Friday, December 29, 2006

The Yezedi

Then said the Mighty Lord, "O Angels, I will create Adam and Eve, and will make them human beings, and from them two shall arise, out of the loins of Adam, Shehr ibn Jebr; and from him shall arise a single people on the earth, the people of 'Azazel, to wit of Ta'us Melek, which is the Yezidi people. Then I shall send Sheikh 'Adi b. Musafir from the land of Syria, and he shall come and dwell in Lalesh".Meshaf Resh: The Black Book

Lucifer as the rebel angel is the historical underpining meme of heresy in all the Abrahamic based religions. Today we will look at the Yezedi, who it is claimed are most ancient of the pre-Judeaic, pre-Christian, cults dedicated to the worship of Lucifer. Originally they were an Aryan fire religion, not unlike Zororastrianism with which they share a common belief in duality. In order to survive the advent of the Abrahamic religions domination of the region they became a syncretic religion when their religious tenants were revised under the influence of Sheik Adi.

The Yezidi worship Malak Tawus, or "Peacock Angel," aka Lucifer. However, Lucifer is viewed differently from the Christian Lucifer, or devil. Yezidis see him as the chief archangel and creator of the material world. The Yezidi religion is centered in the village of Lalish in northern Iraq's Ninawah Province.

Towers of Lalish

Towers of Lalish

Lalish: the Kurds´ hidden treasure in northern Iraq

Yezidi couple
Safe in the Kurdish haven of northern Iraq, but still only 50 km north of war-torn Mosul, lies Lalish, the Yezidi Kurds´ holiest shrine. Visiting this particular site, tantamount to the Catholics´ Vatican or Muslims’ Mecca, had become an obsession since I first came across Yezidi Kurds back in the summer of 2004. I met them in their Yailas (summer encampments) on the slopes of Mt. Aragats, Armenia’s highest peak, which consisted of a handful of green Soviet Army tents, one for each family, where they spend the summer with their cattle. Despite the temperature climbing above 40 celsius down in Yerevan, the animals were grazing Armenia's freshest pastures between snow patches; a remarkable example of the so called "Vertical Nomadism". Like most Armenian Kurds, these shepherds were Yezidi too, descendants of those who had left the hilly north of Iraq several centuries ago escaping from the Arabs’ oppression. They shared their cheese and their knowledge about their religion with me, and it was they who first pointed me in the direction of Lalish.

Summer of 2005 in Northern Iraq wasn't as cool nor as peaceful as on Mount Aragats. Crossing the border from Turkey at Silopi had taken me a whole day filling out various documents, queuing under the sun and answering lots of questions on the Kurdish side. Anyhow, the city of Dohuk was the perfect place to stay for a few days to get familiarized with the local customs, and moreover, to arrange a visit to the shrine at the Lalish Centre, the meeting point of yezidies in Dohuk.

The Yezedi whose name is spelled variously; Yazedi, Isadi, Yezidi, Yazidi (by Wikipedia) represent a link to ancient Aryan cults from Persia, Assyria and also a link to the pre Abrahamic religions in the region; both Mandeanism and Manichaeism.

In the case of Mandeanism they have been mistakenly associated with the Sabean-Mandean cult which also exists in Iraq today.


Middle Eastern religion, a syncretic combination of Zoroastrian, Manichaean, Jewish, Nestorian Christian, and Islamic elements. Its adherents, numbering fewer than 100,000, are found in Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Armenia, the Caucasus, and Iran. Most speak Kurdish. They believe that they were created separately from the rest of humankind and segregate themselves from the rest of society. In Yazidi belief, seven angels, subordinate to a supreme but uninvolved God, rule the universe. The belief that God restored the Devil to his position as chief of the angels upon the Devil's repentance has earned the Yazidi an undeserved reputation as Devil worshipers. Their chief saint is Sheikh 'Adi, a 12th-century Muslim mystic. Their name derives from Yazid I (c. 645–683), from whose supporters they may be descended.

Yezidis are a largely Kurdish sect, named after their supposed founder Yezid, the second Umayyad Caliph. The Yezidi revere the Prophet Mohammed and the Sufi mystic Adi Musafir, a descendent of the Umayyad Caliphs. Adi is credited with writing many of the Yezidi Holy texts and is most likely to be the originator of the faith. Islamic writings mention the Yezidis as early as the fourteenth century, but some scholars link them to Mithraism, Zoroastrianism, and even ancient Iraqi Buzzard worshipping sects. Yesidis, who refer to themselves as Dasin, believe they originated with Adam, the first man.


The Yezidi never wear the colour blue. They are not allowed to eat lettuce. They do not believe in heaven or hell -- instead they believe in reincarnation, which they call the soul "changing its clothes".

Claims that they originated in Zororastrianism are contested, and in fact it does appear historically that they are a religion that existed far earlier than the fire worshippers of Persia with whom they are often confused with.

The earliest references to the Yezedi were published in the 18oo's. Several by Christian missionaries;

In 1846, a British explorer named Austen Layard braved the unknown to see these vanishing people, the Yezidi, and to learn about their love of the Peacock Angel, Malek Taus. He was greeted by the Yezidi leader and a host of priests and villagers adorned in their beautiful native dress... and so his quest to learn about their mystical, angelican ways took on some fruit...

Discoveries At Nineveh by Austen Henry Layard, Esq., D.C.L.

A Popular Account of Discoveries at Nineveh. Austen Henry Layard. J. C. Derby.
New York. 1854.

An Inquiry into the Religious Tenets of the Yezeedees
by George Percy Badger [1852]

The Assyrian Origin of Devil Worshippers
W. Francis Ainsworth, 1861

The Assyrian Origin of the Izedis or Yezidis-the So-Called "Devil Worshippers"
W. Francis Ainsworth
Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London, Vol. 1, 1861 (1861), pp. 11-44

And some things never change. The Yezedi continue to defy being labeled Devil Worshipers.

Gertrude Bell letters
Friday May 7. [7 May 1909] I am this evening the guest of the High Priest of the Devil Worshippers, Ali Beg. (They aren't really Devil Worshippers, you know, though unfriendly people have so named them.)

Friday May 7. [7 May 1909] Off at 6. 1850. At 7.5 we reached Avriva, at 7.30 Musaka, 8.50 Ishkaftad (all these lying along the foot of the hills). We passed a small Yezidi Mazar where the path goes up to Sheikh Adi just after Ishkaftad. The latter is a Kurdish Kochar village - they live here however in underground houses not in tents and there is a square masonry mosque.

Ancient Faith Is a Reminder of Iraq’s Diversity

Los Angeles Times, USA
Mar. 10, 2004
John Daniszewski, Times Staff Writer

A look of pain crosses the face of Sheik Ali Qawal Cholo, leader of the Yazidis in this village, when he is reminded of it all. No, he says wearily, the Yazidis don’t worship the devil. In fact, they do not even believe that there is a devil, as perceived by Christians and Muslims. And those other things, they are folk customs, not tenets of the religion, he adds

The most comprehensive study of the Yezedi from this era was done in 1919, and it is this text that influenced Anton Lavey the founder of the American Church of Satan in 1966.

Devil Worship: The Sacred Books and Traditions of the Yezidiz
by Isya Joseph [1919]

It is from this text that we get the propagandistic image of the Yezedi as Satanists, dualist worshipers of Lucifer.

Melek Taus "The Peacock Angel" is the Yazidis' name for the central figure of their faith.

As a branch of the Cult of Angels, Yezidism places a special emphasis on the angels. The name Yezidi is derived from the Old and Middle Iranic term yazata or yezad, for, “angel" rendering it to mean "angelicans." Among these angels, the Yezidis include also Lucifer, who is referred to as Malak Tawus ("Peacock Angel"). Far from being the prince of darkness and evil, Lucifer is of the same nature as other archangels, albeit with far more authority and power over worldly affairs. In fact, it is Malak Tawus who creates the material world using the dismembered pieces of the original cosmic egg, or pearl, in which the Spirit once resided.

In reality the Yezidi are a dualist gnostic sect, which became syncretic under the leadership of Sheik Adi. In fact several author's contend that they evolved into a Sufi sect under the influence of My Favorite Muslim; Al Hallaj.



The Yazidis are linked to the extreme Shi'a (Ghulat) sects and number worldwide some 300,000 people. The main group of 150,000 Yazidis live in the Jebel Sinjar mountain and the Shaikhan district of northwest Iraq. At least 50,000 Yazidis live in the former Soviet Union (Armenia and other Caucasus states). They were also to be found in South-East Turkey around Diyarbakir and Mardin (10,000) but most emigrated from there to Germany in the 80s. They also live in Syria in and around Aleppo (5,000), and in parts of Iran. An estimated 50,000 have emigrated to Western Europe, mainly to Germany, in search of asylum and employment.

The Yazidis call themselves Dawasi. They are called "Devil worshippers" by their Sunni neighbours, who considered them heretics and have cruelly persecuted them over the centuries. They are closely related to similar sects such as the Ahl-i-Haqq.

Who are the Yezidis ?

Yezidis called themselves “Êzdî/Êzîdî”, in Kurdish. Most Western scholars think that this name comes from the Ummayyad sovereign Yazîd b. Mu’âwiya (particularly hated by Shiits for he killed Husayn at Kerbelah !). But it could be come from the ancient Iranian world : “Yazata/Yazad” or divine being. Yezidis in general rather the last etymology. Some popular explanations says it is a contraction of “Ez da” that would mean “God created”. Some other terms are related to an islamic vocabulary. In certain hymns (kawls) the comlmunauty is called “Sinnat” (Sunna), Suhbatiyya (Friends). Other are related to old Kurdish tribes as Dasinî, Dâsin. The most important religious figure is the Angel Peacock, in arab “Tâ’ûs-e Malak” or “Malak Tâ’us”.

Shaikh Adi, Sufism and the Kurds

Yezidism is one of the denominations to be found in Kurdistan and amongst the Kurdish communities outside their homeland. To the best of my judgement, the figure of the Yezidi Kurds varies between 500,000 and 600,000. Their backbone lives in Iraqi Kurdistan (300,000), Armenia (60,000), Republic of Georgia (40,000), the Russian Federation (up to 30,000) and Syrian and Turkish parts of Kurdistan (15,000-20,000). The Yezidi population in Europe, chiefly in Germany, is around 50,000.

In the former Soviet Union, the major waves of Yezidi Kurds appeared in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They had left the Ottoman Empire and settled in Transcaucasia and, after the break-up of the USSR, in the Russian Federation and Ukraine, too. It should be noted that since the earliest contacts of the Yezidis with the Russian reality, there has always been a great interest towards the community by Russian intellectuals [10:515; 5:I,5-49; 56].

The majority of the Yezidi Kurds try to preserve their identity without over-politicising their demands. At present, various political and cultural circles proudly refer to Kurdish roots of Yezidism. Thus, from an underprivileged community the Yezidis have gradually acquired the prestigious role of 'genuine' representatives of Kurdishness.

Even though many Sufis influenced Adi b. Musafir and consequently the world outlook of the Yezidi Kurds, al-Hallaj has been assigned to one of the most expressive positions in their folklore and religious beliefs: he is represented in the capacity of one of those seven angels responsible for world matters.

I suggest two hypotheses: of al-Hallaj's impact on the life and conduct of Adi b. Musafir, and of links between the Kurdish-speaking community called the Khallajs and the descendants of al-Hallaj's followers. I also present my comments on Yezidi poetical stories about him, which have not been subjects of studies.

Ms. Eszter Spät,

Ph.D. student at Central European University in Budapest

and author of the book The Yezedis.

Ever since the attention of European scholars and travelers was drawn to the mysterious Kurdish group of the Yezidis, the question of their origins, or rather the origin of their teachings and myths has exercised a great fascination. Some claimed to see in them the heirs of the Assyrians, other spoke of the Sabaeans or the cult of Semiramis, others again were convinced that they were simply a heretical Islamic sect.

The list of possible origins offered to the Yezidis would be too long to enumerate here. It is only recently that they have started to consider Yezidism as a religion of its own, an independent entity per se. Simultaneously with this shift in the perception of Yezidism, and the discovery that the core of their beliefs was based on a pre-Zoroastrian Western-Iranian mythology, Yezidis came to be seen as the “original Kurds” by the Kurdish national movement. While researchers laid less and less stress on the actual origin of the Yezidis, an interesting phenomenon has developed among Yezidis, that is the “original Kurds” themselves. In the name of this Kurdishness and originality, some younger, educated Yezidis, interested in their culture and religion, became ready to reject any element that may be assumed to have been adopted from another religion, as “non-Yezidi,” alien, spurious adaptation to placate the enemy, or even a forgery.

The origin and history of this motif helps us place the Yezidis within the cultural map that has its roots in the Hellenistic world of Late Antiquity. Hellenism, a blend of Greek and Oriental elements, was the cultural milieu in which the great Late Antique religions, Christianity, first Hellenic, then Rabbinic Judaism and Islam were born. This ancient cultural globalism is attracting the attention of researchers, who want to understand the common base of our seemingly divided contemporary cultures, more and more. As the recently established, international Center for Hellenic Traditions states in its founding letter: The Hellenic tradition is in the focus of interest not as merely a Greek-speaking culture nor as the “cradle of Western civilization” but as an integrative cultural factor... securing unity across various intellectual enterprises on the expanses of the vast oikumene throughout many centuries, cutting through religions and civilizations.”

The fact that Yezidis are among the inheritors of a common language spoken by the culture of Late Antiquity, and can even teach us about how Hellenistic ideas were transmitted and readapted in popular and oral milieu on the periphery, will hopefully raise more interest for the study of Yezidi religion, and perhaps even for Kurdology in general, in the future.

The Yezidi are still refered to as examples of Satanism today, when in fact they are of course Gnostic Dualists, when used as metaphors in controversial debates.

Intelligent Design Theory Supported by Satanism -

Satan worshippers like the intelligent design theory more than Christians

Do the supporters of the Intelligent Design theory realize that not only are they promoting the possibility of their Religious Superpower, but also promoting the possibility of an Arch Enemy- Satan and his Demons - and their anti-Jehovah theology being widely introduced as an Intelligent Design centered religion?

Satanism, as laid out by a prophet Sheik Adi in the 12th century, and Satanism, as laid out by Anton Lavey in 1966, is like comparing apples to oranges. Where as the Church of Satan is anti- Jehovah values and Satan is an icon not a being, the prophet Sheik Adi professed that Satan was a real being; and he is the rightful God.

The Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn has recently spoken to the world-wide news agency Reuters about the Intelligent Design Theory. He was quoted as saying, "The next step is to ask - which intelligence? As a believer, of course I think it is the intelligence of the Creator."

Mr. Bullock is straight forward in admitting his faith and the boundaries of science. "This is, I think, the essence of Cardinal Schoenborn's statement. That is, science can go so far as to say there is a designer. Indeed, Romans 1:18-20 makes this clear as well - nature alone shows the existence of God. But science cannot (at least at this time) go so far as to identify the actual designer. At that point one needs to look to other sources of knowledge. To the extent other forms of knowledge are reliable, they can be used as credible informers of reality. In my opinion, the Bible has proven reliable for this source of information, but others may disagree."

It has been said that this sect of Satanism should be asking, "Who created their assumed creator?" This question is of course, not scientific. But it is one that logically follows Cardinal Schoenborn's question of which creator. Thankfully, it is a question that science is not prepared or willing to answer.

The modern occultist most influenced by the Yezedi was not Anton Lavey, who only used their historical existence to justify his commercialization of Satanism.Rather the impact of the Yezidi and heretical Sufism like that of Al Hallaj had the greatest influence on Beelzebubs Grandson; G.I. Gurdjieff.

There have been attempts by Gurdjieff's followers to get in contact with the sources of his teaching and none more energetic than those of J.G. Bennett. Bennett writes about this in his book 'Gurdjieff Making a New World'. Of the places already mentioned Bennett visited Lalish (he calls it Sheik Adi, whose monument has a central place in Lalish). He also recalls that Gurdjieff had studied specially the Liturgy of St. Basil.

Paul Beidler - Remarkable Man

At the age of 17, Paul had gone with his archaeology class from the University of Pennsylvania into the mountains of Iraq and Turkey to study the Kurds. He was accepted as a serious student by the Yezidis, and was initiated into the mysteries of Sheik Adi, the ancestral spiritual head of the Yezedi order. He stayed for two years with the Yezedis to study them - from the inside out - and when he met Gurdjieff later in Paris, Gurdjieff was extremely interested in what the young Paul Beidler had learned about the Yezidis and their ideas.

Gurdjieffs mind games and his trickster character is not unlike that of the other practical joker of the 20th Century Occult revival; Aleister Crowley. Gurdjieff's Gnosticism also played with the dualistic paradox of the Devil, both Gudjief and Crowley shared a common spiritual disposition that challenged the standard understanding of black and white, good and evil, etc. making them both Devils Advocates. Not unlike the Yezedi, who also challenge the standard dualist religions of the Semitic and Arabic peoples.

The Yezedi are an Aryan religion, and as such are the true religion of the Kurds who are also Aryans, not Semitic or Arabic peoples. Thus their conflict in the region where they once dominated but are now a diaspora of the oppressed.

In a sense one could say that the Yezidi prophecy has been fulfilled, that the people of Lucifer are now bound to the material world they have helped create, bound hand and foot as a people because they abandoned their faith.

When the Kurds abandoned their Yezidi religion, they abandoned not only their Aryan faith but also their Aryan political and cultural domination of the region. The ideology of uniqueness, of Aryanism is one of the tenants of the Yezidi faith, thus they do not convert, they conquer. They are the chosen people.

The real fear of the Yezidi has nothing to do with devil worship but with the fact that theirs is a religion of Aryanism, of conquering and establishing their domination over the nomadic peoples of the region. Those peoples are now the People of the Book, the Bible, be they Jews, Muslims or Christians. They have defeated their Aryan conquerers, the Kurds, and have determined that they will never again rule in the region.

Thus the united front they share in opposing any form of Kurdistan nation, it would be a historic reminder that the region had once been dominated by the Kurds.

And interestingly it may be a reason why some right wingers from the far right and not so far right support the Kurds and have been interested in the Yezidi. They are after all white folks just like them.

A Yezidi Girl from Georgia

A final bit of speculation. Could the Knights Templars have come in contact with both the Yezidi and the Mandeans when they conquered the holy lands and lived there for over two hundred years. Could this have been the source of their supposed secret knowledge, contact with the last of the Gnostic heresies and could Baphomet have been a variation on Malak Tawus. Both share an androgynous dualist character being female and male.







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