The dual nature of “wolves, fairies, and mortal men in the Zoroastrian sacred lore, and tradition

The traditional accounts of Zarathustra’s life are contained in the 7th book of holy Denkart (Denkart literary means “explanatory works on the revealed wisdom/vision.” Denkart is the largest, and most ancient commentary work on the Avestan sacred lore. While Avestá is the poetic, revealed wisdom/vision of the Titans, Denkart is the cornerstone in understanding the Avestá, and traditional Zoroastrianism.) 

The 7th book of holy Denkart provides several accounts of noble animals protecting the seer/prophet Zarathustra during his infancy. We read specifically in Denkart 7.3.8ff  that a noble she-wolf vǝhrkąm took the young Zarathustra along with her own cubs, and protected him from all harms. 

This most ancient account of Zarathustra’s legendary infancy clearly hints at a dual nature for wolf vǝhrká in the Zoroastrian sacred literature. Wolf is not just a symbol of thievery, thieves taiiüm…vǝhrkǝm or vicious, two-footed mortals, but wulf also has a noble warrior nature, and embodies bravery and honor. 

In Shah-námæ (The Great Persian Epic Poetry rooted in the Avestá, and Zoroastrian Mythology,) GURG.IN (Modern Persian for Wulflike,) is the name of one of the heroes during the reigns of Kay Kāvus and Kay Ḵosrow. GURG.IN is the head of the warrior Milād clan, and is also one of the eleven, fierce warrior-heroes in the story of the Davāzdah roḵ (twelve citadels, towers,) where he kills his Turanian adversary. 

The ancient, enchanted forests of northeastern Iran are also named after wolves and the area is known as land of the wolves, called Gurgān/Gorgán .

The statement of Greater Bün.dahišn (Basis of or Primal Creation book) in chapter 23.1 that wolf is a creation of the evil spirit, seem to be a later accretion, and not part of the original material. Wulf simply does not meet the definition of ḵrafastar or “reptilian monsters.” 

We come across the same dual nature reserved for fairies in the Zoroastrian sacred lore or the Avestá. Fairies pairikás often appear at the end of the formula daæva.nąm mašiiá.nąm.ča yáθvąm pairikan.ąm.ča that is “diabolic deities, mortal men, sorcerers, sorceresses, and fairies.”

According to Vendī.dád or the “Anti-demonic Law,” Fairies, pairikás must be fought, for they are the opponents of Fire, Water, Earth, Ox, and Plant.  It is also said that fairies pairikás fled when Zarathustra uttered the most sacred and powerful ahüna vairya formula. The latter account reminds one of the jinns’ response upon hearing bismillāh in the later Islamic lore (Donaldson, 1930, p. 186.)

Yet, despite this mostly negative background the term fairy parîg, appears as a benign, proper noun in Yašt 11.6 of the Avestá. 

Also, in the Pahlavi Vendī.dád (viii.31, 35; xiii.48) and Nērangestān (pp. 39v.15; 178r.8), Fairy, parî is the name of a venerable, female commentator of the Avesta. Such a name is a rare evidence for the existence of female commentators among Zoroastrian theologians.

To this day compound names of fairy parî, are very popular among Female Zoroastrians in names such as Parîzád, born from a fairy, parîvaš like a fairy, parîčehr, have the appearance of a fairy, and many other compound names containing parî. 

Other benevolent appearance of fairy occurs in the Pāzand Ayādgār ī Jāmāspīg (Messina, 1939, p. 40), where a noble woman from the legendary line of Hôšang is compared to a Fairy, parî (čūn parî.). 

In the Great Epics of Shah-námæ (rooted in the Zoroastrian Mythology and the Avestá) fairies, parî are always charming and pleasant figures. Fairies appear in several stories such as the “Reign of Jamšîd,” “Zál and Rūdāba,” and the story of “Bîjan and Manîjæ.”

In the Zoroastrian folklore, fairies parîs are referred to as az mā behtarān “they who are better than us” which reminds one of “the good people” of European fairydom.

The often repeated Old Avestan formula of daæváiš.čá

 mašiiáiš.čá that groups “mortal men” right after the “diabolic deities” points to a dual nature for mortal men as well. While men suppose to be the allies of the Titans ahûrás, and join in their struggle to manifest an age of eternal spring and splendid, pristine creation, the race of men have often been the instrument of the diabolic forces throughout their history on this good earth.   

I shall conclude by the following beautiful verse from The Persian Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám who was himself a big fan of the ancient Zoroastrian religion of his forefathers: 

I sent my Soul through the Invisible,

Some letter of that After-life to spell

And by and by my Soul return’d to me,

And answer’d, “I Myself am Heaven and Hell.

This verse appears at the beginning and end of a film/novel unlike any other, one in which beauty, wit and horror are intermingled in a unique cautionary tale, the movie and masterpiece DORIAN GREY.

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Hearth Fire in Zoroastrianism

The 9th month of the Zoroastrian sacred calendar, that is the last month of fall/autumn is dedicated to “hearth fire, and altar,” áθar/áthar. The great festival of fire ADAR.GAAN literally “singing hymns of praise to áthar/fire,falls on November 24th of the seasonal Zoroastrian calendar. 

Veneration of the “hearth fire, and altar” goes back to early Indo-European/Aryan times. Yet, the veneration of fire seem to be much more prominent, and play a more central role in Zoroastrianism than any other Indo-European faith. 

The chief duty of áθar.ván/átharván priests is/was to keep the flame of the clan, and the spark of the Titans alive and thriving. Remains of “fire altars,” or elevated fire-holders of the Zoroastrian type, are known from Pasargád from the time of Cyrus the Great; and it is very likely that one of these altars was the Achaemenid dynastic, hearth fire, (Achaemenids were the First Ancient Persian Imperial House.) 

The Letter of Chief Priest Tansar (ed. M. Mīnovī, Tehran, 1936, p. 22, tr. M. Boyce, Rome, 1968, p. 47) establishes that the Parthian dynasty, (The ancient Persian Imperial dynasty following the Achaemenids) allowed their vassal kings to found dynastic fires; and that the Arsacids’ own dynastic fire was most likely the one mentioned by Isidore of Charax (Parthian Stations 11) as burning at Asaak in northeastern Iran. A general term attested for a fire temple in the Parthian language was átaröšan (preserved in Armenian as atrušan.)

The Yasná Haptaŋ.háiti liturgy, (Literally “Seven Chapters of prayers/yearnings, and joyous blessings”) is a most ancient Zoroastrian celebration of all the good, material creation which consists of priestly offerings to fire and waters. 

Strabo (Geography 15.3.15) writes of “temples of the magi” in Cappadocia in his day (around the beginning of the Christian era). Some were “temples of the “Airyan Gods” and “pyratheia,” i.e., fire temples, “noteworthy enclosures; in the midst of these there is an altar, on which there is a large quantity of ashes and where the magi keep the fire ever burning. And there, entering daily, they make incantations to the Gods for about an hour, holding before the fire, their twig bundles (barsôm.)

Avestan áθar/áθarš is a cognate of Old Irish áith “fireplace,” Welsh odyn “oven,”  Umbrian atru “open fire,” English atrium (from Latin,) and Persian átaš “fire.” 

In the Zoroastrian sacred lore Avestá, fire is a yazatá-, that is, “an adorable god” as well as a visible means for worshipping Godhood. Fire’s twin function in the Zoroastrian worship is mentioned at the beginning of the Vispa.ratü “all the right formulas, rites” as follows:

átrə ia ahûrahæ mazdā̊ puθrəm yaza.maidæ 

átarš.ciθrə̄ yazatə̄ yazamaidæ

Fire, the prodigy, son of Ahurá Mazdá, we adore, 

Fire, the visible yazatá/adorable god, we adore.

In one Avestan hymn, fire is invoked as “the magnificent, great god” (mazištayazata-):

nəma.sə tē ātarš mazdā̊ ahurahe hu.ā̊ mazišta yazata.

Homage/Bow to you fire of Ahura Mazdā, the discerning, magnificent god.

Hearth Fire shares this title of “being great, magnificent” only with Miθra (Yt10.142 mazišta yazata, “magnificent, great god”) and Ahûrá Mazdá (Yt10.76 yō mazištö yazata.nąm, “the greatest, most magnificent of all the Gods.”) 

In the poetic gathas/songs of the seer, prophet Zarathustra, fire is the visible sign of ašá/arθá, “excellence, right order, higher truth.”In the Gathas/Poetic Songs, fire illuminates, clarifies, and is in ceaseless fight against all that is opposed to ašá/arθá, “excellence, truth.” This warrior nature of the fire, and its ceaseless fight against all that is opposed to “higher order/truth” is symbolized by the enthronement and consecration of the “Victorious Fire” or Átarš Vahrám the highest grade of earthly fires in the Zoroastrian ritual. The priests escorting the Victorious Fire carry swords and maces; and after the ceremony some of the weapons are hung on the sanctuary walls of the fire temple to symbolize the victorious battle of light against darkness. 

The other Zoroastrian god of Fire, nairiiö.saŋha literally means “Manly, Brave, Teachings.” Avestan nairiiö.saŋha is the messenger of the Titans/Gods, and corresponds with Prometheus (The god of forethought in Greek mythology,) as well as with the Vedic samsa narya, See (RV 1.185.9a.) 

The Gathas/Poetic Songs of Zarathustra also talk of “judicial ordeal with fire” (Yasna 47,) and the “fiery flood of molten metal” which will cleanse the worlds at frašö.kereitî “the splendid, fresh new creation of the worlds,” (See Yasna 51.9.) Zoroastrian Frašö.kereitî, the Splendid, fresh, new Creation” is the more ancient version of Ragnarök in Norse mythology.

In the Zoroastrian sacred lore, (See Avestá, Yasna 17,) Five fires are invoked.  First is the fire called bərəzi.sava “fire of ascending weal, good fortune,” (Avestan bərəzi is a cognate with German Berg.) Second is the fire of vohü friyána the fire of passion, love that burns in the bodies of men and animals. Vohü friyána means literally “good friendship, love.” Third is the ûrvāzišta “the most joyful,” fire that is in “trees, plants” ûrvar (Compare with arbor;) fourth is the lightening fire that is in the clouds called vazišta “forceful, full of vigorous energy,” and lastly spə̄ništa “the most auspicious fire, the holiest, most sacred fire” which burns in the presence of Öhrmazd (middle Persian for Ahûrá Mazdá, the supreme God and source of Godhood himself.) 

The Zoroastrian vazišta “fire of lightening that is in the clouds” corresponds closely with the Old Norse gold fire of the sea and the fire of waters See Old Norse Skáldskaparmál 41. Also we read in Beowulf “it is by night a weird wonder to see fire on the flood fyr on flode …..I shall reward you with winding gold, (See Didie Calin Dictionary of Indo European Poetic and religious Themes page 96.)


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Sky made of Precious Stones, and the Heavenly abode of Immortals in the Zoroastrian Sacred Lore

We read in the Zoroastrian sacred lore that every mortal’s duty is to know these five things; One is this: “What am I, a man or a demon? Where have I come from, from Heaven or from the abyss? What do I stand by, by the virtues of the Gods or by the vices of the demons? Whom do I follow, the Good or the wicked? Where shall I go back, to HEAVEN or to hell?” 

To Fiery Heaven or the Stony Skies (Ásmán) is dedicated the 27th day of the Zoroastrian month. The substance of the heavens is described as made of “precious stone” asénö, also almást “solid diamond,”(See Pahlavi  Yasna 30.5, Dēnkard, p. 829.15; Dādistān ī dēnīg, question 90.)

We also find in ancient Greek poetry reference to Akmon, as the father of Ouranos, (the personified Heaven/Sky.) If Greek κμων was an old word for HEAVEN, like Ásmán in the Avestan speech, it might have been that Akmon and Ouranos (as personifications of “Heaven/Sky”) were harmonized by making Akmon the father of the Ouranos, with both  terms either preceding or substituting for *Dyēus (Sky/Day.) 

It appears that the notion of “stony sky made of precious stones, and a solid, shinning firmament” was part of the Indo-European world view. Many scholars have concluded that reconstructed Indo-European *h2emōn meant both “stone” and “heaven/sky.” The source of the idea may have been the observation of fiery meteorites falling from the sky.

All cognate words for Avestan Ásmán in other languages mean either “heavenly stone or  Sky:” Vedic ásman, Lithuanian akmuõ are such examples. The Vedic ásman– “thunderbolt” is used among others of Indra’s weapon, and in Lithuania the Baltic God of Thunder Perkūnas’ thunderstone is called Perkūnas’ akmuõ. In the Zoroastrian sacred Lore Ásmán is also a mighty weapon of the Gods/Titans against diabolic forces.   

In view of some scholars, Germanic *hemena– (from which come Gothic himins, Old English heofon, HEAVEN, German HIMMEL) derives from the same ancient root. 

Zoroastrian sacred literature relates that Öhrmazd (Middle Iranian for the supreme God/Titan of ancient Zoroastrianism, Ahûrá Mazdá) formed his creatures out of “endless light” and kept them in his own body for 3,000 years, where they developed and were excelled by him. Finally he manifested each creature, in its proper right order, in the external universe. Accordingly the supreme God/Titan brought forth the HEAVENS from his HEAD.  

In the Avestan cosmographical account found in the hymn to the God/Titan of “Righteous REIGN,” RAŠN Yašt, the LEVELS páyag (literally footsteps,) of HEAVENS are as follows: the star station (stárö,) the moon station (mávn,) the sun station (hvaré,) then comes “the realm of the boundless lights” (anaγra.raôcā.) The realm of Boundless lights are the beginning point of “the most wondrous mental existence” or PARADISE, (vahištem manö, also vahištem ahüm);  the step above is the Highest Heaven or the House of Music/Songs of the Gods, (garö nmánæ.)

According to the accounts of Bün.dahišn (Basis, Foundations of Creation,) From the point of fixed stars in the star station, Heavens are impervious to the attacks of the “beaten, evil spirit” ahriman, and his host of diabolic demons. 

We read in the Poetic Gathas of seer/prophet Zarathustra: “Excellence chose the most brilliant, auspicious mind power, and the hardest, most precious stones/heavens, as his garb/vesture, ašem mainyüš spéništö//ýé ɦraoždištéñg asénö vastæ. 

Concerning the above verse in the Poetic Gathas (Yasná 30.5, 2nd rhymed verse line,) we read in the Varšt.mánsar commentary: that Ásmán the SKY is my garb/ancient vesture, which was established as the stone above all stones that is, every precious jewel is set in it; good thoughts, good words, and good deeds are my fuel, and I love those who are there in Brilliant Heaven through good thoughts, good words, and good deeds.


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Avestan Titans and the Vedic Gods

The Primeval God-powers or Ahûrás/Titans of ancient Zoroastrianism do NOT correspond directly to Vedic deities themselves but are identifiable with the formidable powers/brilliant qualities of the Vedic Gods. In cases, that there is a direct connection to a Vedic deity, the Vedic God at hand is mostly a fading, marginal, almost forgotten god being in the Vedas.

In the poetic Gāθās/Songs of Zarathustra, Mazdá Ahûrá is the supreme ahûrá, the source of Godhood, and the progenitor of of all the Primeval Titanic energies.                                   

Mazdá is Ahûrá par excellence in Zoroastrianism, because he is “the genius power of mind to create, establish, summon into being.”

Mazdá Ahûrá of the Gāθās/Poetic Songs of Zarathustra have become Ahûrá Mazdá of later Zoroastrianism. Vedic Varuna has often been equated with Ahûrá Mazdá but the ancient Várshtmánsar commentary of the Gāθic Songs (in Yasna 32,) strongly contradicts any such comparison between Ahûrá Mazdá and Varuna.

However some of the superb qualities  that make Varuna, “ásura/god- power par excellence” in the Vedas are interchangeable with Mazdá Ahûrá of the Gāθās.

For example in Rig Veda 8.6.10, we read that Varuna is medhām “intelligent, mindful, insightful” as to r̥tá “rhythms, and formulas of the cosmic order, ”r̥tásya jagrábha. The epithet of Varuna here, Medhā “intelligent, mindful, wise,” is a cognate of Mazdá.

In Rig Veda 7.087.04a, Varuna is also called medhira “full of intelligence, mind-power and wisdom.” The epithet medhira corresponds to Gāθic hû-mánzdrá in Yasna 30.1, 3rd rhymed verse line.

There is NO ásura medhā in the Vedas, however the closest term to Avestan Ahûrá Mazdá is the ásurasya māyáyā in RV 5.63.7 namely the “magic of the ásuras, the magical substance, mind stuff of the Gods,” namely the power of mind to create, establish, manifest into reality.

Among the other Primeval Titanic energies in the Gāθās, known as the “Auspicious Immortals” in later Zoroastrianism, are aṣ̌á/arthá (right fit, precise order, excellence,) and vohü manö (good, genius mind, creative thinking.)

Aṣ̌á/Arthá (right fit, precise order, excellence,) is etymologically and semantically related to Vedic ṛtá.  Both aṣ̌á/arthá and ṛtá are intimately linked with brilliance, illumination and fire. But unlike Avestan aṣ̌á/arthá, Vedic ṛtá does NOT appear as a primordial god being or primeval titanic power in the Ṛgveda.                                                                                                                                 

Also, the distinct opposition between aṣ̌a and druj (Truth/Right Order verses deceit, lie; Vedic drúh,) that is of fundamental importance in the Gāθās, is absent from the Vedas. So is the opposition between the followers of right order, excellence (aṣ̌avan) and the followers of duplicity, falsehood (drәgvaṇt,) and the distinct contrast between the primordial gods/titans, ahûrás, and the daævas, which, contrary to their Vedic cognates (deva), appear as anti-gods/diabolic powers in the Avestan Lore.

The Vedic Vasus or Vásavah (the Good, Brilliant Ones, Wealth Givers) that are a class of deities headed by Indra, correspond in very general terms to the Primordial Titanic Energy of vohü manö (good, genius mind, brilliant, creative thinking) in the poetry of the Gāθās.

Indra, however is an arch demon in the Zoroastrian texts starting with the Avestan Vīdēvdād (10.9; 19.43). Interestingly, it is the Avestan “Good, Superb Order” (Aša Vahišta), who is assigned with the task of annihilating Indra. The annihilation of Indra at the hand of “superb order/artistry of the Immortals, asha vahishta” is mentioned in the Gāθic Várshtmánsar commentary of Yasna 48.1.  In the Várshtmánsar commentary of Yasna 32,  Indra is the arch demon that “freezes the minds of the creatures from living in “excellence, right fit, precise order of ashá.”                         

Among the other Primordial Titanic powers or Auspicious Immortals, Ármaiti (perfect focus, serene contemplation/meditation) has a Vedic Cognate, arámati. However, arámati is already a fading goddess in the Vedas.

Old Avestan/Gāθic Ameretát is the Titanic energy of “Immortality, Deathlessness,” and corresponds to Vedic term Vishve Amritás, “All the Immortals.” However, a powerful, personal, primeval Titanic energy embodying “ deathlessness, agelessness, becoming forever vigorous, and Immortal like the Gods” is not present in the Vedas, nor is there a connection between Immortality and sacred trees in the Vedic texts.

The Old Avestan/Gāθic primeval titanic power Haurvatát, “source of every healing, wholeness,” is compatible with minor Vedic deity Sarvátāti, “intactness, perfection.”

The major Gāθic god-force of “harkening, listening to the melody of the Immortals,” Sraôšá, corresponds to the Vedic concept of Shruti, (listening, hearing wisdom of the Gods.) But here again, Avestan Sraôšá has a colorful, personal aspect that is entirely absent in the Vedas.

In the Avesta or the sacred literature of Zoroastrianism, it is Sraôšá that reveals, and communicates the Gāθic manθrás, “powerful poetry/most effective mind formulas” to Zarathustra.

Avestan Miθra and Vedic Mitra both personify “friendship/love” for the Immortals, “our duty toward, and reciprocal contract with the God powers.” Yet, the Avestan Miθra has a much more colorful, formidable, personal, and heroic aspect to him than the Vedic Mitra.

Furthermore, the relation/reciprocity between man and Immortals/titanic energies (personified as Miθra in the Avesta) is much more “personal, immediately present, and mutual” in the Gāθās and the rest of the Avestan lore.                                           

Powerful epithets of Miθra such as “having strong arms and carrying a wondrous club” can not be found in Vedic Mitra. However, same epithets appear as virtues/powers of the The Vedic Indra.                                                           

Gāθic Vәrәthra-Jan (Yasna 44,) the later Avestan Vәrәthragna is the god-force of VICTORY, TRIUMPH, and the SMASHER OF OBSTACLES.  The Great Yazata of “Victory, Triumph,”  is highly revered in Zoroastrianism. Vedic Vṛtrahán (Smasher of Obstacles) is a cognate.

Yet again, we clearly see that the great Zoroastrian god force of “Victory, Triumph” Vәrәthragna, corresponds to a very powerful attribute of Indra rather than to the Vedic Deity himself.

Avestan Vata, “Wind, air, atmosphere,” also called Vaiiu (Vāyu,) has domains and functions in common with the Vedic deity of Wind. Yet, the dual nature of “air, wind, atmosphere” in the Avesta is entirely absent from the Vedas nor does the Vedic deity of “atmosphere, wind” partake in any great eschatological battles between good and evil.           

The Gāθās conclude with the “ideal of noble fellowship,” Airyemá Išyö. The Avestan Airyaman personifies “Nobility, Honor, Restoration to Life.” In the Várshtmánsar commentary of the concluding hymn to the Gāθās, the eschatological importance of Airyaman, “noble fellowship” is highlighted.  While the Vedic Aryaman is a cognate, but again the great eschatological role of the Avestan god-force of “honor, nobility,” is absent in the Vedas. It seems that Avestan Airyaman shares much more in common with the roles and functions of the Old Norse Irmingot  and the Irish Éremón.                                                   

The god beings that share most the cognate functions and roles in both Vedas and the Avesta are “the water-titan” Apąm Napāt, the “messenger of the Immortals,” Avestan Nairiiö-saŋha, Vedic Narāśaṃsa, the god-hero of healing Θrita (Trita), the goddess of dawn Ušah (Usạs.)

To the top of the list shall also be added Ātar and Agni, the god beings of fire, or Arәdvī Sürā Anāhitā “Mighty Lady of Pure Waters,” and Sarasvatī, who both confer rain, fertility, and eloquence.

The hymn to FIRE lies at the heart of the most sacred Yasna ceremony. Yasna consists of 72 sacred hymns, and the hymn to FIRE is right in the middle or at hymn 36. 

Yasna means literally “to yearn, long for,” and are hymns in praise of the fire, the waters, and Haoma “elixir of forever, eternal life,” that are placed around the Old Avestan core of the most powerful Gāθic manθrás. 

Haoma is the “elixir of forever/eternal life.” Vedic Soma, “Drink of the Gods” is a cognate. The status of Haoma in the Gāθās is disputed among scholars. But based on tradition and many scholarly views, it is CLEARLY NOT Haoma that Zarathustra reviles in his sacred poetry but the bloody sacrifices and killing of innocent animals that accompanied the Haoma preparation ceremonies before the dawn of Zoroastrianism.

The original  Haoma plant was most likely Peganum harmala [Flattery & Schwartz, 1989,] but later in ritual practice it was  replaced by ephedra (very similar to Mormon Tea.) During Yasna ceremony a sacred drink is prepared by the priests reciting powerful manθrás in honor of Haoma and other god beings. During the ceremony the ephedra twigs are mixed with pomegranate twigs, holy water, and milk/ cream. 

The early first part of the Yasna ritual and its preparatory service (where the sacred drink is not mixed with milk/cream) consists of pounding the consecrated liquid, and filtering the mixture.  

Compared with Vedic Soma, the Avestan Haoma has no direct relation to the legitimacy of the sovereigns and rulers, and symbolizes “nectar of Immortals, and life drops.” 

In the Avestan sacred lore, it is xvarәnah (fiery glory, divine charisma or good fortune) that gives legitimacy to rulers and sovereigns. However, this fiery glory of xvarәnah must be EARNED or captured, and is not an entitlement. The divine charisma of xvarәnah resides in depth of the oceans, and is cast on earth for the benefit of the living world by the Invincible Sun.



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Ancient Zoroastrian practices regarding Hair cuttings, Nail parings, and ancient Norse parallels

The treatment of hair cuttings and nail pairings in traditional, ancient Zoroastrianism is a very controversial subject among modern Zoroastrians. The ancient Zoroastrian customs surrounding hair cuttings and nail pairings are especially a thorny theme for great many Iranian Zoroastrians who prefer to deny such rites and ancient customs, and dismiss them as frivolous superstitions.

However, the ancient Zoroastrian practices with regard to special treatment of hairs and nails seem to go back to the very beginning of the Indo-European creation myths.

In Vi-daæv-dát 17 (laws/formulas against demons) 1-6, Zarathustra asks the Wise Lord, what is the act for which a certain demon, aôša (literally “scorching, destruction” is let loose in the world. The Wise Lord replies, when one arranges and cuts his hair and clips his nails, and then lets them fall into holes in the earth or into furrows without proper rites and formulas, demons come forth, and from these improprieties monsters come forth from the earth.

When you arrange and cut your hair and clip your nails, you should bear it ten steps from righteous men, twenty steps from the fire, thirty steps from the water, and fifty steps from the baresman (bundle of sacred twigs.)

Then you should dig a hole. To that hole you should bear the cuttings. Then you should pronounce these victorious words/formula Zarathustra: “Now for me may Mazda make the plants grow by means of ašá”(excellence, truth, radiant right.) You should then plow 3 or 6 or 9 furrows for xšathrá vairya (chosen dominion, kingship, power,) and you should recite the ahüna vairya formula 3 or 6 or 9 times.

There is much that is fascinating in this Vi-daæv-dát passage: the need to carry potentially impure hair cuttings and nail pairings away from sources of pure life (righteous men, fire, water, and sacred twigs), the use of furrows to mark off sacred space, and the instantaneous begetting of serpents and monsters from hair and nails that are improperly disposed of.

In Norse mythology we encounter an identical idea. We read in GYLFAGINNING 55 of the Poetic Eddas:
… Then (at the time of Ragnarök) the Fenris wolf is loosed, and the high sea dashes upon the land, for the Midgard serpent turns about with a giant’s rage and assails the land. Then it happens that the ship called Nagl-far “Nail-Ship” is loosed. It is built from the nails of dead men, and therefore it is worthy of a warning: if a man dies with uncut nails, then he increases the material for the ship Naglfar greatly, which æsir and men would wish to be slow in being built. And in this wave, Naglfar becomes sea going, and the monster who steers Nagl-far “nail-Ship” is called Hrym.

Nagl-far, the “Nail-ship’s,” basic idea is the improper disposal of hair or nails which threatens the well being of the cosmos-does go back to the Indo-European period, as can be seen from the comparison with ancient Zoroastrianism.

The text of In Vi-daæv-dát 17 prescribes the recitation of a victorious formula for the hair cuttings and nail pairings before they are properly buried in earth, namely “Now for me may Mazda make the plants grow by means of ašá(excellence, truth, radiant right.)

The sacred formula prescribed is the heart of the Vi-daæv-dát passage. In particular it is a quote from the poetic gathas of Zarathustra (Yasna 48.6 3rd rhymed verse line), which has been put to a creative magic use.

The gathic formula becomes a potent magic spell here by which the proper disposal of hair and nails leads to the growth of vegetation. What we have here is the subconscious association of hair and nails with the plant world, and we have the right formula to dispose of hair and nails by burying them properly in the earth.

In the creation myth of the ancient Indo-Europeans, the worlds are established by the primordial, pristine offering, Yemó “Twin,” the worlds are built up. Yemó’s skull became the heavens, his eyes the sun and moon, and his blood the seas; and, his hair became the plants and trees.

We read again in Norse mythology, poetic edda, GRÍMNISMÁL 40:
From Ymir’s flesh
The earth was made,
And from his blood the sea,
The mountains from his bones, The trees from his hair,
And from his skull, the heaven.

A very similar parallel is found in an eschatological Zoroastrian passage from bün.dahišn 30.6. The context is that Öhrmazd (Middle Iranian for Ahûrá Mazdá) is explaining why bodily resurrection is possible:

“Observe that, when that which was not was then produced, why is it not possible to produce again that which was? For at that time, one will demand the bone
from the spirit of earth, the blood from the water, the hair from the plants,
and the life from fire, since they were delivered to them in the original, pristine creation.”

In the eschatological bün.dahišn text above, the cosmogony is explained in reverse. The whole idea is that if proper disposal serves to create the cosmos, then improper disposal can create chaos out of cosmos.

Like almost every idea and ritual in Zoroastrianism, our practices and beliefs go back to the primordial Indo-European days. Though at times, they might appear strange or unfamiliar to us today, nevertheless they have deep meanings for subconscious mind, and teach us the subtleties of subconscious symbolism and myths in myriad ways.


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Creation in the Poetic Gathas, and Ancient Zoroastrianism

Unlike the Book of Genesis, which is the religious sourcebook of Judeo-Christian Civilization, in the Poetic Gathas of Zarathustra, the Cosmos has already been made, and consists of the world of “thoughts, imagination, mind energy” mainyü, and the world of “physical form” called literally the world of “bones and flesh” astvatö.

The process of “manifestation” into physical form involves: “power of thoughts/mind,” “focusing,” “establishing,” and “fitting into the right place.” This “perfect fitting, work of art” is called apa in the archaic Avestan, and is a cognate of Vedic ápas, Latin opus, Old Norse efna “work.”

In the Poetic Gathas, hvapa “Superb Artisan,” fashions Cosmos out of mind stuff, (See Yasna 37.2, 2nd rhymed verse line, Yasna 44.5, 2nd and third rhymed verse lines, Yasht 5.85.)

The supreme God Ahûrá Mazdá, at the primordial yasná “desire, yearning,” thinks the realms of light, and superb order (See 31.7, 1st rhymed verse, and Yasna 31.19, 1st rhymed verse line.)

The ahûrás “Artisan Gods” formulate the mind formulas (See Yasna 29.7, 1st rhymed verse line,) and set in place the pristine existence.

The word for “Creator” Avestan dátár, Vedic dhátár, comes from the ancient root dheh “to set, establish.” Cosmic Order is “set in place, established” through ašá/arthá “excellence, right fit, truth of the Immortals.”

In Zoroastrianism, this artistic power “to establish, set in the right place” is a splendid, wondrous God force, and universe is a battleground between the forces of Excellence/Order of the Brilliant Immortals, and chaos of the diabolic forces.

In this world of physical forms, the battle is fought between the warriors of light, and those who follow drûj “lies, darkness, deception” that distorts the cosmic quest for excellence/order.

The climatic battle is fought between those who bring out the invincible sun, the powers of light, virility and life, and the creatures of darkness who try to prevent the sun/dawn from rising, (See Yasna 32.10, 2nd rhymed verse line, Yasna 43.16, 4th rhymed verse line, Yasna 46.3, 1st rhymed verse line, Yasna 50.2, 3rd rhymed verse line, Yasna 50.10, 3rd rhymed verse line.)

The splendid remaking of the cosmic order after periods of chaos is according to ratü “right formulae” or “blueprint” of the pristine manifestation ahûna vairiia (will to become godlike.)

The “right formulas of mind/consciousness” are taught by Ármaiti, “Perfect Calm/Meditation,” (See Yasna 43.6, 4th rhymed verse line.) The marvelous regeneration of the worlds by Ahûrá Mazdá is achieved through the combined efforts of the Gods, and righteous men supporting the quest for eternal excellence, cosmic order, and truth.

In conclusion, it be shall emphasized that Creation in Zoroastrianism is NOT ex nihilo, or creation out of nothing. All the words that come in connection with “creation” refer to “cutting, sculpting, fashioning, forging, and fitting into the right place.”

Avestan thwöreštar “creator” is the superb artificer who cuts/hews, and creates works of art. Another common term for Creator tašan means “artisan, builder carpenter.” Avestan tašan combines the notion of “weaver” with that of “builder.” Greek tékton is a cognate. Cosmos has already been there, Godhood only fashions cosmos into ever more splendid excellence.


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Ayāθrima (coming to shelter,) the Zoroastrian autumnal thanks giving festival

In the Zoroastrian sacred calendar there are 6 great festivals. These 6 festivals that mark the “proper or propitious points in time” are called yáirya ratvö (right or advantageous times of the year) in the Avestan lore. The autumnal thanksgiving festival or Ayáθrima is celebrated from October 12-October 16.

Ayáθrima literally means “coming to home/shelter.” The first part of Ayáθrima comes from a root that mean “get to a place, come,” and the second part comes from the root thrá “protection/shelter.” This 4th of the great thanksgiving festivals celebrates the “coming home of livestock,” every autumn, from their lush mountain pastures to their shelters.

Ayáθrima goes back to the ancient Indo European nomadic, pastoralist traditions. Animals are beautifully decorated, milk, cheese and other refreshments are offered to the needy or simply to onlookers.

Very Similar traditions still exist among the rural populations of Eastern Europe. The Bavarian festivals of Almabtrieb and Verschied, celebrated in the alpine region of Allgäu are almost identical to Ayáθrima. Verschied and its close partner Almabtrieb celebrate the return of the prodigal cows, every autumn from the their lush mountain pastures, high in the Alps.

Among the 6most favorable times the year,” the 3rd festival Paitiš.hahya (bringing in the harvest, fruits) and the 4th Ayāθrima (homecoming of the livestock to their shelter,) celebrate times important for ancient Indo European pastoralists and farmers, while the other festivals mark the solstices, and equinoxes. The fact that the winter solstice festival is called Maiδ.yaar “midyear” shows that these festivals belonged originally to a calendar in which the year was reckoned from the summer solstice.

The auspicious holidays are celebrated with religious services, communal banquets at which the consecrated food are shared, with drinking of lots wine and much merrymaking. The lavish banquets suppose to bring rich and poor together, renew fellowship, with forgiveness of wrongs and charity to the poor. The Sassanid kings are known to have given lavish banquets for their citizens during these auspicious festivals. In Islamic times, down to the 20th century, the Iranian Zoroastrians have regularly endowed these festivals as times of great charity.


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Autumnal equinox, Mehregan, a time to reaffirm our allegiance and friendship with the Immortals,

The Avestan*Miθra-kāna, modern Persian Mehrägān is an ancient Zoroastrian Autumnal festival, closely connected to the equinox, and dedicated to Miθrá (reciprocity, mutual bond, friendship with the Gods.)

The celebration of Baga Miθrá in the 7th month of the Achaemenid calendar Baga-yadi– also coincided with celebrations for the autumnal equinox.

Equinox is the astronomical phenomenon most clearly linked to the concept of “equity, balance, duty, fidelity, and genuine friendship.”  Zoroastrian religiosity is allegiance to the Gods, commitment to virtue and wisdom, and having unshakeable faith in a higher destiny or mission.

In Zoroastrianism, mortal man is a friend of the Gods, a charioteer of the Invincible Sun, a bridge between the primal, and the boundless ideal of the Immortals.

Zoroastrian religiosity is NOT rooted in any kind of fear of hell or slavery to an all-powerful Despotic God. Instead Zoroastrian religiosity is about believing in Gods as Friends/Allies Miθrá. The Mazda Worshipping Religion teaches commitment to a luminous vision, and faith in a higher mission, destiny.

To believe in the Gods as allies/friends means that Immortal Gods, and men are bound together through “wisdom, virtue, an eternal quest for excellence, light and truth.” Mehrägān is a time to re-examine our allegiance to the Immortal Gods, to see if we are committed to our higher destiny or Not, to see if we are Loyal to the Powers of light/the Invincible Sun, and finally if we are fulfilling our contract/duties toward the Brilliant Immortals.

Mehrägān has a dominant solar warrior aspect, and marks the triumph of Justice over usurpation, and imposter. The victory of the epic healer hero of the ancient Aryans thraætaoôna over the Mesopotamian tyrant dragon Żaḥḥāk is celebrated during Mehrägān. The moral message of Mehrägān is that Dominion and Power will go back to its rightful heirs, and at last Kingship will be for the downtrodden noble ones, the true allies, friends of the Gods.

Ancient Zoroastrian Sovereigns marked Mehrägān as an official occasion in which the king assigned “duties and assignments. We have to fundamentally understand that Zoroastrianism is not about a false sense of entitlements, BUT about Duties toward the Brilliant Immortals, and fulfilling our higher destiny/contract with the Gods.

Ancient Greeks attributed the epithet mesítēs to Miθrá (according to Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride, 46,) and understood Mithrá to act as an arbitrator/mediator on the cosmological, eschatological, and anthropological levels (Belardi, pp. 32-45.)

The importance of Mehrägān was not lost to early Persian converts to islam. For example the first Persian covert to islam, Behrouzán later called Salman the Persian has said that “In Magi times we used to say that Gods have created an ornament for mortals, of rubies on Nowruz, of emeralds on Mehrajān. Therefore these two days excel all other days in the same way as these two jewels excel all other jewels” (cf. similar point in Ps-Jāḥeẓ, Maḥāsen, p. 361).

Thus the two poles of the religious Zoroastrian year were understood to be the vernal and autumnal equinoxes. Mehrägān is a time for exchanging gifts, drinking great amounts of red wine, and holding lavish banquets in honor of the Immortals.

I like to conclude by the following words from Counsels to PŌRYŌTKĒŠĀN, the “counsels of the foremost or ancient sages.” The passage is also a commentary to the first three words at.čá töi vaæm “may we be like you” in Yasna 30.9 of the Gathas; “I have come from the unseen world, I belong to Öhrmazd, I belong to the Gods, not to the demons, to the good, not to the wicked. I am a man, not a demon. My mother is Spandarmad, (the Earth), and my father is Öhrmazd. My humanity is from Martyæ and Martyánæ.  I belong to the Auspicious Brilliant Immortals. I have no bonds to the Lord of flaws, and his demons of darkness and gloom.


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The Myth of the overnight islamization of the ancient Zoroastrian Iran

Modern revisionist Moslem historians, and scholars such as the late Ayatollah Motahari, have attributed the fall of the mighty Sassanid Empire, the last native, Zoroastrian Empire of ancient Iran to the “simplicity, clarity and class equality of the monotheistic Islam.”

According to contemporary Moslem revisionists, “the great unpopularity of the Zoroastrian Priesthood of the late Sassanid period combined with the arrogance selfishness, and cruelty of an elitist, Sassanid nobility, gifted victory to the invading Moslem Arabs.” The myth states that the invading Moslem armies were met with little or virtually NO resistance from a disgruntled population who almost immediately embraced the superior ideology of Islam!!!

Unfortunately for the modern Moslem revisionists, their fairly recent account of islamization of ancient Persia DOES NOT AT ALL AGREE with EVEN ONE SINGLE early Islamic historian or chroniclers, such as Balāḏorī’s Fotūḥ (Conquests,) chronicles of Al Ṭabarī, and histories of Masʿūdī, Morūǰ.

(Balāḏorī, Fotūḥ (Conquests) is the main authentic moslem source for the islamic take over of the Iranian plateau. The narration of arab moslem conquests is divided topically by each geographical region of the Iranian Plateau, See pp. 68-94, 105-13, 241-89, 301-431.

See also the chronicles of Al Ṭabarī, I, p. 1528 to III, p. 2. Yaʿqūbī, II, pp. 54-410, and Masʿūdī, Morūǰ (ed. Pellat) III, p. 29 to IV, p. 83.)

All the early Islamic sources attribute the fall of the Sassanid Empire to Moslem resolve to establish the POLITICAL and MILILTARY DOMINATION of Islam, greater mobility/flexibility of Bedouin armies, Sassanid dynastic instability after Ḵosrow II Parviz, great discord among the Sassanid nobles thereafter, and complicity of the Persian local nobles and rulers with the invading Moslem armies for their short-term Political and Economic expediency.

According to ALL the early Moslem early sources, the main concern of the invading Moslem armies was to establish the Political and Military Domination of the Islamic religion, and impose Islamic taxation or jazziya on the conquered non- Moslem populations. For example after the battle of Qādesīya, a decisive victory for the Moslems which opened the Mesopotamian rich territories of the Sassanid Empire to the Arabs, the Arab commander Saʿd approached al-Madāʾen (“apex of all cities” Arab term for the Sassanid seat of Power Ctesiphon,) slaughtered the Sassanid garrison near Ctesiphon, captured most of the royal treasure, accepted the surrender of the people in the White Palace and at Rūmīya in return for tribute/treasures, and quartered the Muslim army there.

The Moslem arrangement was tributes in return for nominal security of the local populations. Also, Jazziya or Tribute paid by Non Moslems was substantially raised after each rebellion.

We read in Qur’an 9:29—“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizzyah (heavy tribute/poll tax) with submission, and feel themselves subdued and humiliated.

Moslem invaders drew upon hadith “sayings” attributed to the Prophet of Islam, and the first Shi‘ite Imām “religious leader ” ‘Ali b. Abi Tālib (598-661) for incorporating Zoroastrians into the ahl al-ḏhimma “communities enjoying blood protection guarantee.”

The Zoroastrians were not given full status like Christians and Jews but the dhimmi status provided nominal safety for the conquered Zoroastrian masses. The dhimmi or the “blood protection guarantee” for Zoroastrians was halfheartedly recognized by Omar the second Caliph, and the Umayyad (661-750) and the ‘Abbasid (750-1258) Caliphates.

Zoroastrianism clearly represented the Dominant faith numerically, though NO LONGER politically in the Mountainous Iranian Plateau, Caucasus, and Central Asia for FEW CENTURIES after the Islamic conquest.

The conversion to Islam by the native Iranian populace has been narrated by the early Islamic sources, as very slow, gradual, and at times very violent. The overnight adoption of Islam by the oppressed masses is a false myth that is entirely ABSENT from all the early Moslem accounts.

Places such as Hamadān and ancient City of Ray, were taken and retaken several times. Ḥoḏayfa b. al-Yamān accepted the surrender of the town and district of Nehāvand from its lord, called Dīnār; he arranged to pay tribute in return for protection for the walls, property, and houses of the people there.

Hamadān was taken over on similar terms. The territory of Ray was taken from the marzbān with the help of a local noble called Faroḵān, on terms similar to Nehāvand. A tribute of 500,000 dirhams was imposed on Ray and Qūmes; in return the fire temples were not to be destroyed nor the people killed or enslaved.

Ḥoḏayfa b. al-Yamān marched west to Azerbaijan, where he defeated the marzbān, took the capital of Ardabīl, and imposed a tribute of 100,000 dirhams. According to the terms made by Ḥoḏayfa, the people were not to be killed or taken captive; and their fire temples would not be destroyed.

The people of Šīz were allowed to keep their fire temple and to perform their dances at religious festivals.   

After the death of the second Caliph ʿOmar in 23/644, all the places in Azerbaijan, the Highlands, and the Heartland of Pārs withheld tribute and had to be retaken.

While the Muslims were preoccupied with their own first civil war (35-41/656-61), most of ancient Zoroastrian Iran slipped out of their control, and there were numerous popular revolts all over the conquered territories.

The Hephthalites of Bāḏḡīs, Herat, and Pūšang withheld tribute, as did Nīšāpūr; the people of Zarang overthrew their Muslim garrison, when the third Caliph ʿAlī was busy with Kharijite revolts in Iraq, widespread tax revolt broke out in the Highlands, Highland of Pārs, and Kermān in 39/659; the tax collectors were driven out, and Zīād b. Abīhi was sent to bloodily suppress/crush rebels at Eṣṭaḵr Pārs and Kermān. The third Calipf ʿAlī also managed to send a military force that retook Nīšāpūr in the northeast. Eastern Iran had to be re-conquered under Moʿāwīa.

The outbreak of the second Muslim civil war at Moʿāwīa’s death in 61/680 ended expansion in the east for twenty-five years, and after the death of Moʿāwīa’s son, Yazīd in 64/683, Moslem rule collapsed in Khorasan and Sīstān.

The lush mountains of Northern Iran, and the breadbasket of Zābolestān in the East, were never permanently controlled by the Moslem, except through their elite proxies. It took the Moslem armies over 100 years to fully control/conquer all the Mountainous Iranian plateau, and the Sassanid territories east of Mesopotamia.

To ensure the conquered population paid their jazziya or Islamic taxation, Arab garrisons were established at key former Sassanid urban administrative centers, and in frontier regions of the ancient Persian Empire. The countryside was controlled indirectly through local nobles and landlords dihqans who were willing to collaborate with the Moslem Arab invaders.

An agricultural reform during Ḵosrow I Anôshirvan allowed local landlords and nobles to switch production to cash crops, such as cotton or sugar cane. This led to a substantial increase in local economies and wealth. However Ḵosrow II Parviz used this new economic boom to fund his wars of expansion with Byzantium. The local nobles and landlords wanted to keep their own land and increased wealth for themselves, and saw collaboration with Arabs much more lucrative than staying loyal to the Sassanid Empire, and financing the Empire’s war machine with Byzantium.

The collection of tributes/Jazziya by the local nobles in their own districts or little, autonomous kingdoms had the effect of establishing protectorates by the Arab Moslems. The new Moslem overlords by using collaborative local rulers and installing Arab garrisons, secured most of ancient Iran under their rule. However, after numerous popular rebellions, tribute arrangements had to be constantly re-imposed.

ACCESS TO POWER meant adopting Arabism and Islam. The ELITE adopted the new Islamic ideology, and gained positions of authority by doing so, from the eighth through tenth centuries, two or three centuries AFTER the Islamic conquest. Arabic became the language of religion, literature, and science thereafter. No scientific work could be published and no scientist could be recognized unless they adopted Islam as religion and Arabic as the sacred and scientific language.

A good many among the Zoroastrian priests became early interpreters of the canonical beliefs of the Islamic religion. The conversion of the Persian elite to Islam around this time period has contributed if not wholly but substantially to the rise of the Islamic Golden Age, for over 90% percent of Moslem scientists and scholars of this golden age era are Persian.

We read in the Preface to Greater Bundahishn (the Zoroastrian account of Creation, finally put down in writing around 10th or 11th century,) Owing to the coming of the Arabs to the realm of the Aryans, and their promulgation of heterodoxy and ill-will, orthodoxy has vanished and fled from the magnates, and respectability from the upholders of religion; deep wonderful utterances, and the proper reasoning of things, meditation for action, and word of true reason, have faded from the memory and knowledge of the populace.

On account of evil times, even he of the family of nobles, and the magnates upholding the religion, have joined the faith and path of those heretics; and for the sake of prestige, they have defiled, with blemishes, the word, dress, worship and usages of the faithful.

He too, who had the desire to learn this science and secret, could not possibly appropriate them, from place to place, even with pain, trouble and difficulty. 

Islam spread among native Zoroastrian rural folk from the tenth through thirteenth centuries. According to tradition, the dastūrān dastūr, the “ Zoroastrian supreme high priest” moved to the desolate and rugged central Iranian village of Torkābad, north of Yazd in the late twelfth century, after Zoroastrianism was no longer the majority religion.

After the late 12th century the Zoroastrians steadily moved to the out-of-the-way locales into rugged, and desolate Mountains of Central Iran.

The Safavid period (1501-1736), and the institutionalization of Shi‘ism, marked a horrific time for the followers of the ancient faith in Iran. Up to the Safavid period, Zoroastrians constituted a substantial minority similar to the Copts in Egypt that make up about 20% of the population.

Forcible conversion of Zoroastrians to Shi‘ism, execution of Zoroastrians who refused to comply, coupled with destruction of their fire temples and other places of learning and worship was decreed by Solṭān Ḥosayn (r. 1694-1722; Lockhart, pp. 72-73; for the Shiʿite religious context, see also MAJLESI, MOḤAMMAD-BĀQER.)

During the reign of Shah ʿAbbās I (1587-1629), Zoroastrians had been forcibly relocated to the capital city Isfahan as skilled, slave labor (Pietro della Valle [1586-1652], tr., II, p. 104; Garcia de Silva y Figueroa [1550-1624], tr., p. 179.)

Shah ʿAbbās even had a high priest or dastur dasturān executed together with other Zoroastrian notables for failing to deliver to the royal court a magical manuscript that the Zoroastrians were thought to have possessed (John Chardin [1643-1713], II, p. 179.).

In the mid-1650s, among the harsh measures undertaken during the reign of ʿAbbās II (r. 1642-66), mass expulsion of Zoroastrians from Isfahan’s city center took place—on account of their presence being deemed UNCLEAN, detrimental to the orthodox Moslem beliefs, ritual purity, and day-to-day safety of Moslems. See chronicler Aṙakʿel of Tabriz (tr. in Bournoutian, pp. 347-61.)

The Ritual Uncleanliness of Zoroastrian was justified based on the following Verse, Qur’an 9:28—O ye who believe! Truly the Pagans are unclean.

Similarly, after Zoroastrians sided with the more religiously tolerant Zand dynasty (1750-94), which made overtures to ancient Iranian tradition, Zoroastrians were designated as traitors and were most cruelly punished by Āḡā Moḥammad Khan Qājār.

The Miraculous Socioeconomic Success of the Parsi Zoroastrians under the British Raj, and their coming to the aid of their Iranian brethren was the only thing that saved Zoroastrians in Iran during the Qajar rule.

I shall conclude this article by addressing the last false myth regarding the collapse of the Sassanid Dynasty, namely the overreaching and corrupt power of the Zoroastrian Priesthood at the end of the Sassanid dynasty.

Khosrow II Parviz and some of the Late Sassanid kings after him, EXCEPT the noble Yazdgerd III were all known for making public overtures to the Mesopotamian Christian communities of their Empire. Khosrow II Parviz (r.591-628), the quintessential last-Sassanid king of kings, married an Armenian Christian wife, and had a Christian chief minister. Likewise, in the course of gathering support for his campaigns against Byzantium, Khosrow Parviz supported the Nestorian Christian community in present day Syria.

The same Khosrow Parviz, upon conquering, and entering Jerusalem, moved the True Christian Cross from Jerusalem to Khuzistan in the South-West of Iran in order to provide prestige for the Christians of his empire. Christians, in fact, were the dominant population in Mesopotamian territories of the Sassanid. In all reality, the Sassanid dynasty ended with Khosrow II in 628.

There is NO EVIDENCE of a state sponsored, all-powerful Zoroastrian Priesthood at the end of the Sassanid era. Rather all the evidence suggests that during the reign of, and after Khosrow II Parviz, Orthodox Zoroastrianism was increasingly disassociated from the late Sassanid State.


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Ancient Zoroastrianism, Dialectical or Dualistic Monism

Dialectical monism, also known as dualistic monism, holds that all reality consists ultimately of one substance, and that this one substance expresses itself in terms of dialectical or opposing forces.

The sacred poetry/songs of Zarathustra teach that the magic substance of all reality is “mind-energy,” and that “mind, imagination, visions and ideas” are the prime force.

Accordingly, “mind energy, imagination, consciousness, spirit,” creates and determines all manifestation or reality. In other words, universe is ultimately dependent, and composed of the energy of “mind or spirit.”

The most pertinent Old Avestan/Gathic passages that assert “imagination, mind-power and ideas” to be the origin of all reality are Yasna 30, Yasna 31.7, Yasna 31.11 and Yasna 45.

Godhood in Zoroastrianism is the “odyssey of consciousness, the endless adventures, and the progressive journey of healthy, vibrant and energetic mind or spirit.” The Supreme God of Zoroastrianism Mazdá is the very definition of this eternal journey of the “vibrant energy of healthy mind/spirit to establish, and create ever better, and more splendidly.”

Mazdá is the “Boundless Will to learn, discover, innovate and create,” and is the essence of Godhood. What the Rig Veda calls ásurasya māyáyā (See RV 5.63.7 “magic of the ásuras,) is the closest description to the supreme god of Zoroastrianism Ahûrá Mazdá.

For Mazdá “powers of mind to summon into being” is the magic stuff of the ahûrás, æsir, the Titans, and the very essence of Godhood according to the poetic Gathas/Songs of Zarathustra.

Ancient commentators of the most sacred verse in Zoroastrianism ahünvar “will to become godlike,” use a magic word play on the meaning of the name of the supreme god Mazdá.

According to Yasna 19.13 daz.dá man.aη “establishing, creating through mind energy,” in the second rhymed verse line of the holiest formula, is a play on the name of Mazdá who is pristine “mind, spirit,” para îm iδa man.aηhæ činasti.

While Godhood in Zoroastrianism is the endless adventures of the “vibrant mind power, passion of the spirit to overcome limitations, and brilliantly create; the diabolic/evil is the diseased, stagnated, broken spirit.

The heaven or abode of Immortals is in the “Vibrant, Energetic Spirit/Disposition, or the “Good Mind,” that gives mortal men a connection to the realm of “creativity and brilliant imagination.” In Zoroastrianism, this adventurous, healthy “Good Mind/Spirit” is the pathway to the Gods.

The Gathas/Songs of Zarathustra teach about a “progressive dialectical or plural monism.” Accordingly, the flow of change, consciousness tends toward a “spiral-shaped progression” rather than a perpetual non-progressive (repetitive) circling of history. The wheel of time moves in circles but always forward with an adventurous spirit, toward endless betterment, (See Yasna 44.17.)

In Zoroastrianism, “mind energy, consciousness, Godhood, and the universe” are marked by an increasing progress. What stagnates and begins to rot though is the anti-God, the diabolic.

This “dialectical or plural monism” taught by the Zoroastrian sacred lore recognizes the existence of a multiplicity of God entities/beings, which in the Avestan text are called “the ten thousand Immortals.”

The number of the Immortals of Mazdá has been cited as 7 (eternity, infinity) 33 (infinite wisdom,) 50, 100, 1000, 10,000, and “beyond reckoning” in the Avetsa, (See Vispered 8.1 for example.)

The Old Avestan gathic formula mazdávs.čá ahûráηhö “Mazdá and his ahûrás,” is a reference to the 10,000 Immortals or Immortals beyond reckoning in the Avestan sacred lore. Darius worship of Auramazdā together with all the other gods (baga) is a reflection of the same concept.

The gathic formula of mazdávs.čá ahûráηhö “Mazdá and his ahûrás,” reminds one of the Old Norse Skáldskaparmál 41: Óðni ok öllum ásum “to Odin and all the æsir,” Skáldskaparmál 23: Óðins ok ása “of Odin and the aesir,” Hávamál 143: Óðinn með ásum “Odin with the Æsir,” also Baldr” Gylfaginning 49: Baldrs ok asana, (See Didier Calin, Dictionary of Indo European Poetic and Religious Themes page 139.)

Scottish Evangelist, John Wilson attacked the Zoroastrian reverence of the Brilliant Immortals Amertá/Amešá Spenta and the Hallowed God Beings Yazatas as a clear form of polytheism claiming that Zoroastrians are worshipers of ahûras and elements of nature, such as of fire, waters, sun, the moon and the heavenly lights.

Zoroastrian Litanies to fire, water, the moon, sun, and Mithra “friendship with the Immortals” compromise the daily Zoroastrian worship. The conservative (or traditional) view of the gathas, and ancient Zoroastrianism is indeed a dualistic worldview. All reality is mind energy and mind independent.

The origins of Monotheism must be traced back to Pharaoh Akhenaten and his cult of Aton, and not to ancient Zoroastrianism, for nothing in the gathas, the Zoroastrian sacred lore or age old tradition can substantiate anything other than a dialectical or dualistic monism.


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