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Strange Birds from Zoroaster's Nest
A Book by Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman


“Repent, for the End is Near.” The pacing street person with this admonition on a sandwich board is an increasing phenomenon as we approach the end of this millennium. This used to be a standing cartoon in the New Yorker Magazine, but is no joke today. As Harold Bloom sourly reminds us in his Omens of Millennium: The Gnosis of Angels, Dreams, and Resurrection (1996), TV angels, near-death experiences of tunnels and light, and an increase in hell-fire and brimstone religions--not to mention the increasing clamor of personal interviews with extraterrestrials are dogging our heels for the next few years.

Where does all this come from? How can a society connected by the Internet, that is breaking the genetic code, and is contemplating a journey to Mars still manage to have its feet mired in this ancient apocalyptic tarpit?

The answer, of course, is that man does not live by reason alone. We are also creatures of wondering, visions, and archetypal imagery that surfaces in our art and in our dreams. But we are also people who are capable of change--but for whom ancient patterns of thought and feeling break through in times when the old seems to be dying and the new is not yet in sight.

The concepts of the Millennium, Armageddon, the struggle between good and evil, the one God of the Universe, Satan, devils, angels, paradise and hell, ecological reverence, and human responsibility all derive from the most shadowy of the world’s great prophets: Zoroaster, who lived at the end of the bronze age, somewhere between 1200 and 1000 BCE. (Music lovers will know him in a very polemicized form as Zarathustra in Richard Strauss’ tone poem, “Thus Spake Zarathustra,” based on the work of Nietzsche.)