Zaruana Akarana

From AnthroWiki
Lion-headed deity from a mithraeum in Ostia Antica (CIMRM 312)

Zaruana Akarana (also Zeruane Akarene or Zurvan Akarano, "the unlimited or uncreated time"), also called Zurvan (from Persian zurwān, Avestan: zrvan "time") as a dual-sex primordial deity, is according to later Persian mythology, as it was handed down especially in Zurvanism, the uncreated time and at the same time the supreme and most primordial deity. Zurvan is often depicted as a bearded man with a lion's head and wings and a snake coiled around his feet.

Zurvan's children are the twins Ahura Mazda, the god of light, and Ahriman, the spirit of darkness. Ahriman, thinking that dominion would fall to the firstborn, forced his premature birth, but Zurvan rejected his sacrifice (cf. Cain and Abel) and Ahura Mazdao was elevated to king of heaven. Ahriman, however, was banished to the underworld where he would rule as the Great Serpent for 9000 years. According to the cosmogony and cosmology of the Bundahishn, the struggle between good and evil lasts 3 or 4 times 3000 years.

The zodiac is the outer expression of Zaruana Akarana. Twelve spiritual powers, the Amshaspands, work within it, seven of which lean towards the light side and five towards the dark side[1]. Together they form the annex for the twelve nerve pairs of the head.

„It is now very difficult to create a concept of what Zarathustra saw as the unity behind Ormuzd and Ahriman, of which the Greek writers already told us that the ancient Persians worshipped it as that which lives in unity, and what Zarathustra called "Zeruane akarene", that is, what stands behind the light. How can we create a concept for what Zarathustra and the Zarathustra teaching understand by "Zeruane akarene" or "Zaruana akarana"?

Let us think of the course of development. We must imagine that the development towards the future proceeds in such a way that the beings become more and more perfect, so that when we look into the future we see more and more the glow of the kingdom of light, of Ormuzd. If we look into the past, we see how the forces lie there which must completely cease with time, which must be defeated, so that we look into the forces opposing Ormuzd, into the Ahrimanic forces. Now one has to imagine that this bridge into the future as well as into the past leads to the same point. This is an idea that is extraordinarily difficult for people today. Let us imagine a circle: if we go from the lowest point to one side, we come to the opposite point at the top; if we go to the other side, we also come to the same point. If we make the circle bigger, we have to go further, and the arc becomes flatter and flatter. Now we can make the circle larger and larger, then the end is that the circle line finally becomes a straight line: then the path goes to infinity to one side and to the other side also. But just before that, if we did not go so far, if we did not make the circle so large, then, if we went to one side as to the other, we would come to one and the same point. Now why should not the same be true if the circle becomes so flat that its line becomes a straight line? Then one point in infinity must be the same as the point on the other side. And if one could only hold one's breath long enough, one should be able to go to one side and come back on the other. That is to say, for a conception that grasps infinity, there is a line that runs into infinity on both sides, but which is actually a circular line.

What I have now presented to you as an abstraction is based in Zarathustra's view on what he meant by Zaruana akarana. We look into the future on one side - according to time - and into the past on the other; but time closes into a circle, only this union lies in infinity. And this self-finding serpent of eternity - which can be represented by the serpent biting its own tail - is interwoven with both the power of light, which shines brighter and brighter for us as we look to one side, and the power of darkness, which seems darker and darker for us as we look to the other side. And when we ourselves stand in the middle of it, we ourselves have light and shadow - Ormuzd and Ahriman - mixed up. Everything is woven into the self-finding, infinite stream of time: Zaruana akarana.“ (Lit.:GA 60, p. 268ff)


Steiner big.jpg
References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: URL:
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English (by Steiner Online Library).
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.


  1. Occasionally, one speaks only roughly of six light and six dark powers.