Speñtá Ármaiti, serene flow of thoughts and an ancient love festival
February 18 is the feast day of “Ármaiti.” Ármaiti also known as Speñtá Ármaiti is one of the “splendid, auspicious immortals.”
Her name is made out of 2 parts ár+maiti. Ár means “rhythmic flow,” Compare with Old Indo-European reie- “to move, run, flow” Middle Irish rian, Gothic rinnan, Old Norse rinna, Greek rheos
And the second part maiti means “meditation, thought, reflection” Compare with Latin meditari “to meditate, to think over, consider, reflect,” Gothic miton, Old.English metan.
Ármaiti is therefore “serene mediation, creative flow of thoughts and ideas, calm reflection.” Ármaiti is the feminine/nurturing aspect of the Force, the serene meditation that heals and nurtures.
The epithet of Ármaiti is Speñtá; “auspicious, splendid, bright” Compare with Lithuanian šventas, Proto-Baltic-Slavic swęntŭs, Old Prussian swentas, in their pre Christian original sense of “auspicious, splendid, bright.” The Ancient Avestan commentaries translate Speñtá as fzünik. Middle Persian fzünik comes from Avestan fshü. Compare with the rune FEHU, the rune of prosperity. It has the exact same meaning in Middle Persian “prosperous, of good fortune, flourishing.”
The Rig Veda knows a goddess Arámati, but she was a fading figure even at the time of the Vedic hymns. In Buddhist Khotanese the earth itself is called śśandaā-, which is from śṷantakā-, corresponding to Avestan Speñtá; the name of the goddess survives as Śśandrāmatā- (from *śṷantā ármati), used for the Indian (Buddhist) goddess Śrī.
The physical creation which Ármaiti protects, and in which she is immanent, is the bounteous earth and the sacred space (See Yasna 48.6, 1st rhymed verse line.)
Ármaiti is also manifest in women, who like the good earth give and nourish life. (See Yasna 38.1, 1st rhymed verse line.)
Down into Islamic times the holy day of Speñtá Ármaiti or Persian Spandārmad was celebrated as a festival for women: As Bīrūnī reports in his Chronology, p. 229 “Isfand-ármað is charged with the care of the good earth and with that of the women. The festival of this angel was a special feast for the women, when the men used to make them generous presents.
Speñtá Ármaiti’s festival day was a favored time for courtship, and on that day “maidens chose husbands for themselves” (see M. R. Unvala in F. Spiegel Memorial Volume, ed. J. J. Modi, Bombay, 1908, p. 206).
The twelfth month as well as the fifth day of each month in the Zoroastrian calendar is dedicated to Speñtá Ármaiti or the “Splendid flow of thoughts and mediation.” When “name-day” festivals were developed, hers was thus held on the fifth day of the twelfth month, on or about February 18.
Because of her link with the good earth, the festival came to be celebrated, not only as a festival of women and lovers, but also as that of farmers, called ǰašn-e barzīgarān.
It is customary on this day to destroy xrafstars/khrafstars, noxious insects and reptiles. Furthermore, another interesting aspect of this festival is preparation of a charm or sacred formula to ward off against noxious creatures and negative vibrations.
The charm or sacred formula is taken from the Avestan verses. It is written on a piece of paper or parchment inscribed with sacred verses from the poetic gathas or the Avesta. These sacred charms are then affixed to the main doorframe, or on every doorway in the home apart from bathrooms to protect the serene space of home from the negative vibrations and adverse energies.
What was originally a one-day feast came to be extended in the early 11th century A.D., to a ten-day observance among the Zoroastrians of Iran. The festival was divided into two pentads, called in Zoroastrian dialect “Sven-i kasóg” and “Sven-i mas” i.e. the lesser and greater feasts of Sacred time/space.
In conclusion, I like to add that in several places in the poetic gathas, Speñtá Ármaiti, the “Splendid flow of thoughts, meditation” is associated with khšathra, “power to navigate, rule, hold power/sway” (e.g. Yasna 43.16, 4th rhymed verse line; Yasna 48.11, 1st rhymed verse line). There is no trace of a similar link between arámati- and kṣatra- in the Vedic tradition.