Song 19

An ancient Zoroastrian version of Sophia and her descent as sparks of light into matter.

The Fravartis are, in Mazdean [Zoroastrian] cosmogony, feminine entities, heavenly archetypes of all the beings composing the Creation of light. … Each being has his fravarti in the heavenly world which assumes the role of his guardian angel. What is more, all the Celestial beings, gods, angels and archangels, even Ohrmazd himself [also spelled Ahura Mazda, Ineffable creation source being of the Zoroastrian system], have their respective fravarti. Syzygies of light, “light upon light.” Ohrmazd reveals to his prophet Zarathustra (6th century BC) that without the concurrence and assistance of the Fravartis he would not have been able to protect his Creation of light against the assault of the counter-creation of Ahriman [who equates with the gnostic demiurge, Yaldabaoth]. Now, the very idea of this warfare is dramatically unfolded when we come to the Fravartis of human beings. In the prelude to the millenniums of the period of mixture, Ohrmazd offered them the choice from which their entire destiny originates: they could either live in the celestial world sheltered from the ravages of Ahriman, or else descend to earth there to be incarnated in material bodies and struggle against the counter powers of Ahriman in the material world. Their answer to this proposal was the yes which gives their name its full meaning, most significantly for our purpose: those who have chosen. In practice the fravarti incarnated in the terrestrial world finally became identified in religious representations purely and simply with soul.

– from The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism, by Henry Corbin, p. 28-29 (1978). This amazing book culls broad themes of creation and emanation from 12th century Iranian sources such as Suhrawardi who sought to revive an ancient Persian Zoroastrian system which has tremendous parallels to the cosmology of the gnostics. Indeed, early gnostics may have been influenced by this oriental teaching as they interfaced with them in the far western reaches of the Parthian empire in Syria, during their earliest stages of gnostic development (first and second century AD). “Any rationalist interpretation would go astray here in reducing this Figure (fravartis) to allegory… By no means is it an allegorical construct but a primordial Image thanks to which a seeker perceives a world of reality which is neither the world of the senses nor the world of abstract concepts.” p. 32. Also, this rare piece of ancient theosophy sheds light on a vital question within gnosticism of whether Sophia “fell” into matter by folly, by accident, or by choice. This material suggests, as embedded in the very name favartis – “those who have chosen” to indicate the these Sophianic sparks came to this material realm by choice.

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Doth not Wisdom cry aloud in the public places and Prudence put forth her voice in the books of the wise, saying: O ye men, to you I call, and my voice is to the sons of understanding? Understand, ye