The Getae and the Dacians were ancient Thracian peoples who lived roughly in the territory of modern-day Romania and Moldova. The Dacians took their name from the word for wolf (“daos”), this is most likely related to their earlier totemic religion – believed to have descended from wolves. The knowledge we have on the Geto-Dacian religion is very controversial, mainly due to the fact that very few written records of it have been preserved and those that have can be interpreted in many ways. Some claim their religion was monotheistic or henotheistic, others claim it was a dualist religion similar to the Iranian one, while most say it was Indo-European polytheism. Presently, it is generally accepted that the Geto-Dacians worshipped more than one god, however only the names of two gods have been recorded: Gebeleizis and Zamolxis.
Gebeleizis was the god of the sky, of thunder and lightning (similar to Thor, Perun or Perkūnas). Herodot is the only known writer that mentions the name of this god: “they believe they don’t die and that he who meets his end goes to Zamolxis, which some of them consider being Gebeleizis” and that has caused much confusion, many claiming Zamolxis and Gebeleizis are one and the same. Herodot also writes that “these Thracians, when there’s thunder and lightning, shoot arrows towards the sky, threatening the god, because they think there is no other god than theirs”. This was obviously the premise for the monotheistic and dualist religion theories – the Geto-Dacians are trying to help their god fight off the other god or evil spirit.
Zamolxis is the main god of the Geto-Dacians. He was a chthonic god (similar to Zemeluks), the god of earth, fertility and the underworld. His name comes from the Thraco-Phrygian word “zemel” which means earth. Zamolxis is actually a deified high-priest and religious reformer. Some claim he was Pythagoras’ slave and that he went to Egypt and that’s how he brought knowledge about the immortality of the soul to the Geto-Dacians, some even go as far as claiming he was the one who thought Pythagorean beliefs to the Gauls (druids). However it’s generally accepted that this is just a legend. The priest Zamolxis went to live for three years deep in a cave on the Kogaion mountain, during this time the people thought he had died and mourned him, so when he emerged they believed he had resurrected and considered him to be a god.
Other minor gods are: Vesta the goddess of hearth and fire; Ares the god of warfare, cruelty and destruction, formerly a Thracian general (eventually borrowed by the Greeks).
Every five years the Geto-Dacians would send a volunteering messenger to Zamolxis, and they would do this by throwing him in the air in such a way that he would fall on the spears held by the other men. Should the unfortunate messenger not die, it would be seen as a bad omen - the god refused to allow him in the afterlife and he will be damned to eternal death - and the others would scorn him for this. Eventually, the Dacians stopped practising this ritual after the religious reforms by Deceneu. The Dacians didn’t need to send messengers to the gods because the priests undertook this role.
The Geto-Dacian belief in the afterlife was very primitive, they didn’t have such concepts as soul or metempsychosis, they believed that after dying they would resurrect and live in a different world with their god, as a continuation of their present life.