Rune *uruz, and the name of the seer/Prophet Zarathustra


In the ancient Germanic Futhark alphabet *uruz is the rune of “virility, primal raw energies, life force, and the valiant spirit.” Rune *uruz symbolizes the “subconscious will power, and passion of the untamed nature.”

*Uruz literally means “auroch,” and stands for “primal, pristine energies.” *Uruz “Auroch,” Old Norse úrr, Gothic urs, Old English úr, Old High English ūroūrochso, Germanic ur, all go back to reconstructed Indo European*usrus or *usr.

The second part of the name Zarathûštrá, the seer/prophet of the ancient Aryans, is ûštrá, a cognate of *uruz as well as ūro/ūrochso. Ûštrá stems from Proto Indo Iranian *ušra and means anything from the “wild bovine aurochs to buffalo and/or Bactrian camel,” a native of Eurasian steppes.

Since Bactrian camel is a native of cold Eurasian steppes east of the Ural Mountains, it is highly unlikely that the word describing it would have been a foreign loan word.

Another theory suggests that Avestan ûštrá in Zarathustra’s name is related to Old High English ustrī “industry” and ustinōn “to function, be industrious, useful.”

The first part of the name of the seer/prophet of the ancient Aryans zarath, is a cognate of Greek gérontas, géros, Vedic járant, Ossetian zœrond, Old Norse karl, Middle Persian zál “elder, senior, of an advanced age, pale, albino.”

Zaraθûštra’s religion is rooted in the will to enhance, increase and strengthen the “primeval, vibrant life force.” Zoroastrianism is the religion of healthy mind/spirit and NOT the faith of a sick, gloomy soul. This ancient faith strives for wholeness and wellness in each and every part of being. In Zoroastrianism, the healthy, virile body is an expression of a vigorous soul.

For this reason, every idea of killing the senses, of asceticism, lies impossibly remote from Zoroastrianism, and appears as an attempt to belie the pristine, vibrant, godly nature.

The Mazdyasni vision is a colorful, lively vision that conceives the whole being, the whole world, the whole universe and human life in it, as part of a beautiful, artistic order.

The furtherance of all growth comes from the Immortals of the Mindful Lord, Mazdá, the prospering of cattle and of the fruits of the fields; the Immortals present mortal men with “success, health, children and everything good and beautiful.”

In Zoroastrian religiosity “Sacred” Spǝñtá does NOT mean “off limits, taboo or restricted” but instead refers to what is “endowed with vibrant life force.”

Avestan Spǝñtá “the sacred, the auspicious,” is a cognate of Old Slavonic svętŭ, Lithuanian šventas, Russian svjatój, Old Prussian swints.

Spǝñtá “endowed with vibrant life force, auspicious” is the epithet of the Immortals or Ahûrás of Mazda in Zoroastrianism who are preparing a new, splendid creation, and an eternal spring.

In his poetic gathas, the seer/prophet sings: “arise within me ahura” ûs-möi ûz.árešvá ahûrá, referring to the rise of the Titan within.

In his ancient faith, the Titan and Godlike is a force that bursts with “health, virility and vigorous energy.” The God-force by its very nature possesses every formula of “health, and well-being” and bestows primal, vibrant energies on mortals in the form of great health and by omens of good fortune.”

Zoroastrianism is a faith that probably more than any religion celebrates subconscious will power, virility, primal raw energies of the life force, and the heroic, valiant spirit to rewrite destiny.

Concerning the ancient seer/prophet Zarathustra, We read in the Avestan hymn to the first ancestors:

For whom the Auspicious/Brilliant Immortals longed, in one accord with the sun, in the full devotion of the heart; as the godly lord and wise master of the riddles of world, as the lauder of the most majestic, most beautiful, and most fair Excellence/Truth, as having the wisdom of the vision, of the most excellent of all existences;

In whose birth and growth the waters and the plants rejoiced; in whose birth and growth the waters and the plants grew; in whose birth and growth all the creatures of the good creations cried out, Hail!

Hail to us! For he is born, the keeper of the flame, Spitámá Zarathuśtrá. Zarathustra will offer us hallowed veneration with libations and bundles of sacred twigs; and there will the luminous vision of the Mindful lord, Mazdá through all the seven climes and kingdoms.

ardeshir

 

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Spring Equinox in the Avesta, Fresh, New Dawn/light of Nowrouz, and the celebration of Dawn in Zoroastrianism


The exact moment of spring equinox is the beginning of the year in the Avestan sacred hymns. The Persian word Nauv rooz refers to the “new dawn/light” after spring equinox.

The Avestan term for “vernal equinox” hamaß.paθ.maiδ.iia refers to the time when the sun has reached the “middle point” maiδ.iia of its “path” paθ from the winter to the summer solstice. Equinox is the moment when the celestial points are at the “same” hamaß distance from each other. Almut Hintze translates hamaß.paθ.maiδ.iia as “the “middle path” that is the point between winter and summer solstices.

This “fresh, new dawn” of Nauv rooz, the “first day of spring” is a reminder of the unageing “Dawn/light” which will bring the future age of the Brilliant Immortals, and the coming of the everlasting spring, the faršö kereiti, when the worlds entire will be made “splendid, glorious and brilliant” for all eternity.

The concept of faršö kereiti “to (remake) create, freshly, brilliantly, and splendidly” is of great theological and eschatological importance in Zoroastrianism. The association with spring is evident in the meaning of the term frašö the “reinvigorating nectars of spring when nature is reborn, and swells with life-giving saps.” The life-giving saps and nectars of spring allude to the coming splendid age of Immortals and god-men in an eternal spring.

On the auspicious occasion of Nauv rooz the “Fresh, New Dawn” of spring is celebrated. For the appearance of the “New Light of Spring” heralds an end to the toils of winter and frost.

 Nauv means “new” Rooz “light” comes from Avestan raôča, Vedic rociṣ-/ruci, Old English lēoht, German licht, Latin. lūx, AstLeon. lluz; Spanish luz, all going back to reconstructed Proto Indo European *lóuks/léukos– “light.”

Many Indo-European peoples had festivities to celebrate the beginning of spring or summer, the time when the sun began to shine more warmly after the winter months. However, Nauv rooz is the plainest example of the “New Dawn” becoming attached to fresh, life-giving saps and nectars of spring, and powers of reinvigoration. Other close examples include the Anglo-Saxon Eostre and her Germanic counterpart Ôstara, who have given us Easter and the Ostertage.

The custom of getting up before dawn to greet the rising sun is widely attested in the Zoroastrian ritual associated with the new-year celebrations. The “brilliant dawn” prayer formula or uš bám is a must read for every devout Zoroastrian in early morning hours.

According to the Zoroastrian tradition, on the first day of spring, the first, spring dawn is celebrated, via raising a torch or making bonfires on the high mountains, or rooftops. Beacons of hope are lit.

The ten days before the spring equinox are sacred times to honor our ancestors, and deep roots back to the very beginning. Early Spring Bonfires are lit, and people begin a period of pondering, reflection pætat. Also, every part of the house is thoroughly cleaned, dusted and washed. This is to underline the importance of purity. We must become cleansed of all negative influences before welcoming the New Year, and become fresh and pure.

The Nauv rooz table consists of seven items starting with the letter s. These seven symbolic items beginning with the letter S are a symbolic offering to the foremost 7 Speñtá “sacred, auspicious” Immortals of Zoroastrianism or Amešá/Amertá Speñtá. In Zoroastrianism, Godhood is celebrated through various aspects of good, vibrant creation.

The mirror on the Nauv rooz table reminds us to evaluate ourselves objectively, and look at ourselves truthfully. Other items include rose water and incense, lit candles and bowl of fresh, rainwater. Hyacinth flower is the special flower on the table. Apples and sour oranges are the designated fruits of the Nauv rooz table, and symbolize good health.

Garlic cloves and vinegar are also used in Nauv rooz decorations. Garlic was esteemed by the Ancient Iranians for its healing powers and a means of warding off the evil eye and demonic powers. The Achaemenid Persians named one of their months thāi-garchi– “Month/time of garlic.”

The time of vernal equinox is a sacred time, to re-evaluate our-selves objectively. It a time to make sure our roots are deep, pure, well grounded and healthy, our vision is luminous and bright, our thoughts are big, our consciousness is free from negativities and limitations, and our energy is vibrant, and pure. It is a time to experience glimpses into how our “limited time” will be succeeded by the “Time of Long Ages or the Age of the Gods” daregö xva-δátahæ as it was first in the luminous thought of Ahûrá Mazd­­á.

ardeshir

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Rune *ehwaz, Sun’s Chariot, and Horse imagery in the poetic gathas of Zarathustra


From the dawn of history the Indo Europeans, especially the ancient Iranians have celebrated the horse in their art and in their literature. Avestan hymns abound with praises of the horse (Swift horses were among the most desired boons bestowed by aši, the ahûrá god-being of wealth, prosperity (Yašt 17.12.)

The myth of the Sun’s horse-drawn chariot is wide spread among Indo-European people. In the sacred lore of the Zoroastrians, the Avestá, the myth of the Sun’s horse-drawn chariot is retold in the hymn to Mithrá.

“Four speedy (white horses,) undying, reared on spiritual/mental food (mainyuuš xvarəθa), the fore hooves shod with gold, their hind hooves with silver” draw the chariot of Mithrá (Yašt 10.125.)

Mithrá embodies the “Invincible powers of light, including the Invincible Sun,” and “friendship with the Gods.”

Similarly, Odin and other Norse gods ride horses. Their horses are immortal, like Mithra’s steeds, having been reared on mental/spiritual food (mainyuuš xvarəθa) that never weary or die.

In the Avestan hymns, Vərəθraγna (the beloved ahûrá of victory) and Tištriya (Tri star, Sirius) both take form in the shape of a bright, white horse, among other astrological representations (Yast 149; 8.18.)

Also, four white horses draw the chariot of Sraôšá (Yasna 57.27.) Sraôšá is “divine Inspiration, the call of the Immortals to overcome limitations, and achieve everlasting glory, and good fame.”

Chariot imagery appears twice in the poetic gathas of Zarathustra, We read in Yasna 50.6:

He who gives superior wisdom to be the charioteer of my tongue// teach me his sacred formulas with good spirit/mind//I will yoke you the swiftest steeds, ones widely victorious in your laudation//Mindful Lord, in excellence/truth, powerful with good spirit/mind//ride ye with them, and bring Me divine favor, luck.

At Yasna 30.10, the seer/prophet declares: that “when luminous vision triumphs, the swiftest (steeds) will be yoked from the fair, brilliant dwelling of good spirit/mind of the Mindful lord, and of excellence/truth, and they will win good fame.”

Among the Greek poets, the horse-drawn chariot is identified as that of the Muse or Muses which shows a strong parallel to the last gathic verses as well as the account of the horse drawn chariot of sraôšá “divine Inspiration” in the Avesta.

Both Vedic and Celtic poets were rewarded with gifts of horses and cattle, whereupon the patron of the poet received further praise for his liberality. Likewise, in Yasna 44.18, seer/prophet Zarathustra talks about his reward of ten mares with stallion and an aurochs/camel.

The honored position of the horse in the Avestan lore is underlined by the fact that many notable Avestan heroes—including prophet Zarathustra’s forebears—and patron Vištaspá bore names compounded with aspá-“horse.”

Avestan aspá “horse” is a cognate of Vedic ášva, Old Prussian aswinan, Lithuanian ašvîenis, Greek híppos, Luwian azuwa, Lycian esbe, Modern Persian asb, Old Latin equos, Hittite *ēkkus, all going back to reconstructed Proto Indo European *ék̑wos.

In the ancient Germanic Futhark alphabet, rune *ehwaz “horse” comes from the same ancient Aryan root.

The word for “horse” in ancient Indo European speech is connected with the word for “swift” e.g. Avestan ásü aspá “swift horses” or Vedic term áśvāh āšávah. Thus the word for “horse” designated or meant originally “the swift one.”

The Vedic ašvín “divine horses” were notable for their constant travelling between the realm of Immortals and mortals (RV 7. 67. 8.)

In the imagery of horses and Sun’s chariot, we find the idea that the sacred song/hymn makes swift movement between the boundless, brilliant realm of Immortals and limited world of men possible.

In the Avesta, the patron deity of horses is called Drváspá “possessing strong, healthy horses.” Strict rules are prescribed by the Avesta concerning the breeding, grooming, training, and feeding of horses, and guarding them from diseases and harm, (see, e.g. *Duzd-sar-nizad Nask as summarized in Dēnkard 8.24. and Nikátüm in Nask, 8.19, 40).

I like to conclude with An Old English rune poem:
Eh byþ for eorlum æþelinga wyn,
hors hofum wlanc, ðær him hæleþ ymb[e]
welege on wicgum wrixlaþ spræce
and biþ unstyllum æfre frofur.
The horse is a joy to princes in the presence of warriors, / a steed in the pride of its hoofs, / when rich men on horseback bandy words about it; / and it is ever a source of comfort to the restless.

ardeshir

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Rune Wunjo, and the Vision of Loveliness in the Gathas/Songs of Zarathustra


In the ancient Germanic Futhark alphabet, *wunjô is the rune of “joy, intense desire, passion.” *Wunjô is the inner desire for realization of the soul’s true love/passion.

This rune wards off sorrow, and is the formula for aligning our thoughts, words and deeds with the vision of loveliness.

*Wunjô teaches to act upon our passion, and by doing so to complete our purpose in this lifetime.

We read in an Old English rune poem:

 Wenne bruceþ, ðe can weana lyt
sares and sorge and him sylfa hæfþ
blæd and blysse and eac byrga geniht
.

Lust, longing, he enjoys who knows not/suffering, sorrow nor anxiety and has /prosperity and happiness and a good enough shelter.

*Wunjō is a cognate of Gothic winja, Old English wynn. In the Old Avestan Songs, the Gathas of the seer/prophet Zarathustra, it appears as váunû. Old Norse vinr, Vedic vánas, Latin venus are other cognates.

The reconstructed Proto Indo European root is *venh, *wénhos “loveliness, intense desire, passion.”

In the sacred songs or gathas of the ancient Aryan seer/prophet, váunû is about the vision of loveliness, passionate desire to overcome limitations, long, and reach for the sublime.

We read in the sacred gathis poetry:

ahûrem ýásá váunûš//naröi frša.öštrái maibiiá.čá

I yearn passionately for god-powers, for becoming like ahuras// (on behalf) of the valiant Frashoshtar and Myself.

 tã ýazái xváiš náménîš pairi.čá jasái vañtá

I hallow the Immortals under their own names, and go to them with longing, love.

In Zoroastrianism, Immortals are fairest, and wisest of all beings, and Godhood is “goodness, genius, and healthy, vital energy.” Therefore the concept of fear of God does not exist in Zoroastrianism. Instead Immortals and the qualities of Godhood are to be passionately, lovingly longed for.

In another song, the seer/prophet sings about the realization of the “vision of loveliness.”

ašáû.nãm áat ûrûnö ýaza.maidæ//kûdö-záta.nãm.čît narãm.čá náiri.nãm.čá

 ýaæšãm vahæhîš daæn.áv//vana.iñtî vá véñg.hen vá vaônaré vá

The soul of the followers of excellence we honor//wherever born, both valiant men and women//those whose vision of betterment, loveliness//are victorious, will triumph or have prevailed,

Passion is energy, the intense desire to reach for the stars, the Immortal Gods. Mortals need something greater to look up to. It is this vision of loveliness that at the end will prevail, overcome against all odds, and will touch the sublime here on earth.

ardeshir

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Spenta Armaiti, the divine feminine in Zoroastrianism, the guardian of the sacred earth and women


February 18-19 marks the festival of Speñtá Ármaiti, the Immortal or the genius of the “sacred meditation, right thinking, the divine feminine” in Zoroastrianism. She is the guardian of good earth and women.

It was to Her that Artaxerxes II prayed for the health of his wife Atoussá, whose name is rendered in Greek as Hera “the goddess of women.”

In the poetic gathas or songs of the seer/prophet Zarathustra, (Yasna 45.4,) CREATION comes about through the union of “sacred focus, right meditation” speñtá ármaiti with the supreme god mazdá ahûrá, the “lord of mind, inspiring creativity and wisdom.”

Ármaiti comes about 42 times in the gathas/sacred songs of Zarathustra. She comes in close association with daæná “power to see, vision, keen insight,” and is also equated with “silent, tacit or quiet meditation,” tüšná maitiš  (See Yasna 43.15, 3rd rhymed verse line.)

Ár-maiti is a compound word. The maiti part means “meditation, contemplation,” and the first part comes from the root ar “fitting rightly.” Thus, ármaiti or the “divine feminine in Zoroastrianism,” refers to “meditation, and focus of mind” that is evenly, and RIGHTLY undistracted, leading to “calm, serenity, creative visions and higher knowledge.”

The ancient commentaries translation of ármaiti to bündak manišni confirms the above understanding of the term in ancient Zoroastrian theology, verses the erroneous translation into humility/piety that started to appear in the early 19th century.

Ármaiti like other Immortals has the epithet Spǝñtá “the auspicious, endowed with the vibrant, splendid life force, the sacred.”

Avestan spǝñtá is a cognate Old Slavonic svętŭ, Lithuanian šventas, Russian svjatój, and Old Prussian swints.

The twelfth month in the Zoroastrian calendar, also called the “auspicious or sacred month” speñtá or Esfand in farsi, is named after this auspicious Immortal or the divine feminine.

Rue called the “sacred incense,” speñtá or Esfand in modern Persian, goes back to the same root.

Another epithet of ármaiti is vaηuhîm or vaηhû.yáv “good, superb, bounteous.” For the god-beings are “superb, brilliant and giver of good things.”

The festival of Speñtá Ármaiti called Spandārmað in middle Iranian, (February 18-19) is a special time to honor the scared earth, and women. The divine feminine is entreated for powers of procreation, serenity, and protection against evil. On this day, special charms are made and hung on doors.

I shall conclude by the following beautiful gathic sacred verse:

speñtãm vé ármaitîm vaηuhîm vare.maidî// há-né aηhat

 Spəntá Ármaiti, the bountiful, the good, we want, and desire//May she be ours.

ardeshir

 

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The great gift of fire, and the Zoroastrian winter festival of sadeh


Forty days after winter solstice celebrations, at the height of the freezing cold and frost, the great festival of sadeh is celebrated in the Zoroastrian calendar. The festival of sadeh celebrates the longer daylight, and the discovery of fire. It is the sacred observance of the powers of vitality, and the energy of renewal, embodied in huge lit bonfires.

Sadeh, celebrates the discovery of fire, and its ability to banish the freezing cold, stagnation, and gloom. This festival is held in the frigid depths of winter, and has been faithfully kept alive among Iranian Zoroastrians.

The name sadeh most logically goes back to the Avestan sareta “burning cold, freeze, frost,” and seem to be a corruption of the Avestan original. Avestan sareta is a cognate of Lithuanian šáltas “cold,” and Latvian salts. Old Church Slovanic slana “hoar, frost” is also a possible cognate. The word seems to denote the “intensity, and burning sensation of COLD, FROST.”

All references to modern Persian sad, Latin centum “hundred,” appear to be recent folk etymology.

Godhood in Zoroastrianism is the bringer of light, illumination, vital energy and fire to mankind. There are many parallels between ahûrá god-powers of Zoroastrianism, and the legend of the Titan Prometheus, who defies the gods by stealing fire and giving it to humanity, an act that enabled discovery, progress and civilization.

Fire in the gathic poetry symbolizes “forethought, emotional intelligence, and passionate willpower.” It represents human striving, and the quest for the brilliant wisdom and the unfailing energy of the ahûrás, the pristine god-powers.

The bonfires of sadeh embody the creative genius, and all brilliant efforts that improve mortal existence, and will set the stage for the cosmological triumph of light/genius over stagnation and darkness.

ardeshir

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Zoroastrian sky burial, and Towers of Silence


The ancient Zoroastrian method of disposal of the dead is SKY BURIAL. The corpse is placed on a mountaintop to be eaten by carrion birds/vultures, while it is exposed to the rays of the sun and stars.

In Zoroastrianism, death, decay and disease are the handiwork of the diabolic, dark forces. Hence, dead matter called nasuu is considered most unclean and defiled by forces of decay, and destruction.

Accordingly, there is no need to preserve the dead body after death, as it is now a lifeless, contaminated vessel. The birds atop a “special built tower” on a mountaintop or hill, shall strip the flesh, free the spirit, remove the potential for pollution, and reduce the remains to a handful of clean bones.

Special care is made to preclude any possible tainting of the good earth, waters and fire from coming into contact with decaying, dead matter. The word for dead matter nasuu goes back to reconstructed Proto Indo European *neḱ-. Cognates include Latin nex, noxius “harmful, noxious,” and Greek nekrós “dead body.”

The rule is to avoid rotting away, and to dispose the carcass/dead corpse as efficiently and speedily as possible. For that purpose, circular towers called dakhma are constructed on top of desolate mountaintops or high hills. Zoroastrian sky burial practices are first attested in the mid-5th century BCE Histories of Herodotus, but the use of “sky burial towers” is first documented in the early 9th century BCE.

In modern times, circular, raised towers are referred to as “Towers of Silence.” The term is attributed to Robert Murphy, a translator for the British colonial government of India in the early 19th century.

The original word for “sky burial towers” or dakhma denotes the idea of setting “ablaze, aflame.” Avestan dažaiti “burn,” Lithuanian degù “burn,” Old Irish daig “flame” are possibly connected, and cognates.

This suggests that towers of silence were originally raised, built pyres on mountaintops and hills, before the Zoroastrian era. In much of the ancient Iranian lands, the topography is extremely mountainous, and the ground is too hard, rocky, and cold to dig, also, the scarcity of fuel and timber, made sky burial probably much more practical than cremation.

The carved tombs of the Achaemenid Rulers at mountain cliffs in Naqsh-e Rustam, and the raised, above the ground mausoleum in Pasargadae, suggest sky burial practices, until the clean bones could safely be collected and placed in an above the ground astôdán, “ossuary”.

It shall be added, that to avoid any possible contamination of the underground waters and the good earth, any collection of clean mortal remains such as bones, MUST take place in ABOVE THE GROUND vaults, crypt structures, and burial mausoleums, in the ancient, orthodox Zoroastrian practice.

Parallels could be drawn with the funeral of Patroclus as it is described in book 23 of the Iliad. Patroclus is burned on a pyre, and his bones are collected into a golden urn. An above the ground barrow is built on the location of the pyre. Also, Beowulf’s body is taken to Hronesness, where it is burned on a funeral pyre. Afterwards, a mound is built on top of a hill, overlooking the sea, and filled with treasures.

Other important above the ground burial mounds/kurgans are found in Ukraine and South Russia and are associated with much more ancient steppe peoples, notably the Scythians (e.g., Chortomlyk, Pazyryk) and early Indo-Europeans (e.g., Ipatovo kurgan.)

Beside Zoroastrians, the practice of sky burial appears to have been the favored method of the disposal of the dead among the ancient Celts. It is believed that sites close to STONEHENGE were used for sky burial rites.

Sky burial was practiced also among American Indians, and to this day, sky burial is practiced in Tibet, Bhutan and Inner Mongolia, where Vajrayana Buddhist traditions teach that sky burial is the most generous way to dispose of the dead.

REGRETTABLY, in the early twentieth century, the Iranian Zoroastrians gradually discontinued the use of sky burial, and began to favor burial. A former, lush Qajar dynasty era palace, some 10 km from Tehran, by the name of Ghassr-e Firouzeh “Firouzeh’s Palace,” was purchased, and turned into a cemetery. The graves were lined with rocks and plastered with cement to prevent direct contact with the earth.

However, digging graves is in no way in compliance with ancient Zoroastrian disposal practices. In case, that sky burial is under no pristine conditions possible, the only religiously acceptable form of disposal is burial in ABOVE THE GROUND, RAISED vaults, crypt structures, and mausoleums.

ardeshir

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