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Oh hey, I was raised Mandaean. Neither of my parents spoke the language and were some of the first immigrants to America so I didn't really participate in the community much. A priest visited the area in my youth and I was baptized.

Later in life I came into possession of a translated copy of the Ginza Rba. It's a pretty cool holy book, lots of interesting symbolism and mystery. Light and darkness intermingle in interesting ways in these texts. Since most of the significance of these religious elements is taught priest-to-priest and through oral traditions I did not take part of, it's difficult to examine it more deeply.

Although I don't practice religion these days, on occasion I'll reflexively mutter a prayer under my breath. In a more secular light, being a Mandaean strongly informed my material circumstances due to geopolitics and I'm always struck by the weirdness of being part of a dwindling ethnic group swept up by the tides of history.




I'm mandaean as well if anyone is interested in asking anything


It's almost always fascinating to listen to a spiritual/philosophic teacher representing a distinct tradition you have not encountered before. Even if you are not a spiritual teacher, might you perhaps share some interesting details of the Mandaean world view, philosophy, practices and society? I believe the majority of people here have Christian/Judaic/Muslim/Hindu/Buddhist cultural background, could you possibly name some things that make your religion/culture different and that can teach others something new, cool and wise? Some interesting concepts and/or quotes by some renowned Mandaean scholars or some Mandaean proverbs perhaps?


The Wikipedia article suggests that Mandaeans haven't liked to discuss their religious beliefs and traditions with outsiders, but then sort of goes on to reflect a lot of variation in this.

Do you have a sense of how this impulse toward secrecy has worked over time, what's motivated it, and how Mandaeans might understand it today? Are there other Mandaeans you know of who might be unhappy that you're happy to talk about the tradition with strangers on an Internet forum?

How unified do you think different Mandaean communities have been in their beliefs and practices?


I think there are 2 reasons (for me at least) for why Mandaeans don't like to discuss their religion.

1. The lack of need for evangelicalism, unlike most religions, you can't become a Mandaean unless you're born with it, other religions want to spread their message to expand. 2. In Iraq (when I was living there at least) Mandaeans were very much prosecuted for being Mandaeans, a lot of them didn't identify as Mandaean in public for fear of being ostracised or prosecuted. Eg. a lot of my relatives that had restaurants/cafes would have to lie about their religion to be able to sell, Muslims wouldn't buy from us otherwise.

I'm not sure how unified Mandaeans are right now, there are different communities in every country, where I live (UK) there's a small number of Mandaeans (around 1000) where there is almost no community, this is the case in most countries, we're pretty much spread out all over the world where's there's a 1000 people in Norway, 1000 in the States, it's really to create a sense of community when the people are so sparsed out. The internet (Facebook especially where there are pages/groups that have tens of thousands of Mandaeans together) is the only thing that brings us together, for example when sending Eid (similar to Christmas) greetings and so on.


Anything us outsiders can do to help keep your community going?


Don't think so. The biggest problem facing us is because we're so sparsed out, it's become a lot harder for our people to marry from each other, and anyone who marries from outside (non-mandaean) is no longer considered Mandaean. A lot of Mandaeans in Europe have to marry from outside so our numbers have been decreasing - I think one solution would be for our religion to start accepting people from outside to become Mandaean (this is hard, our religion is immutable and doesn't accept such change) or the other solution for all of us to be together in one region (before most mandaeans were in either Iraq or Iran)


The Samaritans have started accepting marriages with Jews and the resulting children, and that's a pretty recent development. No idea how Mandaeans to find a way around their scriptures though, but I don't think the leaders can insist on an interpretation of their scriptures that mandates extinction.


I would be curious to hear what geographic regions your parents hail from, if you don't mind sharing. Thanks!


One lived in Iraq and the other lived in Iran. I prefer not to be more specific.




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