Little is known about the spirituality of the ancient Eastern European civilizations.
The people that lived in the areal comprised between the Danube river and The Carpathian Mountains (modern day’s territory of Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia), have left behind some of the oldest carbon dated artifacts in the world.
One of which are the three Tărtăria tablets, considered by archaeologists to be the oldest writing in the world, older than Sumerian.
Tărtăria Tablets, Oldest Writing in The World, 5300 BC
Alongside distinctive pottery, female statues and ancient city sites, the Danube Valley civilizations also left behind their spiritual laws, in a set of 45 commandments.
These laws offer us a glimpse into the spirituality of those people and what they believed in.
The Belagines are translated by historians into “belanus” (the good, the beautiful) and “ginus” (beginnings, origin of people, “ginta”).
In Romanian “Blajin/e” Means Gentle
Thus these laws could also be called “The Gentle Laws”.
Ancient historian, Jordanes mentions in his book Getica, the fact that these laws were given to the Getae tribes by Dicineus, the Dacian-Getic legislator, that he himself learnt them from the Dacian priest/God, Zalmoxis.
The laws represented the spiritual, religious and moral code by which the forefathers of the Getae-Dacian and Thracian tribes lived by for thousands of years, in the ancient land of Dacia.
Here is my translation of the laws from Romanian language into English.
Getae God’s Zalmoxis 45 Secret Laws
2. As the thunder brings forth the light, and out of the light the grumble and the fire overflows, so is the thought of man; it first becomes his word and then his doing. Remember that for the fire to burn, there must be a light and a thunder. The light of man is his thought and also his most precious wealth. Light gains strength through the word, and the will of man lights the fire through which all that is around him takes form.
3. Be the lofty mountain and raise your light above all that surrounds you. Remember that the steps you take to climb up to the mountaintop, are the same steps you take to come back down, the same air is above as below, the same tree grows on the mountaintop as in the valley, the sun shines upon the towering mountain top as on the plain ground in the same way.
4. Be temperate like the earth and you will never lack anything. The branch full of fruit is faster torn by wind, the seed that is too deep cannot push through and too much water kills its breath.
5. Take note from the towering tree, the taller it is, the deeper its roots are in the ground, for out of the ground it draws its strength, do not forget this. The more you ascend, the more you have to come back down, for they have the same measure.
6. The power of man begins with the unspoken word; it is like the seed that sprouts, that you almost cannot see when it begins to come to life. The light of the seed is what pushes the seed up, the ground is what feeds it, the water gives it vigor, and patience clothes the seed in strength.
7. Look at the river and pay attention to its teaching. At the beginning it is just a trickle of water, but it grows larger and larger, because it springs from what is larger; and so things need be fulfilled, through their nature. The same with the good and righteous thought, it grows through rocks and cliffs, and doesn’t take anything into account, it follows its course and nothing stands in its way. Water with water come together, and together the strength is even greater.
8. Remember this teaching and do not forget it, the trickle of water knows where it will end up because it is one with the earth and all that comes before it cannot stop it until the end of its journey. Pay attention to your thought, to where it should reach and you will see that nothing stands in its way. May your thought be clear until the end; a lot will come before it, because the nature of the things around is flowing like water. Water with water come together, earth with earth, and mountain with mountain.
9. Acknowledge the bad thought, beware of it as of lighting, allow it to go as it came, because it makes you take inhuman actions. Acknowledge the vain and the untrue words; they are as the dust covering your eyes, as the spider’s web for your mind and soul. They urge trumpet, deception, thievery and shedding of blood, and their fruits are shame, helplessness, poverty, sickness, bitterness and death.
11. The hot iron used to be cold and cold it would be again; the pot used to be soil and thus shall be again; the earth that used to be barren is now fruitful and barren will be again with the passage of time. The greed of man makes all these things change. But greed turns man’s joy into sadness and peacefulness into restlessness. Iron and fire help man, but also harm him. And the same greed urges him to walk on unknown paths that no one ever stepped foot on before him. It is also this greed that makes man gather fortunes, gain power and measure his strengths with other people. Beware of this doing, cause this is how vainglory is born; it will lower you beneath the beasts and it will break you apart from your brother and your seed.
12. The unwise is led by eagerness, while the wise overcomes his zeal. The unwise suffers when his own zeal leads him to loss and fall, but the wise will always find riches in his loss and upliftment in his fall.
13. Pride cools the love in the heart and turns it into animosity, and there is no other beast more destitute than the man who no longer bears love in his heart. For love is the first power and its face is the light. Your thoughts shall not be surrounded by conceit, for you will put yourself below the beasts.
14. The good thought and the wise word can soothe your trouble, can cool your heart, but will not cure you, for man suffers with the measure that vanity has grown inside him, for suffering is the shadow of pride.
15. Don’t tie your soul to anything worldly, to things, to beasts, to silver or gold, cause as they come, they go. After each day the night falls, and after winter there will be spring, for this is the the way it is meant to be, that is the nature of things. All that can be seen is born, grows and then returns to where it started. Only the nature of things is eternal, and it has very many endless branches, just as the springs of your mind and soul, they don’t show themselves. For a blow and a fire make everything grow: grass, trees, beasts and men – and from the same hearth they come and to that hearth they will return, and this hearth is eternal.
16. As the tall tree grows near the sapling without doing it harm, so shall you be with each other. The big shall not hit the small and bitter his soul, cause he will have a great debt to pay, as the one who steals. Throw a piece of wood in the river and more will flow towards you from downstream. Give thanks to your neighbor, bring light to his face and in his soul, and you will find all of this later blooming in your heart.
17. Don’t take with force or with deceitful words that which does not belong to you, for who looks through your eyes is the same with the one that looks through their eyes. Pay attention to this secret.
18. Do not rush anything into being, for pulling on a branch hits back. The ripe fruit is easy to pick, the unripe is hard to harvest and its taste is bad. Thus, don’t rush into gathering before time, for it will bitter your soul. As the frame grows, so does the slat and as the wheel grows, so grows temptation.
19. Always remain in the coolness of your soul, but if anger ignites in you, make sure it doesn’t not go beyond your word. Anger comes from fear and it hasn’t dwelled in your heart from the beginning; If it does not grow through pride, it returns to where it came from. Pride shuts down the gate to wisdom, and the haughty lines himself with the beasts. Wisdom is much more precious than all that eyes can see, it is the gold of your mind and soul, and the fruit of knowledge nurtured by time.
20. Don’t bitter your soul when you feel pain and helplessness, but rather seek to use them to straighten up, for in the fruit is where the seed dwells. It is impossible for a good seed to bear bad fruit. Greed always leads to loss, stealing always leads to sickness, desolate thoughts always lead to wandering, anger always hits back, evil and untruth always bring helplessness, pride always brings about suffering.
21. Go to the spring when your soul is heat up, stir the clear water with a stick and wait for it to clear up again. As water clears up, so will the heat within your soul.
22. Learn from the seed. For the seed is like your thought, and as the seed cannot be without a shell, so is the fruitful thought of man. The shell of the fruitful thought is the will, and without will, the thought dries out and becomes useless. But the power lies within the patience of the seed, and will and patience empower the frail offshoot to break through the hard soil.
24. Pay attention to the cause of the poor man, but also to the case of the overnight enriched, for neither one is natural. The poor man has many vain thoughts and changes them with each day that comes by, talks a lot and his arms and legs are wrapped up in laziness. The rich man who earned his fortune too early is either a thief or a cheat, or he sought for another’s misfortune and looked to deceit him, that’s where his early fortune comes from.
25. Be kind and patient with those around you, for as you treat them, others will treat you, for their sense is just as your sense, you all come from the same blow, and the light in your eyes is the same with the light in their eyes.
26. Where the strength of a man lies, that’s where his weakness lies too, that which lifts him up brings him down; stay within the clearness of your mind and sense and you will see all of this. The small is above the big, the light is above the heavy, the gentle is above the ferocious. May your mind and sense be clear to take note of all these things.
27. The strength of the mountain comes from its patience, from its peacefulness; the rock is only its cover. But its strength is probed by the wind, by the calm running water. Gather your power from patience and silence and use it through the clearness of your thought, for it’s not the troubleness of the spring that carves the rock, but it’s purity.
28. The work done in fear does not have a long life and its strength is that of a short lived water flow. So it is with man’s unrest, it comes from outside, but it is drown inside through his fear, yet fear comes from unknowing, and unknowing gathers strength through falsehood, laziness and haughtiness.
29. Sip the knowledge from those with white bears, unpainted by red wine and allow for time to cloth this knowledge in wisdom. Don’t look at their weakened, round-shouldered bodies, for this is the price they paid for the knowing of things and the gathering of wisdom.
30. Thank the Earth for all that it offers you, thank the sky for the rain that nurtures the ground, thank the sun for the warmth and light of your home and your soil, thank the moon for the serenity of your sleep, thank the stars for watching over your sleep, thank the mountain for the learning and the gold you take from it, thank the forest for all that you take from it, thank the spring for the water that you drink, thank the tree for the mysteries that it reveals to you, thank the good man who brings happiness and smiles to your face.
31. As the good grass grows together with the bad, so is humankind, but remember that their evil will is sowed and raised out of fear and helplessness, and haughtiness is their cover. Don’t scold their wrong doing and don’t attempt to straighten it with words and reprehension, for pushing on a wound won’t heal it. Could the grass be bad only for bittering your belly? The same is with man, if you wish to correct him, first turn his mind and feeling towards what is pleasant for both the good and the bad men alike. One sees the wheel going while the other sees the wheel coming. Who sees better?
32. Only the wise can see the clearness and calmness in the mind and the soul of the troubled, for he himself once was as the troubled man and the bitter fruits made him realize the making of his being. He ran from his bitter fruits on top of the mountain and he couldn’t escape them there, he ran in the middle of the forest and saw that his fruits were with him, then he looked inside himself and his bitter fruits had roots in his mind and in the lust of his senses.
33. Is a flower more beautiful than another? Is a spring more clear than the other? Is a grass thread above the other? Each has the its own strength, beauty and wit. It’s the nature of things for the forest to dwell different trees, grass threads, flowers and beasts. There’s not one finger as the other at the same hand, but they are all needed to strike the iron. Is the apple tree more wise than the plum or the pear tree is? Is the left hand better than the right one? Does the left eye see differently than the right eye? The ones above have their purpose, as well as the ones below have, the small things and the grand things have their purpose, the fast and the slow, as well as those who were and those who will come have each their own importance.
34. Helplessness follows evil and untruth, for what you give you receive, what you reap you sow, but remember that the light of your soul and of the man next to you have the same hearth and that is without shadow. See to what doesn’t cease to trouble the spring of the mind and the soul of the one next to you. Bring him peace of mind and clearness in his thoughts and your old days will be as the ripe tree, your bones and strength will not weaken and you will return to where you came from, overflowing with the warmth of the ones that will come to be after you.
36. The strong, the weak and the unseen are the ones that make up the world and you find them in the man, as they all make the whole. There is nothing outside that is not also inside. Remember this when you look inside yourself and you see all the wisdom of the gods laying there hidden in the unseen of your being. The gods took notice of this wisdom before men, and this brought them closer to the Eternal Living Fire.
37. Remember that the beat of the heart, the blood running through the veins, the healing of the wounds, the beauty in the eyes and the miraculous making of the body are all made through the power and blow of the Eternal Living Fire, that lays in each, and whose face shows itself in the light. But do not forget that the body is just a crumb of the little that is seen…
38. The cleanliness and the delight of the senses positions you just a little above the beasts, for it is not the pleasant sound that uplifts you, neither an endearing touch, nor a pleasant taste, a pleasant fragrance or the joy in the eyes. For where there is warmth, there is also cold, where there is sweet, there is bitter too, where the pleasant lays, the unpleasant follows, with the lovely scent, the stench resides and where there is laughter, cry lurks around the corner.
39. Behold the starting path: temperance in all that you do, listening to the elders and the wise, diligence, gratefulness for what you have, staying away from untruth and empty words, as well as quarrel and anger, having a good behavior towards your fellow men. Wake up in the morning with this, keep them in your mind throughout the day and have them with you in your sleep at night, for this way sorrow, lack, bitterness, helplessness, sickness and the wickedness of others will not touch you.
40. Beyond these virtues dwells love, willpower, courage, patience, modesty and they truly uplift the man. They get you closer to the Eternal Living Fire and through them your path follows the path of the gods, while burying them will throw you beneath the beasts. Only through them will you receive the true knowledge and wisdom, the true power, the true happiness, wealth, the fruit bearing and the long lasting work.
41. Yet, where there is love, hate can show itself, where there’s a will, half-heartedness may appear, where there is courage, fear can come up, where there is patience, haste can appear and where there is modesty, pride can show. For changing are those that are seen and unseen in the being of man. But all these belong to that who feels, and above him is that who thinks, the one that sees motion in stillness, the one that beyond all these virtues, is basking in the knowledge and peacefulness that surpass any joy known to man, and attention, equilibrium and clarity are his tools.
42. The one distressed sees the good as good, and the bad as bad, he is drawn to one and runs from the other, but the wise sees both the beautiful and the ugly, feels both the cold and the warmth, the delicacy and the asperity, he hears the pleasant and the unpleasant too, tastes both the sweet and the bitter, feels the scent and the stench altogether and judges them not. He sees clearly that the nature of things dwells in them all, for the beautiful comes from the ugly and the ugly out of the beautiful, the sweet was bitter in the beginning and will be bitter again, the pleasant is born out of the unpleasant and the unpleasant from the pleasant. And all of this enlightens the soul of the wise, for the good and pleasant nurture and delight the body and its senses — and those which are unpleasant for the unwise, feed his mind and his wisdom, for he sees the renewal of things and the seeds of forthcoming delights.
43. ‘Tis not easy the path of the gods, but forget not that man can take up in his love more than he can contain in his hatred, warmth raises up more than cold can possibly descend, the one who is above sees more than the one beneath, the easy stretches beyond the uneasy, light reaches more than darkness can reach, the power that unites is greater than the power which divides.
44. The long and the short share the same middle. The small circle and the big, the small globe and the big globe lean on the same point. The seen and the unseen occupy the same space. All which is great hides in the small and this is the great mystery of nature. Great between the wise, is the one who understands this.
The Getae-Dacian Spiritual Beliefs
There are only a few ancient texts mentioning the religion of the Getae-Dacians, but what we surely know is that they were a monotheist culture, they only praised one God, the divine priest Zalmoxis.
We also know from Herodotus (c. 484 BC – c. 425 BC ) that they were the bravest of the Thracian warriors because they believed they were immortals:
“…the Getae are the bravest of the Thracians and the most just. They believe they are immortal. They think they do not die and that the one who dies joins Zalmoxis, a divine being; some call this same divine being Gebeleizis”
Herodotus (Histories 4)
Early Christian writer Lactantius (c. 240–320 AD) provides an approximate translation of Roman Emperor’s Julian words, who quoted Emperor Trajan:
“We have conquered even these Getai (Dacians), the most warlike of all people that have ever existed, not only because of the strength in their bodies, but, also due to the teachings of Zalmoxis who is among their most hailed. He has told them that in their hearts they do not die, but change their location and, due to this, they go to their deaths happier than on any other journey”.
These spiritual laws they received from Zalmoxis, The Belagines, were put in verses and they were oftentimes sung.
Perhaps this is how these ancient laws resisted in time, and today we can enjoy the ancient wit of the Eastern European civilizations, The Getae-Dacians.