Investiture of Sassanid emperor Shapur II (center) with Mithra (left) and Ahura Mazda (right) at Taq-e Bostan, Iran. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Ahura Mazda (Avestan language) is also spelled as Ormazd or Ormizd is depicted as a bearded man who hands a ring of divinely granted power to Persian king…He is the supreme god of Iranians, especially in the religious system of Zoroaster, to whom he was the Creator of the universe and of cosmic order…Source: Encyclopedia Britannica
“According to one version of the Nihongi. Hiboko brought seven treasures from Korea to Japan. Among the treasures were a red stone and a sun mirror, which may have been the emblems of the sun deity. The name Hiboko means “sun spear”，that is，“a spear as an emblem of the sun”. Thus, conjecture that one stream of
Japanese sun worship came from Korea, accompanied with sacred solar treasures, and joined with indigenous Japanese sun worship. Solar deities were worshipped in many districts in Japan.
The sun goddess Amaterasu, is, of course, the mythical ancestor of the Imperial family. She is also called Ohirume-machi. The word “amaterasu” is the honorific form of “amateru”，which means “shining in heaven”. According to early records such as the Engishiki and the Sandal Jitsuroku from the Heian Era, there were many shrines which were called Amateru or Amateru-mitama Shrines, particularly in the Kinki area. It was at these shrines that the sun was worshipped. There was also an Amateru Shrine on Tsushima Island. In medieval times，that shrine was called Teruhi Gongen, or the Shining Sun Deity Shrine. The solar deity worshipped there, however, was believed to be a male deity and was referred to in the Kujihongi as Ameno-himitama, or the Heavenly takeoff Sun Spirit.10 According to the Nihongi, Ameno-himitama expressed himself through the medium of an oracle, and demanded to be served by the Tsushima clan in 487 A.D.11 Amaterasu shrines in Yamato, Yamashiro, Tamba，and Settsu were also dedicated to male sun deities.
Many clans worshipped sun deities other than Amaterasu. Through research in this area，12 I have come to the conclusion that almost all Amateru and Amateru-mitama shrines were dedicated to the same deity “Amateru Kuniteru Hoakari” or Heaven and Earth Shining Fire. He was also worshipped as a male deity by the Owari Clan, also known as the Amabe clan, and its branch clans. It is evident that these clans originated among the Ama people.13 The Owari Clan served the Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya. In the later，this shrine was regarded as a sanctuary of Amaterasu, because one of the three Imperial Regalia，the Sword Kusanagi, was kept there. But, this shrine was not originally that of Amaterasu. Perhaps it was Hoakari that was worshipped in the shrine.
The sun deity Hoakari originally had no connection with the Imperial Family，but in several versions of classical mythology，Hoakari was regarded either as one of the grandsons of Amaterasu，or as a son of Hononinigi the heavenly grandson of Amaterasu.14
According to the Nihongi and the Kogoshui, during this period,
Amaterasu was worshipped at two shrines，at Ise and at Hinokuma.
The Hinokuma shrine was originally that of the sun deity worshipped among the Ama people in the Provinces of Kii. We may conjecture then, that these sun deities also had a connection with the sea and ships or barques, because of the close association between the Amabe and the sea. The original form of Amaterasu was indeed the sun deity among the Ama people in Ise. In this area, many solar rituals still survive.
At the Futami Okitama Shrine, on the Futamaga-ura coast，which is famous for the Male and Female Rock loop-shaped ropes of straw are offered to the rising sun. On the small island Kamishima near the Ise Shrine, a big sun-wheel is made of the branches of the silverberry tree, and many youngsters toss it up into the air with poles as a part of the New Year’s Festival. This festival is called the Geta Festival.15
Another male sun deity worshipped in the Ise area was Sarudahiko, a monster-like deity with a red face and bottom, and with a long nose.
Sarutahiko played an important role in the myth of the descent of the Heavenly Grandson. In the Kojiki and the Nihongi, this deity is depicted as standing at the heavenly cross-roads，shining like a sacred mirror.16 His red face represents the color of the morning sun.
In some aspects, Sarutahiko resembles a monkey god. The word “saru”，in fact means monkey or ape. The deity’s red face and red bottom also remind us of a monkey. In Japan and Asia, monkeys and apes are often believed to be related to the sun.17
Before Amaterasu came to be regarded as the ancestral goddess of the Imperial Family，there had been a center of the solar worship in Ise. Several local sun deities must have been worshipped there….
When the worship of Amaterasu as the Imperial ancestral goddess was established in later years, the Sarume maidens must have performed the same dance for Amaterasu.1 his fact supports the theory that Amaterasu was originally a male deity. Modern Japanese scholars such as Dr. Tsuda，18 Dr. Orikuchi,19 Tsukushi Nobu-zane，20 Professor Okada21 and I,22 support this theory. According to a medieval diary written by a monk Tsukai，a strange legend was told among the priests of the Ise Shrine, as follows: The Great God Amaterasu visited the high priestess saw or itsuki no miko every night, and united with her.23 The next morning, several scales, as from a snake or lizard, were left in her bed. No one but the priestess knew, however，what form this Amaterasu assumed for such visits. In ancient times，Amaterasu was regarded as a snake deity or as a sun deity….
Some scholars pointed out that the structure of the shoden, or the main hall resembled that, of a store house in the Yayoi Period in style.35 Thus I conclude that in a more primitive stage of development, the Ama people of this district worshipped the solar deity Amaterasu and a few maidens were selected as ,priestesses to serve this deity. They offered food to the sacred pillar as his emblem on the occasion of their festivals. But, in the later age, about the middle of the Tumulus Age, the Yamato nobility paid attention to this deity. They identified the deity with their ancestor, sent a said as the highest priestess, arid the Nakatomi and Imibe priests to serve the deity. They offered their treasures and erected treasure houses near the sanctuary. Later, one of the treasure houses became the main hall of the shrine. The Original sacred emblem，called shin-no-mihashira，or the central pillar, had been replaced by the new emblem of the Yata mirror，one of the treasures. However，the custom of having native maidens offer food to the pillar survived until modern times. In the sixth or seventh century A.D.，the sex of this deity gradually changed from male to female, as a result of the strong impression of successive generations of saio.”
The word Ahura means light and Mazda means wisdom. Thus Ahura Mazda is the lord of light and wisdom
“In Buddhism, the Asuras are known as Jealous Gods. In the Shambhala tradition, Asuras are known as Feisty Gods.” …
“Mazda”, or rather the Avestan stem-form Mazdā-, nominative Mazdå, reflects Proto-Iranian Mazdāh (female). It is generally taken to be the proper name of the God, and like its Sanskrit cognate medhā, means “intelligence” or “wisdom”. Both the Avestan and Sanskrit words reflect Proto-Indo-Iranian mazdhā-, from Proto-Indo-European mn̩sdʰeh, literally meaning “placing (dʰeh) one’s mind (mn̩-s)”, hence “wise”.
“Ahura” was originally an adjective meaning ahuric, characterizing a specific Indo-Iranian entity named ASURA. Although traces of this figure are still evident in the oldest texts of both India and Iran, in both cultures the word eventually appears as the epithet of other divinities.
Avestan ahura derives from Indo-Iranian asura, also attested in an Indian context as RigVedic asura. As suggested by the similarity to the Old Norse æsir, Indo-Iranian asura may have an even earlier Indo-European root…..It is commonly supposed that Indo-Iranian Asura was the proper name of a specific divinity, with whom other divinities were then identified…..For not altogether obvious reasons, the Oxford English Dictionary lists asura, rather than ahura, as a Zoroastrian term.
Ahura Mazda (/əhˌʊrəmˈæzdə/; Persian: اهورا مزدا; Ahura Mazdā), (also known as Athura Mazda, Athuramazda, Aramazd, Ohrmazd, Ahuramazda, Hourmazd, Hormazd, Hurmuz, and Azzandara) is the Avestan name for a divinity of the Old Iranian religion who was proclaimed the uncreated God by Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism. Ahura Mazda is described as the highest deity of worship in Zoroastrianism, along with being the first and most frequently invoked deity in the Yasna. The word Ahura means light and Mazda means wisdom. Thus Ahura Mazda is the lord of light and wisdom.
In the Archaemenid period, there was a known custom of the Emperor riding white horses to invite Ahura Mazda to battles with the Persian army. Horses were important tomb symbols during the Kofun period of Japan, white horses remain important relic or sacrificial symbols in many shrines and temples and festivities today.
Parsis of India notes:
From the very great similarity in the ancient languages, thoughts, traditions, rituals, and ways of life of the Iranians and Aryan Indians it has been inferred that their ancestors must have formed a common nation at one time, and there is such a mass of evidence to support this inference, that it is commonly accepted by scholars. On the other hand, the theory that the Zoroastrians were a colony from northern India, that a schism took place there, and the Zoroastrians migrated westwards is one not commonly accepted. The belief commonly accepted and based on a large amount of evidence is that after the ancestors of the Indians came to India, the Iranian and Indian branches, although in some contact, developed independently, that the separation took place long before the time of Zoroaster, that Zoroaster was an Iranian and did all his work on Iranian soil among Iranian peoples. Paryii and Prithu. That the Persians or Parthians are mentioned by name in the Rigveda is extremely doubtful. Both tradition and modern scholarship are opposed to this view…. In this connection it must be remembered that the appellation ” Persian ” came to be applied to the whole Iranian nation only after the rise of the Persian Achaemenians, long after the period of the Rigveda. Before then, it was confined to the people of Persis, the modern Fars, a region in the south- west of Iran, very far from India, and the Iranians called themselves by the name Airya. corresponding to the Indian Arya. The name of Persia does not occur even in the Avesta ; much less is it likely to occur in the Vedas.
According to the Great Myth of the Sun-gods:
“… the worship of the Sun-god was quite universal in the ancient world. It ranged from China and India to Yucatan and Peru. The Emperor and the Mikado, as well as the Incas, and the Pharaohs were Sun-god figures. And is the belief only an empty myth? …
Not so with the ancients. With them a myth was a valuable instrumentality of knowledge. It was an intellectual, even a spiritual, tool, by the aid of which truth and wisdom could at one and the same time both be concealed from the unworthy and expressed for the worthy. The ancients rightly regarded spiritual truth and experience as being incapable of expression or impartation by means of words simply. A myth or an allegory could be made the better means of conveying subtly and with a certain added force, the truth veiled under a set form of dramatic presentation. The myth would enhance spiritual truth as a drama reinforces moral situations… it was most ingeniously designed to instruct in the deepest of spiritual truths. It was a literary device to embalm lofty wisdom in the amber of a tradition that could be easily remembered, in the guise of a human story. It was truth incarnated in a dramatic occurrence, which was known to be untrue. Outwardly fictitious, but inwardly the substance of a mighty truth, was the myth. And as such it was the universal dress in which ancient knowledge was clothed.
To indicate the universality of the Sun-god myth it is only necessary to enumerate some thirty of the chief figures known as Sun-gods amongst the nations about the Eastern Mediterranean, before the advent of Jesus. There were in Egypt, Osiris, Horus, Serapis, Hermes or Taht (Thoth), Khunsu, Atum (Aten, Adon, the Adonis or Phrygia), Iusa, Iu-sa, Iu-em-hetep; in Syria, Atis, Sabazius, Zagreus, Kybele (femine); in Assyria Tammuz; in Babylonia, Marduk and Sargon; in Persia, Mithra, Ahura-Mazda and the Zoroasters; in Greece, Orpheus, Bacchus (Dionysus), Achilles, Hercules, Theseus, Perseus, Jason, Prometheus; in India, Vyasa, Krishna, Buddha; in Tibet the Boddhisattvas; besides many others elsewhere.
Likewise in the ancient Mystery dramas the central character was ever the Sun-god the role being enacted by the candidate for initiation in person. He went through the several initiations as himself the type and representative of the solar divinity in the field of human experience.
Moreover, the Patriarchs, Prophets, Priests and Kings of Biblical lore are no less Sun-god figures. For in their several characteristics they are seen to be typical of the Christos…
These Sun-god characters, of none of whom can it be said positively that they were living personages, were, it must be clearly noted, purely typical figures in the national epics of the several nations. They were symbols, one might say. But of what were they symbolical? That is the point of central importance. They were representative characters, summing and epitomizing in themselves the spiritual history of the human individual in his march across the field of evolving life on earth. They were the types and models of the divine potentiality pictured as coming to realization in their careers. They were the mirror held up to men, in which could be seen the possibilities locked up in man’s own nature. They were type-figures, delineating the divine life that was an ever-possible realization for any devoted man. They were the symbols of an ever-coming deity, a deity that came not once historically in Judea, but that came to ever-fuller expression and liberation in the inner heart of every son of man. The solar deities were the gods that ever came, that were described as coming not once upon a time, but continuously and regularly. Their radiant divinity might be consummated by any earnest person at any time or achieved piecemeal.
They were typed as ever-coming or coming regularly because they were symboled by the sun in its annual course around the zodiac of twelve signs, and the regular periodicity of this natural symbol typified the ever-continuing character of their spiritual sunlight. The ancients, in a way and to a degree almost incomprehensible to the unstudied modern, had made of the sun’s annual course round the heavens a faithful reproduction of the spiritual history of the divine spirit in man. The god in us was emblemed by the sun in its course, and the sun’s varied experiences, as fabulously construed, were a reflection of our own incarnational history. The sun in its movements through the signs was made the mirror of our life in spirit. To follow the yearly round of the zodiac was to epitomize graphically the whole history of human experience. Thus the inner meaning of our mortal life was endlessly repeated in the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly cycle of the sun’s passage, the seven or twelve divisions of which marked the seven- or twelvefold segmentation of our spiritual history or our initiations. (They were figured at first as seven, later as twelve, when the solar gods came upon the cosmic scene.)” More…
Another mirror-associated solar deity from the Etruscans curiously shows gender ambivalence:
“Catha, or Cautha, is an Etruscan Goddess of the Sun who is sometimes shown as male. As a male Solar Deity, Catha is equated with the Greek Sun-God Helios. Other sources, however, name Usil as the Etruscan Sun-God, though on one mirror Usil is shown as a goddess as well. Catha is from the Etruscan root cath-, meaning “the sun”, and was also in use as a family name among the Etruscans. Both Usil and Catha are sometimes described as rising from the Sea at dawn, though how the Sun manages to rise from the ocean off the coast of Etruria, which is located on the western side of the Apennines, is anyone’s guess, unless that particular iconography originally comes from another culture. That said, Usil is depicted on a mirror-back with Nethuns (Neptune, the Sea-God) and Thesan (the Goddess of the Dawn).
Catha is sometimes called the daughter of Usil, and associated with daybreak or sunrise; as such She may be equivalent or a sister-Goddess to Thesan.”
Goddess of the Sun notes the sacred role that mirrors play for sun goddesses:
“Greeks never called Athena a Sun Goddess outright, in fact they stubbornly maintained Apollo was the Sun deity, even when this had foolish results. Titling him ‘Phoebas,’ a feminine monicker which made him a ‘lunar Sun’ for example. There is plenty of evidence showing Athena was the original solar deity, however. The frequently appearing Gorgon-head Sun comes to mind first, but there are several specific features that can be examined. As explained by Patricia Monaghan54. they are: possession of a sacred mirror and glowing necklace, the invention of weaving, association with a dance of power, and having a companion Goddess who is a smith and/or shaman. Athena does indeed have a sacred mirror, although in Greek myth it has become a shield…. The ubiquitous pools near labyrinths or Cretan Goddess temples were probably meant to act as mirrors. The Sun’s reflection was used for divination, rather than the endless circling of the fish.
All of Athena’s temples and any sacrifices had to include fire in some way, be it by the eternal flame tended only by old women, burning incense, or burning the sacrifice itself. Women regularly used lenses to start altar fires, as they did their fires at home, and still had this duty in the days of the Roman Empire. …
The Sun Goddess was protected, encouraged to stay during the winter, and encouraged to remain benign in summer in many ways. Spirals invoking her and mirroring her beauty were carved and embroidered everywhere, still pools and bronze mirrors did so literally. Some version of Cat’s Cradle may have been played by Greek children to hold the Sun in the sky, or perhaps provide a new set of reins for her chariot, in case the originals broke or became tangled….
Bronze mirrors were sacred to Athena from an early date, as they were to many Sun Goddesses, from Maat to Amaterasu.”
On the beginning of the system of saio maidens serving the solar deities, The Origin and Growth of the Worship of Amaterasu (by Matsumae Takeshi) has a plausible theory:
“Princess Yamato-hime looked for a suitable place for the shrine of Amaterasu travelling about several districts, carrying her sacred mirror. Finally, she arrived at the Isuzu River and，by the oracle of Amaterasu, a shrine was established there in the fifth century A.D. in honor of the goddess.30
This is the story of the origin of the Ise Shrine，although it is only a legend，not an historical fact. The Nihongi tells of several saio who were sent to Ise in later periods. However, the most reliable sources in the Nihongi are the records from the middle of the sixth century A.D., during the reign of the Emperor Keitai, After this emperor sent Princess Sasage，many other said were appointed in succession. The exact date of the beginning of this system is unknown. However，I think that the first saio was sent towards the middle of the fifth century A.D. According to Professor Okada, the shape of the box (mifunashiro) in which the sacred mirror of Amaterasu is kept resembles that of stone coffins used around the middle of the Tumulus Age in the later period of the fifth century A.D. Hence, he conjectures that the origin of this mifunashiro can date back to that period, and that furthermore，the establishment of the Ise Shrine can date back to that age.31 According to the Nihongi, in the reign of the Emperor Yuryaku, Princess Takuhata was sent as a saio to the Ise Shrine.32 In the same era, a local lord Asahi-iratsuko, or “Morning-sun-male-person” in Ise3 was destroyed by the Imperial army.33″
The most startling theory of the provenance of the sacred Yata mirror, however, to be put forward thus far, is that found in The Mirror of Yata which claims to have broken 80% of the Brahmi-Hebrew code of the writing on the back of the mirror:
” The writing on the back of the Mirror of Yata of Japan has been copied faithfully enough to decipher from ancient Brahmi, from northern India. There is[s-i-c: are] also Hebrew letters and words on the back of this mirror. Therefore, both Japan and India received diaspora Jews from the early centuries of our era and there was an exchange of gifts and some sharing of culture and spirituality. The gifts included a mirror and with the mirror came a sacred message hidden in a cave of mystery one day to be revealed to unify humanity towards a new dawn of enlightenment.”
Obviously, this theory raises a huge controversy not only as to the provenance of the mirror, the origin of the worship of Amaterasu and the associated peoples, but also the connection between the Hebrew and Brahmi script. It is also a particularly intriguing theory in the light of another article “Origin of Brahmi Script“, the theory of a Hebrew-Aramaic origin for the Brahmi script is considered to be not without basis:
“Aramic origin It is thought that the brāhmī drift of a Semitic writing like the imperial Aramean alphabet, as it is the case for the alphabet gāndhārī(khartoshi) which appeared at the same time in Northwest India, under the control of the empire of the Achéménides. Rhys Davids thinks that this writing could be introduced in India of the the Middle East by the merchants. The similarities between the scripts are just what one would expect from such an adaptation. For example, Aramaic did not distinguish dental from retroflex stops; in Brāhmī the dental and retroflex series are graphically very similar, as if both had been derived from a single prototype. Aramaic did not have Brāhmī’s aspirated consonants (k, t), whereas Brāhmī did not have Aramaic’s emphatic consonants (q, ṭ, ṣ); and it appears that these emphatic letters were used for Brāhmī’s aspirates: Aramaic q for Brāhmī kh, Aramaic (Θ) for Brāhmī th (ʘ). And just where Aramaic did not have a corresponding emphatic stop, p, Brāhmī seems to have doubled up for its aspirate: Brāhmī p and ph are graphically very similar, as if taken from the same source in Aramaic p. The first letters of the alphabets also match: Brāhmī a, which resembled a reversed κ, looks a lot like Aramaic alef, which resembled Hebrew.”