An only textual perspective in studying the ancient Zoroastrian lore, and the Old Avestan terms ušuruyæ, ušǝurü  


Mary Boyce, a great scholar of Zoroastrian studies once asked, who were likely to have a deeper understanding of the ancient Zoroastrian religion and terms, western academics or the devout priests who have upheld the ancient beliefs and practices for thousands of years?

She developed her theory of the continuity of Zoroastrian belief and practice from the time of the seer/prophet of the ancient Aryans Zarathustra, right down to modern times. Boyce summed this up in a little-known article “The Continuity of the Zoroastrian Quest.”

Boyce rejected the biblical/evangelical approach and understanding of Zoroastrian concepts, and saw Zarathustra as a visionary, seer/prophet, and an inspired, Indo-Iranian poet-priest. For Mary Boyce, the background and training of Zarathustra as a poet-priest of the ancient Indo European tradition was fundamental in understanding his Gāthās or Sacred Songs/Poetry.

She took issue with translations of Humbach, Insler and Kellens for approaching the Gāthās /Sacred Songs of Zarathustra only from a textual perspective, and not taking account of the beliefs, and ancient commentaries of the Zoroastrian tradition.

I personally believe that the ancient commentaries, and traditions of Zoroastrianism shed great light on the correct meaning of the gathas/songs of the ancient seer/prophet. While the ancient commentaries might contain some elements of folk etymology, nevertheless, they always give right clues as to the correct meanings of the sacred passages. Furthermore, an accurate and objective study of Zoroastrianism and the Gāthās /Sacred Songs of Zarathustra is IMPOSSIBLE without comparative Indo European Poetics.

The following example from the poetry of the gathas demonstrates the validity of Mary Boyce’s position. In the gathas, Yasna 32.16, first rhymed verse line, we encounter the word ušuruyæ. The word appears a second time in the gathas, in the form of ǝurü (See Yasna 34.7, 2nd rhymed verse line.)

The ancient Avestan commentaries translate the term as faráḵ hûshi “dawning, wide intelligence, understanding without limitation.”

Humbach derives the term from the root to “shine, radiate” but translates it as “pleasant, pleasant way.” The great scholar Martin L. West, following Humbach, translates the term as “safe haven” in Yasna 32.16 and as “innocuous, soft” in Yasna 34.7.

The Avestan original of the passages are as follows:

hamém tat vahištá.čît//ýé ušuruyæ syas.čît dahma.ahyá

Same as the very best// are the intelligent sayings of the wise.

hamém tat vahištá.čît “Same as the very best,” at the Old Avestan passage here is comparable to the Vedic term samó deváih “equal to the gods.”

In other words, if we follow the “tradition inspired” understanding of the above passage the meaning is “the intelligent or bright teachings of the wise are the best/divine.”

Martin L. West’s translates the passage as: “There is nothing finer than if one just draws back to the safe haven of the enlightened one.” Humbach translates the above passage: Equal to what is very best, is the pleasant way of the very promoter of the wise.

It is important to remember that both the aforementioned scholars derive the terms ušuruyæ, ǝurü from the root to “shine, dawn, to shed light, radiate.”

In the second Old Avestan passage where the term ǝurü appears we read:

séñg.hüš raæa.náv aspen.čît sádrá.čît//carayö ǝurü

Teachings and traditions will turn around misfortune and hardship// by their light and brightness

In other words, “teachings and traditions by their luminous quality/intelligence will turn around what is inauspicious and hard, hateful into advantage.”

The Avestan word séñg.hüš translated as “teaching” is in fact a cognate of Latin censeo, and means to “announce, declare, recommend, estimate or evaluate.”

The word for “tradition” raæḵna comes from the root *rik. Vedic reknas is a cognate. The reconstructed Proto Indo European root is *leik.

Avestan raæḵna recalls the Germanic noun lehan in the sense of “loan,” that is “sacred legacy,” customs and beliefs that go back to the beginning, and are LEFT to us by our ancestors.

The word a-spen translated as misfortune, literally means “inauspicious,” and the word for “hardship, what is hateful” sádrá is a cognate of the Old Norse hatr.

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Mithrá, the Avestan god of “treaty, mutual promise, agreement,” and one who is liar/deceiver to Miθrá


In Zoroastrianism, the relationship between Immortal Gods and men is viewed as “bonds of friendship, reciprocity and mutual promise.” The lofty ahûrá that represents our “soul’s contract with the gods, genuine promise, and treaty/agreement” is Miθrá.

Miθrá is the first god to approach the mountain range of the SUN hará ahead of the sunrise; from there he surveys the whole land of the Āryans (10.13).

Avestan Mithrá/Miθrá, comes from reconstructed Indo European root *meit– and is a cognate of Vedic Mitrá, Latin mūtō, Gothic maidjan, Latvian mietot.

Miθrá appears in the poetic gathas/somgs of the prophet Zarathustra, Yasna 46.5, 2nd rhymed verse line in the form of the noun miθrö.ibyö in the sense of “reciprocal friendship/mutual understanding, agreement, treaty.”

The Brilliant and Auspicious Immortals aməša spəntas called Miθrá the godly lord (ahü) and wise master of the riddles (ratü) of all the living worlds (10.92).

To break a contract/treaty in Avestan is called miθrəm druj “a liar/deceiver to Miθrá” (Yt. 10.45.) The Avestan term corresponds to a phrase in the Rig Veda 10.89.12 namely “drógha.mitra” “whose contract, promise is a lie, deception.”

The Avestan hymn to Miθrá starts with the statement of the supreme god Ahûrá Mazdá that he created Miθrá and made him as worthy of worship and prayer as he himself (10.1).

Then it states that a dishonest man who deceives a treaty destroys the whole country, killing the truthful as much as a hundred sorcerers would. This is immediately followed by the injunction not to break a contract/treaty, whether concluded with a deceitful person or a truthful follower of the Beautiful Religion (Zoroastrianism,) for the contract/treaty is valid for both (10.2.)

Miθrá, when deceived by the lord of the house, or the clan, or the tribe, or the country, smashes their respective domains (10.18; cf. 83-87).

The treaty between countries is dominant in the hymn. Miθrá aids those who are true to the treaty and punishes those who break it. He robs the treaty-breakers of the vigor of their arms, the strength of their feet, the light of their eyes, the hearing of their ears (10.23; cf. 49). The arrows, spears, sling-stones, knives, and maces of those who enrage Miθrá become ineffectual (10.39-40)..

To those who are faithful to the treaty Miθrá brings rain and makes plants grow (10.61); this refers to the ruler, since the welfare of a country depends on his moral behavior (cf. Thieme, 1975, p. 32).

Miθrá is the beneficent protector and guardian of all creatures (10.54; cf. 103). He is the lord of the country (10.78, 99) and the lord of the country of all countries (10.145,)

Miθrá strike down the evil sons of those who offer bloody sacrifices like the diabolic viiāmburas (Yt. 14.57). Miθra’s most frequent epithet having “ wide cattle-pastures” (vourú.gaô.yô.iti) reflects his concern with peaceful cattle and their ability to graze, and roam freely across vast, happy living spaces.

The Ṛgveda has only one hymn to Mitrá,. The Vedic hymn to Mitrá is considered pale and insignificant in compare to the splendid Avestan one to the god. However, P. Thieme (1957, pp. 38 ff.) has shown that the Vedic hymn clearly reflects the main characteristics of the god. Mitrá makes peoples take a firm position in their relationship to each other, and stick to their agreements/treaties (5.65.6.)

The main difference between the Vedic Mitrá and the Avestan Miθrá is that the Vedic Mitrá lacks the superb heroic and martial qualities of the Avestan Miθrá almost completely.

In the Avesta, Miθrá is accompanied in battle against falsehood, by the god of Victory Verəθraγna, by Inspiration Sraôšá “hearing the Immortals” and by Rašnü “righteousness, integrity, honesty.” They participate in Miθra’s battles against the evildoers and treaty breakers along with Nairiiö.saŋha, the valiant messenger of the gods (10.52.)

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The ancient Zoroastrian Mid-Spring festival, Celtic Beltane and the German Witches’ Night Hexennacht,


April 30th marks the beginning of the maiδyö.zarem  “mid-spring” festival in the Avestan calendar. The mid-spring festival lasts for 5 days till May4th, and is in essence a spring rite, thought to fire up/stir “virility, youthfulness, growth, and nectars of the spring.” Maiδyö.zarem is an “in between festival” maiδyö, “mid/in between” the spring and summer solstices.

Mid-Spring is a sacred time to honor the plants, their sap/milk, and a time to bless the herds, their young, and their milk by walking them between sacred bonfires. Sacred rituals are performed to protect the cattle, crops and encourage their sap/milk, and their growth.

 In the Avestan book of vispa ratü “all the rites/right formulas,” maiδyö.zarem is described as the festival of payan “milk, syrup, nectar of flowers and sap of trees, life-force.”

Avestan payan “milk” is a cognate of with Lithuanian pienas, Latvian piêns, Vedic páyas “milk,” Vedic pipyúši “rich in milk” and is derived from reconstructed Proto Indo European *pieh “be fat, prosperous, swollen,” and *pipih usih “rich, overflowing in milk.”

Offerings of milk mixed with holy water, are made to holy wells. Cattle are decorated with flowers. Milk is also poured at the doorsteps. Mid-Spring is an especially auspicious time to bless the dairy products, and the sap of trees.

Maiδyö.zarem celebrates the triumph of spring/sun energy over winter and frost. The saps of spring are honored in connection with the waxing power of the sun wheel. Household fires are re-lit from the sacred bonfires, and village fire temples. Cattle and everywhere is decorated with flowers.

 Zarem, the second part of maiδyö.zarem comes from Avestan zairi “fresh green, lush or golden” and can be compared with Old Church Slavonic zelenū, Lithuanian geltasželvas “yellow/golden,” Latvian zęlts “golden,” Russian zelënyj “green.” In post Indo European times, the word for golden/yellow were often the sources for new words for green. This root is recorded from Celtic to Vedic, and is assured in Proto- Indo European. This also argues that the Proto Indo Europeans saw yellow/golden as a primary color.

The primary color yellow evokes fire, and golden is the color of the sun, symbolizing, “passion, pure energy, charming magnetism, powers of fertility, virility and the life-force.

The ancient Avestan maiδyö.zarem “mid-spring” festival shares many common rites with, and the same roots as the Celtic Beltane, and the German Hexennacht “Witches’ Night.” Hexennacht is the night from 30 April to 1 May, when witches are reputed to hold a large celebration on the Brocken (the highest of the Harz Mountains of north central Germany,) to mark the triumph of spring/the sun over winter. The holiday was later replaced by the feast day for a Catholic Saint as Walpurgisnacht.

In Zoroastrianism, the spiritual life and sacred worship are entwined with hearth-fire, kinship and Clan, home, happiness, pets and farm, fertility of the land, and magical rites/seasons of the year (Avestan yaar ratö.); all related in a sacred world order wherein mortal man lives as a member of his genos, and is governed by the laws of renewal, waxing power of the sun wheel, youthfulness, virility, beauty, nobility, much happiness, and reverence for nature.

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The ancient “Wizards or SEER Wise Ones” of the Avesta


The Kávis are the seers of yore, the ancient “Wizards or Wise Ones” of the Avesta, the sacred Lore of Zoroastrianism. Avesta talks of kavaæm xarənö the “fiery magic force/charisma” of the kávis, the “SEER Wise Ones” of the ancient Indo Iranians/Aryans.

The term Kávi is very ancient, and goes back to the early Indo European times. Avestan Kávi or Kavá “seer wise,” is a cognate of Lydian kawe- “seer poet/priest,” Latin caveo “take heed, observe,” Old Church Slavonic čujo “note, be mindful, remember” čudo “wonder,” Russian čúkhatî “perceive.” The reconstructed Proto Indo European form is *keu to “perceive.”

A variant cognate of Kávi is English show, German schauen, Old English scēawian and scîene to “see, know.” Modern Persian škōh “splendor, beauty, glory” is derived from the same root.

The ancient “SEER Wise Ones” of the Avesta possessed much persuasive and mental power over the heart and will of men, and knew of the hopes and dreams of mortals. Their role was to use their wondrous wisdom to help mortals achieve their own destiny, and to keep the forces of evil/darkness at bay.

Their persuasive power was made of thoughts (mati), and their spiritual “visions, powers to see” (dhī) into the other realms. They were the guardians of ṛtá “the “superb cosmic order” per the Rig Vedic poetry, (Rigveda 2.24.7.)

Kávis of the Avesta have many characteristics in common with the Istari in Lord of the Rings. Like Kávis, the Istari in struggle against the Dark Lord, helped Men to achieve their own destiny, rather than trying to dominate them.

But many Kávis, just like Saruman in lord of the Rings, failed when they tried to set themselves up as a tyrants and cruel despots in the world of men. In the Older Avesta, many kávis are said to have joined with the forces of darkness and evil, and are listed together with sorcerers, evil beings, and false teachers.

Among the Avestan Wizards of the yore, very few remained faithful to their noble charge.

In the poetic gathas, Vištáspá is the most illustrious kavá “seer wise one.” His name is mentioned 3 times in the gathas/songs of the prophet Zarathustra, in connection with the spiritual powers/divine rewards, which agrees with his mention at the end of the hymn to Anáhitá “lady of the unblemished, pure waters,” as a prototype of those who won the race (Yašt 5.132).

The name Vištáspá means “he who gives the horses free rein” (Rigveda 6.6.4 víṣitāso áśvāḥ “horses let loose or given free rein”), which agrees with the description of Vištáspá as the prototypical winner of the chariot race in the Avestan hymn to the Lady of the unblemished, pure waters.

In the Zoroastrian eschatology, kavá Vištáspá and Kávi Haô.sravah play central roles. The Avesta contains more details about Kávi Haô.sravah than any of the other Kávis, except Vištáspá.

The name Haô.sravah or more accurately *hû-sravah means “he who has good fame/glory.” Haô.sravah’s standing epithet is arša airya.nąm daxyu.nąm “stallion of the Aryan lands.”

According to holy Denkart 7.1.38; Kávi Siá.waxš (waxing black) built the Shangri La of the ancient Indo Iranians/Aryans, the Kang-dæž, by means of the xarənö, the “fiery magic force/charisma” of the kávis, and the might of Ahûrá Mazdá and the Brilliant, Auspicious Immortals. Kang-dæž or the Shangri La of the ancient Indo Iranians/Aryans is said to contain numerous wonders and secrets of daæná “vision/religion of the ahuras,” to be used to redress the age and the rule of the Noble Ones. This Kávi is also said to have connected power and victory with daæná “vision/religion of the ahuras.” The location of Kang-dæž/ Kang-dež is said to be somewhere in the Tian Shan and Pamir mountains of Central Asia. It is the son of *hû-sravah “he who has good fame/glory” who is the chief in Kang-dež and will march out of there to establish the rule of “the noble, wise and the good” at the end of times.

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The falcon, and the fiery good fortune of the wise-seer rulers in the Avesta


In Avesta, the sacred lore of the Zoroastrians, the “Victorious Lord” Verethraγna/Verethraghna, the great yazatá or “hallowed god of victory” takes the bodily shape of a “fiery bird” called várǝγna/váreghna in his seventh incarnation. The Old Avestan dictionaries translate várǝγna/váreghna into the German word for bird or “Vogel,” or the name of a bird. The name simply means “the bird,” and refers to mythical “falcon or hawk.”

We read in the verse 19 of the hymn to Victory: ahmái haptathö ájasat vazemnö//verethraghnö ahûra-dhátö//mereghahæ kehrpa váreghnahæ

To him for the seventh time he came flying//the Victorious Lord, set into motion by the ahuras//in the bodily form of a fiery falcon//

The name of the “fiery bird” váreghna is closely associated with the “mythical falcon/hawk” Simorgh. The mythical falcon/hawk represents the union between heaven and earth in ancient Iranian mythology, serving as mediator bird and messenger of the Immortals. The name Simorgh appears in the Avesta as mərəγö saænö ‘the falcon/hawk bird.”

The “swift flying hawk or falcon” in the ancient Greek poetry of Hesiod corresponds to the fiery falcon/bird of the Avesta váreghna. In Hervarar saga (10 ad fin.) of the Norse mythology, Odin under the identity of a stranger takes the form of a falcon. Also Loki, in order to go flying, has to borrow a special “falcon form” valhamr from Freyja or Frigg.

In the Norse myth, the Giant Thiazi, taking the form of an eagle/falcon, carries off Idunn “The Rejuvenating One.” Idunn is the owner and dispenser of apples that impart immortality. After the capture of Idunn, the Immortals are begin to grow old and grey, until the Lady Of Youth Idunn is recaptured by Loki, flying in the form of a falcon.

In the beautiful Zaam-yád Yašt “Hymn to the good earth,” the fiery glory” leaves Yimá, the great ruler of the golden age, (a cognate of Norse Ymir) in the form of váreghna “hawk or falcon.”

In the Avestan hymn to the sacred mountains and the earth Zaam-yád, the imagery of “luminous glory or godly charm” xarənah is intertwined with váreghna “hawk or falcon.” Xarənah comes from Scytho-Sarmatian and Alan farnah, and is a “magic force or power of luminous and fiery nature”.

The Persian name farrox/farrokh “fortunate, blessed, lucky” comes from the same ancient Avestan root.

In traditional Zoroastrian interpretations “glory,” “splendor,” “luminosity” and “shining fortune,” connected with sun and fire, are considered the primary meanings of the term farr(ah)xarənahxarənah.

Avestan xarənah– “shinning fortune, godly charisma, glory” is traditionally reconstructed from the verb hvar “to shine.” Kellens however, derives it from the root xar “to eat,” and argues that xarəna refers to “the magical power obtained after eating sacred fruits.”

In Yašt 10.127, the kávi-“wise ruler/ seer priest” is identified with a “blazing fire” (átarš yöupa.sûxtö,) that precedes Mithrá in his chariot. Mithrá is associated with the “sun, heavenly lights,” and represents friendship/favor with the Immortal Gods.

In the Avesta, the “fiery glory and shining fortune” of xarəna belongs to the “Supreme God of Mind Powers” Ahûrá Mazdá (Yt. 19.10); the “Brilliant, Auspicious Immortals” aməša spəṇtás (Yt. 19.15); and the “hallowed gods” yazatás (Yt. 19.22), including Mithrá who is the “the most endowed with glory” xarən.aŋu.hastəma, (Yt.19.35; Vd. 19.15.)

As a “fiery, living, creative force” xarəna/farna is also associated with the waters of the wide shored ocean Vouru.kaša (Yt. 19.51, 19.56-57) holy waters, and the sacred lakes.

The sacred lore of the Zoroastrians, Avesta, talks of the “luminous, fiery glory of the ancient wise rulers/seer priests” (kavaæm xarənö,) the “luminous, fiery glory of the Aryans, (airya.nąm xarənö,) and of the “magical, fiery glory” of the Mazdá worshipping religion/vision, and the future “victorious giants of the ages,” the saôšiiánts.

The Avestan hymn to the “sacred mountains and earth” provides a summary of sacred history, the heart of which is about the “luminous, godly glory” xarənah– of the “ancient philosopher kings/ seer priests” kávi– in the land of Scythians (Sîstán,) and how this “fiery, noble glory” will pass from ancient Kávis such as Haô-srava (73-77,) Vīšt.áspá (83-87,) and Prophet Zarathustra (78-82,) to the Giant of the future age, the victorious saôšiiáṇt who embodies “excellence incarnate (in bone, flesh) astvat-areta.

In passages 53-54 of the same hymn, the supreme God Ahûrá Mazdá informs prophet/seer Zarathustra that “every mortal” kas.čiṱ mašiia.nąm must seek the fiery and luminous xarənah-, in order to obtain good fortune and success.

The concept/idea of the “godly, fiery glory” of the Kávî, the ancient “wise, seers and rulers” of the ancient Indo Europeans was later mingled with that of “divine fortune and charismatic kingship,” in the Achaemenid inscriptions in phrases such as “by the wish/favor of Ahûrá Mazdá” (vašná Aûramazdáha.)

The solar, fiery aspects of xarənafarna in the form of a “flying sun-disc” became the sign of the dynastic charisma of the Achaemenid sovereigns later.

This motif of the “divine good luck,” of the “wise rulers and airyás” in the form of a “fiery bird or solar falcon” was also depicted in the banner of the kávis or derafš kávián of the ancient Iranian royal dynasties.

Several scholars have argued that it is depicted in a damaged portion of the Alexander mosaic from Pompeii, at the battle of Issus. Xenophon (Anabasis 1.10.12) mentions that the standard of the Achaemenid king was a golden eagle/falcon on a shield carried on a spear. Arthur Christensen states that same motif of “divine falcon representing godly glory” was the royal standard of the Sassanid dynasty in the imagery of the Derafše Kávî-án.

The concept was carried over, and became widespread in the Hellenistic and Roman period, in the idea tychē basileōsfortuna regia; the fortune of the rulers/sovereigns.

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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.

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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.

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