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day, fire from heaven descended visibly upon this mountain, and the king of Persia, attended by his court, approached to worship the sacred flame. Zoroaster came down through the fire unharmed, bringing with him Book of Laws, which he said had been revealed to him on the mountain, by Ormuzd himself. They called this the Zend-Avesta, which signifies the Living Word. They believed it to be a portion of the Primeval Word, by which creation was produced, and that every syllable it contained possessed an inherent virtue. When sacrifices were offered, it was not allowable to omit or transpose a single word. If priests should fail to perform the ritual, or to recite the prayers therein prescribed, they supposed the order of the universe would be disturbed, and all things fall into confusion. It was written in the Zend language, a dialect of the Sanscrit, the knowledge of which is supposed to have been confined to priests. After the promulgation of these holy laws, it is related that Zoroaster did not converse indiscriminately with all men, but only with those capable of understanding divine things. He held fire in his hand, and allowed melted lead to be poured into his bosom; but nothing could do him any harm. Concerning his death, they affirm that he invoked the Spirit of the constellation of Orion, praying to be consumed by celestial fire; and that he ascended to heaven on a thunderbolt. The tradition obviously implies that he died by lightning. The Persians considered him a divine messenger sent to redeem men from their evil ways, and they always worshipped his memory. To this day, his followers mention him with the greatest reverence; calling him "The Immortal Zoroaster," "The Blessed Zoroaster," " The Living Star.” Priests often precede their ceremonies with these words: “O Just Judge, there is but one Zoroaster; that is certain; that is beyond doubt. The law, excellent, right, and just, which Ormuzd has given to his people, is certainly, and without doubt, that which Zoroaster has brought."
He taught the existence of One Supreme Essence, invisible and incomprehensible, named Zeruâué Akeréné, which signifies Unlimited Time, or The Eternal. From him emanated Primeval Light; from which sprung Ormuzd, the King of Light. He was God of the Firmament, and the Principle of Goodness and of Truth. He was called “The Eternal Source of Sunshine and Light," "The Centre of all that exists, " " The First Born of the Eternal One,” “The Creator,” “The Sovereign Intelligence," "The All-Seeing,” “The Just Judge.” He was described as “sitting on the throne of the good and the perfect, in regions of pure light,” crowned with rays, and with a ring on his finger; a circle being the emblem of infinity; sometimes as a venerable, majestic man, seated on a Bull, their emblem of creation. He pronounced the Primeval Word, Enohe verihe! Be it! and his own abode of celestial light sprang into existence, as far removed from the sun, as the sun is from the earth. He then created six resplendent Spirits, masculine and feminine, called Amshaspands, The Immortal Holy Ones, of whom himself was the seventh and highest. These deities of benevolence and wisdom surround the throne of Ormuzd, and convey to him the prayers of inferior spirits, and of men, for whom they are models of purity and perfection. The next series of creation were twenty-eight gentle and kindly Spirits, masculine and feminine, called Izeds, the chief of whom was the radiant Mithras. They presided over sun, moon, and stars, showered beneficent gifts upon the earth, endeavoured to protect it from evil influences, and served as messengers between men and the Superior Spirits. The third order of Spirits, called Fervers, were infinitely more numerous; for they were the ideas, which Ormuzd conceived, before he proceeded to the creation of the world. Hence they were the archetypes of every thing that existed, the vivifying principles which animated all things in the universe, and the guardians of stars, men, animals, plants, and all other created things. Every mortal had one of these Spirits by his side through life, to protect him from evil. Even Ormuzd himself was supposed to have his attendant Ferver.
Khor, the Sun, was called “The Eye of Ormuzd." He is described as riding in a chariot with four horses, and finishing his course round the earth in three hundred and sixty-five days. A trumpet always sounded from the royal pavilion at the moment the sun rose; and over the entrance was a brilliant image of the sun, enclosed in crystal. Mithras, described as “the Spirit, or Ferver, who attends the Sun in his course," was an object of almost universal worship throughout Persia. He was at first always invoked with the Sun, and in later times they were confounded together. He was called, " The most exalted of the Izeds, the never-sleeping, the protector of the land." He is described as having a thousand ears, and ten thousand eyes. He was not merely the Spirit of Light, but also of Intelligence. Prayers were often addressed to him as “The Mediator,” because he was supposed to mediate between the conflicting powers of good and evil. Like Osiris of Egypt, he was the god of fertility and beneficence; like him, he was described with the orb of the sun on his head, and a circle with wings was his symbol. Mithra, a feminine Ized, was his companion.
The universe was intrusted to a chain of spiritual agencies, ascending from the smallest terrestrial thing up to the throne of the Eternal One. Minerals, plants, insects, birds, quadrupeds, fire, air, earth, and water, had each a presiding Spirit. Twelve genii of the zodiac ruled over the months, and thirty subordinate ones over each day of the month. All the heavenly luminaries were animated with Souls, of higher and higher intelligence, and more and more ethereal forms. Everything in the orbs over which they presided partook of their character and state, whether more or less excellent. “Stars with tails” (comets) were under the care of sun, moon, and fixed stars, who kept them within prescribed limits. Sirius, or the Dog Star, so sacred in Egypt as the Star of Isis, was appointed to guide all the others. A Persian poet says: "God conferred sovereignty on the Sun, and squadrons of Stars were his army."
The Spirits of the Stars were benevolent guardians of men, and of all inferior creatures. They were endowed with intelligence superior to the Spirit of our Earth. Their vision extended through the universe. They knew what would happen in the future, and could reveal it to those who understood their signs. The destinies of men were intimately connected with their motions, and therefore it was important to know under the influence of what star a human soul made its advent into this world. Astrologers swarmed in the palace of the king, and were consulted on all important occasions. Persians held the stars in such affectionate reverence that whenever they looked at one they kissed their hand to it.
In Hindostan the destroying principle and the reproducing were united in the same deity. In Egypt the destructive and beneficent god were twin brothers. In Persia, Ormuzd, the King of Light, and Arimanes, the Prince of Darkness, both emanated from The Eternal One. Arimanes, the second emanation, became jealous of the First Born. In consequence of his manifestations of pride and envy, the Eternal One condemned him to remain three thousand years in the dark realm of shadows, where no ray of light could penetrate. During this time, Ormuzd made the firmament, the heavenly orbs, and Celestial Spirits, without his being aware of it. But when the period of his banishment had expired, he approached the light, and its dazzling beauty renewed his old feelings of envy. He resolved to compete with Ormuzd in everything. He created seven Spirits called Archdevs, in opposition to the Amshaspands, and attached them to the seven planets, to paralyze their efforts for good, and substitute evil. Then he made twenty-eight Spirits called Devs, to counteract the Izeds, by spreading all manner of disorder and distress. The most powerful and pernicious of these was an impure Serpent with two feet, named Aschmogh. Then he produced a crowd of genii to oppose the beneficent operations of the Fervers, so that everything had an attendant bad Spirit, as well as a good one.
Ormuzd, to arrest the increase of evil, made an egg containing kindly Spirits; but Arimanes made one containing an equal number of Spirits of hatred; then he broke the eggs together, and good and evil became mixed in the new creation.
Ormuzd created the material world in six successive periods. He first spread out the firmament, with its orbs of light; second, he created water; third, earth; fourth, trees; fifth, animals; sixth, man. When all was finished he devoted a seventh period to a festival with the good Spirits. Arimanes assisted in the creation of the earth and the water, because the King of Shadows could not be excluded from those deep opaque elements. Ormuzd, by his will and his word, created a Bull, the symbol of all Life upon the earth. Arimanes slew him, but drops from his body falling into the ground afterward produced various animals and plants. When the elementary particles of his body had been purified in the light of the sun forty years, they became the germ of the Ribas tree, consisting of two closely intertwined stems. Into these Ormuzd infused the breath of life, and they became the first man and the first woman, named Meshia and Meshiane. Celestial happiness was intended for them, if they obeyed the laws of Ormuzd with humility, did not invoke Evil Spirits, and kept themselves pure in thought, word, and action. They did so in the beginning. They said to each other: "It is Ormuzd who has given us the sun, moon, stars, water, earth, trees, and animals. All cometh from a pure root, and beareth pure fruit." But because Ormuzd had made a Guardian Spirit to watch over every human being, Arimanes made an Evil Genius to attend upon and tempt each one through his whole life. These wicked ones slipped into their thoughts, and said: "It is Arimanes who has given the sun, and moon, and all good things." And when they listened to this suggestion, Arimanes cried aloud from his realm of shadows: “O men, worship us!" Then Meshia poured milk toward the North, as a libation to the Spirits of Darkness, and their power was greatly increased thereby. To harass and destroy the good animals, Arimanes made wolves, and tigers, and serpents, and venomous