If you have been reading my previous blog posts, you know that I have struggled a lot with the intention of this story. I ask myself constantly while writing, where do I go from here? What do I do with this foundation that I have laid. Finally, I think I know where I am going. Rather than keep the major events of the story between John Cross and Vohu Manah, I have found another character that I intend to introduce to the story; a fravashi.
To provide some context, Zoroastrians believe that a soul consists of three parts.
- Tanu – This is your bones, blood, skin, etc. While it is not nearly as crucial to Zoroastrianism as other parts of the person, it is in this form that you live, breathe, and make moral or unmoral decisions that decide whether you get to the Abode of Songs (heaven) after death.
- Urvan – This is, put in scientific terms, the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of you that makes decisions, be them moral or immoral. A distinguishing factor in Zoroastrianism is the emphasis on free will. While we were all created by a being a supreme light, darkness exists in each of us, which we must fight every day. The urvan is the part of us that determines which side we choose.
- Fravashi – The fravashi is our spiritual entity, or guardian angel. It is a guiding presence in each of us that has existed since before the creation of the physical universe, and is the embodiment of pure good. This is the power that urges our urvans to make the right decision in order to defeat evil and secure a place in heaven.
The origins of the fravashi derive from before the creation of the universe. They were, in fact, the first creations of Ahura Mazda. According to scripture, Ahura Mazda preceded the known universe with the creation of a pure, perfect metaphysical universe free of evil. In this spiritual realm dwelt the frivashi, which upheld this perfect system. However, there was one flaw; the frivashi wanted physical bodies, not just insubstantial form. Ahura Mazda warned them that, if he were to give them real form, the physical world will hold darkness that they would have to fight for an unprecedented amount of time. In the end, the fravashi chose to fight evil in order to be unrestrained by the limitations of the non-physical realm. The fravashi were essentially given two other physical parts; the tanu and the urvan. These parts were susceptible to evil, so the fravashi were tasked with keeping this evil at bay. And so, humans were created.
Of course, the question remains; if each fravashi is attached to one human, what happens to that fravashi before and after said person is born. This is answered by grouping theminto three groups, Fravashayo zatanam (Fravashi of the unborn), fravashayo zavantam (Fravashi of the living) and fravashayo irirathusham (Fravashi of the dead). The first category, those of the unborn, do not yet have access to their physical forms. These remain spiritual fixtures that maintain the motions of the natural world; movements of the celestial bodies, the flowing of water, the growth of plants, etc. When their other two parts are born, they become a part of the second group and attach to the tanu and urvan in order to urge their human towards righteousness. Finally, after the death of the tanu, the pure and righteous frivashi returns to the celestial abode of its kin, becoming a part of the third group. Zoroastrianism is an apocalyptic religion, so practitioners believe that, at the end of the world, the urvan and its fravashi rejoin to form the perfect being, known as the Tan-i-Pastin.
So, that is most of what you need to know about the fravashis. If you are interested in reading my story once I finish it, stop reading this post here; there are spoilers ahead.
Essentially, I intend to include a fravashi in the story. As tension generates between the townspeople and Vohu Manah (once they find out what he is), the angel and John seek out an old fravashi who was trapped in a physical form on Earth after the fall of the Persian empire, just as Vohu Manah was. This fravashi, who is not quite as perfect and moral as she once was now that everything she stands for has collapsed, tentatively offers help in exchange for aid in finding a way back to the celestial home of the fravashi, which she still believes to exist.
And now for what I hope you’ve all been waiting for; the next excerpt:
“John, it’s… I don’t… Khayeh, it’s an angel,” Arash gasped.
My arms so sore that I could barely move them, I rubbed the sand from my eyes and let them fall upon the figure whom I had just pulled sopping wet out of the water. All of the sudden, the pile of feathers made sense. There was no dark raft out in the water. The figure had been floating on an enormous pair of two jet-black wings, which protruded out from his back in great arcs that cascaded down past the edges of his bare toes.
For a moment, I sat stunned. How could that be possible? Humans, as this man seemed to be otherwise, do not, nor have they ever, had wings. I sat up as sensation slowly returned to my body, then paused, allowing the dizziness to fade.
I must explain that, as a doctor, I am trained for the weird and unexpected. This is far from the first medical anomaly I had seen. On my second medical tour during school, I saw the only two known cases of Lewandowski-Lutz Displasia, an unfortunate syndrome that causes heavy warts all of the body. I’ve seen other strange things, such as Fibrodisplasia Ossificans Pregresiva, Progeria, and even Diphallia. But outside of one trashy freshman halloween party in 1971, I had never seen a man with wings, let alone a naked drowned one.
My mind empty of any possible explanation, I did the only thing I knew to do.The man was lying immobile on his side, with no sign of the tell-tale chest movements that belied air entering and exiting the lungs. My arms screamed in pain as I pushed him onto his back and pressed my fingers into the sharp bone underneath his ears, forcing the jaw forward and mouth open.
“Arash, pulse,” I ordered as I took in a deep breath and pressed my mouth against the man’s lips. I forced as much fresh sea air into his lungs as I could, followed immediately by another gulping breath.
“Arash, give me a pulse,” I said urgently. “Arash? Arash!”
I paused for a moment to look at my assistant, who was staring motionless down at the great black wings. His wasn’t moving a muscle, despite the clear need for immediate medical attention. I had trained Arash myself. Never in four years had I seen him freeze in a crisis. My eyes shifted to his face, which stared blankly down at the body, his mouth frozen in a surprised “O”.
“Bi-orzeh,” I yelled, trying to get Arash’s attention over the crashing waves. “This isn’t an angel, man. I trained you to be a scientist; there must be some logical explanation. Snap out of it and give me a pulse!”
Arash remained a statue.
“Fine, be useless,” I said sharply as I pressed my thumb into the man’s wrist. Feeling no pulse, I began chest compressions. Another One Bites the Dust ran instinctively through my head, providing the correct beat of one hundred compressions per minute. After thirty pumps, I paused to administer another two rapid breaths. Hoping desperately for the feeling of a shuddering breath sucked violently into the lungs, I continued, but felt nothing but stillness and sea-water below my hands.
I was so intent upon my work that I didn’t realize Arash’s disappearance until after I had concluded that the soaking figure was dead. There was no telling how long John Doe had been out there, floating in the ocean on those great black wings. I finally stood up, breathing heavily from the intensity of CPR. Looking back towards ramshackle clapboard clinic, I could see a dark shadow move rapidly through a side door into the building.
“Coward!” I yelled, sure that nobody could hear me.
Bamji, Soli. “Fravashi in Zoroastrian Religion.” Fravashi. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2015. <http://www3.sympatico.ca/zoroastrian/fravar.htm>.
“Fravashi.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2015. <http://www.britannica.com/topic/fravashi>.
“Zoroastrianism.” Encyclopedia of Death and Dying. Encyclopedia of Death and Dying, n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2015. <http://www.deathreference.com/Vi-Z/Zoroastrianism.html>.
“Apocalyptic.” Encyclopedia Iranica. Encyclopedia Iranica, n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2015. <http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/apocalyptic-that-which-has-been-rcvealed>.
A graphic depiction of a fravashi. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation, 3 Aug. 2015. Web. 5 Oct. 2015. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fravashi>.