Wolf Country: A Spiritual History of Iran

Persian Empire timeline including important events and territorial evolution – 550–323 BC
Ali Zifan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Paropamisidae, Arachosia, Gedrosia, Hyrcania…what strangely mellifluous names were given to the provinces of the Persian Empire conquered by Alexander, whose name became synonymous with evil in the Iranian mind. Hyrcania had echoes even in English literature. It has had a vital part in the history and mental formation of Iran, and means the country of the wolves. It is the land around the south of the Caspian Sea, which itself was known as the sea of wolves. Why this emphasis on wolves? They were the emblem or totem animal of the steppe nomads who conquered and settled what became the land of Iran, the land of the Aryans, the noble ones.

We are accustomed to the Graeco-Roman view of the Persians as enemies of the West, which they were, but not entirely. They were actually more like brotherly rivals in myth, and had a certain amount of, only reluctantly admitted, influence on each other. We are often told that they were the only large empire and centralised state which could stand up to the Romans, and frequently beat them. Indeed, the vast effort of fighting them in the east weakened the Romans so much that they were not able to withstand the barbarians in the west. There were other less obvious, and sometimes less intended, influences on Europe from the people and culture of Iran and the closely associated steppe nomads. Maybe even as far as the Sword in the Stone and the Grail as well as the prototype of Chivalry, and perhaps even echoes of similar influences from the North. You know which Norse deity was closely identified with wolves, don’t you?

‘Wodan, id est Furor’ was Adam of Bremen’s description of the deity. He prayed to be delivered from ‘the fury of the Northmen’. I think this meant not only avoiding attack by them, but not falling into the ecstatic fury which was associated with going berserk and which their warriors cultivated.

Odin was usually depicted with two wolves at his feet, Greedy and Ravenous, and he was the master of the state of ecstasy which could lead to consciousness falling into the raging destructive frenzy they symbolised or rising to heights of illumination and wisdom. At the Gotterdammerung Odin was expected to fall to the fury of the great wolf Fenris, but to be avenged by his son Widar. I suppose this means that consciousness can rise again to overcome this state. There was a story that Odin had originally been a man from the east, and amongst Anglo-Saxon kings it was practically de rigueur to be able to trace descent from him. (Originally kings were closely associated with shamans, and I suspect that after the abilities were lost there was still an expectation that a ruler be able to claim a link with someone who had them even if he lacked them himself.) This is quite similar to what was believed amongst the steppe nomads with their war god Mithra, their Haoma induced ecstatic fury and their self identification with wolves. Amongst settled people the wolf was feared and hated as a predator on their livestock and children, the representation of the savage and uncanny life and risks outside the pale of the village settlement. Just as the nomads were feared, with good reason.  Wolf Country is more than the vast geography of the steppes and the Iranian plateau and their people and religion and culture. It is also a geography of the wild spiritual places found beyond the safe limits of Normieville, where savage warriors, strange deities and illumined sages may be found. Here be Dragons, indeed!

‘The Tower of Babel’ (1563) by Pieter Brueghel the Elder
Public Domain

Looking back in time and further east than is usual, we can see that white people inhabited the steppes before they were displaced by Turkic hordes. They domesticated horses, invented wheeled vehicles, became devastating and rapidly moving raiders armed with the composite recurved bow, long before the Mongols (Genghis himself was rumoured to have been at least partly white, with green eyes). It is even whispered that the earliest legendary dynasty which ruled China were such European steppe nomads. They are usually known as Scythians, and in addition to their martial prowess were known for their love of gold and for golden jewellery and art of sweeping curved lines. Despite the emphasis on nomad warriors it is obvious that they had superb craftsmen, and I doubt that a life in the saddle enables one to gain much proficiency in gold-smithing, so some of them must have been more sedentary in order to gain and practice such skills. The democratic Athenians even employed Scythian mercenaries to enforce democracy by herding the citizens into the assembly, by carrying ropes daubed with wet paint, so any dawdlers who arrived with paint on their robes were fined. Compulsory voting, or what? Not that anyone imagined that the Scythians themselves would participate in the discussion and voting. Ye Gods!

Iranian Leviathan

This article or discussion is based on an interesting book ‘Iranian Leviathan A Monumental History of Mithra’s Abode’ by an American half-Iranian author, Jason Reza Jorjani. (His surname seems to be an Arabised version of a Persian word for wolf.) It is quite a large book, 516 pages of text, but Jorjani takes the term ‘Monumental’ from Nietzsche’s classification of historiography. Nietzsche was disappointed that the Persians had not conquered (all) the Greeks because he thought they would have been better guardians of Europe than the Hellenised Romans proved to be. He recognised three types of writing about history. ‘Antiquarian history is the historiography of conservatives. They see history as a decline from a bygone golden age whose fragments they are trying to conserve and whose grandeur they hope to restore without innovation. Critical history is the historiography of communists …They interpret all of the social structures of various historical cultures as the product of unjust power relations, including and especially economic disparities between classes. Their historiography aims to deconstruct the ideals symbols and traditions of any civilization…. Monumental historians recognise that the tree of every living civilization requires a dark and rich soil for its roots if it is to continue to branch out and grow into the sunlight. Metaphorically, this means that myths can never be dispensed with and that the purpose of history is not to arrive at a perfectly accurate representation of the past, hether to reproduce or to deconstruct it. Rather, the end or aim of appreciating the past is to attain inspiration for the sake of innovation.’ History with a soul. Not just ‘One dammed thing after another’, but the life of a people and their spiritual mental and political culture and how it worked out it’s inner conflicts and achieved a destiny over time. Not soulless American worship of the great god Technology. I like that idea and so I have used the simpler term ‘Spiritual History’.

This is not a commonplace history book. It contains lots of information of course, much of it little known to non-specialists in the west. It also contains some surprising assertions, and certainly does not miss opportunities to emphasise the importance of Iranian power and culture and its impact on its neighbours. Naturally Jorjani supplies copious scholarly references for those interested in more detail. It describes the turbulent history of the inner life of a distinct and at times very dominant people. That’s not what the academic powers that be want to see, or want the public to see. Consequently, once the author began to attain some notice by the public, there were consequences for him.

Golden Pectoral from Tovsta Mohyla
Terminator, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Well how could there not be? He openly declared his wish that Iran should again become a Great Power and said this could be achieved by a couple of generations of eugenics to restore its white racial base. Then it could become the major cultural and political power in the Islamic world and assert itself on the world stage once again as a kind of bridge between other powers, religions and cultures. “What??? You want to restore power and pride to the white race, when we have done so much to weaken, degrade and vilify it!!! Get with the Coudenhove -Kalergi Program you fool! You want a cultured, mystically oriented and relatively peaceful form of Islam to become dominant over the Sunni savages whom we have assiduously both empowered and demonised for generations, binding them through dependence on sales of oil to be subservient to the foreign policy of the United States and Israel? Away with you, dammed soul!” The groves of academe shook with indignation and horror, the wolves in sheep’s clothing howled in unison, and the ‘racist’ sinner was banished to outer darkness. That can happen to lone wolves who lack the protection of a pack and rely for safety on that frail reed the U.S. Constitution. Ask Trump if you don’t believe me, (and he had a big crowd behind him, but they turned out to be sheep not wolves when the moment of decision came).

We read a lot about the Greeks and the Romans, (themselves eventually not untinged by contact with the East. If you could show the images, mosaics and icons of Byzantine emperors and saints to old Roman patricians, they would have regarded them as probably wily and possibly worthy, but definitely oriental gentlemen, and would certainly have rejected with horror any insinuation that they were Roman) the Germans, the Celts and the Norse, so let’s now give some consideration to their white cousins further east, the Medes, Persians, Scythians and so forth, who did become mixed with and eventually overwhelmed by orientals, but who, in their glory days, were white. It was a hard life as a Scythian archer or lancer, but harder on their enemies.

Aryan Nomads

Iranian or Aryan-ian peoples and culture extended far beyond Iran and even its empire. The Indo-Europeans extended from Eire to Northern India as is well known, but their Scythian cousins ruled the steppes as far as China, and were probably the barbarians the Chinese built walls to keep out. Indeed some of their rulers may be entombed in the white pyramids found in western China, long since covered in soil and vegetation, which the Chinese government is reluctant to officially acknowledge and excavate least they be found not to be Han. The famous mummies found in the oases of the Tarim desert turned out to be European and to have worn woollen clothing bearing Scottish tartan type patterns, and the Tocharians who lived in towns along this portion of the Silk Route, well into Buddhist times, were also White. There were various tribal groupings which fought with each other and some of them seem to have been the people of Turan (not the Turks) who resisted later attempts by their Median and Persian cousins to impose Zoroastrianism upon them.

Prior to Zarathustra, Mithra god of war and the sun and friendship, upholder of agreements, had been the main deity of Iran, along with his female aspect Anahita. As in the Indian pantheon, opposed by that of the Persians led by Mithra, the God represented a principle and his Goddess or Power was what brought it into physical manifestation. Hence the puzzlement of literal minds which were confounded by Mithra having been born of his mother and also of the rock in a cave of the mountains over which his solar face rose at dawn. She was identified by the Greeks as Artemis, and sometimes in Anatolia combined with Cybele the Great Mother and Mistress of Animals, or Diana the Huntress leading her pack of dogs or wolves in relentless pursuit…of victory…of malefactors…of truth…of justice…of the souls of the dead in a Wild Hunt…who knows? Such people were certainly not peaceful neighbours, but they were always very handy allies or mercenaries to have on one’s side, as the Romans well knew. You’ve heard of the Four Horsemen, well the four horses drawing Anahita’s chariot were rain, snow, hail and wind. Not a warm and cuddly goddess then. But the beaver skin coat she is described as wearing probably kept her warm enough. The Goddess of the Fur Coat? Wouldn’t she be popular with lots of women! What is interesting about this is that beavers were not found on the Iranian plateau, nor I suppose on the steppes, but they were common in the Caucasus mountains, which were the home of the ‘Cold People’ the Sarmat or Sarmatians as they became more widely known. The Caucasus was the homeland of the Scythians and Sarmatians,  the area where Mithraism survived longest and the probable source of the Causasian race. Armenia, whose nobles were of mainly Parthian origin, was where devotion to Anahita was most intense, it even shows her on modern postage stamps, according to Jorjani. Elsewhere she is depicted riding a lion, with a starburst around her head, and carrying a bundle of rods, very like the Roman fasces, as on occasion did Mithra.

Rear view of a barrel-shaped clay cylinder resting on a stand. The cylinder is round with square edge very close up. It is covered with lines of cuneiform and has a hollow centre. The centre is lined with plate measuring around 10 millimeters in thickness.textRear view of a barrel-shaped clay cylinder resting on a stand. The cylinder is round with square edge very close up. It is covered with lines of cuneiform and has a hollow centre. The centre is lined with plate measuring around 10 millimeters in thickness.text
Prioryman, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Scythians held an annual ceremony in honour of Mithra, their god of war by planting a sword into a platform or altar in front of which one in every hundred of the prisoners they had captured in the previous year was sacrificed with their blood being poured over the sword, or mixed with wine in drinking cups made from the skulls of enemies which had been dipped in molten metal, presumably to make them water or blood tight. The chieftains who collected most of these trophies were those held in the greatest respect. They were also enthusiastic scalpers who attached the scalps of their foes to their cloaks and quivers.  Drinking Haoma drove many of the warriors into berserker -like frenzy in which they would eviscerate sacrificial bulls. Later the Iranians had a god of victory and vengeance who took the form of a boar to tear apart those who had lied to Mithra. (Saxon chieftains later wore helmet crests in the form of a boar. Hmmm. Jorjani does indeed claim that the Saxons were descendants of the Scythians.) Gruesome people, you wouldn’t welcome them as refugees or immigrants – would you? They certainly didn’t profess a religion of peace.

Grail Resonances

Marcus Aurelius captured a large group of Sarmatians, and famously sent them to garrison Hadrian’s Wall. This gives rise to the claim that they were the basis of the Arthurian legend and Grail mythos. There is indeed a legend that the Scots hailed from Scythia. Anahita was said to have been the mother of a Nordic people known as Narts and to have trained them in martial arts in a watery underworld. Recall the Lady of the Lake giving and receiving a sword from Arthur? They feasted in longhouses and one of the training feats expected of them was to pull out a sword firmly implanted in the ground, riding at full gallop no doubt. These Nart legends may have been the basis of the Arthurian and Grail mythos. The Sarmatians and Alans (another pronunciation of Iran or Aryan) certainly didn’t gallop into western Europe as chivalric knights wearing scale armour and bearing the Grail stories on the tips of their lances, but their stories did have the right elements and they had the ethos of chivalry.

Such stories have great resonance in the souls of hearers down the centuries, because of their magical archetypal aspects; so academic nitpicking and attempts to literalise the mythical and confine the archetype of the hero to the life of a particular man are misguided. It may be, not that ancient sources were written by men too foolish and primitive to record who did what, when and why; but that they were too wise to confound these mundane matters with what was more important to the soul life of their people. Perhaps the cantankerous curmudgeon Gildas did not mention Arthur because he knew him to be a powerful pagan myth irrelevant to his task of castigating and catechising British chieftains for their sins and he wished to avoid his influence.

Daric with king
Public Domain


We don’t wear the flowing robes of the Greeks and Romans and the Orient. We wear the nomad dress of shirts and trousers with belts, jackets and even neckties. They are dead and all but forgotten, yet their influence remains, albeit unconsciously. Their images of themselves look Germanic and the flowing lines of their art looks Celtic or Norse, although it predates these styles. The Achaemenid Imperial artistic style was a cosmopolitan synthesis blending in influences from oriental peoples whom they had conquered. It is the Scythian which is the purest style of Iranian art. The Parthian style is also a development of Scythian style rather than an inheritance from Hellenism, according to Jorjani. He also says that the Goths and Alans formed a kingdom in Spain known as Goth-Alania, which became Catalonia and the later home of Troubadours and Grail stories.

The last remnant of these people are the Ossetians of Georgia whose language is ‘Iron’ and who seem to have invented scale armour. Maybe iron was in early use amongst their ancestors, and their armoured horsemen carrying windsock-like dragon banners impressed the Greeks into calling them Dragon People, long before David Icke and his ‘Reptilians’ or before some of their descendants amongst the nobility of Eastern Europe claimed to be of Dragon blood.

They were also called the Amazons, and not because of swift delivery of parcels purchased on-line, although they were prompt deliverers of death. There wasn’t a separate tribe of warrior women, but women had a great deal of freedom amongst these tribes. Many of them fought and were buried as warriors.  Their Sarmatian graves have been found around the Black Sea, and also amongst the Goths, whose culture and remains were almost indistinguishable from the Sarmatians. It was Tomyris, queen of a confederation of Scythian tribes, who defeated and beheaded Cyrus the Great, Founder of the Persian Empire, when he attempted to extend his control to the steppes west of the Caspian Sea.

Artemis and Anahita

The name Artemis appears to be Iranian, meaning ‘Truth, the Immortal’, or the ‘Undying Right Order’, symbolised by an undying fire. Artemis was a torch-bearer and light bringer. The crescent moon and morning star was her most widely recognised symbol – now appropriated by a very different religion. She was associated with gorgons and serpents. Perseus the slayer of the gorgon Medua was regarded by the Greeks as the father of Perses the mythical progenitor of the Persians.

The name ‘gorgon’ seems to be derived from an Iranian word which came to mean wolf but originally meant ‘to tear apart’, as the fearsome gorgon goddesses often shown in Scythian art with serpents growing from the their shoulders (like Medusa’s locks around her head perhaps) were wont to do. (Some connection with Maenads, perhaps?) Anahita was sometimes referred to as the ‘she-wolf’, which might have interested the Romans with their claim to have derived from Troy, much nearer to the Black Sea and the Scythians, although Romulus and Remus certainly were not Sarmatians or Alans.

Although serpents and dragons were later demonised by Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians, they were strongly associated with knowledge and wisdom, even in the Bible. Recall Hermes and his serpent entwined staff, probably associated with raising kundalini to higher states of consciousness. The favourite Bad Guy of Zoroastrian stories was Zahhak a ‘black magician’ with snakes growing from his shoulders which devoured the brains of his victims.

In northern Iran Anahita was the spirit of the haoma or soma plant used to induce ecstatic illumination, rather like Casteneda’s ‘plant teachers’. Indeed, the mushroom-laced drink known as Magian wine was referred to in the much later Persian literary Religion of Love. She was also responsible for conferring Sovereignty on an individual or a tribe, somewhat like the Irish myth of the triform Goddess of Sovereignty or the Scottish one of the land roaring it’s acceptance of a true king who stood on the sacred stone. It could easily be lost or transferred, so it is reminiscent of the beautiful Greek statues of Victory, like that of Samothrace, showing how lightly it rests and how fleeting it seems to be.

Closeup of a colossal stone statue of the god Nabu (the son of Marduk) recovered from the city Kalhu, an example of a surviving ancient Mesopotamian statue of a deity. Exhibited at the Iraq Museum.Closeup of a colossal stone statue of the god Nabu (the son of Marduk) recovered from the city Kalhu, an example of a surviving ancient Mesopotamian statue of a deity. Exhibited at the Iraq Museum.
Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Another of her names was Satana. Arghhh!!! Holy Mother of God splash me with Holy Water! She was indeed thought to be the Mother of God (along with Isis a precursor of the Virgin Mary) and her son was born on 25th December as is appropriate for a solar deity. She was the Goddess of Water, prototype of the Lady of the Lake, who conferred Sovereignty on sword wielding kings, ‘mistress of all the waters of the earth and source of the cosmic ocean’ as well as being ‘source of fertility for humans, animals and plants’. Her cult apparently survives in Ossetia, where she is regarded as the Guardian of a version of the Holy Grail, the Cup of Shah Jamshid, wherein it was thought possible to observe what was happening anywhere in the world. To emphasise the comparison, the name Anahita is still given to Iranian women and it means pure or immaculate goddess of waters.

Eire and Germania

Jorjani makes another link between western Europe and the Land of the Aryans, by pointing out that  in both Gaelic and Old Persian ‘Erin’ means ‘freeman’, or by extension ‘nobleman’, one not enslaved or in the service of another. In northern Iran, near the Caspian Sea survive a white tribe called Gelacs, who have been compared to the Irish, who have a similar sense of humour, play the bagpipes – an Iranian invention, and live in a rainy forested area associated with fairies.

He also points out that the Medieval Germanic stories of the Nibelungenlied and the Volsunga Saga reflect an Iranian ethos and cultural influence which parallels the tribal heroic warrior stories collected in the Iranian national epic the Shahnameh. Their great hero Rostam was a Sarmatian son of a sorcerer who called up the power of the magical Simorgh chimera combining bird wolf and amphibian, a sort of dragon perhaps, to help him defeat Esfandiyar who was spreading Zoroastrianism by force to the nomads. He lived in Sistan ‘Saka-stan’ in Kermania, in southeastern Iran. Apparently g and k in Iranian linguistics may be interchanged so this area was sometimes known as Germania, including by European geographers in antiquity, and ‘German’ is still a male name in Ossetia.

Reflections on the White Spirit

Once the empire of the Medes and Persians was established it was very concerned to guard its northern frontier against further incursions by the nomads, alert for their wolf and dragon standards on the horizon, but a couple of centuries before the Achaemenids arose, the Scyhians in pursuit of the Cimmmerians, had rampaged through Iran as far as the borders of Egypt and Greece. They had first appeared in written history as allies or mercenaries of the Assyrians. Later with the Medes they helped overthrow the Assyrians and then conquered the Medes for about a generation until the Medes rebelled in 585 B.C. and chased them back to the steppes. At that time there was effectively a loose Scythian empire stretching across Eurasia from China to the Eastern Mediterranean. They prospered by controlling trade along what later became known as the Silk Route, which went into northern India as well as further west. A massive empire ruled and largely inhabited by talented white people that we’re not encouraged to think about, whilst the achievements of non-whites are endlessly paraded before us, even when they are as skimpy as the Emperor’s new clothes. As an aside it may be noted that although not Scythian, the most famous Pharaohs, such as Rameses II, turn out to have been genetically European. That fact, embarrassing to the Egyptian authorities who want to claim or imply that they were orientals, has leaked out as a result of dna studies of their mummies conducted in recent years. So, who built the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx and the structures around them? No one knows, and they predate the Scythian nomads, but maybe they were White! Now, wouldn’t those be magnificent and spiritual monuments to have in the Monumental History of the White Spirit?

Two of the reasons for reading and thinking about the things discussed in Jorjani’s book is that it helps to make us more aware of the struggles and achievements of our distant cousins and to alert us to the suppression routinely practised upon us, spiritually and intellectually.

Philosophy and Religion

Once the Persian Empire got going it began to exert not only political and military but also philosophical and religious influence on its neighbours, including Europe. Despite the emphasis on savage and ferocious warriors, it is clear that many of these barbarians had minds as sharp as their arrow tips or sword blades.

The early Greek philosophers were mainly from Ionia, the western coastlands of what is now Turkey. Their cities were ruled by Persia, and they were influenced by its culture. Greeks associated the origins of philosophy with the barbarians. Anacharsis the Scythian was regarded as one of the Seven Sages of Antiquity and was the first to write in Greek (because his mother was Greek and had married a Scythian king) and he travelled extensively in Greece. He propounded the Question of the Criterion, who but an expert is qualified to judge how well something has been done, but implicitly such experts are judging themselves. Heraclitus was invited by Darius to become Court Philosopher, but he refused. Pythagorus, whilst studying in Egypt received an offer to visit Persia, which he could not refuse. He was abducted and taken there as an honoured guest for about a dozen years, and only allowed to return to his home island of Samos when it was under Persian rule. These men were not Persian agents, although they were to some extent influenced by Persian ideas. Aspasia, the famous courtesan concubine of Pericles, was unpopular with many influential people in Athens, and was accused, amongst many other things, of influencing Pericles in favour of Persia. It’s a revealing contrast that after the Persian War, the two men who had done most to fight the Persians, Pausanias of Sparta and Themistocles of Athens were both exiled and fled to Persian protection. Themistocles had a more successful career as a Persian courtier, advisor and satrap than he had enjoyed as democratic temporary leader of Athens. The contrast between the high-minded magnanimity of the Great King and the petty spite of the Greek citizenry is very striking.

Jorjani sees Zarathustra as the first philosopher and dates him to approximately 650 B.C. This allows him to suppose that his intellectual and poetic approach to what he called ‘Wisdom Worship’ had a formative influence on the early Greek philosophers, ‘lovers of wisdom’ who also wrote in gnomic poetic style. Apparently he was killed in Hyrcania whilst trying to impose his new religion on the nomads and Jorjani supposes some of the hero legends of Persia relate to this conflict between the independent minded nomads and their southern relatives who had accepted it as their state religion.

Iran was a land where Pilate’s Question was asked and answered long before Pilate existed, and whence came another response long afterwards.

Zoroastrianism and Mithraism

Zarathustra’s writings were the basis for what became codified as the very puritanical, persecutory, dualistic religion of Zoroastrianism which reached its harshest expression under some of the Sassanid emperors, particularly the founder Ardeshir Babakan. Right from the start this was opposed to the Mithraic and Scythian world-view. Zarathustra wrote against shamans or magi and their sacrificial ceremonies and against the warlords of the steppes. There was a strong emphasis on stark contrasts between opposing concepts such as Truth and Lie, each of which was supposed to be an actual entity. He even taught that certain animals including snakes, lizards and spiders were creations of Evil and should be eradicated. Not very Green of him!

Although Mithra was incorporated into Zoroastrianism, Mithraists developed a radically different philosophy and attitude. They argued that there is no radical opposition between Good and Evil, which are twins born from the womb of Time, Evil being the firstborn with Good only becoming possible after divinity recognised and transcended its own exteriorised evil. (This is close to the argument of Jung in his book Answer to Job.) Mithra was then an impartial arbitrator in the cosmic struggle. The light and love of rising consciousness, represented by Mithra can overcome the fatalistic astrological forces, that is why Mithra has been associated with liberation and freedom of spirit, shown by the Gorgon -Slaying, the Phrygian Cap of Liberty, Lady Liberty and the Pirate Flag. For the followers of Mithra ‘Salvation’ consists, not in being Good, but in becoming more conscious of one’s own Evil and overcoming it, not through asceticism but through inspired libertinism overcoming possessiveness. They symbolised this as Mithra overcoming the gorgon headed Lord of Time and shifting the axis of the universe, so transcending the fatalistic influences of the planetary spirits which move the passions. As Jorjani says, “This alternative Iranian worldview is divergent from Zoroastrianism in all its dimensions – cosmological, psychological, ethical and political.’’ Indeed, as he further elaborates, this current had considerable effects on Iranian development and history, through Mazdakism and Shi’ism.

There was another important opponent of Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, which controverts all its major claims.  Zoroastrianism asserts the existence of an eternal supreme being, identified with Truth and opposed by the Lie an evil entity which disrupts the creator’s cosmos, locked in a struggle  in which the immortal souls of humans must pick sides until all is resolved in a final judgment at a finite end of time. Buddhism asserts that all phenomena are impermanent, variable and unfixed and no thing has any self or inherent essence. Thus there can not be fixed oppositions between reified abstractions such as Good and Evil, Truth and Lies, Light and Darkness, deluded belief in the fixed and absolute nature of which results in suffering.

Scythian comb from Solokha, early 4th century BC
Public Domain

Right from the start of the Religions of the Book there is evident a struggle in the soul, shown in the stark contrast between those demanding authority in the name of the absolute truth and power of the founder of their systems of repressive rules defining reality and correct human conduct, and the antinomian way of free spiritual enquiry. Already the fight is on to define the limits and regulations of Normiedom and who will have power and wealth therein. All these systems combine against the free spirits living in Wolf Country. There’s no question that sheeple are safer and saner there and that only a few strong spirits dare venture outside the limits of their society to risk meeting or joining the wolves.

Buddha and Lao Tsu

This brings us to what may be the most astonishing and controversial of Jorjani’s claims. You are probably accustomed to the idea that the Buddha was a little yellow man from Nepal who spent his life wandering around northern India, which might be more than enough for one man, but Jorjani gives him a triple career as three famous people, which may be working him too hard! First of the little known facts about Buddha is that he was not Indian but Persian, of Scythian descent as is shown by his epithet ‘Saka-muni’ Sage of the Sakas, people who not only lived to the north but had also inserted themselves between Persia and India, so it is not surprising that what is now Afghanistan was the centre of the Greek-influenced early Buddhist artistic style known as Gandharan. Actually Jorjani is not the first or only one to have pointed this out. A white Buddha isn’t what the current controllers of ‘the Narrative’ want promulgated, now is it? So much the worse for them. Indeed experts on the history and doctrine of Buddhism have pointed out that it is now famous for teaching the opposite of what seem to have been its original tenets. How Time brings changes, even to religions. Secondly, it seems that his family were rulers around Kabul, then even more strongly in the Persian cultural sphere. Thirdly his teachings were according to Jorjani developed not to oppose Brahmanism, but to oppose Zoroastrianism. Fourthly the architectural style of the Buddhist stupa is derived from the Scythian burial mounds or ‘kurgans’ with an imitation of the Scythian pointed hat on top of it. Buddhism only became ‘Indian’ after the Mauryan king Ashoka conquered the Saka regions of eastern Persia where it was strong. The sun and the lion are emblems associated with Buddhism, but also with Scythian shamanism. Jorjani writes that ‘‘at its origin the “Shamanism” of Central Asia is the original form of what later came to be known as both Buddhism and Taoism.’’

This brings us to Jorjani’s even more astonishing assertion that Gautama Buddha was also Lao Tsu!

How could that be? Lao Tsu was the famously wandering sage who was stopped by a Chinese border official as he attempted to leave western China for the Scythian inhabited lands of Central Asia to return to die amongst his own people. The official obliged him to dictate what became known as the Tao Te Ching, that classic of ‘Chinese’ wisdom, before leaving. ‘Tsu’ was a title of respect meaning master or philosopher. ‘Lao’ meant old. Chinese scholars claimed that his actual name had been ‘K’ao-tan’, which allowing for known changes in the Chinese language, may originally have been pronounced as ‘Gautam’. Similarly Tao or Dao, path or way, was Darwa, which is close to the Buddhist Dharma or way, which was reflected in Taoist teachings. Later Iranian missionaries brought Buddhism to north-west China where it merged with Taoism to form Ch’an or Zen, and inspired by the martial spirit of the Scythians and Parthians, gave rise to the famous Chinese school of Shao-lin martial art. Taoism and Buddhism remained marginal in Chinese culture whose spirit is very worldly, conformist and authoritarian, averse to the Iranian love of argument and the ethereal or the Taoist spirit of personal spontaneity.

The sober down to earth Han relegated the spiritual individualism of Taoism to the margins of their culture, to their equivalent of Wolf Country, where dragons and phoenixes flew, seven kill tigers roamed and a sage might be found riding an ox.

The third career Jorjani allocates to Gautama was actually his first, as a Magian leader ‘Gaumata’ who became King of Persia for a few months after the death of Cambyses until he was overthrown by Darius, who claimed that he was a usurper whom he executed, but who Jorjani thinks was exiled or sent home from Babylon to Eastern Iran. Quite why any ruler, especially one as cunning and ruthless as Darius, would spare a rival in this manner is unclear, perhaps he still had extensive support. Darius also executed a lot of magi, perhaps because they opposed his efforts at forceful conversion to Zoroastrianism, for which the survivors became priests.

But look what we have found. At the heart of the great Oriental spiritual traditions, the Brahmanical pantheon, Buddhism, Taoism were Whitemen. Even a single Scythian if we accept Jorjani’s account of Gautama.  That’s impressive. Also remember Quetzalcoatl the civilizing white god of Central America. That’s all the major spiritual and religious figures of the world, including Odin and Mithra turn out to have been White. Except two. Where’s Jesus? He’s with his flock obviously. The Good Shepherd and his sheep may not be comfortable in Wolf Country. Ah yes, and Mohammed. He was certainly a wolf and has had a major impact on the history of Iran, but we’ll have more to say about him, some of it surprising, in another instalment.

© cynic 2021

The Goodnight Vienna Audio file