Towers of Silence

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Zoroastrianism puts forth a concept of divinity in which there is one transcendent deity, Ahura Mazda, that exists as a sort of forethought to creation, somewhat like the Gnostic Pleroma. The name Ahura means being, and Mazda means mind, inferring a concept of an “immanent self-creating universe with consciousness as its special attribute (wikipedia),” a concept with echoes reaching from the structure of the Sephiroth to Brahminism to Spinoza’s Ethics. Creation emanates from the bounteous principle ascribed to Ahura Mazda, and is at odds with the destructive principle of chaos, embodied by the Ahriman and expressed in the principle of “druj.” In life, one has a duty to further the bounteous principle as a sort of medium for Ahura Mazda, and at death, one’s corpse becomes a vessel for druj. The body is invaded by a corpse demon, and becomes a pollutant to creation. So, Zoroastrians practice ritual exposure. Towers are built where the dead are laid to be consumed by vultures. Vultures remove most of the moldering matter within hours. After some time, when the bones are clean and bleached by the sun, they are moved to an ossuary in the center of the tower. This process prevents rotting cadaverous material from coming into contact with Mazda’s creation. These towers where ritual exposure is practiced are called “Towers of Silence.”

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