Spotted teal jasper, wooden centerpiece, hexagonal bugle beads
My very first Great Course was Religions of the Axial Age, which I listened to with my father. Zoroaster blew my mind. It was an epiphany similar to what I had felt when learning about Neolithic Venuses …
Shortly after people had figured out how to farm instead of living as nomads, others came to the conclusion that stealing wealth from the stationary farmers was easier than farming themselves.
For Zoroaster’s agricultural society, this was a huge problem. Zoroaster built his response upon prehistoric Indo-Iranian religious roots. In the religion of Zoroaster, Ahura Mazda is the sole god of the universe. Angra Mainyu (“angry spirit” - later Ahrimanindra) causes problems. Aša is a concept that is fundamental to Zoroastrianism. Ahura Mazda is aša, creation is aša, existence is aša, free will depends on aša, and humans are to actively sustain ašathrough thoughts, words, and deeds.
This is a religion of personal responsibility, because people are free to make choices. There is a heaven and a hell. There will be a final judgement, and Zoroaster himself was conceived by a virgin. Zoroaster also claimed that there would be a savior (the saoshyant), and priests went out seeking for this birth. Zoroastrianism contains so many bits of what became other religions and cultures.