“We were love / We were loving/ We were lovers / running.....dancing.....living / inside of each other / We could have shown the stars how to shine / but this moment in time / didn't belong to you and I / We vowed that when we die / we would sell our souls and fly / just ride the skies / stay so very high / there was no U without I / We said when We have seen the world / and visit every water hole / when our wings got tired and old / We would plant the ground grow and be profound / and make.......Shadows in Time”
Jackson, Shadows In Time
The trees in mythology were symbols of life and death and love, duality follows the trees also in myths, and they were in many mythological stories like the poem Shadows in Time, lovers who had past, spending eternity side by side. As with a peasant woman of Phrygia who together with her husband Philemon received with great hospitality Zeus and Hermes disguised as men. The Gods rewarded the couple by turning them in their old age into intertwining linden and oak trees. In Africa and African mythology it is believed that every big tree has a spirit; some trees house many spirits. They believe that the spirit in or of the tree has a voice which the careful listener can hear and even understand if he knows the language of the spirits. The African craftsman such as the drum maker, boat-maker, has to be careful to preserved the spirit of the tree. For example, the boat-maker wants to keep the spirit of the tree in the wood so that it will protect the boatman against drowning in the treacherous rivers. It is said that in a forest, the trees have a collective spirit, powerful enough to be revered as a god.
“They say it is written, that during the time when man was alone, and before woman was created, God planted a beautiful garden, not resembling ours in anything…, but the trees which were planted in the terrestrial Paradise of God had a soul and were rational bearing as fruit, virtues, immortal understanding and vivacity of spirit, by which honesty and dishonesty, healthy life, immortality and all similar things are distinguished and known” (Philon, Creation of the World).
Reading Philon quote, it gives the impression that the trees were the first civilation on earth, before animals and before the humans. The trees are at the heart of most creation stories in one form or another, even being the main ingredient in some myths. In Asian Myth it is the lotus that is actually classified as a tree and not a flower, where the tree is introduced and the home of yin/yang which is the realm of opposites, the diechonomy; something that is contradictory but it is their embodying of opposites in one theory (Mueckenheim). There are myths of Gods transforming themselves into trees, trees that swallow Gods, Trees that walk, trip humans with their roots and even talk (I tend to believe that we are descendents of trees that are descendents of Gods).
When the trees are used in the creation myth a few central themes are attached like, the link or connection to worlds (heaven, earth and hell). In Norse mythology the World Tree to me was a symbol of the two trees of Genesis and it was the center of their cosmos. It held the Golden Ratio that transmits souls to eternal life after their earthly death and it shielded the enchanted waters of knowledge. The tree connected all living and all life including the Norse belief in nine worlds and three realms, the heavens, the earth and (hell/Hades) the underworld. With the African Bushman tree myth, the tree came from below and next to the tree that connected worlds there was a hole that by climbing the roots brought all living creatures to earth. Then there are the Celtics who’s developed an entire calendar and philosophy of trees, tree myths and beliefs, overwhelming material on the “trees”. Yet it is the Persian developing from Kemet and Aryan myths I choose to explore and compare to the Norse, the World Tree (a mythical, essay re-battle sort-to-speak of 300).
Like the Norse we look to the creation myth of Persia where a huge tree grew from the corpse of the first human, which as the trunk separated there form a man and woman, Mashya and Mashyane, and the fruit of the tree became the various races of humankind. This tree of life from the ancient Near East also provided food for sacred animals and Gods, it was associated with kingship and deities because it was that link between the earthly and divine realms.
Because Persia had been conquered by Aryan tribes it isn’t surprising to find the same pantheon of gods from the Vedic period in India. This introduces our first dualities, which are pantheon gods who were both beneficent and frightening at the same time. The God is introduced as having two sides a good and an evil side; having two faces on one head representing duality. Ahura Mazda was the good God of the dual and Ahreeman was the evil whom was just as beautiful as Ahura but was jealous, like Jesus and the devil (sort of) and Cain and Abel a level playing field. Ahura was called “The Wise Lord” he created Eternal Attendants, which were the immortals who were said to be the personification of good principles of the world; Voho Maha (Good Mind), Asha (Truth), Sraosha (Obedience), Armaiti (Devotion), and the twins Haurvetal (Integrity) and Amerital (Immortality), they are collectively called “The children of God”. Ahreeman who is known as “The Lord of the Flies” created demons, flies, germs, disease, vermin’s and any other vile thing. He also created a demoness named Johi who is responesivable for killing the first man and his ox and is the personification of all feminine evil such as prostitution, vanity, gossip and nagging. In this myth the first man gave his dying ox marijuana to chew on to ease the pain. And it is in this myth when mentioning eating the children of the first mortal couple that “The Wise Lord” removed some of the sweetness of children so that they wouldn’t be eaten, but it is said to cause what we have today as children; as more time past, more sweetness is taken away leaving us or our generation with spoiled/rotten/not-so-sweet children (Bierlein, pg43).
As the myth goes first the sky was created from rock crystal in the shape of a hollow sphere so that it was both above and below where the earth would be. As the creator rested, the first mountain grew, Alburz also known as Mount Hara taking 800 years to grow its roots into the earth and its crown upwards until it touched the sky. And when it touched the sky the sun, moon and stars were born and circled the top of Alburtz. As they revolved water fell from the sky and the tree collected it all about it into a sea called Vourukash. Thusly Alburtz was the source of all light and all water. As the rains fell seven regions, or Karshvars formed. The largest of these regions was Khvanrath, which was to be occupied by humans, and it was as large as the other six combined. As Alburtz grew it sprouted other mountains, 2244 in all. The Vourukash Sea sent out two mighty rivers, one to the west and one the east, making the boundaries of the known world. The water flowing into the rivers was purified, and it flowed from them to the Peak of Hara which threw the water into the air and became the rain again. The Vourukasha Sea began to foam in its center and from that came the first tree, the Saena Tree. And as the first tree grew its crown provided a place for the first nest so the first bird appeared the Saena and from the dropping leaves of the Saena Tree come the first plants, the very first plant being called Gaokerene which had healing properties when eaten and gave immortality to resurrected bodies of the dead, the same as with the trees in Norse myths.
With the great forces of creation so unleashed the first animal came into existence, the white bull as bright as the moon, and it first lived on the banks of the River Vah Daiti (Veh Rod). It was killed by Johi and its seed flew upwards to the moon where it was purified and created many of the animals seen today. Also it created many plants when its seeds dropped back to earth from the moon. Across from the bull's home on the river was the first man, Gayomarta who also was created spontaneously by the force of creation. Johi in great anger destroyed this first human as well, catching the same sickness that inflicted his ox. The sun purified the man's seed for forty years when a rhubarb plant grew from his seed. Another story of this Persian myth said the rhubarb plant slowly grew into Mashya and Mashyanag, the first mortal couple. Ahreeman tricked them into worshipping him as their creator thusly the first sin occurred, filling the world with corruption and evil. After 50 years they had twins, but because of their sin, they ate the children. After a long long time they had another set of twins from which comes all of us humans, but especially the Persians (Parrel Myth). We must remember they, the Persian were said to be the descendents of Abraham son Ham and in this myth we see similaries such as the tree forming connecting sky, earth, and underground (pool of knowledge, Norse), we see the duality they struggle of good vs. evil, the mortal man and woman born from the tree and as with the Norse myth of a guard for the tree Persia had their guard as well, an invisible dragon that the Persians called Simarghu.
This creation myth of Persia that is said to truly be the bases of Christianity because it was around before Christ, with ties through Egypt, and Iran displaying distinguishing characteristic of duality, a constant battle of good vs. evil. This myth started in the Neolithic era by the third millennium BC., in which Persia believed in Polly thesis (Ahura Mazda) Ormad and (Ahreeman) Ahriman, then they were combined into one God with two faces (as stated before), then they became twin brothers, to arch enemies either way they were the other side of the same coin symbolizing the duality of men, in the Zoroastrian philosophy. Their religion/myth speaks of two trees The Haoma (from the creation story above) and also the other half of the split tree the Impassive both of which are in the Fountain of Life, which the Haoma contains the seed of every kind of plant and of which every nation of man/ (ten races) was born and the Impassive which bears the fruit of immortality and the renewing of life all of which are elements found in Yggdrasil of the Norse and Genesis Near Eastern stories.
The biggest difference is the way the myths weretold and retold Norse myth’s were told in literature; like in poems, prose, stories Persia myth were more like testaments like scriptures, they differ also in/with morality. In Norse myth there were Gods (men) and Goddess (women) but in Persia, ancient Iranians saw morality as a state of mind. A person’s state of soul and mentality was the determining factor for his mortality. A person’s gender and sexual preference had nothing to do with his level of morality and it is shown with their Gods and Goddesses who were multi-genders, Gods with no sexual organ and gods with both. The Persian had male and female gods and goddesses who were as followed; male masculine god (Ahura Mazda) God and master of intelligence, supreme God and (Ahreeman) he is the dark lord, twin brother of the Holy Spirit (Lord of the Rings elements), female feminine goddess (Anahita), Bi-gender goddess (Mitra), neuter god (Zurvan), male feminine god (Indiva) and female masculine goddess (Allatum) (Persian Cosmogony).
In going through the Persian myth I came across elements they were used in the Norse Myth especially as it relates to twentieth century movies like Lord of the Rings and 300 that was based in the Norse myth held a lot of this Persia myth when dealing with the “rings of power” and the images of the dark lord Ahreeman/Ahriman who looked just the dark lord in the movie of Lord of the Rings, I also saw elements of the Persian in the movie 300, there is a scene in which the deformed Spartan is being lead to talk to the Persia King and it is all sorts of things/being multi and bi-gendered creatures half animals and half humans that was based from the Persian myths as accepting all and not classifying because of sexual preferences. The Persia myth is older than the Norse so there was plenty of time to edit the myths to fit the times and shutter in the changing morality of times and as learn in anthropology, no culture remains completely static year after year and until “the trees” open up and share, we will continue to fill in the gaps as best we can in myths and tales, we will choose the side in which we will stand and live life in our own duality, our own struggles of good and evil and hopefully remember the trees.