‘Zoroastrian origins – of the Christmas tradition’! by E.J. Kanga

Everything you always wanted to know about
The Origin of Christmas Traditions.
But were afraid to ask!

It was adapted from the Ancient Mithraic Land & Legends.

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Dedicated for the information of my grandchildren:

Alec, Emma, Evan – Harrison, Helena, their cousins & peers.

Copyright by the author of this compendium in limited circulation. ©

Compiled and edited from various acknowledged original sources.

E.J. Kanga.

1. Origins of Christmas. by Cyrus Kar.

2. Yalda adapted into Christmas & Hanukkah celebrations. See VIDEO.

3. Yule. by Mike Nichols

4. Yalda. by Keki Shroff.

5. Origins of Mithraism. (from ‘IRAN-Elements of Destiny’ McClelland & Stewart Ltd.)

6. Mithraism. (Excerpt ‘Reincarnation in World Thought’– Compiled/Edited by Joseph Head & S.L.Cranston.)

7. Anahita Temple at Kangavar. (Excerpt from-‘Iranian Cultural Heritage Org.’- borchure)   

8. Psychic Archeology? (Excerpt from ‘Mind Search’ by Nicholas & June Regush)    

9. Mithraic art in carved relief – Sidon & the Louvre Paris.          

10. A ticket to ‘Paradise’ – may not be so difficult.

11. Maps.                                   

*  * * * * *

1. Origins of Christmas. by Cyrus Kar.

Before it was Christmas, December 25th marked the celebration of Yule, a contraction of the ancient Iranian word “Yalda.”  That’s because classical Romans, Celts, Sachs, and Saxons had adopted the pagan religion of their ancient Iranian ancestors, known as ‘Mithraism’1 -a form of nature worship based on the ‘Sun-Goddess Mithra’2 who on the darkest night of the year (December 20/21), gives birth to “Light” causing each day thereafter to grow longer until the Summer solstice. The attached article by Mike Nichols is a wonderful rendition of the history of Christmas along with some interesting tidbits about our pagan past.


1(See pgs 6-7 on origins of Mithraism from ‘IRAN-Elements of Destiny’ & other publications)               E.K.

2(Mithra or Messiah, was the second coming of Zarathusthra to the Persians, & not a Sun Goddess)            E.K.

2. Yalda adapted into Christmas & Hanukkah celebrations.

While the Christians celebrate Christmas, the Iranians, particularly Zarthushti’s celebrate one of their most ancient celebrations, called “Yalda” which means Birth. Yalda is the night of Mehr or Mithra’s birth. This is traced to the primal concept of Light and Good, against Darkness and Evil in the ancient Iranian religion. From this day forward, light triumphs as the days grow longer and give more light.

When Mithraism spread to ancient civilised world from Iran, Dec 21st was celebrated as Mithra’s birthday.  But in the 4th century AD because of some errors in counting the Leap Year, the birthday of Mithra shifted to Dec 25th.  Until that time the birthday of Jesus Christ was celebrated on Jan 6th.  But the religion of most of the Romans and the people of many of the European countries was still Mithraism.

When Christianity spread, the priests could not stop the practice of celebrating Mithra’s birthday on Dec 25th, so they declared this day as Jesus’s birthday which is still so.

In ancient Persia, Yalda festivities were symbolized by the evergreen tree. Young girls wrapped their wishes in silk cloth and hung them on the tree. Eventually, it became a custom to place presents/gifts under the evergreen tree.  As late as the 18th century a German learnt of the Yalda tree and created what we now know as the Christmas tree.

For decades the entire Iranian nation, particularly Zarthushti’s, celebrate Yalda more as the night of the rebirth of the “Sun” than connect it with the birth of Jesus.

Click on the following link  to watch the interesting video about Yalda:

v

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_YLFln-Zmc

 

3. Yule. by Mike Nichols

Our Christian friends are often quite surprised at how enthusiastically we Pagans celebrate the ‘Christmas’ season. Even though we prefer to use the word ‘Yule’, and our celebrations may peak a few days before Dec. 25th, we nonetheless follow many of the traditional customs of the season: decorated trees, caroling, presents, Yule logs, and mistletoe. We might even go so far as putting up a ‘Nativity set’, though for us the three central characters are likely to be interpreted as Mother Nature, Father Time, and the Baby Sun-God. None of this will come as a surprise to anyone who knows the true history of the holiday, of course.

In fact, if truth be known, the holiday of Christmas has always been more Pagan than Christian, with it’s associations of Nordic divination, Celtic fertility rites, and Roman Mithraism. That is why both Martin Luther and John Calvin abhorred it, why the Puritans refused to acknowledge it, much less celebrate it (to them, no day of the year could be more holy than the Sabbath), and why it was even made ILLEGAL in Boston! The holiday was already too closely associated with the birth of older Pagan gods and heroes. And many of them (like Oedipus, Theseus, Hercules, Perseus, Jason, Dionysus, Apollo, Mithra, Horus and even Arthur) possessed a narrative of birth, death, and resurrection that was uncomfortably close to that of Jesus. And to make matters worse, many of them pre-dated the Christian Savior.

Ultimately, of course, the holiday is rooted deeply in the cycle of the year. It is the Winter Solstice that is being celebrated, seed-time of the year, the longest night and shortest day. It is the birthday of the new Sun King, the Son of God – by whatever name you choose to call him. On this darkest of nights, the Goddess becomes the Great Mother and once again gives birth. And it makes perfect poetic sense that on the longest night of the winter, ‘the dark night of our souls’, there springs the new spark of hope, the Sacred Fire, the Light of the World, the Coel Coeth.

That is why Pagans have as much right to claim this holiday as Christians. Perhaps even more so, as the Christians were rather late in laying claim to it, and tried more than once to reject it. There had been a tradition in the West that Mary bore the child Jesus on the twenty-fifth day, but no one could seem to decide on the month. Finally, in 320 C.E., the Catholic Fathers in Rome decided to make it December, in an effort to co-opt the Mithraic celebration of the Romans and the Yule celebrations of the Celts and Saxons.

There was never much pretense that the date they finally chose was historically accurate. Shepherds just don’t ‘tend their flocks by night’ in the high pastures in the dead of winter! But if one wishes to use the New Testament as historical evidence, this reference may point to sometime in the spring as the time of Jesus’ birth. This is because the lambing season occurs in the spring and that is the only time when shepherds are likely to ‘watch their flocks by night’ – to make sure the lambing goes well. Knowing this, the Eastern half of the Church continued to reject Dec. 25th, preferring a ‘movable date’ fixed by their astrologers according to the moon.

Thus, despite its shaky start (for over three centuries, no one knew when Jesus was supposed to have been born!), December 25th finally began to catch on. By 529, it was a civic holiday, and all work or public business (except that of cooks, bakers, or any that contributed to the delight of the holiday) was prohibited by the Emperor Justinian. In 563, the Council of Braga forbade fasting on Christmas Day, and four years later the Council of Tours proclaimed the twelve days from December 25th to Epiphany as a sacred, festive season. This last point is perhaps the hardest to impress upon the modern reader, who is lucky to get a single day off work. Christmas, in the Middle Ages, was not a SINGLE day, but rather a period of TWELVE days, from December 25th to January 6th. The Twelve Days of Christmas, in fact. It is certainly lamentable that the modern world has abandoned this approach, along with the popular Twelfth Night celebrations.

Of course, the Christian version of the holiday spread to many countries no faster than Christianity itself, which means that ‘Christmas’ wasn’t celebrated in Ireland until the late fifth century; in England, Switzerland, and Austria until the seventh; in Germany until the eighth; and in the Slavic lands until the ninth and tenth. Not that these countries lacked their own mid-winter celebrations of Yuletide. Long before the world had heard of Jesus, Pagans had been observing the season by bringing in the Yule log, wishing on it, and lighting it from the remains of last year’s log. Riddles were posed and answered, magic and rituals were practiced, wild boars were sacrificed and consumed along with large quantities of liquor, corn dollies were carried from house to house while caroling, fertility rites were practiced (girls standing under a sprig of mistletoe were subject to a bit more than a kiss), and divination’s were cast for the coming Spring. Many of these Pagan customs, in an appropriately watered-down form, have entered the mainstream of Christian celebration, though most celebrants do not realize (or do not mention it, if they do) their origins.

For modern Witches, Yule (from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Yula’, meaning ‘wheel’ of the year) is usually celebrated on the actual Winter Solstice, which may vary by a few days, though it usually occurs on or around December 21st. It is a Lesser Sabbath or Lower Holiday in the modern Pagan calendar, one of the four quarter-days of the year, but a very important one. Pagan customs are still enthusiastically followed. Once, the Yule log had been the center of the celebration. It was lighted on the eve of the solstice (it should light on the first try) and must be kept burning for twelve hours, for good luck. It should be made of ash. Later, the Yule log was replaced by the Yule tree but, instead of burning it, burning candles were placed on it. In Christianity, Protestants might claim that Martin Luther invented the custom and Catholics might grant St. Boniface the honor, but the custom can demonstrably be traced back through the Roman Saturnalia all the way to ancient Egypt. Needless to say, such a tree should be cut down rather than purchased, and should be disposed of by burning, the proper way to dispatch any sacred object.

Along with the evergreen, the holly and the ivy and the mistletoe were important plants of the season, all symbolizing fertility and everlasting life. Mistletoe was especially venerated by the Celtic Druids, who cut it with a golden sickle on the sixth night of the moon, and believed it to be an aphrodisiac. (Magically — not medicinally! It’s highly toxic!) But aphrodisiacs must have been the smallest part of the Yuletide menu in ancient times, as contemporary reports indicate that the tables fairly creaked under the strain of every type of good food & drink! The most popular of which was the ‘wassail cup’ deriving its name from the Anglo-Saxon term ‘waes hael’ (be whole or hale).

Medieval Christmas folklore seems endless: that animals will all kneel down as the Holy Night arrives, that bees hum the ‘100th. psalm’ on Christmas Eve, that a windy Christmas will bring good luck, that a person born on Christmas Day can see the Little People, that a cricket on the hearth brings good luck, that if one opens all the doors of the house at midnight all the evil spirits will depart, that you will have one lucky month for each Christmas pudding you sample, that the tree must be taken down by Twelfth Night or bad luck is sure to follow, that ‘If Christmas on a Sunday be, a windy winter we shall see’, that ‘Hours of sun on Christmas Day, so many frosts in the month of May’, that one can use the Twelve Days of Christmas to predict the weather for each of the twelve months of the coming year, and so on.

Remembering that most Christmas customs are ultimately based upon older Pagan customs, it only remains for modern Pagans to reclaim their lost traditions. In doing so, we can share many common customs with our Christian friends, albeit with a slightly different interpretation. And thus we all share in the beauty of this most magical of seasons, when the Mother Goddess once again gives birth to the baby ‘Sun God’ and sets the wheel in motion again.

To conclude with a long-overdue paraphrase  . . . . . ‘Goddess Bless Us – Every One!’

(Additional information on the origins of Mithraism on pgs. 6-7-8-9 to complete the Mithraic topic in the Persian context- Provided by E.Kanga.)

4. Yalda. by Keki Shroff.

While the Christians celebrate Christmas, the Iranians, particularly Zarthushtis celebrate one of their most ancient celebrations, called Yalda, which means Birth. Yalda is the night of Mehr or Mithra’s birth. This is traced to the primal concept of Light and Good, against Darkness and Evil in the ancient Iranian religion. From this day forward, Light Triumphs, as the days grow longer and gives more light.

When Mithraism spread to ancient civilised world from Iran, Dec 21st was celebrated as Mithra’s birthday. But in the 4th century AD because of some errors in counting the Leap Year, the birthday of Mithra shifted to Dec 25th.  Until that time the birthday of Jesus Christ was celebrated on Jan 6th. (Eastern Orthodox – Ukrainian Christmas). But the religion of most of the Romans and the people of many of the European countries was still Mithraism. When Christianity spread, the priests could not stop the practice of celebrating Mithra’s birthday on Dec 25th, so they declared this day as Jesus’ birthday which is still so.

In ancient Persia, Yalda festivities were symbolized by the evergreen tree. Young girls wrapped their wishes in silk cloth and hung them on the tree. Eventually, it became a custom to place presents/gifts under the evergreen tree.  As late as the 18th century a German learnt of the Yalda tree and created what we now know as the Christmas tree. For decades the entire Iranian nation, particularly Zarthushtis, celebrate Yalda more as the night of the rebirth of the “Sun” than connect it with the birth of Jesus.

The date was actually chosen by Roman Emperor Aurelian in 274 A.D. to celebrate  “Natalis Solis Invicti”, the birthday of the unconquered Sun, following the winter solstice.  The Church in Rome fixed the commemoration of the birth of Christ on this date, around 336 A.D. In this context, it is interesting to note that the three wise men, the Magi, that heralded the infant Christ, were Zoroastrians.

To this day frankincense and myrrh are offered at the altars of Zoroastrian temples all over the world.  The story of the Zoroastrian Magi has been narrated by St. Matthew in the Bible and is the subject of an excellent documentary by Kenneth Griffith aired by Vision TV quite some time ago.  The remains of the Magi rest in the inner sanctum of the famous Cathedral of Cologne, which was the only structure that survived the heavy aerial bombing during W.W.II, a fact providentially attributed to it being the final resting place of the Magi.”<>

N.B. The very Rev. William R. Inge, known as the Gloomy Dean, in his ‘Universal History of the World’ says with reference to Mithraism and the Church:

“The Christians were both puzzled and annoyed by the resemblance of the Mithraic religion to their own … The Church paid Mithras the great compliment of annexing his chief festival on December 25, the birthday of the “Invincible Sun” and turning it into the Feast of Nativity of Jesus Christ.  So we owe our Christmas, or at least its date, to the religion of Persia”.

5. Origins of Mithraism.

(from ‘IRAN-Elements of Destiny’ McClelland & Stewart Ltd.)

‘According to Iranian historical sources, the birth of Mithra (or Messiah) the Savior, expected by the Zoroastrians, occurred in the fifty-first year of the Arsacids and the sixty-fourth year of Alexander’s rule in Babylonia, on the eve of Sunday, the twenty-fifth of December, 272 B.C. (one & one half millennium after Zoroastra) This was an event of far-reaching influence for the religious thought and culture of the entire ancient world.

‘According to ancient prophecies and later traditions, Mithra was born from a virgin with a title of Anahita, (or Immaculate) who conceived the Savior from the seed of Zoroastra that had been preserved in the waters of Lake Hamun in Sistan. …….. The Arsacids had adopted the religion of Mithra – a religion that was to embrace the ancient world from the Atlantic to the Pacific, within a century after the founder’s death (or Ascension), as his followers believed. His Ascension occurred in 208 B.C. Parthian coins and documents bear a double date with an interval sixty-four years; one with the birth of Mithra as a basal point and the other with the Ascension.

‘Before long, the Parthian kingdom was transformed into a world empire under Mithridates, who assumed the title of Great King. His dominions stretched from Mesopotamia to Bactria, and a new administrative capital was built at Ctesiphon. Mithraic temples sprang up in western Iran. The largest was at Kangavar,1 named after Anahita, the Immaculate Virgin Mother of the Lord (Mithra), situated near Kermanshah on the road to Hamedan. The district itself was known as Behestan. (Bagh-e-stan after Bagh, or Lord, being the special title of the Lord Mithra) Excavations are under way in the terraces of the imposing and elegant ruins of this temple, once considered as one of the wonders of the world.

‘……In Azarbayejan, the temple at Shiz was built on top of an unusual site near a supposedly bottomless, self-feeding lake which flows down the slopes through seven water channels cut into the rock. The Parthian Mithraeum was later transformed to a Zoroastrian fire temple by the Sassanian. In Fars, there stood a sanctuary dedicated to Anahita, the Mother of God, whose guardian and priest was the ancestor of the Sassanian Kings.

‘In Armenia, where Parthian princes ruled as local kings, a whole district was dedicated to Anahita. Numerous Mithraic temples were built, and Armenia remained one of the last strongholds of Mithraism. The Parthian Kings of Armenia were at the same time priests of Mithra. King Tiridates, as a Magus of Mithra, traveled to Rome where Nero received him in ceremonies of the greatest pomp and placed the crown on his head. Reciprocally, Nero was initiated into the higher stages of the (Mithraic) Mystery and was even addressed as a reincarnation of Mithra’. 2

1 (see pg.7 for more details).

2 (This explains how Mithraism was embraced by the Romans in 50 AD. as a State religion and later the concept of Immaculate Conception of the Savior was introduced in the New Testaments of Christianity, when Emperor Constantine the Great, embraced Christianity in 312 AD. & by the Edict of Milan in 313 AD. granted Christians legal rights in the Roman Empire. – Also see article on Psychic Archeology, Pg.8 which explains how earlier Persian beliefs & dates were later introduced into Christianity by the Catholic Church.)     E.K                                                                                 

On 25th Dec. wish your friends ‘Merry Mithramas’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’

6. Mithraism (Excerpt from ‘Reincarnation in World Thought’ Compiled/Edited by Joseph Head & S.L.Cranston

The excavation in this century of the ruins of a Mithraic Temple in the City of London [1] revived an age-old mystery concerning the disappearance from the face of the earth and the memory of man of a religion, beloved of Roman Emperors and legions alike, that had been Christianity’s chief rival for the first three centuries of our era.

In The Gnostics and Their Remains, [2] C. W. King states that Mithra-ism “was the theology of Zoroaster in its origin, but greatly simplified so as to assimilate it to the previously existing systems of the West. . . . Under this form it took its name from Mithras, who in the Zoroastrian creed is not the Supreme Being (Ormuzd) but the chief of the subordinate Powers, the seven Amhaspends. Mithras is the Zend name for the sun. . . .”

The Neoplatonist philosopher, Porphyry, in this extract from his De Absh’nentia (iv, i6), [3] speaks first of Zoroastrianism and then of Mithraism:

Among the Persians those who are wise in divine concerns, and worship divinity, are called Magi. . . . But so great and venerable are these men thought to be by the Persians, that Darius [5587-486 b.c.], the son of Hystaspes, had among other things this engraved on his tomb, that he had been the master of the Magi. They are divided into three genera, as we are informed by Eubulus, who wrote the history of Mithra, in a treatise consisting of many books. In this work he says . . . the dogma with all of them which ranks as the first is this, that there is a transmigration of souls; and this they also appear to indicate in the mysteries of Mithra.

Belgian historian, Franz Cumont, also confirms that reincarnation was “accepted by the mysteries of Mithras.” [4]

Cumont, the foremost authority in this field, remarks in the preface to his work The Mysteries of Mithra [5] that while the civilization of the Greeks and Romans was unsuccessful in establishing itself among the Persians, the religion of the Magi exercised a deep influence on Occidental culture at three different periods. It made a very distinct impression on Judaism in its formative stage. Later the influence of Mazdaism on European thought was still more direct when Asia Minor was conquered by the Romans. But at the beginning of our era, this religion, as Mithraism, suddenly emerged and pressed forward rapidly and simultaneously into the valleys of the Danube and the Rhine, and into the heart of Italy itself. Remains of its temples are to be found in Germany, France, Switzerland as well as in Britain. The Mithraists admitted members of all religions to their meetings. Cumont further states:[6]   

In the heyday of its vigor, it exercised [a] remarkable influence on the society and government of Rome. Never perhaps, not even in the epoch of the Mussulman invasion, was Europe in greater danger of being Asiaticized than in the third century of our era. [7]  . . . When the flood subsided it left behind in the conscience of the people a deep sediment of oriental beliefs, which have never been completely obliterated. . . . The defeat of Mithraism did not ut­terly annihilate its power. It had prepared the minds of the Occident for the reception of a new faith, which like itself, came also from the banks of the Euphrates    . . . . Manicheism appeared as its successor and continuator. This was the final assault made by Persia on the Occident.

                                                                                                                                                       

[1] Robert C. Cowen, “Ruin Peeks into Past of Britain,” Christian Science Monitor, Oct. 14, 1954

[2] London: 1864, p. 47.

[3] Porphyry on Abstinence from Animal Food, trans. Thomas Taylor, ed. Esme’ Wynne-Tyson. New York, London, 1965, pp. 166-167.

[4] After Life in Roman Paganism. New York: Dover Paperback, 1959, p. 178.

[5] Chicago: 1910, p. iv. – [6] Pp. v-vii.

[7] Radhakrishnan states: “Julian the Apostate was an ardent votary of Mitlira. The worship of Mithra proved the most dangerous rival to the Christian Church before its alliance with Constantine. No wonder Renan observed: ‘If Christianity had been stopped in its growth by some deadly disease, the world would have been Mithraist.’” (Eastern Religions and Western Thought. Oxford University Press: 1940, p. 121.)

7. Anahita Temple at Kangavar. (Excerpt from-‘Iranian Cultural Heritage Org.’- borchure)

‘The modern town of Kanga-var, (var meaning enclosure) the site of the ancient Anahita Temple, is situated midway between Hamdan and Kermanshah, on the main historical Hegmataneh– Ctesiphon highway. The Temple has an area of 4.6 hectare and is located ….. overlook(ing) the Kangavar plain. The fertile plain is surrounded from the North & North-West by the entral Zagros range….and with ample irrigation water supplied by natural springs and the Gamasab river….the river & natural springs have played an important role in the cultural development of Kangavar plain from prehistoric times.

‘Anahita was a major deity in the pre-Islamic Iran. She was the protector of water and the goddess of beauty, fertility & fecundity (and mother of ‘Mithra’.) During the Parthian period, Anahita’s worship became so popular & venerable that ‘Tiridates-I’ was crowned in Her Temple. The worship of Anahita in the Kangavar region was particularly so popular that in the first half of the first century AD, the Greek geographer, Isidore of Charax, was the first to mention the Temple in his book, referring to it as the Temple of Artemis.’

Ionic columns of Hellenistic-style
Ionic columns of Hellenistic-style

Kangāvar (Persian: کنگاور) (Konkobar or Concobar) is the name of a small district in the province of Kermanshah in Iran, as well as of the town that is the district’s administrative capital. The district, which lies in the Kangavar river valley, is very fertile and contains 30 villages. Kangavar township is 47 miles from Hamadan on the high road to Kermanshah.

In the early 20th century, Kangāvar was held in fief by the family of a deceased court official, forming a separate government. The Ionic columns of the Hellenistic-style remains of the “Anahita Temple”

   Today, the town is best known for the archaeological remains of a Hellenic-style edifice. During the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th  century, the  ruins  were misused as a source for building material  for the  expanding  town. Excavation first began in 1968, by which time the “large structure with its great Ionic columns set on a high stone platform” had been associated with a comment by Isidore of Charax that refers to “temple of Artemis” (Parthian Stations 6) at Concobar – so the Greek name of Kangavar- in Lower Medea, on the overland trade route between the Levant and India.

References to Artemis in Iran are generally interpreted to be ref’s: remains of “Anahita Temple”  to Anahita, thus Isidore’s “temple of Artemis” came to be  under-stood  as a  reference  to a temple of Anahita. Although a general plan of  the complex  has been  compiled, it  is still  not sufficient to learn about the function and shape of the terrace and the buildings that stood there. Given the lack of archaeo-logical evidence for a temple-like building, “it is questionable whether the [temple noted by Isodore] is identical with the  ruins of  Kangāvar. Isidorus  described  obviously  another  temple of  the first century AD, somewhere in  the region of Congobar (Kangāvar) or at the place of the later platform, which, according to the results of the excavation, seems to be built up in Sassanian times.”

“Under the Parthians any observable western influence can just as well be a survival from the Hellenistic period, which is why the monument at Kangāvar was once acceptably dated as early Parthian while recent investigations proved it to be late Sassanian.” “The ruin at Kangāvar [is] now thought to be a late Sassanian.” Despite the archaeological findings, the association with the divinity of fertility, healing, and wisdom has made the site a popular tourist attraction.<> (Source: Wikipedia – E.K.)

8. Psychic Archeology? (An excerpt from ‘Mind Search’ by Nicholas & June Regush) 1

Digging up the past is hard grimy work, …. (and) major discoveries are often made on the basis of an intuitive hunch or stem from vital clues stumbled across quite by accident. …… Norman Emerson, an eminent senior archeologist at the University of Toronto, however, has found something better than intuition: the assistance of George McMullen, a psychic who is able to psychometrize sites and the history of their inhabitants, merely by tuning into held objects yielded by a dig. In doing so, McMullen says that he is able to hear and see past events in relation to the objects, often eliciting very vivid impressions of the site.

Talking with Emerson about this psychic enterprise gives one the impression that he is not at all concerned about his unusual alliance with McMullen. “I don’t really understand what’s going on,” he shrugs, “but it surely can’t be ignored.” Understandably skeptical at first, Emerson now believes that his psychic collaborator is a potential prototype of future archeologist’s chief ally in reconstructing the past.

After a five day immersion into Egyptian archeology,  …… the expedition arrived in Iran …… at a research site called Caravansary, the chief archeologist of Iran asked McMullen what general feelings the site gave him. George answered ……

“Ah…. Very old, very old and somewhat sad, too. My immediate impression was that things I had learned in my country about the Bible and the things that they had taught me in Church about Christianity – is all of a sudden, was a pile of chaff. Because, I am sorry to say – because I could suddenly see, that everything they said in the Bible2 was just stories that they had got from here – you know; and I suddenly realize that this is where it all happened, not in the so-called Holy Land.”

Emerson also points out that the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls had established early Christian writings in an ancient Near-Eastern tradition. “It occurred to me,” he notes in his journal, “that we were faced with a situation where further Christian traditions might be finding themselves set back in a Persian Cultural setting.” <>

1.(Nicholas Regush has taught sociology at New York University and Humanities at Dawson College in Montreal. Has written widely in the consciousness-exploration field, has appeared on more than one hundred television and radio programs.)

2. The Bible referred is the ‘Old Testament’ or the ‘Hebrew Bible’ – with stories of people and lands starting with Adam.

N.B. Following an excerpt from the Introduction of David Rohl’s book – ‘From Eden to Exile’.

“The Bible remains the most published translated and read literary work in the world. But what is this most famous of books? Is it a history? Is it a fairy tale? Is it fact or fiction? Are the people of ‘The Book’ real historical figures or simply the literary invention of the storytellers? And why does any of this matter anyway? It matters because many of the world’s greatest religions look to the stories contained in the Old Testament (the Tanaakh of Judaism) for their moral & theological teaching. “Is the Old Testament history or myth? The only way to answer that question is to investigate the biblical stories using the archaeological evidence, combined with a study of the ancient texts of the civilisations which had a role to play in the Bible story. But this has to be done with an open mind. In my view the biblical text – just like any other ancient document – should be treated as a potentially reliable historical source until it can be demonstrated to be otherwise.

“It is true to say that, until recently, much of the Old Testament was believed to be inconsistent with the archaeo­logical record. The views of earlier scholars such as Albright (1891-1971) and Wright (1909-1974) – both advocates of the historicity of the biblical narratives – have become more and more unfashionable since, from the 1950 onwards . . . etc.”                                                                                                       E. K.

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Worship of Mithra was usually conducted in dark subterranean temples like the one discovered beneath the Christian church of San Clemente in Rome. The god himself is nearly always represented in the same costume, the same posture, surrounded by the same animals and the signs of the Zodiac displayed around him, as here in a marble relief carved (c.400 CE) and found in Sidon (‘Saidoon’ is the Phoenician name) on the coast, 50 kilometers south of Beirut, Lebanon.

 

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Double- faced Mithraic relief. – Rome, Second to third century AD. Louvre Museum

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‘Kangavar’ is en-route from Kermanshah to Hamadan on the map.

10. A ticket to Paradise – Garden of Eden – may not be so difficult.

Scientist’s work points to earthly location of Eden. by David Youni – Scripps Howard News Service

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Map showing area containing the ‘Garden of Eden’ (east of Lake Uremia) – Tabriz-Maragheh area. As proposed by David Rohl in his book ‘From Eden to Exile’

As yet, the Iranian Tourist Office does not promote trips to Par­adise, but if archaeologist David Rohl is right, it’s only a matter of time until it packages tours to the biblical Eden.

In his new book, Legend – The Genesis of Civilization, Prof. Rohl presents intriguing evi­dence that the Garden of Paradise was located in a fertile plain 96 kilometers wide and 320 kilometers long that begins some 16 kilometers east of the modern city of Tabriz, itself fewer than 800 kilometers west of the Iran­ian capita] of Tehran.

The area remains a place of rur­al luxuriance, home to flocks of sheep, and dense with olive groves, orchards, and vineyards, walnut and almond trees. Road side peddlers sell sweet grapes the size of ping-pong balls. In local villages, public walls are painted with folk-art depictions of Paradise.

Genesis 2.W-14 locates Eden at the sources of four rivers. The Tigris and Euphrates are easy to find on any modern map but the other two – the Gihon and Pishon – are more elusive

Reginald Walker, an obscure scientist who died 10 years ago, published evidence that the river Aras was once known Gaihun — equivalent to the Hebrew Gihon. Moreover, his analysis of the word Pishon persuaded him hat it was a corruption of the He­brew word Vizun, a river that still runs through the same plain. Mr. Walker was ignored by scholars, most of whom still consider Genesis to be little more than a myth.

Having explored the length and breadth of the area bounded by the four rivers, Prof. Rohl now confirms Mr. Walkers guesses.

In the process, he discovered the unnamed river (the Adji Chay) that Genesis says runs through the Garden. Moreover, he located the biblical lands of Havilah and Cush, and the place of Cain’s ex­ile, the land of Nod. He rejects the prevailing notion that Noah’s ark rested on Mount Ararat, in favour of the mountain Judi Dagh in the same range in modern Turkey. As early as 700 BC, Assyrians were revering a plank removed from Judi Dagh’s summit.

How likely is Prof. Rohl to be cor­rect? He has no religious axe to grind. As a scientist, he is simply per­suaded that the similarities be­tween the Genesis story and other ancient accounts make a case for their foundation in fact.

In the past. Prof. Rohl has argued for a more compressed time-frame for ancient Egypt. In an earlier book, A Test of Time, he traced Adam’s line from Jacob and Joseph onwards as real history.

There is plenty to ponder. Adam, according to the Bible, was fash­ioned of clay. Adam means “red-earth” man in Hebrew. Tantalizingly, the mountain directly be­hind Tabriz in the Zagros range is composed of ochre clay and glows red in the sunlight.