Angels in Zoroastrianism. The image of angels as we understand them in Western Christian culture had probably some of the origins in the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism, an ancient religion throughout the Persian empires (559 BC to 651 AC) and was the most effective world religion in the time of Jesus Christ. It's among the oldest monotheist religions and you can locate it being practiced today in India and Iran. Zoroastrianism recognizes various classes of aliens besides the Supreme Being (Ahura Mazda): The Amesha Spentas, Yazatas, and Fravashis. In practice (cf. Sad Dar, chapter 26), Zoroastrians select a patron angel for their own protection, and throughout their lives are attentive to observe prayers dedicated to that angel.
* Amesha Spentas (Phl. Amahraspandan) ("Archangels")
Literally, "Beneficent Immortals" these will be the greatest spiritual beings made by Ahura Mazda (their title for state God). Their titles are:
- Vohu Mano (Phl. Good Mind. Presides over cows.
- Asha Vahishta (Phl. Ardwahisht): lit. Highest Asha, the Amahraspand over firing and Asha.
- Khshathra Vairya (Phl. 'Desirable Dominion', the Amahraspand presiding over metals.
- Spenta Armaiti (Phl. Spandarmad): lit. 'Holy Devotion', the Amahraspand presiding over the earth
- Haurvatat (Phl. Hordad): lit. 'Perfection or' Health'. Presides over water.
- Ameretat (Phl. Amurdad): lit. 'Immortality', the Amahraspand presiding on the Earth.
* Fravashis (Phl. Farohars) ("Guardian Angels"):
Also known as Arda Fravash ("Holy Guardian Angels"). Each individual is accompanied by a guardian angel (Y26.4, 55.1), which functions as a guide throughout life. They initially patrolled the bounds of the ramparts of paradise (Bd6.3, Zs5.2), but volunteer to descend to earth to endure by individuals towards the end of the days. Ahura Mazda advises Zarathushtra to invoke them for assistance whenever he finds himself in danger (Yt13.19-20). If not because of their guardianship, critters and people could not have continued to exist, since the wicked Druj would have destroyed them (Yt13.12-13).
The Fravashi also serves as an ideal which the soul needs to try for and emulate, and ultimately becomes one with after departure (Y16.7, 26.7, 26.11, 71.23, Yt22.39) (See Dhalla, History of Zoroastrianism, pg 232-243, 375-378)
They maintain order in the creation, and manifest God's energy. They are believed to fly like winged birds, and therefore are represented by a winged disk, often with a individual superimposed (as in the aforementioned representation). Yazatas (Phl. Yazads) ("Angels"):
* Sasanian angel and soul (8th ce. C.E.)
Lit'cute ones', a created spiritual being, worthy of being praised. Such as the Amesha Spentas they personify abstract thoughts and virtues, or concrete objects of character. The Yazatas are trying to help people, and shield us from evil (cf. Dk3, ch. 66). See below for a few specifics of the more important Yazatas.