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RELIGION & METAPHOR #4 - Alberto Cantera: The Conceptualization and Deification of Ritual Actions and Attitudes in the Early Zoroastrian Tradition. Three Samples: frauuaṣ̌i-, mazdā and daēnā


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Guest lecture by Prof. Dr. Alberto Cantera (Free University Berlin).

It is a feature of the Indo-Iranian pantheon the deification of a series of abstracts nouns like Vedic arámati-, Avestan ārmaiti "fiiting though, devotion". In the last years, it has been proposed that some of these abstract nouns designate specifically some ritual attitudes or actions. Thus, it has been proposed that the frauuaṣ̌i, the pre-existent immortal soul of human beings, refers exactly to the recitation of the Frauuarāne, a section that opens each Zoroastrian ritual and in which the priest announces his ritual "elections" (for which god he is performing the ritual, according to which model, at what time and with which priestly college). Some years ago, Cantera proposed that one of the most complex concepts of the Zoroastrian tradition, daēnā, refers originally to a ritual process. Av. daēnā has an astonishing broad semantic range, from "a woman that appears to the soul after death", to "tradition" or even "religion". According to my interpretation, it refers to the "vision" obtained in the course of the main Zoroastrian liturgy, in which the interviews between Ahura Mazdā and Zaraθuštra are "seen" which are the basis of the whole Zoroastrian textual tradition. Furthermore, the pre-senter is going to advance a new interpretation of the name of the main Zoroastrian god, mazdā, according to which it also refers to a specific attitude of the priest during the ritual.