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A Lion's Roar

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

The Shir o Khorshid (Lion & Sun) is a prominent symbol of Iran and of our character as a culture. I'd like to start by saying, the symbol is now very controversial as it has been removed from the country's Coat of Arms and national flag and is now associated with a political stance and ideology. I am using this blog post as a means to shed light on objective Iranian history and, honestly even more so, my great love for wild animals lol. Wild cats are my everything hahaha. When we were given an assignment in the 6th grade to write a poem about our spirit animal, I wanted nothing more than to see lion or tiger (maybe a wolf, or even a dolphin) come out of that shoebox. I got a beaver. I learned a lot about dam building. And so the story goes lol.

"Iran lost its last Asiatic or Persian lion almost 80 years ago, and it became extinct in the country due to indiscriminate hunting and habitat loss, but the lion is now back home."

Smaller than their African cousins, lions native to Iran used to roam the region alongside cheetahs, leopards, lynxes, caracals, and these effing cute sand cats (which we anthropomorphized in the EP's cover art to represent me *hehe* alongside GVLA, the boar). Iran's two extinct feline types: the Caspian tiger and Asiatic lion. Shir o Khorshid is a symbol of a golden lion with a sword raised in it's hand (paw?) while a bright sun beams behind it. Our culture is heavily influenced by #Zoroastrianism and with Zoroastrianism (and the Babylonians - aka them fire worshipers from Mesopotamia) comes #astrology. The symbol of the lion derives from the ancient sign of the sun in the House of Leo. Now it has grown to mean many things. For some it represents Rostam who defeated a fierce lion in Iranian mythology; for others it's a symbol of Shia Islam. And then for many others, it's a general statement of great leadership, pride, beauty, and grace.

I should mention that Zoroastrianism is an elemental and dualistic religion; good vs. evil, dark vs. light. It focuses on energies intersecting throughout the universe and everything's connection to each other and nature. Iranian celebrations are undeniably rooted in ancient Zoroastrian rituals and beliefs. The start of our calendar is the Spring Equinox (rebirth of the earth), we use fire as a way to cleanse and purify our souls; we use garden therapy as a form of integrative medicine. Our two largest celebrations center around welcoming winter and then welcoming spring. The sun setting and the sun rising.

The sun in the Shir o Khorshid emblem is often associated with the beloved, mythical Shah (king) of Iran, Jamshid. His name alone pretty much means, "radiant." According to Iran's epic poem, Ferdowsi's Shahnameh, Jamshid Shah was responsible for many an incredible thing - on top of having command over all the angels and demons of the world, and being both king and high priest of the main Zoroastrian deity. There is too much to say about Jamshid Shah and his role in Persian culture, so imma just tell you that he was magic incarnate, we love him, and we love the warmth, wisdom, and radiance that he embodies. Jamshid could possibly be a personification of the sun when you think about it. But the sun definitely reflects our mentality as a culture - of optimism, guidance, unity and life.

Where does my song come to play in all this? And who the hell puts a roaring lion in the middle of a pop track? I will tell you. (Also the second answer is, me. I did that.)

"Ashes In The Sea" was a tough one to write. It took me almost a year to complete and be happy with it. Half the time I was writing it, I honestly had no idea what the song was about - I was tired of working on it, and I was tired of my life at the time. I had just moved on from the happiest, healthiest phase of my life that I'd ever lived so far. Every day I woke up, it felt like I was just chasing after my past self, trying desperately to get "perfect-me" back in my clutches.

I wasn't letting go and moving forward.

My old life had broken up with me and nothing was WRONG with it, so I couldn't figure out why it and I had to change.

Then came the acceptance period. When I realized that things and people pass even when everything is great, and I decided to honor the self that had brought me to this point by purifying her in fire and returning her to the earth so that she can find her way back to me in a new form. The new form that I needed her in, that would take me farther than old, "perfect/ultimate" Ashley could have.

Our perfect selves and our identities will be forever changing. May we have the strength, poise and prowl to move forward and let what no longer serves us (even when they are amazing) leave us when it is their time to. May we always feel our inner sunlight warm and guide us through the darkness, and may the lion's roar rumble through our chest to chase away doubt and disbelief and bring us courage to charge toward the future unknown.

Saleh no mobarak :) Happy Norooz, guys.

Ashley xo

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