[first posted to facebook... date unknown]
One of my favorite-ever religions has to be Zurvanism. Zurvanism was a kind of non-standard Zoroastrianism that scholars believe arose in the 4th century BCE, and gradually grew in popularity... some of the Sassanid Emperors were Zurvanites, especially at its peak, in the 4th century CE. But then they lost power and the Zurvanites dwindled down to a tiny minority sect, which nonetheless persisted for many centuries before finally disappearing in the 13th century. Still, we have plenty of Zurvanite texts and archaeological remains to look through.....
Zoroastrianism is often thought of, at least by Westerners, as a "dualistic" religion. The universe is split in half: light vs. dark, good vs. evil, the forces of the heroic god Ahura Mazda (or Ormazd; there are many spellings) and friends vs. his wicked twin, Angra Mainyu (or Ahriman) and his ilk battling eternally. But for Zurvanites, there is a third principle, which makes the three into one principle. For they believe that both Ormazd and Ahriman are children of their divine parent, Zurvan, who is beyond good and evil, beyond light and dark, even beyond male and female, indeed beyond all dualistic division, who is the one universal principle that includes all, who is identified with Time and Space and especially Fate.....
"In the beginning, the great God Zurvan existed alone. Desiring offspring that would create 'heaven and hell and everything in between', Zurvan sacrificed for a thousand years. Towards the end of this period, androgyne Zurvan began to doubt the efficacy of sacrifice and in the moment of this doubt Ormazd and Ahriman were conceived: Ormazd for the sacrifice and Ahriman for the doubt. Upon realizing that twins were to be born, Zurvan resolved to grant the first-born sovereignty over creation. Ormazd perceived Zurvan’s decision, which He then communicated to His brother. Ahriman then preempted Ormazd by ripping open the womb to emerge first. Reminded of the resolution to grant Ahriman sovereignty, Zurvan conceded, but limited kingship to a period of 9000 years, after which Ohrmazd would rule for all eternity."
I love the parallels with Jacob and Esau, with the Christian Trinity, maybe with Chronos and his children. I also wonder if there might be also parallel between Zurvan and Mannu or Perusha. Zurvanites were considered materialists, aesthetes, and fatalists - some of my favorite people. Here's to Zurvan, male and female, sacrificing themself to themself for a thousand years, and accidentally creating the universe in a moment of doubt.
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