October 22, 2000
The Fire Temple
By Royce Carlson
is the symbol of Ahura Mazda, the one supreme, all-knowing god of
Zoroastrianism. Zarathushtra, known to the Greeks as Zoroaster, was a
prophet born in Persia at least around 600 BC and possibly as early as
1500 BC making Zoroastrianism one of the oldest monotheistic world
religions. Their sacred text is the Zendavesta, composed by Zarathushtra
as a series of five song-poems. This religion was the predominant
religion of Persia for over a thousand years until about 600 AD when
Arab conquerors invaded. The Zoroastrians then fled Persia to India. The
religion still exists today.
There is evidence of Zoroastrian influence on Christianity and in the
Germanic religions. Zoroastrians had the concept of heaven and hell, the
predicted coming of a savior born of a virgin, the end-time purge of the
world with fire followed by the resurrection of the dead, and a final
battle between good and evil with good winning.
The evil principle is called Ahriman. Legend has it that, when Ahura
Mazda created light, Ahriman became jealous. Because of that, whenever
Ahura Mazda created something, Ahriman put a little bit of evil into it.
The two forces are sometimes represented as serpents. Ahura Mazda is a
white snake and Ahriman a black one. Between them is the world, over
which they battle for control. The prophecies state that that eventually
Ahriman will be destroyed.
The game of chess is based on the fight between Ahura Mazda and
Ahriman. Ahura Mazda is the white king and Ahriman is the black king.
The chessmen represent the elements of life. The sixty-four alternating
black and white squares represent the floor of the House of the
Mysteries. The correspondences between the chessmen and the elements of
life are as follows:
||the immortal soul
||the physical body
||the sensory impulses
The pieces on the king’s side are positively polarized and the
queen’s side is negatively polarized. The nature of the chessmen is
revealed by the way they can move. For example, the king cannot be
captured but loses the battle when so surrounded it cannot escape.
Ahura Mazda is a good god. He is a friend to all and is not to be
feared. Evil is the result of Ahriman, which is the evil element within
us. By maintaining good thoughts and good deeds, one helps fight evil.
Traditional Zoroastrians are adamant about not inter-marrying outside
their religion. There is some conflict between groups on this and other
issues. Since there are no defined denominations of Zoroastrians, the
conflicts are difficult to describe. There are over 100,000 practicing
Zoroastrians and they are mostly in India. There are some groups in the
West also. Their temples are called Fire Temples.
Fire is very important. For most it is a symbol of Ahura Mazda but
some Zoroastrians actually worship fire itself. The universe was created
by fire, is maintained by fire, and will be consumed by fire. The Earth
was born out of cosmic fire and at the end will be consumed by cosmic
fire. Fire purifies everything. Thus spake Zarathushtra.
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