khrafstar or khrafβtr is the traditional Zoroastrian designation/term for creatures from a different timeline or cycle of creation. These creatures of another bygone era are in most cases extremely destructive pests in our world, and bring about infestation, disease and ruin with them.
The term khrafstar or khrafβtr appears 3 times in the poetic gathas and in all 3 instances has been translated as “khiradö staredö” or “a conscious energy/force with a scattered or misplaced power of manifestation.” In the third rhymed verse line, second stanza of Yasna 34.9, the designation khrafstar comes right after monstrous and bestial powers. In the third rhymed verse line, second stanza of Yasna 34.5, the term khrafstar comes after daävá/demons and before mashyá/marthyá or mortals. In the third rhymed verse line, second stanza of Yasna 28.5, it is said that through this great/most magnificent manthra and the power of speech; the khrafstars are desirably transformed.
So, in the poetic gathas the term khrafstar does not necessarily apply to pests and noxious creatures; but does refer to malignantly clever, yet half-witted, corrupted intelligences, distorted wisdoms and visions of another age.
In traditional Zoroastrianism khrafstars or creatures from a different cycle of creation are:
- Flies/magas; specifically house flies, carrion flies, fruit flies, disease spreading midges, mosquitoes, locust, Lice, and fleas. Fly or Magas/Magass accounts for about 91% of all flies in human environments, it is a pest that can carry serious diseases. Houseflies feed on feces, open sores, sputum, and moist, decaying organic matter, such as spoiled food, eggs, fruit and flesh. Flies are attracted to carrion and dung and even to plants with a strong odor resembling rotting meat. The word magas/ magass is the same as Latin musca, Sanskrit. maksa-, Greek. myia, Old Church.Slavic. mucha, Old.English. mycg, English midge.
- Ants, termites; the word for ant in Avestan is mür literally “carnage, death, mortis.”
- Worms/Avestan kərəma; vermin, gnats, cockroaches, caterpillars, bugs.
- Reptiles; snakes, crocodiles, alligators, lizards, worm lizards, turtles and tortoises. (Snake is called marthra or “murderer” in Avestan, compare with German Mord and English murder.)
- Amphibians; toads, frogs, newts and salamander.
- Rats, mice/müs and other infestation causing rodents, foxes/rövásh and coyotes/kaftár. The last mentioned creatures are native pests to this creation and do not belong to another bygone era of creation, yet they are a manifestation of malignant cleverness and greed within this world, hence their inclusion in the khrafstar category.
In some Zoroastrian texts written and compiled after the Islamic conquest, we see a good deal of confusion concerning the khrafstars. For example we see that felines such as lions and tigers are added to the list when such additions not only fail to meet the basic requirement for khrafstars; but also run quiet contrary to the Zoroastrian mythology and ancient iranian beliefs and practices. This was mainly due to a sharp decline in Zoroastrian scholarship in later islamic times and a turning away from scholarship to ritual practice among the ever dwindling priesthood of those days.
In traditional Zoroastrianism, pest control (i.e., “destroying noxious creatures/vermin”) is considered the “bounden duty of the faithful” (refer to Yasht. 21.1, and Vendidad. 16.12.) Its importance is reflected in the old annual celebration of the Feast of pest killing (Yašn-e ḵarafstra koshuun) by the Zoroastrians of Kerman, which used to be held at the beginning of summer. This feast was attended by both men and women, mostly from the priestly families. All participants wore white clothing and killed the flies, ants, snakes and rats in cities and villages with special rods called ḵarafstraḡān “vermin-beaters” (or “vermin-killers”; see Pure-e Dāvud, p. 186). The vermin corpses collected at this feast were gathered in special places and treated with certain drugs that were used to destroy and decompose them. Wherever the ants, flies, snakes and rats were killed, a herbal oil mixed with castor oil and gum tragacanth was burnt. Garlic, rue, and vinegar were also employed.
Herodotus (1.140) also reports that the magi customarily killed ants, snakes, and flies/midges.
However, it is very important to add that traditional Zoroastrianism emphasizes that the GD of Wisdom and Vision, with omniscience, diverts many khrafstars to the benefit/advantage of creatures of this creation; just as the bee which prepares honey, the worm from which there is silk …” This idea of benefit driven from khrafstars and their transformation to advantage/benefit, is inspired by the third rhymed verse line, second stanza of Yasna 28.5.
For example, stoneflies are intolerant of water pollution and their presence in a stream or still water is an indicator of good or excellent water quality. Dragonflies and Damselflies are valuable predators that eat mosquitoes and flies.
In conclusion, khrafstar is a fictional character in the fictional universe of Xena the Warrior Princess. He is the First Priest of the Temple of One God. Khrafstar talks about his god, talking of love, friendship, and bringing his kingdom to earth. But khrafstar’s god is Dahak and his religion is built on treachery, murdering another, death and destruction.