Basics of The Yazidi Religion
The Yazidi religion is believed to be around 6,000 years old in fact. Yet throughout their long history they have faced 72 genocides and soon they may unfortunately be facing genocide number 73 at the hands of the group formerly known as ISIS (Which now calls itself “The Islamic State”). Why all the hate towards this small, but ancient group of people? This is due to one major misconception about their religion – the idea that they worship Satan. Not only do the Yazidis not believe in a devil, but they don’t believe in hell either. In fact, the evil Satan is more of a reality in the Judeo-Christian religions than for the Yazidis.
GOD’S HIGHEST ANGEL IS A SAVIOR RATHER THAN A DEVIL
The reason for this misconception is because they believe that God created the Earth and designated seven angels to preside over his creation. The highest of these angels is Tawsi Melek, who is also known as the “Peacock Angel.” He is the primary figure in the Yazidi religion and is the one who filled the Earth with colorful things, such as flora and fauna. Yet this mighty Melek is similar in some aspects to Christianity’s Lucifer and Islam’s Shaitan. When God created Adam, he asked his angels to bow down to the humans. All angels obeyed except for Tawsi Melek, who replied, “How can I submit to another being! I am from your illumination while Adam is made of dust.”
The key difference however, in the Yazidi religion, is that Tawsi Melek was right not to bow down to the humans, and he was right to stand up to God. He was not thrown into hell. Instead he descended to Earth and wept for all the pain in the world. His tears ended up extinguishing the fires of hell. Thus, the Yazidis do not believe in a hell with a devil, but rather they believe that evil is man-made. They hold that the source of evil is in the heart and spirit of humans themselves, not in God’s highest angel. In the Yazidi religion, Tawsi Melek is a bringer of knowledge and life. It is interesting that Lucifer is also a bringer of knowledge in the Christian religion – yet this aspect of Lucifer is seen in a negative light by the Christians, while Tawsi Melek’s knowledge is mainly a positive force in the world of the Yazidis.
THE YAZIDI HOLY SITE – LALISH
When Tawsi Melek descended to the Earth to make our world more colorful, it is believed that he descended to a site known as “Lalish,” which is situated in Northern Iraq. After Melek descended to Lalish he met with Adam and turned him towards the sun, telling him that it was a symbol of the creator. He then added that Adam should pray towards the sun daily and taught him a prayer that all humanity should chant for the creator. Most Yazidis pray 3 times a day and most Yazidis also make it a goal to go on a pilgrimage to their holy site at least once a lifetime.
(The Yazidi Holy Site “Lalish” on New Years)
The Yazidi religious year includes four holy festivals:
- The New Year (The first Wednesday of April)
- Apparently the Yazidis also like coloring eggs in April. They do this to celebrate the colors that Tawsi Melek brought to the world.
- The Feast of Sacrifice
- The Feast of Seven Days, Sept 23-30
- The first Friday of December feast following three days of fasting.
Wednesday is also a holy day of the week for the Yazidis and Saturday is a day of rest.
A BELIEF IN REINCARNATION
So if evil people don’t go to hell, where do they go? Much like in Hinduism, Yazidis believe in the purification of the soul through a series of lifetimes. If a soul is pure, it will ascend into heaven. However, if someone lived a truly evil life, they will be reincarnated as a member of a different religion. The Yazidis are very proud of their own traditions and ethic group, which means that being cast out of the Yazidi ethnic and spiritual lineage is one of the harshest punishments imaginable for their people. In fact, Yazidis believe in only marrying within their ethnic pool, and narrow that requirement down even further to only marrying within their caste.
THE YAZIDI CASTE SYSTEM
(A Yazidi man healing a woman)
- THE SHEIKH CASTE
- The Sheikh caste is the highest of the three mentioned castes here. Sheikh is an Arabic word which denotes a ruler or an elder of a tribe. It is believed that the members of this caste descended from 6 of the 7 great angels (excluding Tawsi Melek). Members of the Sheikh caste are believed to have special healing powers.
- THE PIR CASTE
- The Pir Caste is also a significant spiritual caste, and much like the Shiekh, they are required to be at major life events such as marriages, circumcisions and funerals.
- THE MURID CASTE
- The Murids are a majority of the Yazidi people, who are basically “commoners” and do not function as priests.
THE YAZIDI’S SYNCRETIC ORIGINS
Having a caste system and believing in reincarnation sounds very Hindu inspired. This is no accident. It is believed that the Yazidis migrated to India after a major flood that happened 6,000 years ago. Then about 4,000 years ago they migrated back to their homeland in Northern Iraq. In fact, the Yazidi religion has similarities to Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, and Mithraism. It is probably because the Yazidis have encountered and lived among these people over the last 6,000 years of their existence, but due to their tight ethnic bonds – formed a unique religion to fit their people.
WHEN WAS THE YAZIDI RELIGION TECHNICALLY FOUNDED?
This is an update I decided to add after publishing the article. It’s a bit confusing because I state that the Yazidi religion is 6,000 years old. Some have argued with me that the Yazidi religion can’t be that old, considering that it has Islamic customs. However, one must realize that the practice of praying 5 times a day was not unique to Muslims. In pre-islamic times, it was a normal practice for many Middle Eastern cultures who bowed and prayed to the various phases of the sun throughout the day – including the ancient Egyptians and Zoroastrians.
Also, one must understand that the Yazidi religion is a fluid religion that has evolved and grown over time as a result of their contacts with other people. Much of what they believe today was codified in its current form in the 12th century A.D. by the reformer known as Sheikh Adi. Many Yazidis consider him to be an Avatar of the angel Tawsi Melek and his tomb is at the holy site of Lalish. However, even though its most recent reforms were established in the 12th century, many of the basic ideas are thousands of years old.
THE YAZIDIS TODAY
As mentioned in the introduction, Yazdis are a very small ethnic and religious minority. There are only 700,000 Yazidis in the world, and 600,000 of these Yazidis live in Iraq. Today the terrorist group that calls itself “The Islamic State” is terrorizing and killing these ancient people, along with driving them off of lands they have occupied for thousands of years. The “Islamic State” has only two options for the Yazidis, “convert or die.” They have also taken to selling Yazidi girls into sexual slavery.
It is very important for the world to know about the Yazidi people, what they are going through, and the beauty that their religion truly represents. The fact that they celebrate a colorful, peacock of an angel as a bringer of knowledge and life speaks volumes about their core beliefs – even if most of their religion is transmitted by word of mouth, rather than the written word. These are a people who have a rich and colorful tradition that masked men in black are attempting to destroy. Let us do well to understand, support and pray for these people in their hour of need.
Yazidis in the Encyclopedia of World Cultures
Your post was very informative. I had never heard of the Yazidi before. As far as the Islamic State, they are out to kill everyone, sadly.
December 17, 2014 at 3:01 am
True that, even other Muslims. Those Islamic State guys are truly the scum of the Earth.
December 17, 2014 at 10:27 am
December 17, 2014 at 11:04 am
Reblogged this on Lady Imbrium's Holocron.
December 17, 2014 at 8:40 am
December 17, 2014 at 3:46 pm
Well written and beautifully illustrated, as always MG. I have been familiar with the Yezidis (various spellings) from Kenneth Grant and then to LaVey. Their other name for Melek Taus is Shaitan which is why people think they are worshipers of the western Satan. In the Middle Ages it is my theory that Gnostic Dualism crept back in so Shaitan was set up as opposed to YHVH and Allah which is why they are anathema to both faiths. Fact is the Templars took up their lineage along with other esoteric Islamic sects and thus we have Shaitan and Baphomet today in the Typhonian and to a lesser degree in the Caliphate OTO. The French esoterists, who occupied this region of norther Africa, Iran, Iraq and Kurdistan, pulled out the essence in my opinion and thus Baphometus and Shaitan still live in western Magickes. The seven “fallen” angels are a synopsis of the Nephilim. It is all So Very Old going back millennia before Aaron, Yeshua and Muhammad. Oh and of course the fire worshiping Parsi and other Hindu sects have added their flames. Forgive my analysis whether true or not. Rebloging so TY and BB and AS.
December 23, 2014 at 7:16 pm
Interesting. Perhaps the Yazidi religion is a remnant of the Abrahamic religion from before it became so dualistic.
December 27, 2014 at 9:28 pm
i am Ezidi we praying 3 times a day no 5
…the praying 5 times a day In religion Zrdashta
March 9, 2015 at 12:05 pm
Sorry I had the wrong information. I guess my source was wrong. I will change that. Thank you for letting me know. Is there anything else I should change? Does most of this sound correct? As a Ezidi are you still living in Iraq or do you live in a different country?
March 10, 2015 at 2:01 pm
thank you very much … yeah I am from sinajr(shingal) iraq but know i studying in georgia …
March 13, 2015 at 3:02 pm
Are you still in Iraq or did you move?
March 16, 2015 at 12:04 pm
sorry i mean now
March 13, 2015 at 3:18 pm
sorry i mean now
March 13, 2015 at 3:03 pm
no I am now in georgia I study there , when i finish my college i will go back to my city shingal (sinjar) iraq
April 22, 2015 at 7:57 am
Hello, I am a Yezidi Kurdish Girl myself. I am very grateful for your Post. But the Story of the Peacock is not true. In Reality we worship Mithra but under an another Name because of permanently Attacks from monotheistic Worshippers. We perform every well known Ritual of the Mithra Cult until today. And I guarantee you that none of our Rituals are evil or involves Things like Human Sacrifice. This is so stupid. They demonize us in every Single Way. Actually we had a Yezidi Majority in East Turkey but The Ottomans slaughtered many of us. The Survivors fled to the Mounts of Sinjar and to the Zagros Mountains in Iran. This is the Reason why the Majority of Mithra Followers are actually the Kurds in today’s Iraq and in the Province Kermanshah. You should see the Relief of Mithra there. It’s beautiful. It’s such an important Place for the Kurds there and of course the other Iranians. Although even Dr. Kaveh Farrokh admitted that the Mithra Cult is mostly alive in the Kurdish Community today. Last but not least: We are not monotheistic, even when many Fake Yezidi Sites in the Internet claim this. This are Fabrications’ to destroy our Faith. We call Mithra the “Giver of all Live” and he truly is it. The four Elements are holy for us, without them nothing in this World can exist. And they call us evil? It’s even a scientific Fact, but that’s typical for monotheistic Followers. Every Element is a “Xwodan” for us. That’s Kurdish for “Gods”. Our Olders even believe in such Things like Fairies, little People, holy Trees and Forest Spirits. I know that sounds maybe bizarre for you. For example: When my Grandmother was pouring hot Water somewhere no matter where she always send a Warning. When I was little I didn’t understood this of course. Later she explained to me that she has warned the “little People” who live under the ground or the earth. Yep, this is the Religion that the Yezidis Live. And they are destroying us. And I have no Idea why. Many Thanks to you that you looked behind the certains. I send you my kindest Regards. Sincerely, Nesla from Germany.
March 7, 2016 at 4:43 pm
Thank you so much for your well thought out response. I enjoyed reading it. Would you mind if I asked you any more questions? Maybe sent some questions to your email? Because I am very curious. Thanks. I’ll try to change some of the stuff in this article that is apparently not accurate.
March 8, 2016 at 11:10 pm
Yes for sure. Greets from Germany.:)
March 9, 2016 at 5:40 am
I’m looking forward to your Questions. Lovely Greets from Germany. Nesla
March 9, 2016 at 6:35 am