What is The Occidental Temple of the Wise Lord?
The Occidental Temple of the Wise Lord is an entirely independent Western rite of Zoroastrianism, the Good Religion, with Zarathushtra as its Prophet.
Who is The Wise Lord?
Ahura Mazda is the Wise Lord, the One Above All, the God of Zarathushtra, pure focused consciousness, wisdom itself.
We are a distinct rite of the Good Religion, independent and free, founded in the Western World. This does not, however, divorce us historically from eastern Zoroastrians and our predecessors in the Middle East and in their diaspora the world over.
Are you Zoroastrians?
Yes and no. If by Zoroastrians you mean that we follow the teachings of Zoroaster and Ahura Mazda, then yes. However, even amongst eastern followers of Zarathushtra you will find many different ideas as to what it means to be a Zoroastrian. Out of respect for our predecessors and eastern Zoroastrians, we identify ourselves as Mazdans and followers of the Mazdan Way or, to be more exact, we identify our way as Esoteric Gathic Mazdaism.
I thought conversions were against the religion?
The Mazdan Way is universal. It is open to all instead of being simply an ethnic religion. The teachings and ways of Zarathushtra make this clear: the Prophet sought to convert people to his religion. However, we do not attack the traditions of the Parsis; rather we provide an alternative, especially for those outside of the traditional Zoroastrian community.
What texts do you work with?
The Gathas, which are the writings of Zarathushtra himself, the only necessary Prophet, are primary to us. Besides our own temple publications and writings (which include THE GOOD RELIGION, ORIGINAL MAGIC, and THE MAZDAN WAY), we also study the Avesta, the Sirozahs, and many other writings that inspire and enlighten us along the path of Asha while still viewing them within their historical and cultural contexts.
Does the Occidental Temple continue the elborate and complex rituals of traditional Zoroastrianism? What is your main ritual?
We believe that the richness and beauty of complex ritual, especially those of the eastern Zoroastrians, should be respected and admired. However, we emphasize a simplified, more individual and free concept to the rituals; we believe that the rituals performed should be at the discretion and choice of the individual practitioner and their community. Our institutions may conduct rituals that you yourself have no desire to practice, which is acceptable in the OTWL, as long as you establish your own connection to Ahura Mazda and the Mazdan Way.
The most basic ritual of the Occidental Temple of the Wise Lord is the personal observance of the Gahs or times for daily prayer. Zarathushtra initiated the practice of praying five times a day, which was later adopted by Christians, from whom Muslims borrowed the practice. The five Gahs are:
Mornining: Havan Gah (Sunrise to Noon)
Noon: Rapithwan Gah (Noon to 3 PM)
Afternoon: Urizan Gah (3 PM to Sunset)
Sunset: Aiwisruthrem Gah (Sunset to Midnight)
Night: Ushahnen Gah (Midnight to Sunrise)
The actual time one prays can be any time within the general time frame of the Gah. In the beginning it is best to start out with the observance of one Gah and then increase the number of Gahs over time until one is observing all five Gahs consistently. When Mazdans say “prayer,” we mean recitation of holy mathras (colloquially known as mantras), which are best recited before an open flame or facing the sun, as flame is the most visible manifestation of the mind of Ahura Mazda. The simplest way to observe the Gahs is to recite the Ashem Vohu, the Ahunavar and “Jasa me Avange Mazda: Come to my aid, O Mazda” three times each.
Where can I find these mathras and should I recite them in Avestan?
Temple member Pablo Khorramdin has produced writings on the four major mathras of the Mazdan Way, which can be found in the Temple Writings section of this website. As for the preferred language of recitation, we believe that these mathras and other such sacred words are best understood and are most effective in their original tongue. As such, we encourage the study of these languages, Avestan in particular, but do not deny the power of one’s own colloquial language if the original tongue cannot be truly understood.
I already follow a different religion/path/tradition. Why should I leave it for the Mazdan Way?
Throughout history, the teachings of Zarathushtra have diffused and developed through a wide variety of ways into different cultures and belief systems the world over. Even amongst the Persians, the first large culture to integrate the Prophet’s teachings into their ways and traditions, many of the old gods and rituals were maintained. The Mazdan Way does not ask you to abandon your current religion, culture and practices, but rather to unite them with the wisdom of the Mazdan Way and to cast aside all that would cause you to serve the Druj. Members of the OTWL are also not expected to be Persian, Afghani, Parsi or Kurdish or to adopt their customs, ways and beliefs, but rather to incorporate our Mazdan beliefs and ways within our own cultural archetypes, finding that divine synthesis that harmonizes our souls and the universe towards Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds. Just as the Greeks, Romans, Jews, Muslims, and Christians found inspiration and guidance in the words of Zarathushtra and were able to integrate Mazdan thought into their own religions, so we can find a way to enlighten our own lives with the flame of Mazdan wisdom.
So, I won’t have to abandon my holy days/holidays? I really like celebrating Christmas/Purim/The Buddha’s Birthday and I don’t see how they would conflict with Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds.
No, celebrate the days you find important if they do not conflict with the Mazdan Way. We, as Mazdans, celebrate joy and happiness as wonders, gifts and goals of living, so we will not stop you from finding joy and happiness on your special days!
Is there a legal age I have to be in order to join? Can women join? What about prisoners?
All are welcome into The Occidental Temple of the Wise Lord, regardless of gender, religion, politics, income, race, and all other such factors, provided you are the legal age of maturity in your jurisdiction (for example, in the USA this would be 18). Prisoners cannot be clergy, but that does not prevent them from practicing the Mazdan Way and we are currently developing a prison curriculum, along with a standard for prison worship.