire of Frya. The burgh of Medeasblik was ready, and a burgh-femme was chosen. Fasta was about to light her new lamp, and when she had done so in the presence of all the people, Frya called from her watch-star, so that every one could hear it:

2. "Fasta, take your style and write the things, that I may not speak."

3. Fasta did as she was bid, and thus we became Frya's Children, and our earliest history began.

4. This is our earliest history:

5. Wr-alda, who alone is eternal and good, made the beginning. Then commenced time. Time wrought all things, even Irtha. Irtha bore grass, herbs, and trees, all useful and all noxious animals. All that is good and useful she brought forth by day, and all that is bad and injurious by night.

6. After the twelfth yule-feast she brought forth three girls:

7. Lyda out of fierce heat.

8. Finda out of strong heat.

9. Frya out of moderate heat.

10. When the last came into existence, Wr-alda breathed his spirit upon her in order that men might be bound to him. As soon as they were full grown they took pleasure and delight in the visions of Wr-alda.

11. Hatred found its way among them.

12. They each bore twelve sons and twelve daughters - at every yuletide a couple. Thence came all mankind.

13. Lyda was black, with hair curled like a lamb's; her eyes shone like stars, and shot out glances like those of a bird of prey.

14. Lyda was acute. She could hear a snake glide, and could smell a fish in the water.

15. Lyda was strong and nimble. She could bend a large tree, yet when she walked she did not bruise a flower-stalk.

16. Lyda was violent. Her voice was loud, and when she screamed in anger every creature quailed.

17. Wonderful Lyda! She had no regard for laws; her actions were governed by her passions. To help the weak she would kill the strong, and when she had done it she would weep by their bodies.

18. Poor Lyda! She turned grey by her mad behaviour, and at last she died heart-broken by the wickedness of her children.

19. Foolish children! They accused each other of their mother's death. They howled and fought like wolves, and while they did this the birds devoured the corpse. Who can refrain from tears at such a recital?

20. Finda was yellow, and her hair was like the mane of a horse. She could not bend a tree, but where Lyda killed one lion she killed ten.

21. Finda was seductive. Her voice was sweeter than any bird's. Her eyes were alluring and enticing, but whoever looked upon them became her slave.

22. Finda was unreasonable. She wrote thousands of laws, but she never obeyed one. She despised the frankness of the good, and gave herself up to flatterers.

23. That was her misfortune. Her head was too full, but her heart was too vain. She loved nobody but herself, and she wished that all should love her.

24. False Finda! Honey-sweet were her words, but those who trusted them found sorrow at hand.

25. Selfish Finda! She wished to rule everybody, and her sons were like her. They made their sisters serve them, and they slew each other for the mastery.

26. Treacherous Finda! One wrong word would irritate her, and the cruellest deeds did not affect her. If she saw a lizard swallow a spider, she shuddered; but if she saw her children kill a Child of Frya, her bosom swelled with pleasure.

27. Unfortunate Finda! She died in the bloom of her age, and the mode of her death is unknown.

28. Hypocritical children! Her corpse was buried under a costly stone, pompous inscriptions were written on it, and loud lamentations were heard at it, but in private not a tear was shed.

29. Despicable people! The laws that Finda established were written on golden tablets, but the object for which they were made was never attained. The good laws were abolished, and selfishness instituted bad ones in their place.

30. O Finda! Then Irtha overflowed with blood, and your children were mown down like grass.

31. Yes, Finda! Those were the fruits of your vanity. Look down from your watch-star and weep.

32. Frya was white like the snow at sunrise, and the blue of her eyes vied with the rainbow.

33. Beautiful Frya! Like the rays of the sun shone the locks of her hair, which were as fine as spiders' webs.

34. Clever Frya! When she opened her lips the birds ceased to sing and the leaves to quiver.

35. Powerful Frya! At the glance of her eye the lion lay down at her feet and the adder withheld his poison.

36. Pure Frya! Her food was honey, and her beverage was dew gathered from the cups of the flowers.

37. Sensible Frya! The first lesson that she taught her children was self-control, and the second was the love of virtue; and when they were grown she taught them the value of liberty; for she said:

38. "Without liberty all other virtues serve to make you slaves, and to disgrace your origin."

39. Generous Frya! She never allowed metal to be dug from Irtha for her own benefit, but when she did it it was for the general use.

40. Most happy Frya! Like the starry host in the firmament, her children clustered around her.

41. Wise Frya! When she had seen her children reach the seventh generation, she summoned them all to Flyland, and there gave them her Tex, saying:

42. "Let this be your guide, and it can never go ill with you."

43. Exalted Frya! When she had thus spoken Irtha shook like Wr-alda's Sea. The ground of Flyland sunk beneath her feet, the air was dimmed by tears, and when they looked for their mother she was already risen to her watch-star; then at length thunder burst from the clouds, and the lightning wrote upon the firmament, "Watch!"

44. Far-seeing Frya! The land from which she had risen was now a stream, and except her Tex all that was in it was overwhelmed.

45. Obedient children! When they came to themselves again, they made this high mound and built this burgh upon it, and on the walls they wrote the Tex, and that every one should be able to find it they called the land about it Texland. Therefore it shall remain as long as Irtha shall be Irtha.

Chapter III: Frya's Tex -

1. Hail to the Children of Frya! At last you shall see me again. Though him only can I recognise as free who is neither a slave to another nor to himself. This is my counsel: when in dire distress, and when mental and physical energy avail nothing, then have recourse to the spirit of Wr-alda; but do not appeal to him before you have tried all other means, for I tell you beforehand, and time will prove its truth, that those who give way to discouragement sink under their burdens.

2. To Wr-alda's spirit always shall you bare and bend your knees in thricefold gratitude - for what you have received, for what you do receive, and for the hope of aid in time of need.

3. You have seen how speedily I have come to your assistance. Do likewise to your neighbour, but wait not for his entreaties. The suffering would curse you, my femmes would erase your name from the book, and I would regard you as a stranger.

4. Let not your neighbour express his thanks to you with bare and bended knees, which are always reserved for Wr-alda's spirit alone. Envy would assail you, wisdom would ridicule you, and my femmes would accuse you of irreverence.

5. Four things are given for your enjoyment - air, water, land, and fire - but Wr-alda is the sole possessor of them. Therefore my counsel to you is, choose upright men who will fairly divide the labour and the fruits, so that no man shall be exempt from work or from the duty of defence.

6. If ever it should happen that one of your people should sell his freedom, he is not of you, he is a bastard. I counsel you to expel him and his mother from the land. Repeat this to your children morning, noon, and night, till they think of it in their dreams.

7. If any man shall deprive another, even his debtor, of his liberty, let him be to you as a vile slave; and I advise you to burn his body and that of his mother in an open place, and bury them fifty feet below the ground, so that no grass shall grow upon them. It would poison your cattle.

8. Meddle not with the people of Lyda, nor of Finda, because Wr-alda would help them, and any injury that you inflicted on them would recoil upon your own heads.

9. If it should happen that they come to you for advice or assistance, then it behoves you to help them; but if they should rob you, then fall upon them with fire and sword.

10. If any of them should seek a daughter of yours to wife, and she is willing, explain to her her folly; but if she will follow her lover, let her go in peace.

11. If your son wishes for a daughter of theirs, do the same as to your daughter; but let not either one or the other ever return among you, for they would introduce foreign morals and customs, and if these were accepted by you, I could no longer watch over you.

12. Upon my femme Fasta I have placed all my hopes. Therefore you must choose her for folk-mother. Follow my advice, then she will hereafter remain my femme as well as all the sacred femmes who succeed her. Then shall the lamp which I have lighted for you never be extinguished. Its brightness shall always illuminate your intellect, and you shall always remain as free from foreign domination as your fresh river-water is distinct from the salt sea.

Chapter IV: This has Fasta spoken -

1. All the regulations which have existed a century, that is, a hundred years as measured by the carrier and the yule, may by the advise of the folk-mother, with the consent of the community, be inscribed upon the walls of the burgh, and when inscribed on the walls they become laws, and it is our duty to respect them all.

2. If by force or necessity any regulations should be imposed upon us at variance with our laws and customs, we must always return to our own again. That is Frya's will, and must be that of all her children.

Chapter V: Fasta said -

1. Anything that any man commences, whatever it may be, on the day appointed for Frya's worship shall eternally fail, for time has proved that she was right.

2. It is become a law that no man shall, except from absolute necessity, keep that day otherwise than as a joyful feast.

Chapter VI: These are the laws established for the government of the burghs -

1. Whenever a burgh is built, the lamp belonging to it must be lighted at the original lamp in Texland, and that can only be done by the folk-mother.

2. Each folk-mother shall appoint her own femmes. The other burgh-femmes shall do the same as the folk-mother.

3. The folk-mother of Texland may appoint her own successor, but should she die without having done so, the election shall take place at a general assembly of the whole nation.

4. The folk-mother of Texland may have twenty-one femmes and seven apprentices, so that there may always be seven to attend the lamp day and night. The other burgh-femmes may have the same number as the folk-mother.

5. If a femme wishes to renounce her vow of celibacy, she must obtain the permission of the folk-mother, and immediately resign her office, before her passion shall have polluted the light.

6. For the service of the folk-mother and of each of the burgh-femmes there shall be appointed twenty-one burghers - seven elder wizards, seven elder warriors, and seven elder seamen.

7. Out of the seven three shall retire every year, and shall not be replaced by members of their own family nearer than the fourth degree.

8. Every burgh may have three hundred young warriors.

9. For this service they must study Frya's Tex and the laws. From the elder wizards they must learn wisdom, from the elder warriors the art of war, and from the elder seamen the skill required for distant voyages.

10. Every year one hundred of the warriors shall return to their homes, and those that may have been wounded shall remain in the burghs for the rest of their lives.

11. At the election of the warriors no burgher or reeve, or other person of distinction, shall vote, but only the people.

12. The folk-mother of Texland shall have three times seven active messengers, and three times twelve speedy horses. In the other burghs each burgh-femme shall have three messengers and seven horses.

13. Each and every burgh-femme shall have fifty farm-workers chosen by the people, but only those may be chosen who are not strong enough to go to war or to go to sea.

14. Every burgh must provide for its own sustenance, and must maintain its own defences, and look after its share of the general contributions.

15. If a man is chosen to fill any office and refuses to serve, he can never become a burgher, nor have any vote. And if he is already a burgher, he shall cease to be so.

16. If any man wishes to consult the folk-mother or a burgh-femme, he must apply to the scribe, who will take him to the burgomaster. He will then be examined by a healer to see if he is in good health. If he is passed, he shall lay aside his arms, and seven warriors shall present him to the folk-mother.

17. If the affair concerns only one state, he must bring forward not less than three witnesses; but if it affects the whole of Fryasland, he must have twenty-one additional witnesses, in order to guard against any deceptions.

18. Under all circumstances the folk-mother must take care that her children, that is, Frya's people, shall remain as peaceable as possible. This is her most important duty, and it is the duty of all of us to help her in performing it.

19. If she is called upon to decide any judicial question between a reeve and the community, she must incline towards the side of the community in order to maintain peace, and because it is better that one man should suffer than many.

20. If any one comes to the folk-mother for advice, and she is prepared to give it, she must do it immediately. If she does not know what to advise, he must remain waiting seven days; and if she then is unable to advise, he must go away without complaining, for it is better to have no advice at all than bad advice.

21. If a folk-mother shall have given bad advice out of illwill, she must be killed or driven out of the land, deprived of everything.

22. If her burghers are accomplices, they are to be treated in a similar manner.

23. If her guilt is doubtful or only suspected, it must be considered and debated, if necessary, for twenty-one weeks. If half the votes are against her, she must be declared innocent. If two-thirds are against her, she must wait a whole year. If the votes are then the same, she must be considered guilty, but may not be put to death.

24. If any of the one-third who have voted for her wish to go away with her, they may depart with all their live and dead stock, and shall not be the less considered, since the majority may be wrong as well as the minority.

Chapter VII: Universal law -

1. All Frya's Children are equal, wherefore they must all have equal rights on sea and land, and in all that Wr-alda has given.

2. Every man may seek the wife of his choice, and each woman may bestow her hand on him whom she loves.

3. When a man takes a wife, a house and land must be given to him. If there is no house, one must be built for him.

4. If he has taken a wife in another village, and wishes to remain, they must give him a house and land there, and likewise the free use of the common.

5. To every man must be given a piece of land behind his house for his inheritance. No man shall have land in front of his house, still less a complete circuit, unless he has performed some public service. In such a case it may be given, and the youngest son may inherit it, but after him it returns to the community.

6. Each village shall possess a common for the general good, and the reeve shall take care that it is kept in good order, so that posterity shall find it uninjured.

7. Each village shall have a market-place. All the rest of the land shall be for tillage and forest. No one shall fell trees without the consent of the community, or without the knowledge of the forester; for the forests are general property, and no man can appropriate them.

8. The market charges shall not exceed one-twelfth of the value of the goods either to natives or strangers. The portion taken for the charges shall not be sold before the other goods.

9. All the market receipts must be divided yearly into a hundred parts three days before the yule-day.

10. The reeve and his elders shall take twenty parts; the keeper of the market ten, and his assistants five; the folk-mother one, the burgh-femme four, the village ten, and the poor and infirm shall have fifty parts.

11. There shall be no usurers in the market. If any should come, it will be the duty of the femmes to make it known through the whole land, in order that such people may not be chosen for any office, because they are hard-hearted. For the sake of money they would betray everybody the people, the folk-mother, their nearest relations, and even their own selves.

12. If any man should attempt to sell diseased cattle or damaged goods for sound, the market-keeper shall expel him, and the femmes shall proclaim him through the country.

13. In early times almost all of Finda's people lived together in their mother-country, which like Aldland is now submerged. They were thus far away, and we had no wars. When they were driven hitherwards, and appeared as robbers, then arose the necessity of defending ourselves, and we had armies, kings, and wars.

14. For all this there were established regulations, and out of the regulations came fixed laws.

Chapter VIII: Here follow the laws which were thus established -

1. Each Child of Frya must resist the assailants with such weapons as he can procure, invent, and use.

2. When a boy is twelve years old he must devote one day in seven to learning how to use his weapons.

3. As soon as he is perfect in the use of them they are to be given to him, and he is to be admitted as a warrior.

4. After serving as a warrior three years, he may become a burgher, and may have a vote in the election of the state officials.

5. When he has been seven years a voter he then may have a vote for the commander or king, and may be himself elected.

6. Every year he must be re-elected.

7. Except the king, all other officials are re-eligible who act according to Frya's counsels.

8. No king may be in office more than three years, in order that the office may not be permanent.

9. After an interval of seven years he may be elected again.

10. If the king is killed by the enemy, his nearest relative may be a candidate to succeed him.

11. If he dies a natural death, or if his period of service has expired, he shall not be succeeded by any blood relative nearer than the fourth degree.

12. Those who fight with arms are not men of counsel, therefore no king must bear arms. His wisdom must be his weapon, and the love of his warriors his shield.

Chapter IX: These are the rights of the folk-mothers and the kings -

1. If war breaks out, the folk-mother sends her messengers to the king, who sends messengers to the reeves to call the warriors to arms.

2. The reeves call all the burghers together and decide how many men shall be sent.

3. All the resolutions must immediately be sent to the folk-mother by messengers and witnesses.

4. The folk-mother considers all the resolutions and decides upon them, and with this the king as well as the people must be satisfied.

5. When in the field, the king consults only his superior officers, but three burghers of the folk-mother must be present, without any voice. These burghers must send daily reports to the folk-mother, that they may be sure nothing is done contrary to law or to the counsels of Frya.

6. If the king wishes to do anything which his elders oppose, he may not persist in it.

7. If an enemy appears unexpectedly, then the king's orders must be obeyed.

8. If the king is not present, the next to him takes command, and so on in succession according to rank.

9. If there is no officer present, one must be elected.

10. If there is no time to choose, any one may come forward who feels himself capable of being an officer.

11. If a king has conquered a dangerous enemy, his successors may take his name after their own. The king may, if he wishes, choose an open piece of ground for a house and land; this land shall be a complete circuit, which may be so large that there shall be seven hundred steps to the boundary in all directions from the house.

12. His youngest son may inherit this, and that son's youngest son after him; then it shall return to the community.

Chapter X: Here are the rules established for the security of all the Children of Frya -

1. Whenever new laws are made or new regulations established, they must be for the common good, and not for individual advantage.

2. Whenever in time of war either houses or ships are destroyed, either by the enemy or as a matter of precaution, a general levy shall be assessed on the people to make it good again, so that no one may neglect the general welfare to preserve his own interest.

3. At the conclusion of a war, if any men are so severely wounded as to be unable to work, they shall be maintained at the public expense, and shall have the best seats at festivals, in order that the young may learn to honour them.

4. If there are widows and orphans, they shall likewise be maintained at the public expense; and the sons may inscribe the names of their fathers on their shields for the honour of their families.

5. If any who have been taken prisoners should return, they must be kept separate from the dwellings, because they may have obtained their liberty by making treacherous promises, and thus they may avoid keeping their promises without forfeiting their honour.

6. If any enemies be taken prisoners, they must be sent to the interior of the country, that they may learn our free customs.

7. If they are afterwards set free, it must be done with kindness by the femmes, in order that we may make them comrades and friends, instead of haters and enemies.

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