Aspand - Espand - Esphand - Esfand E-mail


Throughout the area once covered by the Persian empire, a type of herb seed called Aspand, Espand, or Esphand is burned on charcoal to rid children of the Evil Eye . A short verse is recited as the smoke is circled around the child's head. Aspand is also used to bring blessings after one has performed a sorrowful rite, such as attending a funeral.


I live in Sonoma County, an area of Northern California where there are few people of Persian descent. However, i have spoken directly to four people who practice this rite and a fifth person supplied Aspand to her husband to carry to me. A sixth sighting took place on the web. Practitioners i have met so far are all Farsi or Dari speaking and are apparently practicing Muslims. They happen to all have been college educated or the siblings or children of college educated men. Two are from Afghanistan, three from Iran. One additional Aspand user whom i encountered on the web is from Tajikistan and is fluent in English. Aspand is sold in Iranian stores in the San Francisco Bay Area, especially the East Bay town of Fremont, which has a large Farsi / Dari speaking population.


Aspand seeds are dropped on red-hot charcoal, where they make a popping noise and give off a great deal of fragrant smoke. A five-line rhyming spell is chanted and the smoke is swirled around the heads of children in a circular pattern to protect them from evil. "To Aspand" seems to be the usual verb describing the rite.

I was brought from Khorasan E-mail

Rumi's journey from Balkh to Konya
by John A Moyne

Speech deliverd on Saturday, October 20th, 2007 at Chapman University by John A Moyne, author of A Bird In the Garden of Angels: On the Life and Times and an Anthology of Rumi (Mazda, 2007). This book is a Rumi reader for the general public. It contains a brief chapter on the history and doctrine of Sufism and mysticism, and a second chapter on the life and times of Rumi and his close associates.

Before I begin, I would like to thank my publisher, Dr. A. Kamron Jabbari, president of Mazda Publishers, for inviting me to deliver this speech at Chapman University on the occasion of Rumi's 800th birthday.

Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi is known in the East as Mowlavi (Turkish Mevlevi) and in the West as Rumi. The titles Rumi and Mowlavi were not given to Jalaluddin in his life time. Rumi 'from Rum' refers to the Roman Anatolia, where Rumi spent most of his adult life and where he died. Mowlavi is the name of the Sufi order that was founded by Rumi but was organized and institutionalized by his son. Sultan Valad. In his lifetime, Rumi was called Mowlana 'our master' by the general public, and Khodavandegar or Khodavandegara 'our Lord' by his disciples.

In his prolific writings, Rumi gives very little biographical information about himself but we have some early and some later biographies that give ample information about the life and times of Rumi and his circle. On the other hand, Rumi's father, Bahauddin Valad, had much to say about himself in his own writing, the book Maaref [See The Drowned Book by Coleman Barks and John Moyne]. Bahauddin had much influence on his son. Rumi had memorized his father's book and carried it with him after his father died. For the Rumi and Mowlavi Sufi devotees, the most important value of Maaref vs. the fact that Rumi worshiped the book. There is a story that, on one occasion, through the whole night, Rumi was reciting the text of Maaref by memory and his disciples wrote it down while a companion dried the ink in front of a fireplace. There are many poems of Rumi, particularly in the Mathnavi, that are based on some narrative in the Maaref.

Retribution - A Short Story E-mail
I heard the wail of a thousand ghosts.
 It rose until I was forced to pay attention. I tuned out the noise all around me – the yelling, screaming, the crying and begging – and concentrated on them. They whispered, moaned, and they shrieked. Soon, it was all that I could hear.
 They were welcoming me. Me, who had planned on living for another 70 years, 50 at the least. But who was to say what was fair in life? Behind me, I suddenly heard the steady chop and the shiver that ran through my body had nothing to do with the sharp winds that blew across the field.
 It was the 19th of December with the year 1933 ending less than 2 weeks from now. For the death of one man, more than twenty-one other people – men and children – were to be sacrificed. Here, power was measured by the amount of the slaughtered. I raised my head and looked a few feet to my right at a small boy huddling on the ground, his hands and feet tied to keep him from running away. The boy couldn’t have been more than nine years old. He was shaking like a small animal, sobbing and heaving because he couldn’t help being scared. He would probably choke on his own tears before they could hang him.
Like the others, the boy cried because he was scared of dying. He was too young and the others too unaware to understand that there were other things far worse to fear than death. Like Silence; the forever muted voice of millions who have suffered in years past. Does torture exist when no one else is here to remember it? For the little boy, there is no one here to write his story. Even I – who have lived my entire life with a pen in my hand – can not write. Our lives – the ones to be sacrificed – will vanish with the setting of the sun and tomorrow the people will be told a story. But it will not be our story.
The Tale of Samsor Afghan, author of Dwauma Saqawe E-mail


 Part One
 It all began with the respectable minister when one of his regular days gave way to the unexpected.
 He walked across the compound as he did everyday. Upon reaching and entering the Hall of the Ministry, his secretary ran up to greet him as she had done many times before. Samsor Afghan continued on his way and passed the secretary by without a word and she quickly ran to keep with him.
 “I have your schedule for the day,” she told him, trying to catch her breath. “I have your appointments for today on this sheet – ”
 As expected, Samsor interrupted her. “I don’t have time for any appointments today,” he said in a serious tone. “Reschedule them all for tomorrow or another day.”

Legend of Khorasan E-mail

For many years the tribal people have brainwashed us with the idea of national unity and, naively, we have accepted the idea. At the same time, they brutally violated the very fabrics of this imposed national unity that they have advocated. The following is an example of the conniving nature of these tribal people and the lies of national unity that they tried to force upon us.

In one of the counties of the Ghor Province in Central Afghanistan, the people of the county gathered in the middle of the town to discuss the dark times that their region was facing. They were all in a frenzied state, everyone throwing in what they knew. One person in the crowd was saying that Kabul has been looted by the mercenary army forces of Nadir Shah, who was himself the servant of the British. Another town member chimed in that tens of thousands of people had been slaughtered. Another person added that hundreds of people, including Amir Habibullah Kalakani, have been shot and/or hanged by Nadir Shah and his mercenary pack while someone else said that the forces had no mercy, that they hadn’t even spared the 11-year old son of Kalakani and had tore apart the little boy like a hawk might do to a field mouse. One man said that the entire north of Kabul was looted by the tribes of Mangal Zazai as well as the tribes of Awghans from the other side of the Durand Line who accompanied Nadir Shah from British India. Someone else said that the British generals were running the massacre show and that Nadir Shah was just a puppet. Then one loud voice overtook them all, saying no one in the history of Khorasan has proven to be as dishonorable as Nadir Shah. They never thought that such an ignoble and corrupted person like Nadir Shah, who broke the promise he swore on the Quran, existed in this land. All in all, the discussion was very heated.
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