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Peganum Harmala in Modern Iran

Throughout the history of Islamic Iran to the present day, Peganum Harmala has been chiefly esteemed for its apotropiac power or power to avert evil, and is the chief plant regarded as having such power today. Allusions to its use in the very earliest of what is known as New Person literature shows that this practice was a very clear continuation of Pre-Islamic beliefs and traditions regarding the plant's supernatural qualities. in particular, the burning of the Peganum Harmala seeds is mentioned quite Frequently in classical Persian literature, and is still practiced to this day throughout [ram Many modern day cases for the present day burning of the Peganum harmala/Esfand seeds are accompanied by the recitation of formulated verses whose content reveals the essential attitude shown towered the plant. This verse asserts that the use of Peganum Harmala, also known in Iran as lsfand or Esfand is sanctioned by the most revered sources of religious authority in Islamic Iran. ‘

Esiand and Sepand:

Our prophet collected it,

‘Ali planted it. Fatima collected it for

Husayn and Hasan.

Isfand and Esfand seeds, lsfand of thirty-three seeds, for relatives and Friends and strangers, all who go out by the door, all whom come in by the door. May the eye of the envious and of the envy be blind, Saturday horn Sunday, born Monday, born Tuesday, born Wednesday, horn Thursday, and born Friday. Who planted it? The prophet. Who gathered it? Fatima. For whom do they make it smoke? For the lman Husan and Imam Husayn. By the grace of the king of men, turn away misfortune and pain.‘

throughout the Islamic world, the burning of the seeds is believed to cast away evil spirits and bad energies. Wherever there is suspicion of the evil eye, lsfand is said to cleanse the evil spirits, protect the household, and ward off evil throughout much of the Middle East today, the seeds of Peganum Harmala or Isfand can be found as a critical element in numerous amulets and the capsules that contain the seeds which are Frequently strung together to make what is called a Panja, that are displayed in conservative Iranian households even today. These Panja are also hung outside the entrances to many Bedouin tents throughout the Middle East and are used for the very same purposes, to keep away evil, and ward off the evil eye. The widespread importance of Peganum Harmala is also reflected in North African Islamic data, where women will throw Peganum Harmala seeds on their door steps and over their shoulders saying, “The Harmel is sacred, O prophet of god protect us from bad male Jinn and bad Female Jinn. (Jinn are known as Spirits) This assertion that Peganum Harmala/Syrian Rue is sacred is expressed among the Bedouin Nomads as well as in Iranian folklore, folklore with pre-Islamic roots and traditions of a much more ancient Iranian origin.

Peganum Harmala in Modern Iran

Incense and Intoxicant

Medical properties


Zaroastrian Sacrament

Identification of Zoroastrian Haoma

Peganum Harmala from text of Islamic Iran and Zaroastrian Avesta

Incense and Intoxicant

While burning of the seeds is the primary use reported For Peganum Harmala in modern lran, there is evidence in the much older folk religion that an extract of the plant was also drank at one time. Evidence demonstrating this can be found within the ancient writings and scrolls of the Mandaeans. The Mandaeans are known to have many written materials on the sacred use of the plant. and are known to have recommended the drinking of a preparation of the Peganum Harmala plant for healing and procreation. However, the Mandaean texts also recommend ingesting the plant for totally apotropic spiritual ends as well. In the following Mandaean passage where the plant is called lay its modern Persian name ispand, we find the following:

Solomon then asks, “O demon, what is the charm that exorcises thee?"  The demon replies giving a recipes and various, for instance: black ispand in milk of a red cow: boil it over the fire and eat it”

The text from the Mandaean library is not the only piece of surviving literature from the ancient world known to have given descriptions of the plants ingestion and use. In a much later Islamic quote, a preparation of the plant’s smoke is also recommended with completely spiritual and protective motivations in mind. In Islam, according to the Shi'a hadith, Muhammad was commanded by God to have his people ingest Isfand for bravery. This Hadith is interesting in the present connection because it is followed by the recommendation not that Isfand be ingested, but that it be burned instead.

The hadith goes on to conclude:

He ordained that it (Island) be the incense chosen by the prophet.

No smoke rises to heaven more quickly than its smoke, which

expels devils and averts misfortunes.

Another Islamic Hadith is quoted in stating that:

An angel is appointed over every leaf and seed of Island.

ln comparing the use and consumption of Peganum Harmala in these two texts, there seems to be a distinctive change in the methods used For the ingestion of the plant within the Middle Eastern world. The much older Mandaean texts seem to indicate that the plant was once consumed in liquid preparations that later came to be replaced in Islamic time as a plant used only as a sacred incense with spiritual supernatural smoke. While there is evidence connecting the burning of Peganum Harmala with its ingestion, it is insufficient to explain the fact that burning its seeds has been the chief mode of using Peganum Harmala throughout the Islamic period of Iran. When we go on to look to the much older Pre-Islamic Iranian practices regarding the plant, We find that the placing of incense on fires was a dominant motif in ancient Iranian iconography and was of great importance in ancient Iranian rites. The focus of these rites was of fire, for which Fragrant Fuel was required. Since Sauma/Haoma of ancient lran was also considered the most sacred of plants it should have also heen the most preferred offering within ancient Zoroastrian fire rituals, the religion of pre-Islamic Iran. Today Frankincense and sandal wood are the incenses favored by Zoroastrians but the seeds of Peganum Harmala still have not lost their sacred associations and are also still regularly burned in offerings to open fires by Zoroastrians today. The seeds of Peganum Harmala are also used and found to be present in many other important Zoroastrian rituals such as weddings, Funerals, and other important rituals of the Zoroastrian religious calendar year. In the nineteenth century, the seeds of Peganum Harmala were known to have been exported by the Zoroastrians of lran to those in India for their use in incense as well. So while clear literary evidence exists demonstrating that the plant was once consumed, later literary evidence seems to indicate that the consumption of the plant fell out of favor and was instead replaced with only its sacred association with fire and incense, a mystical religious association and tradition that still largely remains dominant in the region today.

Medical properties

In attempting to identify evidence for the visionary consumption and pharmacological use of Peganum Harmala in antiquity, we are lead to some of the greatest collections of literary evidence demonstrating its ancient use, and consumption among ancient peoples. From what we can gather from direct literary historical references to the plants use, we find that Peganum Harmala was widely acclaimed throughout the ancient world for its herbal medicinal properties. Evidence for its strong medical values are still well represented even today in modern folk memory and traditional healing practices. Modern Egyptian studies that have investigated the plant have found that extracts of the plant are markedly fungicidal and antibacterial due mostly to the harmine. This could have made the plant very useful when needed in herbal remedies for fungal or bacterial infections in ancient times. Modern uses of the plant have also reported it as being used as an incense spice, abortificant,narcotic, aphrodisiac, sedative, emetic, soporific, and medical purgative. It is also reported to have been used in India for syphilis and Fever. In North Africa, it is known to be used for hysteria, malaria, neuralgia, parkinsonism, prolepses of the womb, rheumatism, colic problems, and even asthma.

In lranian folk medicine today, Peganum Harmala is recognized as having both healing and psychotropic properties. If one swallows an infusion of the seeds. It is known to bring on a purging and cleansing effect on the body to help rid the body of parasites and illness. An extract made by boiling Peganum Harmala seeds in vinegar is still used for toothaches in many parts of central Iran. In one account, an Iranian doctor reported that his great aunt had related to him this medical folk knowledge of her youth. She told the doctor that once in her childhood she was administered this medication and accidentally swallowed it despite the warnings that doing so would lead to madness. The medication was made of Harmel or Peganum Harmala extract. She recalled that after she swallowed it “she saw everything moving in front of her, and she beheld wells in the earth,” though she could understand, she was unable to speak during the entire day, most of which she spent asleep.

Probably the most interesting Facts regarding the medical properties of this plant does not come from modern descriptions of modern Folk remedies or herbal medical discussions on the plant, but rather from much more ancient medical text that have come down to us from the most ancient of sources. One example of this comes from the written record of the plant found in Greek medical texts which were later translated from the Creek into Arabic many years later. In 78A.D. the Creek Dioscurides wrote about the plant’s medical quality, and later in 180 A.D. by the Greek author Galen. This clearly demonstrates that the Peganum Harmala plant’s medical properties were well known and widespread throughout the ancient world. Since the plant is not known to traditionally grow in Greece, finding evidence of its ancient use there demonstrates the widespread use of its importance among ancient peoples, particularly in association with healing and the use of its pharmacological properties, outside of its traditional Iranian and Persian homeland. The following ancient Greek text is quoted in saying:

The seeds expel tapeworms from the intestines; it is usecl as a colic, sciatica and coxalia in a pubic compress. lt purifies the chest and lungs of viscid mucus and dissipates visceral flatulence. We at the Marw hospital use the seeds to expel black bile and various kinds of mucus by means of diarrhea. it is also of the greatest use in treating epilepsy.

This quote clearly indicates that the purgative properties of Peganum Harmala were well known and used in the ancient world. It also directly demonstrates the knowledge and use of the plant by the ancient Greeks, who it is believed received their knowledge of the plant from the Egyptians some time during or after Greek domination over Egypt. Egypt is the chief location for Peganum hattnala to have been first introduced to the Greeks as the Egyptians are known to have had the most extensive history of contact with the p|ant’s eastern origins. Because it is necessary for the seeds of the plant, containing the purgative pharmacological properties, to be consumed in order to obtain their effect, the text is also indicating that the pharmacological properties of the plant were well known and used in ancient times. This indicates that the pharmacological properties of the plant were not only being used medically in the Persian world, but by the time of Greek supremacy the Peganum Harmala plant was also being used and consumed for its medical properties by the Greeks who clearly also had knowledge of its mind altering properties, as they were also consuming it for the chemical properties it contained. This demonstrates that the pharmacological properties of the Peganum Harmala plant were once well known and widespread in the ancient world.

It is believed that many years after the Fall of the classical world, later Islamic authors writing about the medical properties of plants may have first derived much of their original information from much earlier Greek meclical texts. Much of the later Islamic writings regarding Pcganum Harmala are believed to have originated from these earlyer Greek sources, sources that were clerived even earlier from Persian and Egyptian physicians. In examining some of the historical accounts relating to the medicinal uses ofthe Peganum Harmala plant, we find the following quotes which have been noted from Islamic sorces regarding the medical properties of Peganum Harmala:

Galen (I80 AD): It is warm and dry in the 3rd degree. It loosens thick Viscid Humors and removes them from the urine. Masih al Dimashqi ( 850 AD) The seeds expel tapeworms from the intestines. lt is used against colic. Sciatica and Coxalgia in a puplic compress. It purifies the chest and lungs of Viscid mucus and dissipates Visceral Flatulence.

Isa ibn Massa ( 9th AD) We at the Marew hospital use the seeds to expel black bile and various kinds of Mucus by means of Diarrhea. It is of the greatest use in treating Epilepsy.

Al Razi (925 AD) Harmal obstructs and breaks up pain. It induces the flow of menstruation and urine. Some Physitions say an infusion undoes the black bile, purifies the blood and softens thewomb.

With evidence now demonstrating the medical use and consumption of Peganum Harmala in antiquity, we are able to see that the uses of the plant's medical properties were once widespread in the ancient world. Evidence now exists that the uses for the plant stretched all the way from Persia throughout Mesopotamia, the Middle East and Egypt all the way into the lands of the Greeks where it is also known to have been prescribed for use and consumption by Greek physicians for its acclaimed medicinal properties, from examining these texts you can see that the pharmacological properties of Peganum Harmala were not only well known in the ancient world, but that the plant was being used and consumed by many ancient peoples over a very large geographic region. This demonstrates that the medical properties of the plant were not only known about and used by ancient Iranian peoples where the plants originated, but that its use eventually extended, spreading the knowledge and medical uses of the plant all the way into the lands of Egypt, Greece, and the eastern Mediterranean. But incense, good luck charms, and herbal medicines were not the only important uses for the plant in ancient times. One of the most surprising pieces of research that has been uncovered in regarding the ancient importance and use of Peganum Harmala, came when a group of scholars studying the pre-Islamic history of Iran and the importance of Peganum Harmala on Middle Eastern history and culture, presented strong and convincing evidence that identified Peganum Harmalal/Syrian Rue with the ancient visionary religious sacrament of pre-Islamic Zoroastrianism, a religion that has had a profound influence on western history, religion, philosophy, and culture.


Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest religions on the earth, and has been immensely influential in the theological and cultural history of the western world through today. Zoroastrianism is known to have originated from a people called the Indo-Iranians. The Indo—Iranians were an ancient people who had their homeland somewhere in Central Asia. About 4,000 years ago they split into two distinct groups. One group, the Indo-Aryans, moved south to the Indus Valley through the fabled Khyber Pass, around 1,500 B.C. while the other became the ancient Iranian peoples. Both preserved a vast body of religious oral literature which only later came to be written down.

The sacred scriptures of these two ancient peoples are known today as the Rig Veda which is the holy book of Hinduism, and the Avesta, the holy book of the Zoroastrians. There are two distinct groups within Zoroastrianism, one that follows mostly (or exclusively) the teachings of the original Gathas, and those who believe that the later traditions are also important. These sacred texts include the original words of their founder Zarathushtra, preserved in a series of five hymns, called the Gathas. The Gathas represent the core text of the religion. The Gathas are abstract sacred poetry, directed towards the worship of the One God, understanding of righteousness and cosmic order, promotion of social justice and individual choice between good and evil. The Gathas have a general and even universal vision. At some later date (most scholars say many centuries later), the remaining parts of the Avesta were written. These deal with laws of ritual practice and the traditions of the faith. The Zoroastrian community is sharply divided between those who would follow exclusively the teachings of the original Gathas, and those who believe that the later traditions are also important and equally divinely inspired.

The religion of Zoroastrianism was founded by a man named Zarathushtra (Zoroaster in Greek). Conservative Zoroastrians assign a date of 6000 B.C. for the founding of the religion, but other followers estimate 600 B.C. Historians and religious scholars generally date his life sometime between 1500 and 1000 B.C. on the basis of the earliest style of writing known in Zoroastrian texts. Although this date cannot be completely verified, due to the lack of knowledge on how far back in antiquity the religion remained an oral tradition, either way, Zoroaster lived in the land of Persia or what is today modern Iran. The oral tradition of the Zoroastrians included stories about God, the creation, the ethical and cosmic conflict between good and evil, the divine judgment, and the end of the world. The tradition would also include the well-known Zoroastrian symbolism of fire, light, and darkness, as well as stories and prayers about the Yazatas, or intermediate spiritual beings, and the Prophet Zarathushtra. These are all elements of what might be called “classic” Zoroastrianism.

The Zoroastrian beliefs included a single God, named by the Zoroastrians as Ahura Mazda. Ahura Mazda's communication between himself and humans is by a number of attributes called Amesha Spentas or Bounteous Immortals. Within  the Gathas, the original Zoroastrian sacred text, these Immortals are sometimes described as concepts, and are sometimes personified. One school of thought promotes a cosmic dualism between an all powerful God, Ahura Mazda who is the only deity worthy of being worshipped, and an evil spirit of violence and death, Angra Mainyu, who opposes Ahura Mazda. The resulting cosmic conflict involves the entire universe, including humanity who is required to choose which to follow. Evil, and the Spirit of Evil, will be completely destroyed at the end of time. Dualism will come to an end and Goodness will rule all and be all. Another school of thought perceives the battle between Good and Evil as an ethical dualism, set within the human consciousness. Zoroastrianism's importance to humanity is much greater than its current numbers might suggest. Zoroastrian theology has had a great impact on Judaism, Christianity, and many other later monotheistic religions. lts beliefs can be Found in the ideas surrounding God and Satan, heaven and hell, and the dualistic idea of good and evil, a spiritual savior, the future resurrection of the body, and even the final judgment. Zoroaster was one of the first to teach many of these doctrines, doctrines that become familiar articles of faith to much of mankind, through borrowings by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

The early history of Iran goes back well beyond the Neolithic period, it only begins to get more interesting some time around 6,000 B.C. when people began to domesticate animals, and plant wheat and barley. The number of settled communities increased, particularly in the eastern Zagros Mountains where early handmade painted pottery appears. Throughout the prehistoric period, from the middle of the sixth millennium B.C. to about 3,000 B.C., painted pottery is a characteristic feature of many sites in lran. The Persian Empire is the name used to refer to a number of historic dynasties that have ruled the country of Persia (Iran). Persia's earliest known kingdom was the proto-Elamite Empire, followed by the Medes, but it is the Achaemenid Empire that emerged under Cyrus the Great that is usually the earliest period to be called “Persian”. It wasn't until the Achaemenid period that the religion of Zoroastrianism spread into Southwestern Iran, where it came to be accepted by the rulers and through them becoming a defining element of Persian culture. The religion was not only accompanied by a formalization of the concepts and divinities of the traditional (Indo-) Iranian pantheon, but also introduced several novel ideas, including that of free will, which is arguably Zoroaster's greatest contribution to religious philosophy. By the 5th century B.C. and under the patronage of the Achaemenid kings, Zoroastrianism came to he the central religion of the Persian state spreading Zoroastrianism into all corners of the Persian Empire.

Zoroastrian Sacrament

The one thing that makes Zoroastrianism so influential to understanding the mystical and visionary practices of the ancient world, particularly in association with Gnosticism and the research of this hook, comes from the fact that in both the scriptures of the Zoroastrians, the Avesta, and in the scriptures of the Indians, the holy book of the Rig Veda, there are works in which rituals are preformed and a plant with psychoactive properties is consumed. The plant is called Soma by the Indians and Haoma by the ancient Zoroastrian Iranians. Although some of the descendants of these ancient peoples still perform their rituals, the ancient identity of the sacred plant has been lost and non-psychoactive substitutes are now used in their place. Because of this, much controversy has surrounded the identity of these various psychedelic ritual plants. Many people have suggested over the years that the identity of Soma in the Indian Rig Veda, was the Amanita Mascara Mushroom, but most researchers have now concluded that Soma was actually a changing term for a variety of available psychoactive plants and fungi used for their visionary powers For which the red and white Amanita was just one. While the exact identity of the Soma may still remain somewhat controversial, it is the recent identification of the ancient Zoroastrian ritual entheogen that holds the most profound implications for the further understanding and research of this book.

For a long time. the true identity of the Zoroastrian's ancient visionary ritual plant sacrament was a very hot topic of controversy among many academic circles. The main reason for this was the fact that the modern Zoroastrians no longer use a psychoactive plant in their Haoma rituals and a non-psychoactive substitute has taken its place, in this case, it is the Ephedria plant. While the modern Zoroastrians use the Ephedria plant tn the place of Haoma, the ancient books of the Zoroastrians clearly state that a plant with visionary properties was once used, and the Ephedria plant is a stimulant with no psychoactive properties. Because of this, it was believed by early scholars that the original visionary plant used in the original Haoma rituals was replaced at some point in its later history with a non-psychoactive plant with similar physical characteristics. Because of the similar physical characteristics of the Ephedria plant has to Peganum Harmala, the Ephedria plant would have been an ideal candidate to replace the more controversial and psychoactive plant Peganum Harmala in its later years of history and persecution. The most likely time for this change to have occurred is largely believed by scholars today to have been some time during or before the early Islamic era almost 1,400 years ago. The Peganum harmala plant is the most likely candidate for the role of the ancient Zoroastrian psychoactive sacrament Haoma largely due to the fact that it was the only plant known to grow in the region that contains psychoactive properties. In researching evidence for the use and availability of Peganum Harmala in ancient Iranian religious rites, researchers discovered a startling correlation between the use and effect of Peganum Harmala and reports of the older Zoroastrian sacrament as it was described in older Zoroastrian religious literature. Upon further examination they uncovered a relationship between these ancient Zoroastrian writings regarding this plant and similar texts of other outside groups that were known to have described and documented their own use of the Peganum Harmala plant. It is believed by some scholars that these groups known to have used Peganum Harmala may have come to adopt their uses of the plant from the Zoroastrians. It is believed by some that this may have taken place some time in antiquity when the two groups were in contact with one another and when the Zoroastrians were still utilizing Peganum Harmala as a religious sacrament.

Identification of Zoroastrian Haoma

Throughout the Middle East today, Peganum Harmala is believed to hold sacred and mystical spiritual powers. Many researchers believe that this belief in the plant's mystical qualities is actually quite ancient and goes back to before known written history. The plant Peganum harmala is believed to have originated in and around the mountainous regions of what is known today as the lands of Iran. The ancient Iranians who lived in these lands were known to have believed in a spirit world, a world that was hidden and unseen but just as real if not more so than our own. They also held the belief and the need to obtain information and knowledge from this spiritual world. The fact that Harmaline offers a means to see and experience such a mystical world, suggests that if they had been aware of the pharmacological properties and potential

of Peganum Harmala, then it would seem clear that they would have made use of it for these very purposes. In Iranian folk medicine today, Peganum Harmala, or Harmel, is recognized as having psychotropic properties as well as being employed and consumed for many medical purposes.

In Zoroastrian literature, Haoma is presented as if it existed in Iranian culture long before the arrival of zoroastrianism, for which it then came to be used as a religious sacrament. Some of the greatest evidence demonstrating the ancient use of Peganum Harmala as Haoma the original visionary plant mixture of the ancient Zoroastrian religion comes to us from many surviving literary sources. Since the original identity of Zoroastrian ritual Haoma is unknown and lost by modern Zoroastrians today, and the visionary plants that were once included in these ancient rituals have been replaced by non-psychoactive substitutes. It has only been through modern efforts of contemporary research and scholarship that the identity of this ancient sacrament has finally been able to be rediscovered and emerge back into the modern consciousness. A great deal of evidence that has helped to identify this long lost visionary Zoroastrian sacrament has come from an in-depth investigation of known literary sources that are known to identify the plant being used in these ancient writings and its relationship with Peganum Harmala. By comparing these ancient accounts to ancient Iranian accounts of the plant preparation and its known original effects, modern researchers have for the first time in recent history finally been able to identify and uncover the long lost source of the ancient Iranian and Zoroastrian's most important ritual visionary sacrament, the plant Peganum Harmala.

As it is well documented among researchers today, there are significant differences in the patterns and effects of psychoactive drugs of different chemical compositions. The central noticeable features of the ancient Iranian religion—metaphysical outlook may be regarded as conditioned by the particular effects of the Haoma upon a tradition developed over many generations of Iranian priest in the greater Iranian area. The Pahlavi accounts of Zoroastrian literature show that the original Haoma brought about a condition outwardly resembling sleep in which visions of what is believed to be a spirit existence were seen. They also show that the experience of Haoma was the primary source of revelation in the ancient Iranian religion. Today the visionary experience is no longer sought among Zoroastrian priests or in contemporary Zoroastrian rituals indicating that the substance once used to create these visionary experiences was some how removed or stopped being utilized for the acquisition of knowledge and the visionary experience as was seen in much early traditional Zoroastrian religious rites. Today the Ephedra plant, has replaced this visionary additive. But the Ephedra plant is a characteristic stimulant with no visionary qualities. Because of this fact, scholars are able to demonstrate against the use of the ephedra plant within ancient Zoroastrian rituals, particularly For the creation of visions and the facilitating of an experience of a spirit world as it is seen and documented in ancient Iranian religious literature. In contrast, accounts such as those found in the “Pahlavi” and other pieces of older Zoroastrian literature clearly indicate defining attributes directly associated with the unique pharmacological effects of Peganum Harmala. As we continue to examine these ancient pieces of Zoroastrian and Iranian literature, we continue to find strong and compelling evidence that Peganum Harmala/Syrian Rue was being used by Zoroastrians in pre-Islamic times For obtaining knowledge and inducing visionary experiences of a spiritual existence.

Some of the most extensive research ever conducted on the identification of the original Zoroastrian visionary sacraments was done by David Flattery and Martine Schwartz. Their original research on this topic examined direct evidence for the use of Peganum Harmala in ancient Iranian culture and Middle Eastern history. In their research, they presented evidence identifying the ancient Zoroastrian visionary plant Haoma with the plant Peganum Harmala. The following is just one of many direct literary comparisons taken from their research that have been used in identifying this long lost visionary sacrament. The following is an Islamic quote regarding the Peganum Harmala plant that has been compared to its original source as it is found within Zoroastrian texts regarding Haoma.

Peganum Harmala from text of Islamic Iran and Zaroastrian Avesta

Peganum Hal-mala from text of Islamic Iran

1. Use is instituted by Four persons of the lineage of the founders of the


The institution of Isfand including planting collecting and burning

is attributed to Mohammad and or Ali and Fatima Mohamed's

daughter, for the sake of her sons Husayn and Hasan.

2. Isfand is directed and endorsed by God:

Allah commands Muhammad to use isfand.

3. Brings apotropaic benefits to the house where it is kept:

The devil is made seventy houses

Distant from a house where there is Isfand.

4.Isfand instills courage:

Muhammad's people are made courageous by Isfand.

Haoma in the Zoroastrian Avesta

l. Four persons, Yima, Athwya, Thrita

And Zorathushtras father pourushaspa.

Are listed as Zaraatl1ushtra's

Predecessors in instituting the use ofHaoma

2. Azura Mazacla created Haoma

3. Haoma should be present in an ahurian house

so the demons flee from it.

Let contamicartion, as soon as it is manifested,

Vanish from the house as soon as one bring fourth... Haoma

4. Haoma gives courage.

Haoma I invoke thee for courage and the victory

for my body and for strength that brings salvation to many.

In comparing the two texts it is clear that the two texts share many striking similarities. The Islamic text describes the association and use of the Peganum harmala with the founding individuals of Islam. The Zoroastrian text likewise lists the use and institution of Haoma with the Founding members of the Zoroastrian religion. The Islamic text states that Peganum Harmala was directed and endorsed by God. The Zoroastrian text also marks the plant as sacred stating that God, known in Zoroastrianism as Azura Mazada, created Haoma. The Zoroastrian text also states that demons flee from the house where Haoma is kept. This same important statement is found stated in the Islamic text regarding Isfand/Peganum Harmala, where the Islamic text states, “Isfand brings apotropaic benefits to the house where It is kept, and the devil is made seventy houses distant from a house where there is Isfand. In the final literary comparison between these two text we find that the Islamic text states that “Isfand instills courage, and Muhammad's people are made courageous by Isfand.” This is again also related in the ancient Zoroastrian statement regarding Haoma. “Haoma gives courage, Haoma I invoke thee for courage and the victory for my body and for strength that brings salvation to many." By comparing these two texts it becomes clear that the ancient visionary ritual sacrament of Zoroastrianism, Hoama, is the same botanical substance later used and incorporated into Islam, the plant Peganum Harmala.

In examining Zoroastrian text further regarding Haoma, we find that they go on to elaborate on the experience to which Hoama intoxication is like. When these statements are related to the known effects of Peganum harmala, a distinct similarity between the effects is seen. The following are limited Zoroastrian passage from Yasna the Hom Yasht.

Zoroastrian Avestan Hom Yasht:

I ask thee, O golden one

Intoxication, power, victory, health

healing ,success, increase strength,

of the whole body.

Thou Haoma makest rich in men, more

Spenta- and more insightful whomever

apportions thee combine with Gav

Thee I invoke For courage and for victory For

courage and for victory For my body and for

strength that brings salvation to many

O haoma , Give me heeling by which thou art a healer,

O Haoma give me thy victoriusness,

by which though art a victory.

From other Zoreastt-in text

I carry on me the victoreus Haoma.

I carry on me the protector as the good thing.

I carry on me the protector of the body.

Haoma is the chief of medical Herbs

The Avesta Haoma further relates:

O, yellowish one, I call clown thy intoxication.

Ideade all other intoxications are accompanied

by violence of the bloody club, But the intoxication

of the Haoma is accompanied by Bliss- brighting Rightness

The intoxication of haoma goes lightly.

May thy intoxications, besetting me at their own

impulse, not move me about as a cow's trembling.

May thy intoxication come forth clearly.

May thy arrive bringing straightness of mind.

To thee, Haoma, righteous, promoting rightness,

do I give this body, which seems to me well Formed.

May thee thyself, and may these thy

Intoxications come forth to me clearly.

May thy intoxication come forth brightly.

May thy intoxications move lightly.

To thee, Haoma righteous, driving Forth truth,

Do I give this body which seems to me well-formed.

for the Active intoxication of Haoma, for the well

being, for tightness May thou give me, righteous,

full of light, and having every comfort.

In the above Zoroastrian texts Haoma is distinguished with many characteristics that are only attributed to Paganum Harmala. An example of this is found when the text states, “May thy intoxications, besetting me at there own impulse, not move me about as a cow's trembling” This is a particular characteristic of the Peganum Harmala plants effects on cattle. This effect is not created when cattle eat leafs of the ephedra plant, which is the other leading candidate for Haoma identification. This indicates against the use of ephedra within this text. Because of Peganum Harmala effects on cattle, the plant is also widely considered a noxious weed. This noxious effect on livestock makes the plant largely avoided by grazing animals. The Peganum Hatmala plant is also known to take on a yellowish color during much of the year, after it spring growth has stopped. This further shows a relationship with the plant being described in the text (a yellowish moutian plant). The intoxication of Peganum harmala’s roots and seeds which contain the MAO inhibitors also brings on an effect of visual distortion and brightness of color, an atribut the text also clearly describes. Another more unique element that can be found associated with the effects of Peganum harmala is the manifestation of inner thoughts emerging into the mind of the individual consuming it. Many times these inner thoughts take on the form of good teachings or wisdom coming into the drinker's mind. This unique characteristic of mild visionary Gnosis is also characteristic of the Ayahuasca vine, a plant also known to contain the same pharmacological properties. In examining these texts in detail it seems clear that the author of the text is clearly describing a yellowish golden colored mountain plant with visual intoxication abilities that he/she is taking for receiving knowledge and for a clear alteration in consciousness.

In another Zoroastrian text we evidence of the plants healing attributes.

The following is the Hom Yasht from the Zoroastrian Avestan:

Avestan “ Hom Yasht”

O golden haoma, loose thy weapons

for protection for the body of the

righteous against the yellow loathsome poison

emitting serpent, against the evil doing,

bloody, injurious murderous ones,

against the lying mortal sastars..

against the truth mocker. against the sorcerus witch.

I ask this , that I may overcome all the

enmity of the enemies , demons and men

of bad spirits, pairika spirits, of sathras,

of Kavis and Karapans of two legged scoundrels ,

of two leged truth mockers, of four leged wolves,

and of host having a broad frunt, roaring, scampering.

O haoma throw aside the plot of that

one who curses me, throw aside the

various plats of him who stands as my curser.

Even the smallest Haoma preparation,

the smallest Haoma laudation,

the smallest Haoma potation,

serves to smite a thousand demons.

Let the contamination vasnish from

this house as soon as it is created,

as soon as it indeade one brings forth and

praises the exelent  healing of him who confers healing,

The texts indicate that the plant is a sacred healer and removes, purges, and protects against evil spirits and demons. This not only indicates the therapeutic healing property of the plants, but also its relationship to more spiritual supernatural applications, For which its psychoactive properties could also have once been used. All of these have provided scholars with evidence supporting the identity of Haoma with Peganum Harmala and its relationship to the ancient Zoroastrian religion.

Examining Zoroastrian texts about Haoma have allowed scholars to gain insight into its identity. When these texts are examined with other surviving texts regarding the plant, such as those we find in Mandaean writings, there are many other links that further support Haoma's connection to Peganum Harmala and its ancient use as a psychoactive purgative. In studying the historical importance of Peganum Harmala, scholars have uncovered many pieces of evidence identifying the sacred use and importance of the plant from many different historical and literary sources, all indicating a long history of use and veneration of the plant and its effect that span many thousands of years, possibly even long before known written history.