The Oera Linda Book
Written in 1256 AD, from a diary
which was put together 560-558 BC.
from the Original Frisian text
verified by Dr. Ottema
William R. Sandbach
Londen, Trubner & Co, 1876
The Writings of Adelbrost and Apollonia
03 Chapter I: My name is Adelbrost, the son of Apol and Adela -
1. I was elected by my people as reeve over the Lindawrda. Therefore I will continue this book in the same way as my mother has spoken it.
2. After the Magy was killed and Fryasburch was restored, a folk-mother had to be chosen. The folk-mother had not named her successor, and her will was nowhere to be found. Seven months later a general assembly was called at Grenega, because it was on the boundary of Saxanamark. My mother was chosen, but she would not be the folk-mother. She had saved my father’s life, in consequence of which they had fallen in love with each other, and she wished to marry.
3. Many people wished my mother to alter her decision, but she said:
4. "A folk-mother ought to be as pure in her conscience as she appears outwardly, and to have the same love for all her children. Now, as I love Apol better than anything else in the World, I cannot be such a folk-mother."
5. Thus spoke and reasoned Adela, but all the other femmes wished to be the folk-mother. Each state was in favour of its own femme, and would not yield. Therefore none was chosen, and the country was without any restraint.
6. From what follows you will understand Liudgert, the king who had lately died, who had been chosen in the lifetime of the folk-mother, and seemingly with the love and confidence of all the states.
7. It was his turn to live at the great court of Dokhem, and in the lifetime of the folk-mother great honour was done to him there, as there were more messengers and knights there than had ever been seen there before. But now he was lonely and forsaken, because every one was afraid that he would set himself above the law, and rule them like the slave kings.
8. Every official imagined that he did enough if he looked after his own state, and did nor care for the others. With the burgh-femmes it was still worse. Each of them depended upon her own judgment, and whenever a reeve did anything without her, she raised distrust between him and his people. If any case happened which concerned several states, and one femme had been consulted, the rest all exclaimed that she had spoken only in the interest of her own state.
9. By such proceedings they brought disputes among the states, and so severed the bond of union that the people of one state were jealous of those of the rest, or at least considered them as strangers; the consequence of which was that the Golar or Trowydar took possession of our lands as far as the Skelda, and the Magy as far as the Wrsara.
10. How this happened my mother has explained, otherwise this book would not have been written, although I have lost all hope that it would be of any use. I do not write in the hope that I shall win back the land or preserve it: in my opinion that is impossible. I write only for the future generations, that they may all know in what way we were lost, and that each may learn that every crime brings its punishment.
11. My name is Apollonia. Two-and-thirty days after my mother’s death my brother Adelbrost was found murdered on the wharf, his skull fractured and his limbs torn asunder. My father, who lay ill, died of fright. Then my younger brother, Apol, sailed from here to the west side of Skenland. There he built a burgh named Lindasburch, in order there to avenge our wrong. Wr-Alda accorded him many years for that. He had five sons, who all caused fear to Magy, and brought fame to my brother.
12. After the death of my mother and my brother, all the bravest of the land joined together and made a covenant, called the Adelband. In order to preserve us from injury, they brought me and my youngest brother, Adelhirt, to the burgh - me to the femmes, and him to the warriors.
13. When I was thirty years old I was chosen as burgh-femme, and my brother at fifty was chosen reeve. From mother’s side my brother was the sixth, but from father’s side the third. By right, therefore, his descendants could not put Oera Linda after their names, but they all wished to do it in honour of their mother.
14. In addition to this, there was given to us also a copy of The Book of Adela’s Followers. That gave me the most pleasure, because it came into the World by my mother’s wisdom. In the burgh I have found other writings also in praise of my mother. All this I will write afterwards.
15. These are the writings left by Brunno, who was the scribe of this burgh:
16. After the followers of Adela had made copies, each in his state, of what was inscribed upon the walls of the burgh, they resolved to choose a folk-mother. For this purpose a general assembly was called at this farm.
17. By the advice of Adela, Tuntia was recommended. That would have been arranged, only that my burgh-femme asked to speak: she had always supposed that she would be chosen folk-mother, because she was at the burgh from which folk-mothers had generally been chosen.
18. When she was allowed to speak, she opened her false lips and said:
19. "You all seem to place great value on Adela’s advice, but that shall not shut my mouth. Who is Adela, and whence comes it that you respect her so highly? She was what I am now, a burgh-femme of this place; is she, then, wiser and better than I and all the others? Or is she more conversant with our laws and customs?
20. "If that had been the case, she would have become folk-mother when she was chosen; but instead of that, she preferred matrimony to a single life, watching over herself and her people. She is certainly very clear-sighted, but my eyes are far from being dim. I have observed that she is very much attached to her husband, which is very praiseworthy; but I see, likewise, that Tuntia is Apol’s niece. Further I say nothing."
21. The principal people understood very well which way the wind blew with her; but among the people there arose disputes, and as most of the people came from here, they would not give the honour to Tuntia. The conferences were ended, knives were drawn, and no folk-mother was chosen.
22. Shortly afterwards one of our messengers killed his comrade. As he had been a man of good character hitherto, my burgh-femme had permission to help him over the frontier; but instead of helping him over to Twiskland, she fled with him herself to Wrsara, and then to the Magy.
23. The Magy, who wished to please his sons of Frya, appointed her burgh-femme of Godahisburch, in Skenland; but she wished for more, and she told him that if he could get Adela out of the way he might become master of the whole of Fryasland. She said she hated Adela for having prevented her from being chosen folk-mother. If he would promise her Texland, her messenger should serve as guide to his warriors. All this was confessed by her messenger.
03 Chapter II: The second writing -1. Fifteen months after the last general assembly, at the festival of the Winne Month, everybody gave himself up to pleasure and merry-making, and no one thought of anything but diversion; but Wr-Alda wished to teach us that watchfulness should never be relaxed. In the midst of the festivities the fog came and enveloped every place in darkness. Cheerfulness melted away, but watchfulness did not take its place. The coastguard deserted their beacons, and no one was to be seen on any of the paths.
2. When the fog rose, the sun scarcely appeared among the clouds; but the people all came out shouting with joy, and the young folks went about singing to their bagpipes, filling the air with their melody. But while every one was intoxicated with pleasure, treachery had landed with its horses and riders.
3. As usual, darkness had favoured the wicked, and they had slipped in through the paths of Linda Wald. Before Adela’s door twelve girls led twelve lambs, and twelve boys led twelve calves. A young Saxman bestrode a wild bull which he had caught and tamed. They were decked with all kinds of flowers, and the linen tunics of the girls were fringed with gold from the Rene.
4. When Adela came out of her house, a shower of flowers fell on her head; they all cheered loudly, and the fifes of the boys were heard over everything. Poor Adela! Poor people! How short will be your joy! When the procession was out of sight, a troop of Magyarar soldiers rushed up to Adela’s house.
5. Her father and her husband were sitting on the steps. The door was open, and within stood Adelbrost her son. When he saw the danger of his parents, he took his bow from the wall and shot the leader of the pirates, who staggered and fell on the grass. The second and third met a similar fate.
6. In the meantime his parents had seized their weapons, and went slowly to Jon’s house. They would soon have been taken, but Adela came. She had learned in the burgh to use all kinds of weapons. She was seven feet high, and her sword was the same length. She waved it three times over her head, and each time a knight bit the dirt.
7. Reinforcements came, and the pirates were made prisoners; but too late - an arrow had penetrated her bosom! The treacherous Magy had poisoned it, and she died of it.
03 Chapter III: The elegy of the burgh-femme -1. Yes, departed friend, thousands are arrived, and more are coming.
2. They wish to hear the wisdom of Adela.
3. Truly, she was a princess, for she had always been the leader.
4. O sorrow, what can you do?
5. Her short kilt of linen, and her tunic of wool, she spun and wove herself. How could she add to her beauty? Not with pearls, for her teeth were more white; not with gold, for her tresses were more brilliant; not with precious stones, for her eyes, though soft as those of a lamb, were so lustrous that you could scarcely look into them.
6. But why do I talk of beauty?
7. Frya was certainly not more beautiful.
8. Yes, my friends, Frya possessed seven perfections, of which each of her daughters inherited one, or at most three. But even if she had been ugly, she would still have been dear to us.
9. Is she warlike? Listen, my friend. Adela was the only daughter of our reeve. She stood seven feet high. Her wisdom exceeded her stature, and her courage was equal to both together.
10. Here is an instance. There was once a turf-ground on fire. Three children got upon yonder gravestone. There was a furious wind. The people were all shouting, and their mother was helpless. Then came Adela. She cried:
11. "What are you all standing still here for? Try to help them, and Wr-Alda will give you strength."
12. Then she ran to the Krylwald and got some elder branches, of which she made a bridge. The others then came to assist her, and the children were saved.
13. The children bring flowers to the place every year.
14. There came once three Phonisiar sailors, who began to ill-treat the children, when Adela, having heard their screams, beat the scoundrels till they were insensible, and then, to prove to them what miserable wretches they were, she tied them all three to a spindle.
15. The foreign lords came to look after their people, and when they saw how ridiculously they had been treated they were very angry, till they were told what had happened.
16. Upon that they bowed themselves before Adela, and kissed the hems of her short kilt and tunic.
17. But come, distant living friend. The birds of the forest fled before the numerous visitors. Come, friend, and you shall hear her wisdom.
18. By the gravestone of which mention has already been made her body is buried. Upon the stone the following words are inscribed:
19. "Tread softly, for here lies Adela."
20. The old legend which is written on the outside wall of the burgh tower is not written in The Book of Adela’s Followers. Why this has been neglected I do not know; but this book is my own, so I will put it in out of regard to my relations.
03 Chapter IV: The oldest doctrine -1. Hail to all the well-intentioned Children of Frya!
2. Through you Irtha shall become holy.
3. Learn and announce to the people that Wr-Alda is the ancient of ancients, for he created all things.
4. Wr-Alda is all in all, for he is eternal and everlasting.
5. Wr-Alda is everywhere but invisible, and therefore is called a spirit. All that we can see of him are the created beings who come to life through him and go again, because from Wr-Alda all things proceed and return to him.
6. Wr-Alda is the beginning and the end.
7. Wr-Alda is the only mighty being, because from him all strength comes, and returns to him. Therefore he alone is the creator, and nothing exists without him.
8. Wr-Alda established eternal principles, upon which the laws of creation were founded, and no good laws could stand on any other foundation.
9. But although everything is derived from Wr-Alda, the wickedness of men does not come from him. Wickedness comes from heaviness, carelessness, and stupidity; therefore they may well be injurious to men, but never to Wr-Alda.
10. Wr-Alda is wisdom, and the laws that he has made are the books from which we learn, nor is any wisdom to be found or gathered but in them.
11. Men may see a great deal, but Wr-Alda sees everything. Men can learn a great deal, but Wr-Alda knows everything. Men can discover much, but to Wr-Alda everything is open. Mankind are male and female, but Wr-Alda created both. Mankind love and hate, but Wr-Alda alone is just. Therefore Wr-Alda is good, and there is no good without him.
12. In the progress of time all creation alters and changes, but goodness alone is unalterable; and since Wr-Alda is good, he cannot change. As he endures, he alone exists; everything else is show.
03 Chapter V: The second part of the oldest doctrine -1. Among Finda’s people there are false teachers, who, by their over-inventiveness, have become so wicked that they make themselves and their adherents believe that they are the best part of Wr-Alda, that their spirit is the best part of Wr-Alda’s spirit, and that Wr-Alda can only think by the help of their brains.
2. That every creature is a part of Wr-Alda’s eternal being, that they have stolen from us.
3. But their false reasoning and ungovernable pride have brought them on the road to ruin. If their spirit was Wr-Alda’s spirit, then Wr-Alda would be very stupid, instead of being sensible and wise; for their spirit labours to create beautiful statues, which they afterwards worship.
4. Finda’s people are a wicked people, for although they presumptuously pretend among themselves that they are gods, they proclaim the unconsecrated false gods, and declare everywhere that these idols created Wr-Alda and all that therein is - greedy idols, full of envy and anger, who desire to be served and honoured by the people, and who exact bloody sacrifices and rich offerings; but these presumptuous and false men, who call themselves servants of the gods and priests, receive and collect everything in the name of the idols that have no real existence, for their own benefit.
5. They do all this with an easy conscience, as they think themselves gods not answerable to any one. If there are some who discover their tricks and expose them, they hand them over to the executioners to be burnt for their calumnies, with solemn ceremonies in honour of the false gods; but really in order to save themselves.
6. In order that our children may be protected against their idolatrous doctrine, the duty of the femmes is to make them learn by heart the following:
7. "Wr-Alda existed before all things, and will endure after all things. Wr-Alda is also eternal and everlasting, therefore nothing exists without him. From Wr-Alda’s life sprang time and all living things, and his life takes away time and every other thing."
8. These things must be made clear and manifest in every way, so that they can be made clear and comprehensible to all. When we have learned thus much, then we say further:
9. "In what regards our existence, we are a part of Wr-Alda’s everlasting being, like the existence of all created beings; but as regards our form, our qualities, our spirit, and all our thoughts, these do not belong to the being."
10. All these are passing things which appear through Wr-Alda’s life, and which appear through his wisdom, and not otherwise; but whereas his life is continually progressing, nothing can remain stationary, therefore all created things change their locality, their form, and their thoughts.
11. So neither Irtha nor any other created object can say, "I am" but rather, "I was". So no man can say, "I think" but rather, "I thought".
12. The boy is greater and different from the child; he has different desires, inclinations, and thoughts. The man and father feels and thinks differently from the boy, the old man just the same. Everybody knows that.
13. Besides, everybody knows and must acknowledge that he is now changing, that he changes every minute even while he says, "I am", and that his thoughts change even while he says, "I think".
14. Instead, then, of imitating Finda’s wicked people, and saying, "I am the best part of Wr-Alda, and through us alone he can think."
15. We proclaim everywhere where it is necessary, "We, Frya’s Children, exist through Wr-Alda’s life - in the beginning mean and base, but always advancing towards perfection without ever attaining the excellence of Wr-Alda himself."
16. Our spirit is not Wr-Alda’s spirit, it is merely a shadow of it.
17. When Wr-Alda created us, he lent us his wisdom, brains, organs, memory, and many other good qualities. By this means we are able to contemplate his creatures and his laws; by this means we can learn and can speak of them always, and only for our own benefit. If Wr-Alda had given us no organs, we should have known nothing, and been more irrational than a piece of sea-weed driven up and down by the ebb and flood.
03 Chapter VI: This is written on parchment; speech and answer to other femmes as an example -
1. An unsociable, avaricious man came to complain to Trast, who was the femme of Stavia. He said a thunderstorm had destroyed his house. He had prayed to Wr-Alda, but Wr-Alda had given him no help.
2. Trast asked, "Are you a true Child of Frya?"
3. The man replied, "From father and forefathers."4. Then she said, "I will sow something in your conscience, in confidence that it will take root, grow, and bear fruit.
5. "When Frya was born, our mother stood naked and bare, unprotected from the rays of the sun. She could ask no one, and there was no one who could give her any help
6. "Then Wr-Alda wrought in her conscience inclination and love, anxiety and fright. She looked round her, and her inclination chose the best. She sought a hiding-place under the sheltering lime-trees, but the rain came, and the difficulty was that she got wet. She had seen how the water ran down the pendent leaves; so she made a roof of leaves fastened with sticks, but the wind blew the rain under it.
7. "She observed that the stem would afford protection. She then built a wall of sods, first on one side, and then all round. The wind grew stronger and blew away the roof, but she made no complaint of Wr-Alda. She made a roof of rushes, and put stones upon it. Having found how hard it is to toil alone, she showed her children how and why she had done it. They acted and thought as she did.
8. "This is the way in which we became possessed of houses and porches, a street, and lime-trees to protect us from the rays of the sun. At last we have built a burgh, and all the rest. If your house is not strong enough, then you must try and make another."
9. He said, "My house was strong enough, but the flood and the wind destroyed it."
10. Trast asked, "Where did your house stand?"
11. He answered, "On the bank of the Rene."
12. Trast asked, "Did it stand on a knoll or in a village?"
13. The man said, "No; my house stood alone on the bank. I built it alone, but I could not alone make a hillock."
14. Trast answered, "I knew it; the femmes told me. All your life you have avoided your neighbours, fearing that you might have to give or do something for them; but one cannot get on in Wr-Alda that way, for Wr-Alda, who is kind, turns away from the niggardly.
15. "Fasta has advised us, and it is engraved in stone over all our doors.
16. "If you are selfish, distrustful towards your neighbours, teach your neighbours, help your neighbours, and they will return the same to you. If this advice is not good enough for you, I can give you no better."
17. The man blushed for shame, and slunk away.
03 Chapter VII: Now I will write myself, first about my burgh, and then about what I have been able to see -
1. My burgh lies near the north end of the Liudgarda. The tower has six sides, and is ninety feet high, flat-roofed, with a small house upon it out of which they look at the stars. On each side of the tower is a house three hundred feet long, and twenty-one feet broad, and twenty-one feet high, besides the roof, which is round. All this is built of hard-baked bricks, and outside there is nothing else. The burgh is surrounded by a dyke, with a moat thirty-six feet broad and twenty-one feet deep.
2. If one looks down from the tower, he sees the form of the Yule. In the ground among the houses on the south side all kinds of native and foreign herbs grow, of which the femmes must study the qualities. Among the houses on the north side there are only fields. The three houses on the north are full of corn and other necessaries; the two houses on the south are for the femmes to live in and keep school. The most southern house is the dwelling of the burgh-femme.
3. In the tower hangs the lamp. The walls of the tower are decorated with precious stones. On the south wall the Tex is inscribed. On the right side of this are the formulas, and on the other side the laws; the other things are found upon the three other sides.
4. Against the dyke, near the house of the burgh-femme, stand the oven and the mill, worked by four oxen. Outside the burgh wall is the place where the burghers and the warriors live. The fortification outside is an hour long - not a navigator’s hour, but an hour of the sun, of which twenty-four go to a day. Inside it is a plain five feet below the top. On it are three hundred crossbows covered with wood and leather.
5. Besides the houses of the inhabitants, there are along the inside of the dyke thirty-six refuge-houses for the people who live in the neighbourhood. The field serves for a camp and for a meadow. On the south side of the outer fortification is the Liudgarda, enclosed by the great Linda Wald. Its shape is three-cornered, with the widest part outside, so that the sun may shine in it, for there are a great number of foreign trees and flowers brought by the navigators.
6. All the other burghs are the same shape as ours, only not so large; but the largest of all is that of Texland. The tower of the Fryasburch is so high that it rends the sky, and all the rest is in proportion to the tower.
7. In our burgh this is the arrangement:
8. Seven young femmes attend to the lamp, giving thricefold thanks to Wr-Alda’s spirit; each watch is three hours, in which they must bend their knees six hundred times. In the rest of their time they do housework, learn, and sleep. When they have watched for seven years they are discharged; then they may go among the people as elder-femmes, to look after their morals and to give advice. The elder-femmes must give thricefold thanks to Wr-Alda’s spirit for six hours each day. When the femmes have served three years, they may sometimes accompany the elder-femmes.
9. The scribe must teach the femmes to read, to write, and to reckon. The elders, or burghers, must teach them justice and duty, morals, botany, and medicine, history, traditions, and singing, besides all that may be necessary for them to give advice. The burgh-femme must teach them how to set to work when they go among the people.
10. Before a burgh-femme can take office, she must travel through the land a whole year. Three grey-headed burghers and three elder-femmes must go with her.
11. This was the way that I did. My journey was along the Rene - on this side up, and on the other side down. The higher I went, the poorer the people seemed to be. Everywhere about the Rene the people dug holes, and the sand that was got out was poured with water over fleeces to get the gold, but the girls did not wear golden crowns of it. Formerly they were more numerous, but since we lost Skenland they have gone up to the mountains. There they dig ore and make silver.
12. Above the Rene among the mountains I have seen Marsatar. The Marsatar are people who live on the lakes. Their houses are built upon piles, for protection from the wild beasts and wicked people. There are wolves, bears, and horrible lions. Then come the Swetsar, the nearest to the frontiers of the Heinde Krekalandar, the followers of Kalta and the savage Twisklandar, all greedy for robbery and booty.
13. The Marsatar gain their livelihood by fishing and hunting. The skins are sewn together by the women, and prepared with birch bark. The small skins are as soft as a woman’s skin. The burgh-femme at Fryasburch told us that they were good, simple people; but if I had not heard her speak of them first, I should have thought that they were not Frya’s people, they looked so impudent.
14. Their wool and herbs are bought by the Rene people, and taken to foreign countries by the ship captains. Along the other side of the Rene it was just the same as at Lydasburch. There was a great river or lake, and upon this lake also there were people living upon piles. But they were not Frya’s people; they were black and brown men who had been employed as rowers to bring home the men who had been making foreign voyages, and they had to stay there till the fleet went back.
15. At last we came to Alderga. At the head of the south harbour lies the Waraburch, built of stone, in which all kinds of clothes, weapons, shells, and horns are kept, which were brought by the navigators from distant lands. A quarter of an hour’s distance from there is Alderga, a great river surrounded by houses, sheds, and gardens, all richly decorated. In the river lay a great fleet ready, with banners of all sorts of colours.
16. On Frya’s Day the shields were hung on board likewise. Some shone like the sun. The shields of the sea king and the admiral were bordered with gold. From the river a canal was dug going past the burgh Forana, with a narrow outlet to the sea. This was the egress of the fleet; the Fly was the ingress. On both sides of the river are fine houses built, painted in bright colours. The gardens are all surrounded by green hedges.
17. I saw there women wearing felt tunics, as if it were writing felt. Just as at Staveren, the girls wore golden crowns on their heads, and rings on their arms and ankles.
18. To the south of Forana lies Alkmarum. Alkmarum is a lake or river in which there is an island. On this island the black and brown people must remain, the same as at Lydasburch.
19. The burgh-femme of Forana told me that the burghers go every day to teach them what real freedom is, and how it behoves men to live in order to obtain the blessing of Wr-Alda’s spirit. If there was any one who was willing to listen and could comprehend, he was kept there till he was fully taught. That was done in order to instruct the distant people, and to make friends everywhere.
20. I had been before in the Saxanamark, at the burgh Mannagardaforda. There I saw more poverty than I could discover wealth here.
21. She told me that whenever at the Saxanamark a young man courts a young girl, the girl asks:
22. "Can you keep your house free from the banished Trisklanders? Have you ever killed any of them? How many cattle have you already caught, and how many bear and wolf skins have you brought to market?"
23. And from this it comes that the Saxmannar have left the cultivation of the soil to the women, that not one in a hundred can read or write; from this it comes, too, that no one has a motto on his shield, but only a misshapen form of some animal that he has killed; and lastly, from this comes also that they are very war-like, but sometimes as stupid as the beasts that they catch, and as poor as the Twisklandar with whom they go to war.
24. Irtha and the sea were made for Frya’s people. All our rivers run into the sea. The Lyda’s people and the Finda’s people will exterminate each other, and we must people the empty countries. In movement and sailing is our prosperity.
25. If you wish the highlanders to share our riches and wisdom, I will give you a piece of advice.
26. Let the girls, when they are asked to marry, before they agree, ask their lovers:
27. "What parts of the World have you travelled in? What can you tell your children about distant lands and distant people?"
28. If they do this, then the young warriors will come to us; they will become wiser and richer, and we shall have no occasion to deal with those nasty people.
29. The youngest of the femmes who were with me came from the Saxanamark. When we came back she asked leave to go home. Afterwards she became burgh-femme there, and that is the reason why in these days so many of our navigators are Saxmannar.
30. The end of Apollonia’s book.