History of Mehregan

Persian Goddess Mehr

Celebration of Love, Knowledge, and Commitment
Mehregan Commemorates the Triumph of
Good over Evil, Warmth over Coldness, Light over Darkness,
Knowledge and Wisdom over Ignorance

Originating in the ages of ancient Persia, Mehregan was the Persian Festival of Autumn that has been adopted and revived once again for festivity in recent times to celebrate the deep history and culture of the Persian ethnicity. This celebration is dedicated to the beliefs and principles that are as old as the Persian race itself, dating back to 6,000 years ago.

Mehregan, which is termed Mehrejan in Arabic and Mithrakana in Latin, was created to honor the Persian Goddess called Mehr. This goddess symbolizes Light, Love, Knowledge, Truth, Covenant, Commitment, Strength, and Peace. Her name, which is also referred to as Mithra, signifies kindness, love, and goodness in the Persian language.

In order to understand the concept behind Mehregan, it is important to know the role Mehr has in relation to the other empyreal (sublime) gods of Ancient Persia. According to Persian mythology, everything began when Zurvan, God of Infinite Time and Space, decided to create a guardian god for the newly created Earth and humanity. He called this guardian Ahura-Mazda, God of Knowledge and Wisdom (Khodda-e-Kheraad), for Zurvan endowed Ahura-Mazda with every bit of knowledge about the Universe. In the process of creating Ahura-Mazda, Zurvan began to experience doubts. These fears planted a seed of Ignorance and Darkness, which then took the form of yet another new god. The God of Ignorance & Darkness was named Ahriman, and he is known as the Devil. At the moment of the birth of both these gods, Ahriman came into form first by a split second. Thus, it was decided that Ahriman would rule the earth first and then Ahura-Mazda would come to take over afterwards.

According to the legend, Ahriman ruled the earth for 999,999 years. He created vicious creatures, monsters, and demons (Deev or Deevon, in Persian, Dios or Deus in Latin, Deiwos) to roam the earth. He ruled the planet with dark logic and sinister principles and kept his creatures in total darkness and ignorance. The story follows that he then planted a bit of his own ignorance into every being. The nature of his ignorance is defined by seven attributes: Anger (Khashm), Envy (Hasrat), Greed (Auz), Hostility (Doshmany), Hate (Kineh), Revenge (Entegam), and Injustice (Be-Edalaty).

When the time finally came for Ahura-Mazda to take over, he found that only a few beings accepted his teachings. Having few followers and not being prepared to fight, Ahura-Mazda was thus defeated by Ahriman and thrown into the Center of Darkness.

In order to free Ahura-Mazda from Darkness, Zurvan created a new deity – one of Love. This new god sent to liberate Knowledge and Wisdom was named the Goddess Mehr (Khodda-e-Mehr). Zurvan did so with the help of Anahita, the Virgin Mother, who is Goddess of Glory and Fertility (Khodda-e Shokofayee).

To defeat Ahriman, Mehr had to turn the world upside-down. She arrived to earth with such fervor and intensity that mountains became oceans, oceans became dry lands, and only chosen ones survived the continuous rain and change of weather. Ahura-Mazda was then liberated and Ahriman’s creatures were buried deep underneath the earth where they turned into black ink – the Darkness of Ignorance. Subsequently, Mehr reassembled existence and as the Goddess of Contract and Commitment, she setup a system of coexistence for all gods. Accordingly, she did not destroy Ahriman, for he was also a creation of Zurvan.

From that day on, every human being has been born capable of acquiring the Knowledge and Wisdom of Ahura-Mazda, through the Love, Commitment, and Courage of Mehr. According to Mehr believers, all our souls and hearts have the choice and capacity to take in and worship Mehr, Ahura-Mazda, Anahita, or Ahriman - or any of the other gods. However, one can expel the ignorance within by choosing to open one’s heart to the love of Mehr, and by choosing to open one’s mind to the wisdom of Ahura-Mazda. To follow Mehr is to honor one’s commitments to family, friends, and foes.

the defeat of Ahriman by Mehrthe defeat of Ahriman by Mehr In Persepolis, the defeat of Ahriman by Mehr is symbolized by a lioness overcoming a bull, and by Darius (Daryush), as the chosen one by Ahura-Mazda, killing Ahriman face-to-face while holding his horn. The message is clear: there is no room for evil within the walls of this empire.

Mehr was born on the first day of winter, December 21, which is the longest night of the year. After this date, the days become longer and the nights become shorter, which signifies Light overcoming Darkness. To honor this occurrence, Persians have celebrated this night for thousands of years as “Shab-e-Yalda”, which means “the night of birth”. This night is known as the Birthday of Light and represents Enlightenment overcoming Ignorance.

Libra Ω, Sept. 23 – Oct. 22, month of Love, Harmony, Equality, and Balance Every year during the month of Mehr (Libra Ω, Sept. 23 – Oct. 22, month of Love, Harmony, Equality, and Balance), Persians celebrate Mehr’s victory over Ahriman for six days with the grand finale on the day of Mehr (Rooz-e-Mehr), the 16th day of the month (October 8). During Mehregan, kings and peasants gathered together to celebrate in public so to honor Mehr. This is the only time that kings would drink wine symbolically in public to receive blessing from Mehr and show their solidarity with the people.

Although Mehregan has lost its original spiritual significance over the past 4,000 years, it has changed into a grand festival that has Love, Friendship, Understanding, Knowledge, Compassion, Commitment, and Unity as its driving force. Since Mehregan is the beginning of autumn and coincides with the annual harvest, it is also celebrated as the Persian Thanksgiving or Harvest festival.

cyrus the greats temple Cyrus the Great was the last great Pagan King who was the founder of the Persian Empire. After his death and the death of his son, Cambyses, Darius became king and promoted Ahura-Mazda (Zoroastrianism) over Mithraism throughout the entire Persian Empire. He called for the worship of Ahura-Mazda as the only god – demoting Mehr to only an angel. This was a political move made by him in order to take full control and gain power over his nations.

The actions and writings of Cyrus the Great show true characteristics and teaching of Mithraism. The First Bill of Human Rights was declared by him 2,500 years ago when he liberated Babylon. The spirit of his message was maintained and practiced by the predecessors in his dynasty. This message was proclaimed onto a clay cylinder found in Babylon. It consists of the following decrees:

Freedom of Humanity and Abolishment of Slavery
Freedom of Preserving Personal Heritage and Traditions
Freedom of Beliefs and Religion
Freedom of Movement and Residency
Freedom of Livelihood

Cyrus the Great proclaims these Rights of Freedom
along with Equality of Race and Gender, provided that
one’s right would never violate the rights of another.

In Persia, Mehr followers were called Mogh or Moghaan (Magu in old Persian, Magi in Latin, and Mage in old English). True and devoted believers of Mehr were called Peer-e-Moghaan (High Priest of Moghaan, the Father). These people are referred in ancient Persian poems as the ones who have understood the true meaning of Divine Love and Femininity. Moghaan are also firm believers in the equality of men and women. The most famous Mogh is Cyrus the Great.

The word “magic” originated from the Greek word “Magos” refers to the Persian Mogh or Moghaan. The Greeks believed that Moghaan had esoteric and mystical knowledge, practicing the supernatural or "magic" arts. The Greeks derived the word directly from Persians, not from a common ancestral source as was the case with deiwos.

Moghaan, true Mehr believers, had respect for all other gods except for Ahriman - the non-worshipable god. They ceremoniously killed a bull as a symbol of Ahriman in their religious gatherings around a sacred fire. This ritual was later prohibited by King Darius.

Darvishi is an ancient Persian way of life dating back to 5,000 years ago. Although there are many branches within its beliefs, they all are rooted in Mithraism. A follower of these beliefs is referred to as a Darvish (Daravish), which in Persian means the Humble One, who is giving, grateful, and sharing. In ancient times, the Darvish (Darvishhaan) were considered Ambassadors of Mehr. In present time, after the Moslem conquest of Iran, most have converted to Islam, but still maintain the same qualities of humbleness and sharing. The way of life for a Darvish is to dedicate oneself to love.

In 4th century CE (Common Era) when Christians adopted December 25th as the birthday of Christ, it is postulated that the date was chosen to coincide with the birthday of Mehr. In fact bells, and Sunday as a Holy day are adopted from Mithraism.

Around 1600 BCE (Before Common Era) about 1000 years before Cyrus the Great liberated Babylon and proclaimed the First Bill of Human Rights, “Mehr soldiers” were deployed from Persia to Babylon, Rome, Greece, and India to promote Mehr. In Europe they were referred to as Pakan (Pagan). Pakan in Persian means pure and clean ones, both physically and spiritually. One of the Pakan rituals was a family gathering to clean and immerse their youngsters in water in the name of Mehr and Anahita, the guardian of purity and water. They asked Mehr to give their daughters and sons strength to stay faithful to their commitments and asked Anahita for glory and ability to bear strong and beautiful children. This water cleansing ceremony of the Pakan is believed to be the root of Baptism.

statue of Mehr and a scared bull found in every Mithraic temple throughout Europe According to many historians, many concepts of Christ and Mehr have similar roots, since they both had a strong presence during the same period of history. One example of their similarities is that Sunday (day of the Sun) is set aside for worshipping both Mehr and Christ. Another example is that the seven attributes of the Ignorance of Ahriman are similar to the Seven Deadly Sins of Christianity. Some believed at that time that Christ and Mehr were equivalent; they were merely the same thing embodied into different forms, for they both encompass love.

In the 4th century CE, the Roman Empire adopted Christianity over Mithraism. If this decision was not made by the Emperor Constantine, much of the world would have been and would still be Lovers and Followers of Mehr.



Orange County Mehregan Organizing Committee
by Farrokh Shokooh
August 2006