YAZATAS (ZOROASTRIAN GODS)

Classification: Gods (Extra-Dimensionals/Immortals)

Location/Base of Operations: Elysium, the Realm of Infinite Time

Known Members: Ahura Mazda (god of creation), Ahriman (god of evil), Ameteretat (goddess of vegetation), Armaiti (goddess of earth), Asha (god of fire), Atar (god of fire), Haurvatat (goddess of water), Kshathra Vairya (god of metal), Mitra (god of light & justice), Vohu Manah (god of animals)

Affiliations: other races of Gods

Worshipped by the peoples of Persia.

Aliases: Zoroastrian or Persian Gods

First Appearance: Giant-Size Conan#1 (September, 1974)

Powers/Abilities/Traits: The Yazatas all possess certain superhuman physical attributes. They are true immortals who cease to age upon reaching adulthood, and they cannot die by conventional means. The Yazatas are immune to all terrestrial diseases and are resistant to conventional injury. If a Yazata is wounded, his or her godly life essence will enable him or her to recover at a superhuman rate. It would take an injury of such magnitude that it incinerates a Yazata or disperses a major portion of his or her bodily molecules to cause him or her to die. Even then, it may be possible for a god of greater or equal power, or several gods acting together, to revive the deceased god before the god's life essence is beyond resurrection. Yazata flesh and bone are about two-and-a-half times denser than similar human tissue, contributing to the gods' superhuman strength and weight. An average male god can lift about 25 tons; an average goddess can lift about 20 tons. The gods' metabolism gives them superhuman endurance in all physical activities. In addition, all Yazatas can fly. Many Yazatas possess additional superhuman abilities linked to the elements over which they preside. For instance, the vegetation goddess Ameretat is able to generate and control all plant life. However as the Yazatas' powers are merely extensions of Ahura Mazda's own power, they cannot function independently from their source; if Ahura Mazda were to become incapacitated, the Yazatas' superhuman powers would cease to exist.

History: The Yazatas have been worshipped on the Persian/Iranian plateau and surrounding areas such as Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent from as early as 1000 BC into modern times, although the god Mithra was worshipped as "Mitra" as early as the Hyborian Age. Most of the Yazatas dwell in the Realm of Infinite Time (also known as "Elysium," not to be confused with the Greek Elysian Fields), a "pocket" dimension adjacent to Earth; an interdimensional nexus between the Realm of Infinite Time and Earth exists on Mount Damavand in the Alborz Mountains and at Naqsh-e Rustam (within the modernday nation of Iran). Very little is known about the Realm of Infinite Time other than it contains the "House of Song" where many of the Yazatas convene. The Yazatas are called different names by their human worshippers; for example, the creator god Ahura Mazda is known as "Auramazda" in Old Persian, "Aramazd" in Armenian, "Armazi" in Georgian, and "Ohrmazd" in New Persian.

The Yazatas' precise origin, like that of all Earth's pantheons, is shrouded in legend. According to ancient Zoroastrian lore, the creator god Ahura Mazda emerged from Zurvan, the personification of infinite time. The wise and benevolent Ahura Mazda - who represented truth, order, and justice - set about to populate his domain with life. However, a second figure also emerged from infinite time soon after: the evil Ahriman - the twisted mirror image and antithesis of Ahura Mazda. Personifying deceit and chaos, Ahriman rejected Ahura Mazda's peace offerings and attempted to kill the life that Ahura Mazda had created. Although he abhorred conflict, Ahura Mazda reluctantly opposed Ahriman in order to protect his creations. After a prolonged battle, Ahura Mazda narrowly overcame his dark counterpart and banished him to the Nether Realms. In preparation for Ahriman's eventual return, Ahura Mazda created the Yazatas - lesser gods imbued with portions of his own divine power who were similarly dedicated to upholding order and justice. The primordial Earth Mother Gaea recognized Ahura Mazda as a kindred spirit and also offered her services in opposing Ahriman; to the Yazatas, she became known as "Armaiti." Over 15,000 years ago, Ahura Mazda appointed Mithra, god of light & justice, to serve as his representative on Earth. Mithra primarily came to be worshipped by a number of monotheistic religions during the Hyborian Age, and occasionally intervened directly to protect humanity from the Elder God Set and other demons such as Molub and Xotli. Mithra and his priests were frequent allies of the Cimmerian warrior Conan, later king of Aquilonia.

Not to be outdone, the banished Ahriman created the Divs, demonic gods designed for the sole purpose of opposing the Yazatas. Since then, Ahura Mazda's Yazatas and Ahriman's Divs have waged an endless war against each other, often using mortal pawns in each side's attempt to gain the upper hand. Ahriman also created magical talismans to foment chaos and strife in the Earth realm. One such talisman was the "Heart of Ahriman," a golden orb capable of greatly enhancing magical powers; although Ahura Mazda transformed the Heart of Ahriman, so that it typically released pure, white magic, though its power could still be used for evil. In approximately 13000 BC, the Heart of Ahriman fell into the hands of the Xaltotun, a High Priest of Set, in the Acheronian city of Python. The Heart was eventually stolen from Xaltotun and used to bring about the Acheronian Empire's fall. Three millennia later, the Heart was located in Aquilonia by the dark mage Orastes, who used the Heart's power to resurrect Xaltotun in Stygia's subterranean lairs. Reunited with the Heart, Xaltotun used its power to overthrow the governments of Aquilonia and Nemedia. However, the Heart was again stolen from Xaltotun and retrieved by King Conan, who gave it to Hadrathus, a priest of Asura. Hadrathus used the Heart to counter Xaltotun's spells, enabling Conan to kill him.

(Marvel Two-in-One#49) - Another talisman created by Ahriman was the "Eye of Ahriman," a red jewel capable of augmenting existing magical power. In the late 18th century, Ennis Tremellyn, a High Priest of Ahriman, was aboard a ship that sunk off the New England coast. Using the Eye of Ahriman's power, Tremellyn bound his life essence to Kemo, a Polynesian sailor who was mystically kept alive within the sunken ship for centuries. In modern times, when the planets came into the proper alignment, Kemo was reanimated under Tremellyn's control. Tremellyn sent Kemo to attack the descendants of his enemy, the Marquis de Crawlings; but the Thing (Ben Grimm) thwarted Kemo's efforts while Sorcerer Supreme Dr. Stephen Strange defeated Tremellyn on the astral plane.

Comments:

The Yazatas have a lot of history in the Hyborian era, but not so much afterwards.

The main image in this profile is by Kevin Sharpe.


images:
Thor & Hercules: Encyclopedia Mythologica, p64


Last updated: 12/21/03

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