Ameretat: The Zoroastrian Deity of Immortality and Plant Life

Ameretat, Long Life or Immortality, is lord of the fourth creation, plants. After Angra Mainya destroyed Creation she spread seeds over the earth again to restore the plants so the homa ceremony would continue. A.G.H.

 

Ameretat and Zoroastrianism

Ameretat, an important deity in Zoroastrianism, symbolizes immortality and is closely associated with the sustenance and prosperity of plant life.

 

Role in Zoroastrianism

  • Meaning of Name: Ameretat translates to «Long Life» or «Immortality» in the Zoroastrian tradition. This reflects her role as a symbol of enduring life and vitality.
  • Lord of Plants: She is regarded as the lord or guardian of the fourth creation, which is plants. Her association with plant life underscores the importance of vegetation in sustaining life and maintaining ecological balance.

 

Mythological Context

  • Opposition to Angra Mainyu: In Zoroastrian mythology, Ameretat stands in opposition to Angra Mainyu (also known as Ahriman), the destructive and evil spirit. Angra Mainyu’s aim is to corrupt and destroy the good creation.
  • Restoration of Creation: After Angra Mainyu’s attack on creation, Ameretat plays a crucial role in restoring the earth by spreading seeds to rejuvenate plant life. This act ensures the continuation of life and the sustenance provided by vegetation.

 

The Homa Ceremony

  • Importance in Ritual: The restoration of plants by Ameretat is particularly significant for the continuation of the Homa (or Haoma) ceremony, a sacred ritual in Zoroastrianism.
  • Symbolic Significance: The Homa ceremony involves the use of sacred plant extracts, and Ameretat’s role in preserving plant life is integral to the perpetuation of this religious practice.

 

Symbolism and Interpretation

  • Embodiment of Immortality: As the embodiment of immortality, Ameretat represents the enduring aspect of life and the natural world, in contrast to the decay and destruction represented by Angra Mainyu.
  • Ecological Symbolism: In a broader ecological context, Ameretat symbolizes the vital role of plant life in supporting ecosystems and the health of the planet.

 

Modern Perspectives

  • Continued Relevance: In contemporary Zoroastrian communities, Ameretat remains a symbol of life’s resilience and the ongoing cycle of growth and renewal in nature.
  • Interpretation in Environmental Ethics: Her role can also be interpreted in the context of modern environmental ethics, emphasizing the importance of protecting and nurturing the natural world.

 


 

Sources:

Boyce, Mary, Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, New York, Routledge, 2002, pp. 23, 25
Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965, p. 190