Williamson's Zarathushtrian Ceremony
The Dar-e-Meher Fire Temple in San Jose
29, 2005, The Ancient Persian Holiday of Sedeh (Fire)
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The Zarathushtrian Creed is: "Good
Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds"
Zoroastrianism is the world's oldest
Zarathushtra lived thousands of years ago in Persia, what is now
Iran. The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy calls him the first
philosopher. He greatly influenced Judaism, Christianity and
Islam. Some scholars believe he was the first to teach a belief in One God.
His name for God was "Ahura Mazda" - the "Wise Lord". The name
"Ahura" is male and stands for lord. "Mazda" is female and means
wisdom. Zoroaster saw both male and female in one cosmic God.
I have read the scriptures
of many faiths. The ancient, democratic psalms of Zoroaster
are among the best: "Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds". Scholars believe the Three Magi (the wise men) who brought
presents for the baby Jesus were Zarathushtrians. (See the link
below to Matthew, Chapter 2) King Cyrus the Great of Persia freed the Jews from their
captivity in Babylon. He wrote the world's first human rights
charter. Stories about Cyrus, the "Anointed One", are in 2nd
Chronicles, Ezra and Isaiah. See the link about Persia in the
Photos From My "Sedreh Pushi" Ceremony
There I am on the left at the top, dressed in traditional white. I
was so nervous! But, everyone was incredibly nice and made me feel
One thing I had forgotten about was
the Middle Eastern custom of kissing each other on the cheek
twice! (I am not a "hugger" by nature.)
I did not realize it. but in about 30 minutes each one of these
good people would be kissing me! It was great fun as everyone was
so happy. I am deeply thankful for these good people witnessing my
acceptance of the religion of good conscience. I got many
If you ever visit San Jose,
stay at the Hyatt Hotel. It has first class rooms and meals at
affordable prices. I stayed there two nights and it could not have
The Ancient Ceremony Begins
This is me and Dr. Ali Jafarey, who performed the ceremony. Dr.
Jafarey is one of the world's leading scholars. I am very honored
to have had him do it. I am repeating the prayers as he is
That is an artistic representation of Zarathushtra on the wall.
You can't see much of the table next to me, but it was covered
with an antique table cloth. It was beautifully decorated
with candles and Persian foods to eat afterwards. See the
photo below for more details of the lovely table. I deeply
This is Different Than
Baptism - a Vow of Service
Another picture of the ceremony: I am holding a long sacred cord.
like a belt. It symbolizes getting read to do good and truthful
This initiation is very different from the baptism in Christian
churches. That is for the forgiveness of sins. Zarathushtrians
believe in making a vow to serve. Does not have the emphasis on
sin and guilt.
The prayers I spoke were from Zoroaster's Gathas. Most scholars
agree that these seventeen songs are his works. Some believe they
are over 5,000 years old.
Much of the language is ancient Sanskrit. Whenever researchers
push back the writing date for the Hindu Vedas, they also push
back the time line for Zarathushtra's psalms.
Here are three very
special people to me
The woman on the left is Amy
Makujina, from India. Her late husband, Dastur Jimmy Makujina,
recorded two compact discs of prayers that I studied for the
ceremony. She wrote and framed a beautiful prayer for me and Karen
(read it below).
In the middle, in white, is
Dr. Ali Jafarey. He a founder of the Zarathushtrian
Assembly, the more liberal, open branch of Zoroastrianism. He is
eighty- five years old and still one of the leading thinkers in
the field. Jafarey is a scholar, teacher and author of over a
On the right is Mr. Irani, who
worked with NASA on the moon program. He also founded an aerospace
company and is still an active businessman today.
Fire Temple in San Jose
This is me with two friends outside
of the Fire Temple. I am in the middle with my white hat on. The Temple is on Mount Hamilton (my
middle name!) It has a great view of San Jose, California.
It is a great honor to be accepted at the Fire Temple. I
don't know how many others there are around the US, not many, less
than a handful. Accepting new members is fairly new and
controversial. I hope to spend my life being worthy of their faith
in me as a good Zarathushtrian.
Most Zarathushtrians today live in either India (Parsis) or
Iran. I think there are many people who also believe in the
values of Zoroaster, they have just never heard them.
These two good people donated the land for the temple. It sits
high upon a mountain overlooking San Jose. The grounds are about
14 acres and they have horses, sheep and chickens. These are
mostly for the children to take care of. Caring for animals and
the environment is one thing that attracted me to
Zarathushtrianism. He was the first teacher who made caring for
the Earth a part of the faith.
Zarathushtrianism heavily our ideas of democracy.
Zarathushtra was the first to teach that leaders should be
ELECTED, chosen by the people based on their own merit and nothing
else. This was over 3,000 years ago! Women have always been equal
in the faith. Members advance on merit and faithfulness, not sex
or family ties. The president of the Persian Zarathushtrian
Organization, which cares for the temple, is a woman.
Candle and Prayer Alter
This is the candle and prayer altar. This photo does not do
it justice and I was too timid to take many pictures inside the
Fire Temple. Outsiders are generally not allowed into temples in
This altar is much like a Catholic altar where people light
candles and say prayers. However, unlike Catholicism and
some other religions, Zarathushtrians do not have the tradition of
"monks" and "ascetics." No one goes off to the mountains wearing
just the clothes on their back. No one beats up on themselves to
get closer to God. Ahura Mazda wants the world to be
abundant for everyone.
The Temple's Sacred Fire
Here is the Sacred Fire of the Temple. It is kept burning all the
time. Some sacred fires in India and Iran have been kept burning
for hundreds of years.
Note how shiny everything is - to reflect the light.
Contrary to myth, Zarathushtrians do not "worship" fire.
Fire is sacred because it is what really separates human beings
from animals. Both can think, reason and make tools. But
only man can make fire. Everything around us was made with
Zarathushtrians believe in advancing science and civilization, and
fire was the "breakthrough technology" that helped get it
started. It was a direct gift from God - given with the
mandate for us to be responsible for it.
The Sedeh Festival
I was initiated on the ancient holiday of Sadeh. This is a
celebration of fire and driving the cold winter away with the new
light of spring. It is a time of chasing away falsehood with
the light of truth.
On this holiday children go around door to door and collect wood
for the fire. While adults were in charge of this fire pit,
children were running all over the place looking for old tree
limbs and other pieces of wood for the fire. It was
beautiful in the night!
Zarathushtrianism does not believe in "miracles" as such - but
rules out nothing. Zarathushtra
did no miracles. He was an ordinary man whose extraordinary
message has stood the test of time.
This lovely prayer was written for me by Mrs. Amy Makujina, the
widow of Dastur Jimmy Makujina, of India. He was a Parsi priest
for 50 years.
I used Dastur Makujina's cds
to learn the the ancient prayers. He was from India.
He chanted the prayers and songs. I have never chanted! One day I
found myself singing to the tune of a baby's lullaby! I was
discovered that the most melodic tune in English for the "Ashem
Vohu" was a simple baby lullaby!!
I have loved listening to Dastur
Jimmy Makujina's two compact discs, Navjote Prayers and Zarathushtrian Prayers.
His voice is full of wisdom and kindness. First, he gives the
prayers in Avesta, and then Sara Irani gives the English. People
in San Jose loved it. You can order them from the Zarathushtrian
Assembly of San Jose, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank You to the Good People of the
did not originally plan to do the ceremony at the Temple.
A very dear family invited me to San Jose to do it in their home.
Dr. Jafarey was coming to San Jose to give a talk at the Fire
Temple and at the college. What was originally planned to be a
simple ceremony with a few friends soon grew much, much larger. I
expected people to be polite, but I was overwhelmed by the out
flowing of love and acceptance from them. It is an honor I will
always strive to deserve!
See These Websites About
Official Website for the Zarathushtrian Assembly
Visit a True Fire Temple Online!
I would not be a Z without Ron Delavega's
His site has become one of the best on the Net for people of
this ancient faith.
Click on this link and Visit the closest thing to an actual
Fire Temple online ...
Historical Evidence for Conversion
may have heard that it is impossible to join this ancient faith.
There are two major branches - one from India and one from Iran. I am a
historian and I respect those noble Iranians and Parsis of India
who have kept the faith alive for many centuries. The Indian
temples are mostly closed to outsiders. The more progressive
branch comes from Iran. Zoroastrians in India have been influenced
by centuries of living among Hindus with their many gods. However,
Zoroastrians whose tradition comes form Persia are staunch
monotheists (believers in one god).
This is not an easy faith be accepted into. It takes much study
and reflection. The link below goes to a
website where I have collected scholarly writings about conversion
into Zarathushtrianism. Here are the words of leading priests and
historical documents that show how the ancient faith has been open
to non Zoroastrians for centuries. Some of the writings date back
to the 1400's. These brilliant leaders speak much more eloquently
than I can.
Watch My Complete Navjote
Ceremony - Video of My Acceptance
These two videos show my complete acceptance
ceremony, Jan 29th 2005