Moslem voyagers, traders, and theologians from the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties/caliphates, came into contact with the Vikings during their visits to trading centers such as Kiev and Novgorod, part of the “Volga Trade route.” Moslems appeared to have become very familiar with the Old Norse kinsfolk and their belief systems during these visits.
Moslems classified the Vikings as Majūs or “heathen Zoroastrians,” since they thought them to be very much like Zoroastrians of pre Islamic Iran/Persia.
Majūs, plural majūsī, from Greek Mágos μάγος, Latin Magus, is a term that goes back to the Avestan magá, referring to the Zoroastrian shaman warriors.
According to Ibn Rustah’s (10th century,) Vikings accorded great respect to their ‘shamans’ [attibah] who had great authority over their chieftain.
In almost all moslem accounts, reference to the Vikings starts with the phrase: “al-Majus (Vikings/Zoroastrians) – May God curse them!” Moslem envoys referred to the Viking chiefs/kings as malik al-majūs, and to the Viking lands as bilād al-majūs.
Regarding Christianized Vikings, Moslem accounts state: Norse men were Majusi “Zoroastrian heathens,” but they now follow the Christian faith dīn al-naṣranīya, and have given up fire-worship and their previous religion, except for the people of a few scattered islands of theirs in the sea, where they keep to their old Majusi (Zoroastrian) faith.
Moslem accounts to the Vikings include Al-Ghazal’s (8th – 9th Century, Al-Andalus) entitled “embassy mission to the Vikings,” originated within Al-Muqtabis fi tarikh al-Andalus of Ibn Hayyan (The collected knowledge on the history of Al-Andalus.)
The most extensive account on the Vikings by Moslems is that written by Ibn Fadlan (10th Century, Baghdad.)
The notion that the Moslem classification of the Vikings as Majusi “Pagan Zoroastrians,” was simply a case of mistaken identity is highly unlikely. Majus as Zoroastrians appears many times in hadith (words ascribed to Mohammad,) and once in Quran 22.17. In fact, moslem use of the designation Majus in the new context of the Norse people, proves that they were very conscious/aware of the meaning of the term.
Prophet Zarathustra, in his poetic gathas calls his fellowship airyá “noble, honorable, Aryan,” or magá “magnificent, mighty, of masterful powers/abilities.”
Émile Benveniste believed that Avestan term magá– signified a priestly or shamanic-warrior clan among the ancient Aryans/Iranians, renowned for their “mightily powers and abilities,” (Benveniste, 1938, pp. 13, 18-20.)
Accordingly, Avestan magá is cognate with Old Church Slavonic mogo “to be able” Germanic magan, English may “enable, make possible,” Greek mekhos, all going back to the reconstructed Indo-European root *magh.
Moslems recognized early on the great similarity between the Norse beliefs and Ancient Zoroastrianism. Both Zoroastrianism and Norse beliefs go back to a common Indo-European/ancient Aryan heritage.
However, within the Indo European world, ancient Zoroastrianism and Old Norse beliefs show a much greater similarity and closer kinship to each other.
Zoroastrian and Viking apocalyptic literature are almost identical. Both frašö-kart and Ragnarök foretell a series of future events, including a great battle that ultimately will result in the splendid renewal of the god powers and the worlds. In both traditions, mortal men are the allies and friends of the Immortal gods in this impending battle.
In both, the Immortal Gods, the ahûrás and the æsir are “god beings who embody “the cosmic order, and the quest for excellence.”
Both define their faiths as steadfast allegiance to the ahûrás (ahûra–tkaæšö) and/or true faith in the aesir. Interestingly, neither the term ahûrá nor the æsir was ever adopted in islamic Persia or christian Scandinavia.
Both ancient Zoroastrianism and Norse accounts are characterized by an underlying duality between the “evolving, creative consciousness of the god beings, the ahûrás and the æsir,” verses the “inertia, gloom, stagnation,” of the daævás “diabolic forces” in the Avesta, and monster giants in the Eddas.
For the god-powers ignite life energy and creativity into the universe, while the anti-gods have no vital or creative energies, and are devoid of any genius or meaningful imagination in both traditions.
Odin or Óðinn like Mazdá, the supreme ahûrá Of Zoroastrianism, is the chief among the aesir. Both Mazdá and Óðinn are the “essence of godhood” present in all life forms. They both represent higher wisdom and the odyssey, progress of consciousness/mind power, and are not static, but eternally evolving and perfecting themselves.
Odin’s discovery of the runes of wisdom in “nine days and nights,” is identical to the Zoroastrian purification and pondering period of 9 days and nights for the Zoroastrian priests.
While Mazdá is etymologically related to Greek Muses “Inspirational sources of creativity, knowledge and wisdom,” however, among the Indo European Gods, Mazdá is undoubtedly the closest to/identical to Óðinn.
Óðinn in the sense of “sacred vision and shamanic wisdom” is derived from the root wōthuz, a cognate of Old Church Slavonic aviti and Avestan vaiti.
The root vaiti appears in the poetic gathas in Yasna 44.18, 4th rhymed verse line in the sense of “having insight, sacred vision of wholeness, healing powers.”
The root vaiti comes again in the form of vátö in the gahic Yasnna 35.6, and in the form of váté in the gathic Yasna 35.7. In the younger Avesta, the root appears in Yasna 9.25 and Vendidad 9.2, 9.47, 9.52.
Last but not least, Herodotus maintained that the Magá were a hereditary priestly clan among the ancient Zoroastrians. It turns out that the very rare haplogroup I L41 or I-M170 appears in high frequency in Iran, only among some Zoroastrian Iranian priestly families, in the Caspian mountains (the last stronghold of Zoroastrianism in Iran,) and among some isolated group of mountainous Kurds. Otherwise, Haplogroup I, is found almost exclusively today in the Dinaric Alps, and in Northwestern Europe or Scandinavia.
I L41 or I-M170 is a defining SNP for haplogroup I, and contains individuals directly descended from the earliest members of Haplogroup I, bearing none of the subsequent mutations. In other words, it is Proto Old Norse and Proto South Slavic.
Before taking My genetic Natgeo2 test, I thought for sure, that I must definitely belong to haplogroup R1a, the most common haplogroup among ancient Iranians, and many Eastern and some Northern Europeans of today. It turned out that my haplogroup is I L41 or I M170 shared by 0.03 percent of all participants in the Natgeo2 project.
This genetic connection to pagan Europe, strongly suggests more than a close kinship of ideas, but old blood ties among priestly clans of ancient Zoroastrian Iran, and shamans of pagan Europe.
After all, the other common term for priests in the Avesta is āθra.van “Keeper of family hearth or flame.”
In the poetic gathas, magá as the “masterly and mighty fellowship” of the seer/prophet Zarathustra, appears in the following 8 verses: Yasna 29.11, 2nd rhymed verse line as magái, Yasna 33.7, 2nd rhymed verse line as magáûnö, Yasna 46.14, 2nd rhymed verse line as magái, Yasna 51.11, 3rd rhymed verse line as magái, Yasna 51.15, 1st rhymed verse line maga.vabiiö, 51.16, 1st rhymed verse line as mag.ahiiá, Yasna 53.7 , in the 1st rhymed verse line as mag.ahiiá and in the 4th rhymed verse line as magem.
It also comes one time as a verb mi-maghžö, “to be able, empower,” in Yasna 45.10, 1st rhymed verse line.
In the Vedas Indra is repeatedly called a magavan, “possessing extraordinary abilities/powers, having great mastery.”