17 March 2019

The 'Daughters of Frya' hoax

Update 14 Nov. '20
For his idiotic website, Steele now uses
photo's taken at the outdoor theater play
about Oera Linda, summer '19 in Friesland.

— — — — — — — — — — — —

scene from 1936 Olympic fire ceremony, used to promote the hoax
scene from movie The Wicker Man (1973), used to promote the hoax
Years ago, I decided to never give this topic any attention, hoping that some day it would just disappear from the web. However, since it is still used to discredit the Oera Linda-book, I will now present some of the relevant facts.

Exhibit 1. Tresoar director Bert Looper speaks on Frisian television (Omrop Fryslân), Oct. 31, 2018 (video link)
There is even – as Goffe Jensma described in his book –
a sect in Australia, the 'Daughters of Frya':
young women who live by the rules of the Oera Linda-book.
They wear white skirts all year, winter or summer
and all day they have to perform rituals, inspired by the book.
So that is still living. How weird is that.

In his 2004 dissertation De Gemaskerde God, Goffe Jensma referred to a website about a fantasy cult, the "Daughters of Frya". Most ironically, in his efforts to paint the Oera Linda-book as an 'obvious hoax', and people who take it seriously as naive, silly or potentially dangerous, Jensma was fooled himself:

Exhibit 2. De Gemaskerde God (2004), p. 158 (chapter 11: 'some say, it is a bible')
The 'Daughters of Frya' are a group of women living according to the laws of the Oera Linda-book...

Two years later, his Dutch translation was published, with an introduction that is a summary of the dissertation. His fascination for the women in white must have grown, as this summary contained even more information about, and images of them:

Exhibit 3. Het Oera Linda-boek, Facsimile - Transcriptie - Vertaling (2006), pp. 14 and 39 (introduction).
In Australia a successful sect exists...
[they] wear mini-skirts...

Another eight years later, in 2014, Jensma wrote a speech for a befriended professor who retired from the theological faculty. The parting professor, Yme Kuiper, had helped Jensma in the process of getting his doctors thesis about Oera Linda promoted within the theological faculty and therefore, Jensma now chose Oera Linda as the topic of this farewell speech, in particular the 'Daughters of Frya':

Exhibit 4. Het raadsel van de tohnekka (2014)

... that much of the 'brown'[i.e. Nazi] pre-war ideology was happily
redressed into a fresh New Age tunic, marching on after the war.
Translation (JO):
The tohnekka mystery

There are not many people who have had a decisive influence on both my work and my carreer. Yme is one of them. As for my work, I was most inspired by his historical-anthropological perspective and his fascination for elites and their formation. In 1993 he also arranged a place at the Theological Faculty for my PhD research project of the Oera Linda-book. Therefore, this will be the topic of my farewell speech.

The most important lesson I learned from my Oera Linda-book project may be, that even as a scholar in a dossier like this, one becomes part of what I termed the 'illusion of authenticity'. Most debates about the Oera Linda-book concern questions like 'true or false?', 'parody or serious?' and 'joke or crime?' Whatever position is taken in the debate, one becomes part of a strange knot of contradictions and possible reversals, in which all reasoning can unnoticed be turned around. This confusion is an inseparable part of the Oera Linda-dossier itself (perhaps because confusion is an inseparable part of our reality).

A fantastic example of this mechanism are the Daughters of Frya. My research had led me to this sect of young girls in white skirts. Rather than indulging in sex and alcohol, they had dedicated themselves to worship of Frya, the 'folk-mother' of all Frisians, according to the Oera Linda-book. Of course it is bewildering that an obvious mystification can lead to the foundation of such a New Age-like sect, but I mostly laughed. I thought it was very funny how these girls had chosen those white skirts as a uniform dress, because of the quasi-Old Frisian word tohnekka. That word was used for the 'tunics' that would have been worn by those old Frisian folk-mothers and burg-maidens. The word 'tunic' would – by means of a funny and fine folk-etymologly – have been derived from tohnekka: dress to the neck.

Based on what I later found on the internet, I concluded that the sect was based near Sydney. I got further confirmation on an Australian christian site, where a father complained how this sect had alienated his daughter from him. Of course I tried to contact the cult leaders, but as a man they would not have a chance. According to principles of Oera Linda-book, my male breath would immediately have contaminated the sacred fire of this little matriarchal society.

Reports appeared on the web some years later, that the sect itself would also be a parody, just like the Oera Linda-book. The name Tony Steele was mentioned, author of two books about witches. The girls on the photo would actually have been members of a tennis team. This suddenly no longer seemed implausible. In the meantime, all this was erased from the web again.

However, 'true' and 'false' once more alternated, when some years later I managed to get in touch with a certain Minerva. She was a burg-maiden, a daughter of Frya, from Indiana USA. The few e-mails we exchanged and a note on the web (which was later erased) suddenly offered a very different perspective. Minerva explained why the Daughters of Frya had only made themselves known in 2002, shortly after their founder, a certain Jutta Rüdiger (see photo) had died in old age. Originally the Daughters of Frya had been based in Düsseldorf. The group was a continuation of Glaube und Schönheit [faith and beauty], a section of the Hitler-youth for girls aged 17 to 24. In 2008 they had divisions in Germany, America and Australia.

I bought literature about the subject. In one book about Glaube und Schönheit I found this photo [of girls wearing white skirts], which demonstrates the real origin of the tohnekka, I believe. We don't know what the authors of the Oera Linda-book imagined themselves, but the 'tohnekka's' of the Daughters of Frya are white Hitler-youth skirts. That is to say: if all this is really true, because in the reality of the Oera Linda-book, one can never be certain.

This leads to the – preliminary – conclusion, that the tohnekka is a great example of a phenomenon which is often too easily overlooked, namely that much of the 'brown' [i.e. Nazi] pre-war ideology was happily redressed into a fresh New Age tunic, marching on after the war.

Precisely because of these bizarre twists and weird beliefs I have never regretted doing my PhD about the Oera Linda-book. [...]

Dr. Jensma: "... the 'tohnekka's' of the Daughters of Frya are white Hitler-youth skirts."

the deceiver: Tony Steele, alias Adela, Minerva, etc.
the deceived: Goffe Jensma

fragment of current version of Steele's cyber-fantasy

Exhibit 5. Just a few of many similar comments on various forums.
2005: "Steele admitted it was all a hoax a few months ago"
2008: "Tony Steele and his chickies in tennis garb. Makes you wonder if it isn't an obsession of some sort."
"the thing that bothers me the most about this whole nonsense are those poor girls whose pictures he keeps resurrecting"

Why is Jensma – otherwise very suspicious of people who testified in favor of OLB's authenticity (they are confused or liars) – so gullible when it comes to the Daughters of Frya and the alleged reason for Ottema's suicide (which is nothing but shameless speculation).

The answer can easily be guessed. Associating the Oera Linda-book with negative things like suicide and cultism will help keep it out of the realm of popular culture. Cultural institutions like archives, libraries, public media, musea and universities always lack money. In the Netherlands (Friesland included) people who are dependent from tax money funding know (or feel) very well what the grant providers will and will not favor.

added March 18: Newspaper article Leeuwarder Courant (Dutch/ Frisian) 28-12-2018, p. 32 "Hoe Oera Linda een internetfabel schiep" by Richard de Boer


  1. To me, Tony Steele and Goffe Jensma look like they’re totally related.

  2. Anonymous21/2/24 15:18

    I do think it's reasonable to think Ottema committed suicide as a result of him being obsessed with the book being true and vehemently defending it, then it being made more clear that it was a fraud. It must've been very embarrassing as he made himself look daft unfortunately.

    1. It had not been made more clear that it was a fraud. His good arguments were ignored and people in (cultural) power did what they are good at. He never voiced any doubt. In his last publication he wrote: "Seven years of continuous study of the book and everything that was written about it has always confirmed this conviction", being: that the manuscript is "a collection of documents from different times and places, written by various authors, that, treasured in one family, form a kind of family archive." (Historical Notes to Oera Linda, 1878, p.62.) Any assumed motive for his alleged suicide is nothing more than wild speculation.