The Persian ‘Mar Nameh’: The Zoroastrian Book of the Snake Omens and Calendar and The Old Iranian Calendar

by Payam Nabarz and S H Taqizadeh

published by Twin Serpents Limited

PB, 130pp, £12.95

reviewed by David Rankine for the Esoteric Book Review

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I wasn’t sure what I would make of ths book with such a long title when it was offered to me.  However omens and calendars are two areas of great interest to me, so I was intrigued to see what the authors had to say.  In fact this is more like two works in one, the first part being the contemporary work of Payam Nabarz on the Mar Nameh and the second part being a reprint of the 1917 essay on The Old Iranian Calendar by S H Taqizadeh.  Both have their fascinations, though for me the life really flows through Nabarz’s work in the first half of the book.

So what can you expect and why should you buy this book?  Well anyone interested in divination, magick, religion or calendars will find valuable material in this book, which is a pretty big range of people!  Nabarz provides the original Persian text, along with both literal and poetic translations of the text.  The text itself gives the divinatory meaning for seeing a snake on each day of the month.  As the author lucidly demonstrates in his introduction, the serpent has a long connection with time, and so this combination is a logical one, as he convincingly argues.  He also discusses the Zoroastrian spirits associated with the days, an area worthy of study by itself, especially in light of their planetary nature and possible role as antecedents to much of the later spiritual hierarchies found in magickal systems.

The essay on The Old Iranian Calendar is somewhat dry in comparison to the passionate flow of Nabarz’s style, but interesting nevertheless.  In tracing the development of the Iranian calendar, from ancient Egypt through reforms and intercalations, the importance of time and its measurement is impressed in the mind of the reader.  The juxtaposition of this essay with the Book of the Snake makes for a unique and interesting sourcework that I thoroughly encourage you to buy and read.

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The Mysteries of Mithras
The Pagan Belief That Shaped the Christian World

By Payam Nabarz

Inner Traditions, PB, 230pp

Review by David Rankine for Avalonia

The historical importance of Mithraism in ancient Rome is well documented in such excellent works as Manfred Clauss’s “The Roman Cult of Mithras: The God and His Mysteries” and Esme Wynne-Tyson’s “Mithras: The Fellow in the Cap”. From the second century BCE to the fifth century CE, the Roman army took Mithraism to every corner of the Roman Empire, spreading the worship of Mithras far and wide.

This work, however, whilst drawing on the most accurate and detailed information available, also moves into the realm of modern practice and the relevance of Mithraism today. After detailing the origins, history and context of ancient Mithraism, Nabarz goes on to demonstrate the many parallels between Mithraism and its usurper, Christianity. If I mention that Mithras was born of a virgin in a cave on 25th December, and was celibate and “saved” the world, then these few examples give a clear indicator of the heavy influence Mithraism had on Christianity. Not only Christianity, but other religions like Islam and Gnosticism have also been influenced by Mithraism, which also features in the Greek Magical Papyri.

Uniquely, this work breathes life into the practices of Mithraism, demonstrating its vital and dynamic nature, and the ongoing importance of the spiritual truths it was founded upon, and which are still as relevant today as they ever were. The Zoroastrian Hymns to Mithra and the goddess Anahita included as appendices are beautiful examples of the deep and incisive spirituality which informed Mithraism.

The seven (planetary) grades of Mithraism formed the ladder of development through hits mysteries. Nabarz has brought these to life with modern reconstructions drawing on the ancient sources and more contemporary magickal traditions to provide the reader with the opportunity to experience the spiritual practices and their transformational qualities for themselves.

Mankind has changed far less than people often think, and the author is to be congratulated for offering this lucid and poetic guide to the spiritual strength of Mithraism in a clear and concise practical volume. An illuminating read!