- The Egyptian Book of the Dead
- A myth of creation. In ancient Egyptian fragments dating from 3000 to 1500 B.C.E. (see here).
Let me explain what I mean. The Magi have a ritual that involves the placing of a number of sticks together and then tying them with a sacred cord. The cord symbolizes love and the sticks symbolize individuals are tied together by a mutual love. The ritual bundle of sticks is called a Barsam in Zoroastrianism. The symbolism of the Barsam is that each individual stick, like an individual person, can be easily broken under pressure, but when these sticks are tied together; they can endure much greater force and not break.
But that is not all. We have Barsams of Light and Barsams of Darkness. When I first heard that from an old Magi (Dastoor Syavakhsh of Yazd), I was very surprised and asked him what a Barsam of Darkness was. His explanation was verysimple. He said that every time there is darkness in the cord that binds the Barasam, that Barsam becomes a Barsam of darkness and not of light. Every time several persons conspire together and kill another person, a very strong Barsam of darkness gets tied between them. They become strongly bound together by the dark cord of their dark deed. The great challenge is for persons to form Barsams of light that are so strongly bound together for good that they defeat even the strongest of Barsams of Darkness.
When the Magi went to Rome from Persia, they tookwith them the seeds of a religion called Mithraism. One of the sacred rituals of the religion of Mithras was to tie a Barsam called a Fascia in Latin. The Fascia was tied together in the Roman senate and the act of tying of the individual sticks together was called Relegare. It is from this Magic concept of tying together or Relegare that we get the word Religion. It meant the tying of persons together by the cord of a sacred and mutual love.
Later when Mithraism fell and Christianity took over, the Religion of Mithras became labelled as a cult and a perverted account of its rituals was presented to the world by biased Christian historians. It was St. Augustine that changed the concept of Religion as what tied men together in a bond of love to something that tied men to God in acts of blind faith. That changed the basic meaning of Religion into something that many free thinkers reject and consider an enemy of mental freedom. Later, when Fascists came to power in Italy, their Fascia went dark from the onset because they got their strength by being tied together with dark cords of hate for the Jews, Blacks, Homosexuals, etc.
The Barasam ritual I hear is still alive amongst the high Dastoors of the Magi lineage in India. In Iran, the liberals have killed this ritual and I do not know of any Magi or Moobed who still knows how to perform it.
All I wanted to say in this essay is that we do get tied together by our love for certain myths regarding creation, but these creation myths are nothing but stories. We make them, and we can remake them. We do not have to be stuck between the pages of some old storybook and following myths that no longer make sense to us. Our age is thirsty for fresh myths and we may be those persons that can refresh ancient myths in new ways that humanity needs to be united in its Barsam.
Stages of Creation, From AHURA to MAZDA
What I have written bellow is a “Story of Creation” that I like. I was thought it, I liked it, and I am sharing it with you. No pretence of it being sacred or infallible or something one must believe in; just a creation story that you might enjoy.
Stage 1 — EXISTANCE, AHURA.
Ah means “existence” and Ahura is “that which Exists”. The Ahuraic stage begins with a very complex question that asks: Can anything have “existence” without having a “body”?
The ancient Magi thought that if they could find something with existence yet without a body, then surly that must be the first creation and worthy of special reverence .
The first existence in this Ahuraic stage they concluded must be Zarvan. Zarvan means “Time” and in Zarvanism which is another religion of the Magian lineage, Zarvan is believed to have “existence” but no “body”. Thus Zarvan was very sacred to them and they considered it the no beginning and no end bases on which all creation occurred.
Zarvan is supposed to have two manners of behaviour. First is Zarvan-a-Akarna — “Time that has No Shores”. Zarvan-a-Akarna begins at a-sar — “that which has no head” (“No Beginning”) — and flows to a-pad – “that which has no feet” (“No End”).
Next a kind of “Vortex” was imagined in this river of endless Time. They called that Zarvan-A Darghoo Khodata or “Time that has Consequences”. Here we do not have an endless river of time flowing with no consequence but a vortex in the river with enormous consequences. This is the kind of time you have on your hands when your girlfriend has got pregnant and the endless inconsequential romance you had will be in a fast moving consequential process now. The vortex is not permanent and in Time it melts in the river only to reappear somewhere else in Time.
Stage 2 — BODY, TAN
That which started as only having Ah and being only Ahura, in Zarvan or “Time” begins to have tan or “body”. We have here all the lifeless objects in the Cosmos from the largest galaxies to the smallest rocks. These are objects that “exist” and have a “body”, but no “life”. In this stage, two forces start to perform a necessary dance and “push” and “pull” on one another. One is called Mithra or the “Male energies that push” and the other is called Anahitha or the “Female energies that pull”.
Remember that the Female and the Male love one another, dance together, and compliment each other. Their balance of male and female energies was a key in ancient medicine because they considered good health to be the result of these two forces operating in perfect balance and harmony. The male/female energies are not to be mixed with the good/bad mentalities Vohoo-Man and Ahri-Man. They belong to the “mental” realm (-man) while the mind has not even been formed yet at this stage.
- Zabih Behrooz
I have not found any modern Mazdayasni thinker, except for my teacher Behrooz, who has clearly differentiated between the male and female energies who compliment one another and the good and bad mentalities that battle one another. Fire, Water, Earth, and Air belong to this stage of creation. Four of the Amesha Spenta are identified with these four elements, Asha  with Fire, Haurvatat with Water, Spenta Armaiti with Earth, and Khshathra Vairyu with Air.
Stage 3 — LIFE, JAN
In this next stage we have things that in addition to having “existence” and “body” have “life” also. The entire Plant kingdom is placed here as plants have 1) Existence, 2) Body and also 3) Life. Ameretat is the Amesha Sepenta identified with the plant kingdom. Ameretat means “Defying Death” and plants do try to defy death by reproducing themselves.
Please remember that like in alchemy where on one level lead is supposed to be turned into gold while in a deeper level it is the lead of our basic urges that has to be turned into the gold of superior characters, we have the same realities with the seven Amesha Sepentas also. While on one level they are identified with the seven sacred elements of Fire, Water, Earth, Air, Plants, Animals, and Man, (or with the seven colours of the rainbow and many other sevens) on another level, they are identified with the stages of perfection that a person must climb in order to reach perfection and even immortality.
Stage 4 — MOTION, RAVAN
At this stage we have things that in addition to having 1) Existence, 2) Body and 3) Life, have 4) Ravan or “Motion” also. Here we have the entire Animal kingdom. While a plant (for all practical purposes) can not move itself from location to location, most animals can. When it rains, a cat moves indoors while a rosebush can not. Ravan has usually been translated as “Soul” while here it is taken from the root Raftar or movement and does not mean exactly the soul. Karma for the Hindus and Buddhists and Rooh in Islam have connotations of movement also. The Ameshasepand Vohooman or the Good Mind is the guardian of the animal kingdom. This shows that the animals may be considered as having a “Mind” also.
Stage 5 — MIND, MAZDA
In stage five, that which began as only being Ahura, develops to a stage of having a “mind” and becoming Mazda. Humans are an example of this stage. Humans 1) Exist, 2) have a Body, 3) have Life, 4) have ability to Move, and 5) can “Think”.
At a time, the distinction between the ability of a human to “think” and an animal that also can do so to a great extent was not clear for me. Then a friend explained how the ability of an animal to think and that of humans did have actually very basic differences. Humans supposedly can think in a cybernetic and abstract manner that is very different from an animal-s ways of avoiding harm and moving towards rewards. As I am not versed in Cybernetics, I will take the word of my friend for this. Spenta Mainyu is the Amesha Spenta identified with this realm.
Up to this stage, nothing is good or bad in creation because there is no human mind to perceive anything as good or bad. I know it may be part of our human arrogance that we think thus, but as long as no Mouse has written articles about the evil whose name is Cat, we will assume that mice do not conceive of cats as evil. But with the mind of man come all manners of labelling of things and we label two manners of thinking, one as “good”, and the other as “bad”. Bad and evil thoughts become labelled as Ahri-Man and good and constructive thoughts as Vohoo-Man. It is worth while to observe that Vohooman or “Good-Thoughts” is associated with the Animal kingdom while Spenta Mainyu or “Sacred Thoughts” belong to the Human level. One can speculate much about why this has been categorized as such, but I will not get sidetracked into another complex issue here.
Asha means “laws of nature” up to this stage because there is no element of choice in Asha alone. We do not choose to make water run down the hill; it is its Asha to do so. But with the formation of human mind we have Asha Vahishta or “that Asha which is the best”. To choose the “best” requires a “mind”. What is the “best Asha” of raising a child or combating crime in our society? There are many Ashas here and they all give us results of one kind or another; but it is up to us to choose the “best” of these Ashas and argue about its merits amongst us.
- Ahura is the Zero of the beginning of existence an example of something in this Ahuraic stage is Zarvan or Time.
- In Time, that which has an Ahuraic existence gets to have Tan or “body”. Mithra and Anahitha begin their dance at this stage. Fire of Asha, Water of Horvatat, Earth of Sepanta Armaiti and, Air of Khashatra Vaerya belong to this stage of creation.
- At this stage we have things that have “existence” plus “body” plus Jan or “life”. Plants are in this stage and Amaratat is the Ameshasepanta of this kingdom.
- Here we have things that have “existence” plus “body” plus “life” plus Ravan or “movement”. Animals are an example of things in this level and Vohooman is the Ameshasepand of this stage of existence.
- In this last stage we have things that have “existence” plus “body” plus “life” plus “motion” plus Mazda or the ability to “think”. Humans are an example of a thing in this stage. Ahura Mazda is a reference to the beginning and the end of this spectrum by which the ancient Magi had divided all of creation.
A kind teacher of Magi lineage from the city of Saveh, Iran thought it to me and I am sharing it with you in all humility. Put it on a shelf in your mind, it may come in handy someday as it has REAL MAGIC!?
February 14th. 2006, Tehran, Iran