Zoroastrian areas once stretched from Anatolia as the religion of the Mede in the western part of the Iranian plateau to the Persian Gulf, and its followers once numbered in the millions. Its followers today, located principally in South Asia and Iran, as well as throughout the diaspora, number much less, but the religion is alive and dynamic. The origin of the religion is ascribed to the prophet Zarathushtra, who is commonly known in the Western world as Zoroaster, the Greek version of his name. The etymology of his name is disputed and several different explanations exist. The modern Persian form of the prophet’s name is Zartosht. The faith is often claimed to be the earliest monotheistic religion, since Zoroaster requires devotion to the single God Ahura Mazda. Zoroastrianism may also be known as Mazdayasna (“Worship of Wisdom”) by some of its followers after the Zoroastrian name of God, Ahura Mazda (“Divine Wisdom”). ”
Zoroaster placed, pursuant to the authority of Aristotle and Eudoxus, 6000 years before the death of Plato, and, conformably to Hermippus, 5000 years before the Trojan war. The last date is repeated by Plutarch ilib. de Is. et Osir.). Diogenes Laertius says: ” Hermodoros, a Platonic philosopher, “counts 5000 years from the establishment of the Magi to the destruction “of Troy.” According to Suidas, a Zoroaster lived 500 years before the Trojan war; if the number 500 had been erroneously substituted for 5000, which is admissible (see M. de Fortia d’Urban, Mathimalicient Must res, p. 354), we should have the agreement of all these creditable authors just mentioned, from the fourth century before, to the twelfth century after, our era, in fixing the age of Zoroaster and the establishment of the Magi, 6352 or 6194 years B. C.
The epocha of the Magi (putting aside that of the Mahabadlans) has also been taken for thai of Tahmuras and Jemshid, that is, 3469 or 3429 years B. C. According to other accounts (collected in the Hist. Diction, of Moreri, Bayle.etc, etc.), a Zoroaster ruled the Bactrian empire in the times of Ninus, the Assyrian king, 2200 years B. C.; vanquished by the latter, he desired to be consumed by the Ore of heaven, and exhorted the Assyrians te preserve his ashes as a palladium of their empire; after he had been killed by lightning, his last will was executed. Some historians ( see Herbelot sub voce) admit a Zerdusht in the age of Feridun, 1729 years B. C. Several other learned men concur in placing him much later, few below the sixth century before our era.
The ancient belief of the Persians had been forcibly subjected in Babylon to the influence of a theology which was based on the science of its day, and the majority of the gods of Iran had been likened to the stars worshipped in the valley of the Euphrates. They acquired thus a new character entirely different from their original one, and the name of the same deity thus assumed and preserved in the Occident a double meaning. The Magi were unsuccessful in harmonizing these new doctrines with their ancient religion, for the Semitic astrology was as irreconcilable with the naturalism of Iran as it was with the paganism of Greece. But looking upon these contradictions as simple differences of degree in the perception of one and the same truth, the clergy reserved for the élite exclusively the revelation of the original Mazdean doctrines concerning the origin and destiny of man and the world, whilst the multitude were forced to remain content with the brilliant and superficial symbolism inspired by the speculations of the Chaldæans.
One common myth which can be found among almost all Indo-European mythologies is a battle ending with the slaying of a serpent, usually a dragon of some sort: examples include Thor vs Jörmungandr, Sigurd vs Fafnir in Scandinavian mythology; Zeus vs Typhon, Kronos vs Ophion, Apollo vs Python, Herakles vs the Hydra and Ladon in Greek Mythology; Indra vs Vritra in Vedas; Perun vs Veles, Dobrynya Nikitich vs Zmey in Slavic mythology; Teshub vs Illuyanka of Hittite mythology; Thraetaona, and later Keresaspa, vs Azhi Dahaka in Zoroastrianism There are also analoguous stories in other neighbouring unrelated mythologies: Anu or Marduk vs Tiamat in Mesopotamian mythology; Baal or El vs Lotan or Yam-Nahar in Levantine mythology; Yahweh or Gabriel vs Leviathan or Rahab or Tannin in Jewish mythology; Michael the Archangel and, Christ vs Satan (in the form of a seven-headed dragon), Virgin Mary crushing a serpent in Roman Catholic iconography, Saint George vs the dragon in Christian mythology The term asura is linguistically related to the ahuras of Zoroastrianism, but has in that religion a different meaning. For one, the term applies to a very specific set of divinities, only three in number (Mazda, Mithra and Apam Napat) For another, there is no direct opposition between the ahuras and the daevas: The fundamental opposition in Zoroastrianism is not between groups of divinities, but between asha “Truth” and druj “Lie/Falsehood ” The opposition between the ahuras and daevas is an expression of that opposition: the ahuras, like all the other yazatas, are defenders of asha; the daevas on the other hand are in the earliest texts divinities that are to be rejected because they are misled by “the Lie” Vivahngvant to whom Yima Xshaeta is born; Athwya to whom Thraetaona is born; and Thrita to whom Urvaxshaya and Keresaspa are born. The account given in the Indian Vedas closely agrees with that of the Iranian Avesta. The first preparers of Soma are listed as Vivasvat, who is the father of Yama and Manu, and Trita Aptya. “In mythic history, Thraitauna is the hero who defeated the Dahian Serpent, Azi daharka, who had usurped the throne. Before that feat, Thraitauna had been hidden in the ‘mountains’ by his mother. The wise ‘smith’ Kawe, had ultimately defied the serpentine ruler, and his apron became the banner of the Iranian troops of which Thraitauna became the leader. When grown, he succeeded in obtaining Khvarenah, the Royal Glory, described as an eagle, which had left Yima. He killed Azhi Dahaka and took his two wives, Sanhavachi and Arenavachi, “whose most beautiful bodies were highly suited for reproduction.” The Avesta alludes to a strange feat of Thraetaona. He turned a skilled navigator. He divided his realm into three parts. Salm, Tur and Iraj. Ashavandangha and Thrita, sons of Sayuzhdri, offer Apâm-napât a sacrifice of 100 horses, 1000 bulls and 10,000 rams to win the battle against the Turanians of the Danu tribe and they are granted their wish. Fravashis, the Guardian Spirits, help in killing ten thousand Dânu chiefs. Trita as the nave in the wheel. Sayana (on RV. 1. 105. 8) quotes a story of three brothers born from the waters, Ekata, Dvita, and Trita. The two former cast the latter into a well. The names of Ekata and Dvita do not appear outside these passages. Vivaqhvant receives a son, Yima, as his boon (Y. 9:4), who will be the first king. Athwya receives Thraetaona, who kills the evil king Zahak (Y. 9:7). Thrita receives two sons, Urvakhsaya, a great judge, and Karasaspa, the great hero (Y. 9:10). The fourth to do so is Purusasp, who receives his son Zoroaster (Y. 9:13). The first time when the Glory departed from the bright Yima, the Glory went from Yima, the son of Vivanghant in the shape of a Varaghna bird. Then Mithra seized that Glory, Mithra, the lord of wide pastures, whose ear is quick to hear, who has a thousand senses. We sacrifice unto Mithra, the lord of all countries, whom Ahura Mazda has created the most glorious of all gods in the heavens. The second time when the Glory departed from the bright Yima, the Glory went from Yima, the son of Vivanghant, in the shape of a Varaghna bird. Then Thraetaona seized that Glory, he the heir of the valiant Athwya clan, who was the most victorious of all victorious men next to Zarathustra; Who smote Azi Dahaka, the three-mouthed, the three-headed, the six-eyed, who had a thousand senses, that most powerful, fiendish Druj, that demon baleful to the world, the strongest Druj that Angra Mainyu created against the material world, to destroy the world of the good principle. The third time when the Glory departed from the bright Yima, that Glory went from Yima, the son of Vivanghant, in the shape of a Varaghna bird. Then the manly-hearted Korosaspa seized that Glory; he who was the sturdiest of the men of strength, next to Zarathustra, for his Manly Courage. Vivasvat (Surya) had three queens – Saranya (also called Sanjna or Sangya), Ragyi and Prabha. Ragyi had a son named Revanta or Raivata while Sangya was the mother of Vaivasvata Manu or Sraddhadeva Manu (the seventh, i.e. present Manu), the twins Yama Dev (the Lord of Death) and his sister Yami (associated with the river Yamuna). Surya is the father of the twins known as the Ashwins, divine horsemen and physicians to the Devas, from Sanranya. Once, Sangya, being unable to bear the extreme radiance of Surya, created a superficial entity from her shadow called Chhaya and instructed her to act as Surya’s wife in her absence. Chhaya mothered two sons – Savarni Manu (the eighth, i.e. next Manu) and Shani Dev (the planet Saturn), and two daughters – Tapti (goddess of river Tapti) and Vishti For the ancient Magi, Mithra was, as we have seen, the god of light, and as the light is borne by the air he was thought to inhabit the Middle Zone between Heaven and Hell In the cult of Prometheus under the name of Mithras, Mithras genitor luminis, deus invictus Mithras, appears widespread about the region where the memorable scenes from the life of Mithra take place is expressed by the mythological figure of an important river divinity. Here the god of the river appears stretched on the ground (Lajard, pl. LXXVIII), with a long and fluid beard, which parts in two in the middle (Arch.-epigr. Mitth. II. p. 119). It is without doubt the representation of the Istru, the great and divine river, about which the ancient geographical traditions said that it parted in two near the mountains of Dacia (Jornandis, De Get. Orig. c. 7). The second chapter of Videvdäd gives an explicit description of the myth of war; the figure of Zarathustra is clearly included in this myth; he is the Ahu and the Ratu of the people of the war. According to this chapter the war consisted of three concentric cir- cles with nine passages in the external circle, six in the middle, and three in the internal.8 Water flows there and is always eternally green. The war has its own lights, which resem- ble the sun, moon, and stars. There a year passes as a day. Every forty years, two beings, one male and the other female, will be born to every couple. the Yasht 19 35: “The first time the Glory left the bright Yima, the Glory went on Yima (hvarenô yimat haca), the son of Vivanhant in the form (kehrpa) a bird (merekhahe ) Varaghna (vârekhnahe) Yasht 19, which continues with the evocation of Mithra is entering this xvarenah before it lifted the track by the two heroes Thraetaona and Keresaspa Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin summarizes the following: “The two spirits, Saint and the evil, have disputed possession of khvarenah, which saves in the lake Vourukasha (the Caspian Aral Sea ), Where Apâm Napât s ‘Takes There, a chief foreign enemy of Mazdéens, trying three times to swim, make off, but in vain, because “it belongs to the Aryan peoples, born and unborn, and the holy Zarathustra Middle Persian Here there is only the bare statement: “Spîtûr was he who, with Dahâk, cut up Yim ” The original source is also the Bundahišn, Chap XXXI, Verse 5, and this was published in SBE Vol 5, p 131 o Persian (around 1100 CE, written by Firdausi) In this source, Jemshid is sawed in two by Zohak (Jemshid is the Persian form of earlier Yima Kshaeta Zohak is the Persian form of earlier Aži Dahâka ) In this text, Gayomart is a man, the first king, but he simply “passes away” after winning a battle against the son of Ahriman The original source is the Shah Namah, which was produced in many books often with beautiful Mughal style illustrations The first section of it is a “book of kings”, hence the name The Shah Namah has been published in English in many very bad verse translations The one used here is Vol 1 of the Shahnama of Firdausi, translated by Arthur George Warner and Edmond Warner, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co , London, 1905 There is also an abridged prose version of this on the net, transl by Helen Zimmerm, 1883, at sacred-texts Yima Kshaeta makes the world grow larger three times, but he does this while he is still alive This version is clearly mythological Yima is the Avestan form of Sanskrit Yama and Kshaeta means “brilliant, shining ” The original source is the Zend-Avesta, Vendidad, Fargard II, and this was published in SBE, Vol 4 (translated by James Darmesteter), p 12-21 o Avestan ” Aži Dahâka and Spityura, he who sawed Yima in twain ” According to the editor of the text (Darmesteter), Spityura was a brother of Yima The original source is the Zend-Avesta, Zamyâd Yasht, VIII: 46, published in SBE, Vol 23, p 293-297 In the Rigveda, Traitana (ThraEtaona) is referred to as being killed by (the grace of) Indra in I.158.5, attributed to DIrghatamas, the father of KakSIvAn. Another monument, in the museum at Deva lists a number of Semita gods, “MALAGBEL”, “BEBELLAHAMON”, “BENEFAL and MANAVAT”. To the north of the capital lays the colony of Germisara (Algyógy). This also was occupied by people from Asia Minor, but Galatians, not Semites. This is proven by the presence of a “Collegium Galatarum”. in the Avesta a winter depopulates the earth except in the Vara (“enclosure”) of the blessed Yima In each case the earth is peopled anew with the best two of every kind, and is afterward divided into three realms The three sons of Yima’s successor Thraetaona, named Erij (Avesta, “Airya”), Selm (Avesta, “Sairima”), and Tur (Avesta, “Tura”), are the inheritors in the Persian account; Shem, Ham, and Japheth Both the buffalo and horse sacrifices had royal connections even when the former were conducted by lower castes or tribes In both cases, a goat or sheep was also sacrificed, usually before the main sacrifice The goat was identified as the “younger (royal) brother” of the buffalo (king) Trita in the Rgveda is involved in the first horse sacrifice, which involves the horse of Yama, said to come from the sea This horse with 17 rib-pairs, a tropical breed, was first harnessed by Trita and first mounted by Indra according to the Rgveda Interestingly, in Greece, Poseidon, the sea god, is credited with first taming horses These connections of the horse sacrifice with the sea may also extend to the buffalo sacrifice In ancient Sumer and Akkad, Alf Hiltebeitel has linked the sacrifice of the Bull of Heaven with the loss of the sacred mikku and pukku (drumstick and drum), both of which, in different traditions, precede the death of the hero Enkidu According to Akkadian texts, in a rite similar to that of the Indian buffalo/horse sacrifice, temple drums were made from the hide of a black bull that was sacrificed in conjunction with a sheep! In the Rigveda, Traitana (ThraEtaona) is referred to as being killed by (the grace of) Indra in I.158.5, attributed to DIrghatamas, the father of KakSIvAn. ThraEtaona (Faridun of later texts) is an earlier Avestan hero associated with the Indo-Iranian conflicts, and hence he has already been demonised in the Rigveda (I.158.5). Hence, features associated with him in the Avesta are transferred to Trita in the Rigveda: ThraEtaona’s father Athwya is transformed in the Rigveda into Aptya, a patronymic of Trita (I.105.9; V.41.1; VIII.12.16; 15.17; 47.13, 14; X.8.8; 120.6). ThraEtaona, in Avestan mythology, is mainly associated with the killing of the three-headed dragon, Azhi Dahaka; just as Indra, in Rigvedic mythology, is mainly associated with the killing of the dragon Ahi VRtra (hence his common epithet VRtrahan, found in every single MaNDala of the Rigveda, which also becomes VRtraghna in the khila-sUktas and later SaMhitAs). The Late Period sees a partial exchange of dragon-killers between the Vedic Aryans and the Iranians: while ThraEtaona is demonised in the Rigveda, his dragon-killing feat is transferred to Trita (X.87.8, where Trita kills the three-headed dragon TriSiras), who consequently also appears as a partner of Indra in the killing of VRtra (VIII.7.24) or even as a killer of VRtra in his own right (I.187.1). The political reign of Poseidon had also extended beyond the frontiers of the territory Atlantis Eschyl called him Pontomedon Anaxi, Homer, Pontios, master of the Pontos (Euxine) The ancient traditions also told about Poseidon that he had been the first to make and place bridles on the head of horses; that he had introduced the art of riding horses and their harnessing to wagons (Sophocle, Oed Col v 711; Homer, Iliad, XXIII 307; Ibid, Hymn XXI 4; Pausanias, lib VII 21 8) In memory of these achievements, to Poseidon had been consecrated the horses, and he had the epithet ippios, equester, the rider [Thraetoana] It should be borne in mind that, according to the Younger Edda, it was Zoroaster who first thought of building the Tower of Babel, and that in this undertaking he was assisted by seventy-two master-masons. Gregorius of Tours told in his time that Zoroaster was identical with Noah’s grandson, with Chus, the son of Ham, that this Chus went to the Persians, and that the Persians called him Zoroaster, a name supposed to mean “the living star “. Gregorius also relates that this Zoroaster was the first person who taught nien the arts of sorcery and led them astray into idolatry, and as he knew the art of making stars and fire fall from heaven, men paid him divine worship. At that time, Gregorius continues, men desired to build a tower which should reach to heaven. But God confused their tongues and brought their project to naught. Nimrod, who was supposed to have built Babel, was, according to Gregorius, a son of Zoroaster. If we compare this with what the Foreword of the Younger Edda tells, then we find that there, too, Zoroaster is a descendant of Noah’s son Chain and the founder of all idolatry, and that he himself was worshipped as a god. Auramazda-Mithra- Anahita (Moulton, Early Zoroastrianism, p. 78). Vivahngvant to whom Yima Xshaeta is born; Athwya to whom Thraetaona is born; and Thrita to whom Urvaxshaya and Keresaspa are born. The account given in the Indian Vedas closely agrees with that of the Iranian Avesta. The first preparers of Soma are listed as Vivasvat, who is the father of Yama and Manu, and Trita Aptya. “In mythic history, Thraitauna is the hero who defeated the Dahian Serpent, Azi daha_ka, who had usurped the throne. Before that feat, Thraitauna had been hidden in the ‘mountains’ by his mother. The wise ‘smith’ kawe, had ultimately defied the serpentine ruler, and his apron became the banner of the Iranian troops of which Thraitauna became the leader. Fareidun [Thraetaona] When grown, he succeeded in obtaining Khvarenah, the Royal Glory, described as an eagle, which had left Yima. He killed Azhi Dahaka and took his two wives, Sanhavachi and Arenavachi, “whose most beautiful bodies were highly suited for reproduction.” The Avesta alludes to a strange feat of Thraetaona. He turned a skilled navigator. He divided his realm into three parts. Salm, Tur and Iraj. Ashavandangha and Thrita, sons of Sayuzhdri, offer Apâm-napât a sacrifice of 100 horses, 1000 bulls and 10,000 rams to win the battle against the Turanians of the Danu tribe and they are granted their wish. Fravashis, the Guardian Spirits, help in killing ten thousand Dânu chiefs. Trita as the nave in the wheel. Sayana (on RV. 1. 105. 8) quotes a story of three brothers born from the waters, Ekata, Dvita, and Trita. The two former cast the latter into a well. The names of Ekata and Dvita do not appear outside these passages. The connection between water and wisdom has been found to be an essential element-a basic feature-of the mythologies and beliefs of both Teutons and Greeks. It is germane to state that-leaving aside the question of actual influences-the concep- tions of the Babylonians offer in this respect a remarkable paral- lel to those of the Indo-Europeans. Like the Greeks, the Babylonians believed in an ocean (apsu) which was both the earthly sea and the Deep-heavenly or subterranean-surround- ing the Earth. This abyss of water is also called Zu-Ab, ‘House of Wisdom’ (Jeremias, op. cit. p. 29). The god of these regions-Ea, ‘god of water,’ or Enki, ‘Lord of the Deep’ (Jere- mias, loc. cit.)-is regarded as the source of all wisdom, as the counsellor of gods, kings, and men. He is the bringer of civili- zation. Berosus tells us that a mysterious being (Oannes – Ea), half-man, half-fish, passing the nights in the Persian Gulf, would come out of the water during the day to give instruction to the people (Roscher, op. cit. 3. 577ff.). Ea is the god of mankind. He saved men from the deluge and placated the anger of Bel (Jastrow, op. cit. p. 279) in the same way as Thraetaona saved mankind from the fury of Azhi Dahaka, who wished to make the seven parts of the world empty of men (Yt. 15. 19). Vivaqhvant receives a son, Yima, as his boon (Y. 9:4), who will be the first king. Athwya receives Thraetaona, who kills the evil king Zahak (Y. 9:7). Thrita receives two sons, Urvakhsaya, a great judge, and Karasaspa, the great hero (Y. 9:10). The fourth to do so is Purusasp, who receives his son Zoroaster (Y. 9:13). The first time when the Glory departed from the bright Yima, the Glory went from Yima, the son of Vivanghant in the shape of a Varaghna bird. Then Mithra seized that Glory, Mithra, the lord of wide pastures, whose ear is quick to hear, who has a thousand senses. We sacrifice unto Mithra, the lord of all countries, whom Ahura Mazda has created the most glorious of all gods in the heavens. The second time when the Glory departed from the bright Yima, the Glory went from Yima, the son of Vivanghant, in the shape of a Varaghna bird. Then Thraetaona seized that Glory, he the heir of the valiant Athwya clan, who was the most victorious of all victorious men next to Zarathustra; Who smote Azi Dahaka, the three-mouthed, the three-headed, the six-eyed, who had a thousand senses, that most powerful, fiendish Druj, that demon baleful to the world, the strongest Druj that Angra Mainyu created against the material world, to destroy the world of the good principle. The third time when the Glory departed from the bright Yima, that Glory went from Yima, the son of Vivanghant, in the shape of a Varaghna bird. Then the manly-hearted Korosaspa seized that Glory; he who was the sturdiest of the men of strength, next to Zarathustra, for his Manly Courage. Vivasvat (Surya) had three queens – Saranya (also called Sanjna or Sangya), Ragyi and Prabha. Ragyi had a son named Revanta or Raivata while Sangya was the mother of Vaivasvata Manu or Sraddhadeva Manu (the seventh, i.e. present Manu), the twins Yama Dev (the Lord of Death) and his sister Yami (associated with the river Yamuna). Surya is the father of the twins known as the Ashwins, divine horsemen and physicians to the Devas, from Sanranya. Once, Sangya, being unable to bear the extreme radiance of Surya, created a superficial entity from her shadow called Chhaya and instructed her to act as Surya’s wife in her absence. Chhaya mothered two sons – Savarni Manu (the eighth, i.e. next Manu) and Shani Dev (the planet Saturn), and two daughters – Tapti (goddess of river Tapti) and Vishti sons of Thraetaona/Feridun: Eraj, Salm/Sayrima, Tur Eraj/Iraj/Aria/Arya(ns), Salm/Sayrima (Sarmatians/Solymites), Tur(anians) Rashnu, Mithra, Sraosha (Sykes) 3 saviours: Saoshyant, , (J Jewell, Larouse) Creation, Mixture, Separation 3 parts Avesta (Sykes) tripitaka – Indian versions: heads snake Ahi (Cooper); Brahma, Visnu, Siva 3 sons of Manu: Sama/Scherma, Chama, Pra-Jyapeti (S Bristowe ) Rajas, Tamas, Sattva (radio) Indra/Vayu, Agni, Surya (Sykes, C Cook/Pears) Vanir is the name of one of the two groups of gods in Norse mythology, the other and more well known being the Æsir. Etymology The name is perhaps from the Proto-Indo-European root *wen-, “to strive, win”, cognate to Venus (compare Vanadis), Wynn (Proto-Germanic *Wanizaz), archaic Greek Wanax. The name could also be from an alternate meaning of the same PIE root *wenos, “lust”. The Vanir The three clearly identified Vanir include: * Njord the father of the gods of Vanir and god of the sea * Freyr the god of fertility * Freyja a goddess of fertility, love, beauty, and war These are identified only as the Vanir who lived among the Æsir, because of a hostage exchange described in the Poetic Edda; there may have been others. Since Freyr is elsewhere listed as having residence Álfheimr (Elf-home), it is possible that the Elves were also considered Vanir. Other possible Vanir The identification as Vanir of Skaði, Lýtir, Gerðr and Óðr is debated. Óðr is mentioned in the Eddas very briefly as a husband of Freyja, but nothing more is actually known about him, although Óðr is often listed as one of Odin’s alternate names. There is a possible connection between Heimdall and the Vanir, noted by H.R. Ellis Davidson.  The gods Njörd and Freyr appear in Snorri’s Ynglinga saga as human Kings of Sweden. Their human descendants on the Swedish throne may be called Vanir, such as: * Fjölnir who was the son of Frey and the giantess Gerðr. * Sveigder who married Vana of Vanaheimr and had the son Vanlade. * Vanlade whose name connects him to the Vanir, and who married a daughter of the Jotun Snær. Since other figures in the Ynglinga saga have the same names and traits as Norse gods, it possible that these also were the names of gods in other stories. Because of the connection between the names of Njord and Nerthus, and since she is refered to by Tacitus as equivalent to Terra Mater, it is likely that Nerthus could also be considered Vanir. Vanaheimr The Vanir live in Vanaheimr, also called Vanaland; Snorri Sturluson calls their land Tanakvísl or Vanakvísl (Tanakvísl eða Vanakvísl) etymologizing Vanir as the “Don-people”. Vanaheimr, along with Asgard, is the home of the gods in the tree of life Yggdrasil. Hostage exchange In the Poetic Edda, to end the war between the gods, the two sides exchanged hostages. The Vanir were, however, tricked. Outraged they cut off the head of one of the hostages, Mímir, and sent it to the Æsir. Odin accepted the head and placed it under the tree of life, where, in order to divine knowledge of the future, he had to relinquish one of his eyes. Giantess Gerðr The poem Skírnismál, from the Poetic Edda, tells the story of Freyr finding love. Freyr, sitting on Hliðskjálf spied the Jotun-giantess Gerðr, with whom he fell in love. He asked Skirnir, his companion, if he would go to Gerðr and express Freyr’s love for her. Skirnir did so and after threatening Gerðr with curses, she agreed to marry Freyr. One of the objects traded in the bargain was Freyr’s enchanted sword and because of this incident, Freyr will have no sword at Ragnarok. Vanir and Elves The Eddas possibly identify the Vanir with the elves (Álfar), frequently interchanging “Æsir and Vanir” and “Æsir and Álfar” to mean “all the gods”. As both the Vanir and the Álfar appear to be fertility powers, the interchangeability suggest that the Vanir may have been synonymous with the elves. It may also be that the two names reflected a difference in status where the elves were minor fertility gods whereas the Vanir were major fertility gods. Freyr would thus be a natural Vanir ruler of the elves in Álfheim. Contemporary reconstruction of Norse religion focusing on the Vanir is sometimes called Vanatrú. Parallels The war between the Vanir and the Æsir, together with their status as gods of agiculture and fertility, have led some scholars to identify them as an earlier pantheon supplanted by the Æsir. This mirrors theories about the Titans and the Greek and Roman gods, similarly primal gods replaced by newcomers who resided in the sky (or in the latter case Mount Olympus); earth-gods and fertility worship being replaced by sky-gods and martial worship. Another comparison may be made between the Irish – and other Indo-Europeans – invading, and subsequently conquering Milesians, and their fertility goddesses, and gods, the Tuatha Dé Danann (“People of the Goddess Danu/Dana; the Tuatha had already done the same to the even older Fir Bolg. The Vanir are also associated with the Sámi (Old Norse finnar). The earliest of the Norse Sagas, the Elder Edda, was composed about 800AD, or around the time the Charudes peoples discovered the protected shelter of the Hardanger Fjord at the present location of Kinsarvik and formed a Viking kingdom. The wars and treaties between the Vikings and the Sámi may have been the inspiration for the stories of war and treaty concerning the Æsir and Vanir. Vishnu brother of Indra Danu, a Hindu primordial goddess, is mentioned in the Rigveda, mother of the Danavas. The word Danu described the primeval waters which this deity perhaps embodied. She is called the mother of Vrtra, the demonic serpent slain by Indra in RV 1.32. In later Hinduism, she becomes the daughter of Daksha and the consort of Kasyapa. As a word for “rain” or “liquid”, danu is compared to Avestan danu “river”, and further to river names like Don, Danube etc. The “liquid” word is mostly neuter, but appears as feminine in RV 1.54. As a Hindu goddess, Danu has 2 temples in Bali, Indonesia: Pura Ulun Danu Temple on Lake Bratan, Bali and Ulun Danu Batur, near Penelokan. According to the Rig Veda, Vritra kept the waters of the world captive until he was killed by Indra, who destroyed all the ninety-nine fortresses of Vritra (although the fortresses are sometimes attributed to Sambara) before liberating the imprisoned rivers. The combat began soon after Indra was born, and he had drunk a large volume of Soma at Tvashtri’s house to empower him before facing Vritra. Tvashtri fashioned the thunderbolt (Vajrayudha) for Indra, and Vishnu, when asked to do so by Indra, made space for the battle by taking the three great strides for which he became famous. Vritra broke Indra’s two jaws during the battle, but was then thrown down by the latter and, in falling, crushed the fortresses that had already been shattered.  For this feat, Indra became known as Vritrahan “slayer of Vritra” and also as “slayer of the first-born of dragons”. Vritra’s mother, Danu (who was also the mother of the Danava race of Asuras), was then attacked and defeated by Indra with his thunderbolt.  In one of the versions of the story, three Asuras – Varuna, Soma and Agni – were coaxed by Indra into aiding him in the fight against Vritra whereas before they had been on the side of the demon (whom they called “Father”). Some modern Indian geologists interpret the Vedic story as a description of the breakup of glaciers. B.P. Radhakrishna writes: “Geological record indicates that during Late Pleistocene glaciation, the waters of the Himalaya were frozen and that in place of rivers there were only glaciers, masses of solid ice. As and when the climate became warmer, the glaciers began to break up and the frozen water held by them surged forth in great floods, inundating the alluvial plains in front of the mountains…. no wonder the early inhabitants of the plains burst into song praising Lord Indra for breaking up the glaciers and releasing water which flowed out in seven mighty channels (Sapta Sindhu). The analogy of a slowly moving serpent (Ahi) for describing the Himalayan glacier is most appropriate”. Apamnapat, apÁm gárbho The Avestan fire god possibly connected in meaning with Traitana or (Trita in the Hindu Vedas), or the son of the waters, in India generally called Apam Napat and stated to be born from the cloud through the lightning. Stephanus of Byzantium mentions a temple of Poseidon-Canopus; see P. Casanova, “De quelques Legendes astronomiques Arabes,” in BIFAO 2 (1902), p. 11.]. But the horse is the animal of Mars, and it is “the khshatriya Apam Napat with the swift horses” who “seizes the hvarnah,” hiding it in the “bottom of the deep sea, the bottom of the deep lake” [n14 Yasht 19.51; see E. Herzfeld, Zoroaster and His World (1947), p. 571; to the Iranian conceptions one has to compare the Rigvedian hymn dedicated to Apam Napat (RV 2.25), where he is said to “shine in the waters,” blazing unquenchably, the driver of horses (2.35.5: “Er hat sich in den Gewassern-apsu-ausgestreckt” . . . 2.35.6: “Dort ist der Geburtsort des Rosses und dieser Sonne”]: the “nephew” (napat) of the waters (apam), and not the original (and highest) ruler of the “mouth of the ocean,” The RV and the Avesta even agree in the names of ancient preparers of Soma; Vivasvat and Trita Aptya on the one hand, and Vivanhvant, Athwya and Thrita on the other.” According to the Avesta, the first preparer of Soma was Vivanhvant (Vivasvat), the second was Athwya (Aptya) and the third was Thrita (Trita). Vivasvat in the Rigveda is generally the Sun (note: in many references, the sky is referred to as “VivasvAn’s dwelling”, which may be compared with the reference to AuSija’s dwelling or abode in our discussion on the word AuSija in our chapter on the chronology of the Rigveda); but Vivasvat is also the name of the father of two persons: Yama and Manu. In the Avesta also, Vivanhvant is the father of Yima. Both Vivasvat and Yama Vaivasvata are identified in the Rigveda as BhRgus (see the discussion on the YAmAyana group of RSis in our chapter on the composers of the Rigveda); and Manu Vaivasvata is identified in the AnukramaNIs of VIII.29 with KaSyapa. The identification of the BhRgus with Soma is deeper, older and more significant: it is clear that the Soma plant originated among the BhRgus of the northwest, and it is they who introduced the plant and its rituals to the Vedic Aryans and their priests. The actual Soma-growing areas were distant and unknown to the Vedic Aryans in the early parts of the Rigveda, and became known to them only later after they expanded westwards. 2. The Soma plant and its ritual were not originally known to the Vedic Aryans and their priests, but were introduced to them in very early times by priests from the Soma-growing areas. 3. The expansion of the Vedic Aryans (and, by a chain of events, the dispersion of the Indo-Europeans, as we shall see in later chapters) into the west and northwest was a direct consequence of their quest for Soma. The detailed evidence is as follows: 1. Soma is regarded as growing in distant areas: this area is so distant that it is constantly identified with the heavens (IV.26.6; 27.3, 4; VIII.100.8; IX.63.27; 66.30; 77.2; .86.24, etc.) The only specific thing known about the place of origin of Soma is that it grows on mountains (I.93.6; III.48.2; V.43.4; 85.2; IX.18.1; 62.4; 85.10; 95.4; 98.9, etc.). Nothing more specific is mentioned in the Family MaNDalas or the early upa-maNDalas of MaNDala I. The area of Soma is clearly not part of the Vedic area (nor is there even the slightest hint anywhere in the Rigveda that it ever was): it is constantly referred to as being far away (IV.26.6; IX.68.6; X.11.4; 144.4). This area is also known as the “dwelling of TvaSTR” (IV.18.3); and this is what the scholars have to say about TvaSTR: “TvaSTR is one of the obscurest members of the Vedic pantheon. The obscurity of the concept is explained… (by) HILLEBRANDT (who) thinks TvaSTR was derived from a mythical circle outside the range of the Vedic tribes.”14 Soma is mythically reported to be brought by an eagle to the Vedic people, and even to their Gods, from its place of origin: That this place of origin is alien to the Vedic people is clear from the fact that this eagle is reported to have to hurry (IV.26.5) to escape the guardians of Soma, who are described as attacking the eagle (IV.27.3) to prevent it from taking the Soma away. “TvaSTR is especially the guardian on Soma, which is called ‘the mead of TvaSTR’ (I.117.22)”15 and Indra is described as conquering TvaSTR in order to obtain the Soma. The prime Soma-growing areas are identified in VIII.64.11 as the areas near the SuSomA and ArjIkIyA rivers (the SohAn and HAro, northeastern tributaries of the Indus, in the extreme north of the Punjab and northwest of Kashmir) and SaryaNAvAn (a lake in the vicinity of these two rivers). In VIII.7.29, the reference is to the SuSoma and ArjIka (in the masculine gender, signifying mountains; while the rivers of these names are in the feminine gender), clearly the mountains which gave rise to the SusomA and ArjIkIyA rivers, alongwith SaryaNAvAn (which also appears in X.35.2 as a mountainous area, perhaps referring to the mountains surrounding the lake of the same name). In another place, the best Soma is said to be growing on the MUjavat mountains. The MUjavat tribes are identified (Atharvaveda V-XXII-5, 7, 8, 14) with the GandhArIs. These mountains are therefore also in the extreme north of the Punjab and in adjacent parts of Afghanistan.
It has been pointed out how the so-called human creation reflects the various phases of the mythical. In the Bundahish, for instance, we are told that in the reign of Azi-Dahak, ‘a young woman was admitted to a demon and a young man was admitted to a Farika (witch), and on seeing them, they had intercourse.’ From this intercourse arose the race of black-skins, the Dasyus of India. The Azi-Dahak in the Avesta is the most powerful Druj, brought forth by the Dark Mind for the destruction of purity in the corporeal world, the serpent that seeks to make the seven Kareshvares empty of men. Also, ‘on the nature of the Ape and the Bear, they say that Yima, when reason had departed from him (or when his glory forsook him), for fear of the demons, took a demoness as wife, and gave Yimak, who was his sister, to a demon as wife; and from them originated the tailed ape and bear, and other species of degeneracy.’ The ape and bear are two of the typhonian and elementary types in whose likeness certain totemic tribes were created, and in later times considered the accursed of the earth. The Yima and Yimak, or brother and sister of the Avesta and other Persian forms of the myth are one with the Mashya and Mashyoi of the Bundahish. These likewise lost the ‘Glory’ when they fell, as it is related in the account of their creation and fall.
‘On the nature of men, it says in Revelation that Gayomard in passing away, gave forth seed; that seed was thoroughly purified by the motion of the light of the Sun and Neryosang (the angel who is said to be Ahura-Mazda’s usual messenger to mankind) kept charge of two portions, and Spendarmad (the female archangel who has special [p.127] charge of the earth) received one portion. And in forty years, with the shape of a one-stemmed Rivas-plant (this plant is allied to the rhubarb; the shoots of it supply an acid juice used by the Persians for acidulating drinks and preserves), and the fifteen years of its fifteen leaves, Mashya and Mashyoi grew up from the earth in such a manner that their arms rested on their shoulders, and one joined to the other; they were connected together and both alike. And the waists of both of them were brought close and so connected together that it was not clear which is the male and which the female, and which is the one whose living soul (nismô) of Ahura-Mazda is not away (or which of the two represented the creative power or soul). And both of them changed from the shape of a plant into the shape of man (or the human shape), and the breath (nismô) went spiritually into them, which is the soul (ruban), and now, moreover, in that similitude a tree had grown up whose fruit was ten varieties of man.'
In Zad-Sparam’s version of this we are told that ‘Spendarmad received the gold (seed, compare hiranya) of the dead Gayomard, and it was forty years in the earth. At the end of forty years, in the manner of a Rivas-plant Mashya and Mashyoi came up, and one joined to the other, were of like stature and mutually adapted; and its middle, on which a “glory” came, through their mutual connection (or like stature) was such that it was not clear which is the male and which the female. And afterwards they changed from the shape of a plant into the shape of a man, and the “glory” went spiritually into them.'
This denotes the creation of races of men with souls in them; that followed the seven born in the likeness of the elementaries, which were unintelligent. With the personification in a human image, the ‘glory’ entered creation, and distinguished the one sex from the other at puberty. The glory, then, is a form of what we term the soul. That is certain, because in the Avesta this glory is the essential for the resurrection of the dead at the end of the world; it is that which makes the dead to rise again. But we have to distinguish which type of the soul, as there were several. Here it is the soul that entered the human being at puberty, when the tree or stem is divided—just as it was split in two by Tiri.
In Egyptian, this ‘glory’ is the peh-peh, pehti, or pekti, generally rendered the double force. In relation to pubescence it is the duplicative force, which could be reckoned female as well as male, because both sexes are divided and doubled at puberty.
The majesty, the glory, and the power are early forms of the soul, the principle of a future life, the second of the Two Truths, or the doubled force. The masculine soul begins with the gold of Gayomard, the seminal seed, the mere seed of the animal or sap of the tree.
At this stage were created the men of the ape, bear, bull, and [p.128] dog types of the first time, and of the primordial imagery set in the planisphere. Hence the monkey-men, dog-men, bear-men, bull-men who are still extant among the outcast, that is the oldest of the decaying races of the world, like the hairy Ainus and others. In Central America the monkeys are held to have once been a human race. A Potowatomi myth shows how the Mannikins of the first creation, which is so frequently and variously depicted as a failure, only attained the status of monkeys. In South-Eastern Africa the apes are yet recognised as the preliminary people, the first form of men and women.
The Mbocobis of South America have a tradition of a great forest conflagration, in which mankind were consumed, all but one man and woman, who climbed a tree for safety, but in doing so were caught and singed by the flames, so that they were changed into apes, which contains matter of the same mythos as Yima’s connection with the ape and the bear. The Zulu Kaffirs relate how the Amafene people were an idle race, who would not work but tried to live on the labour of others, saying, ‘We shall live, although we do not dig, if we eat the food of those who cultivate the soil.’ They were transformed into baboons, (fene (Zulu), a baboon, ben (Eg.), the great ape), and now they carry their hoes behind them, turned into tails.
The ape is a primeval type. It is one of four in the compound goddess of the Great Bear; and was continued as a type of Shu (Ma-Shu), who is the Kamite original of both Yima and Mashya. The statement that when Yima lost his reason he took a demoness to wife and begat the ape, is but a mode of representing him as becoming like the ape in practices connected with the fall of man. The bear and ape were first as totemic types, and this is a return to those types as a means of accounting for the fall of Yima and his sister, who had followed the typhonian powers of evil and been tempted to their fall.
The story of Yima’s fall through begetting or becoming an ape is evidently related to Ma-Shu in the Kamite mythos, who is now claimed to be the original of Mashya. Shu was a lion-god of the solstice, who transformed into the ape kafi, and became a kehkeh. The word denotes an ape, also a crazy man, an obstinate mad fool. There is an allusion to this transformation of the lion-god in the Magic Papyrus, where it is said, ‘Thou didst take the form of a monkey (kafi) and afterwards of a crazy man (kehkeh).’ He is called the ‘Ape of Seven Cubits,’ and is said to dwell in a ‘Shrine of Seven cubits,’ from which he is transferred to a ‘Shrine of eight cubits.'
As Kafi or Kepheus, Shu was the son of Kûlsh (Khepsh). His planetary type is Mars, and this planet in the Bundahish is assigned to the Bear; the shrine of seven cubits may therefore represent the heptanomis of the first time which was followed by the octonary. Moreover, two types of the old genetrix, the ape and lioness, were continued in Shu and his sister, Tefnut, who, so far, were the ape and the bear in person. And where Shu became the crazy man or ape, Yima is said to lose his reason or the glory and to marry a demoness and to beget apes, bears, and other typhonian progeny. Kafi-Shu or Ma-Shu is the ape in Egypt. Yima is identified with the ape in the Bundahish. Nor is the ape-type missing from the Hebrew mythos. For the rabbis assert that Adam was created with a tail in the likeness of an orang-utan, which was afterwards excised. As they were not evolutionists this shows the survival of the Kamite typology.
According to the Parsee tradition, Yima had maintained immortality in the world, so long as he lived the life of purity. His purity is symbolised by the çufra, a fan or winnower, which is identical with the khu (or khekh), fan of Horus and the Christ, ‘whose fan is in his hand.’ This was a sign of spirit or the masculine seed, in contradistinction to the aut emblem of matter.
Immortality was continuity, which was first maintained by pure and proper procreation. Hence the typical hom-tree, called the healing and undefiled, the renewer of the world and producer of [p.130] immortality, was a type of the masculine source. When Yima fell, it was in consequence of the ape-like impurity which was destructive to the soul, conceived as the seminal essence. Then the glory departed, and he was figuratively said to fall and lose his immortality.
According to the natural genesis of the doctrine of salvation, the first mode of saving or winning souls was by insuring their propagation, which was looked upon as rescuing them from the clutch of the destroying powers of darkness that were opposed to life and light; and the teacher of propagation or human cultivation in purity was the saviour, who recovered mankind from ‘the fall,’ whether called wisdom or the Christ. Hence it is said, ‘The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he that winneth souls is wise.'
The glory lost by Yima at the fall was fabled to be worn upon his face, during the golden age, in his heaven of the four corners, or the circle which he made. It was by this glory that he maintained immortality for the world; the mighty glory peculiar to the Kavis or Iranian chiefs of old, before the times of Zoroaster. It was said to have been created by Ahura-Mazda when he produced all that was employed propagating glory good, bright, shining and in life. The glory is precisely thy same in the symbolical language of Hosea. ‘As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception. Ephraim is planted in a pleasing place, but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer. Give them, O Lord, a miscarrying womb and dry breasts!’
Takhma Urupa (in later legend Tahmûrâf) was a brother to Yima. He reigned for thirty years and rode Ahriman, turned into a horse. But at last his wife, deceived by Ahriman, revealed to him the secret of her husband’s power, and Tahmûrâf was swallowed up by his horse. But Yima managed to take back his brother’s body from the body of Ahriman and recovered thereby the arts and civilisation which had disappeared along with Tahmûrâf (see Minokhired XXVII, 32; Ravâet apud Spiegel, Einleitung in die traditionelle Literatur, pp. 317 seq.; Ormazd et Ahriman, § 137 seq.
1- Airyana Vaêgah, The origin land of Iranian and the first land which has been created by Ahura Mazda
2- Amesha- Spenta; In Persia the seven gods are known as Amesha- Spenta “the undying and well-doing ones” they by and by, according to the new spirit that breathed in the religion, received the names of the defied abstractions, Vohu-Mano (good thought) Asha-Vahista (excellent holiness) Khshathra-Vairya (perfect sovereignty), Spenta Ārmaiti (divine piety) Haurvatāt and Ameretāt (health and immortality).
3- Baresma (now called Barsom) is a bundle of sacred twinges which the priest holds in his hand while receiving the prayers. They were formerly twinges of the pomegranate, date, or tamarind tree, or of any tree that had no thorns, and were plucked with particular ceremonies, which alone made them fit to be used for liturgics purposes.
4- Dāitya, The River which comes from Airyana Vaêgah. It flows through the mountain of Gorjestān ( the country which is now in north of Iran )
5- Dakhma is the circular building where the Zoroastrians lay the bodies of their dead.
6- Garothmān is the place of Ahura Mazda. It is call the place of unlimited light (Afifi, Rahim; Mythology and culture of Iran, P 605). Garothmān of Parsis; literary means „the house of songs (The Zend Avesta, part I, P 214).
7- Hutaosa is the name wife of Vishtāsp (Kai- Goshtāsp) who was one of
the ancient Iranian King in the time of Zoroaster.
8- Keresāspa is a warrior in the ancient Iranian literature. He had a brother namely Urvâkhshaya, a judge and law giver. Urvâkhshaya was killed by Hitāspa, the golden-crowned and avenged by Keresāspa.
9- Kista (Chista or Chisti) is the name of the genius of knowledge (Afifi, Rahim; Mythology and culture of Iran, P 495). In the Avesta it is means the religious knowledge, the knowledge of what leads to bliss (The Zend Avesta part II P 264).
10- Kostī or Koshtī, the sacred girdle which the Parsi must never part with.
11- Māzana, is the name of one era in north of Iran, now it is called Māzandaran.
12- Mitra, the God of heavenly light, the lord of Vast luminous space, he became later the god of the Sun.
13- Naotara is the name of a hero in the ancient Iran.
14- Rashnu Razista, the truest true, is the genius of truth; he is one of the three judges of departed, with Mithra and Sraosha; he holds the balance in which the deeds of man are weighed after their death. (The Zend Avesta , part II ,P 168 )
15- Sraosha is the priest god ; he first tied the Baresma into bundles and offer up sacrifice to Ahura ; he first sang the holy hymns
16- Takhma-Urupa, was the brother of Yima, He reigned for thirty years and rode Ahriman, turned in the horse. But at least his wife deceived by Ahriman, revealed to him the secret of her husband‟s power, and
Takhma-Urupa was swallowed up by his horse (Ahriman). But Yima managed to take back his brother‟s body from the body of Ahriman.
17- The Fravashi was independent of the circumstance of life or death, an immortal part of the individual which existed before man and outlived him.
18- Thraêtaona is one of ancient Iranian heroes and kings who Kills Azi-Dahāka (a demon), He is called Freidan in modern Persian.
19- Var, this seems to be the Var-Nirang, or ordeal which is alluded to in several passage of Avesta. According to learned opinion Var means Exam, test, and, to prove the truth. According to the Dinkart (one of the Pahlavi texts) there were thirty there kind of Var ordeals, the most common was the pour melted copper upon the breast of the man whose truth was to the tested, if he went off uninjured, he was considered to have spoken the truth.
20- Vishtāsp, the name of an Iranian King.
21- Yima is one of ancient Iranian Kings. He is called, Jamshid in the modern Persian literature.