Ahl-i Haqq and the Kurdish Devil-Worshipers

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“I had a Persian friend in Tehran, an avant-garde playwright and member of a sect called Ahl-i-Haqq (‘People of Truth’ or ‘People of God,’ ‘haqq’ being a divine name) who traveled to the valley of the Satan-worshippers in the mid-1970s.

A Kurdish sect influenced by extreme Shi’ism, Sufism, Iranian gnosticism, and native shamanism, the Ahl-i Haqq consists of a number of subgroups, most of whose adherents are non-literate peasants.  With no Sacred Book to unite these subgroups in their remote valleys, they often developed widely divergent versions of the Ahl-i Haqq myths and teachings.  One subgroup venerates Satan.  I know of almost nothing written about the Shaitan-parastiyyan or ‘Satan-worshippers,’ and not much has been done of the Ahl-i Haqq in general.  Many secrets remain unknown to outsiders.

The Tehran Ahl-i Haqq were lead by a Kurdish pir, Ustad Nur Ali Elahi, a great musician and teacher.  Some old-fashioned Ahl-i Haqq considered him a renegade because he revealed secrets to outsiders, i.e., non-Kurds, and even published them in books.  When my friend asked him about the Satan-worshippers, however, Elahi gently rebuffed him:  ‘Don’t worry about Shaitan; worry about the shay-ye tan‘ (literally ‘the thing of the body,’ the carnal soul, the separative ego).  My friend ignored this doubtless good advice, and with his brother set off for Kurdestan in their Land Rover.

… At last they were there – and their little caravan was met by a dozen or so long-tressed tribesmen in traditional Kurdish costume: baggy pants, turbans, guns.  Scowling fiercely they greeted the brothers thus:

‘Ya! Zat-i Shaitan!’ – Hail, O Essence of Satan!

Compared with the thrill of that moment the rest of the trip proved anticlimactic.  The villagers had long ago given up banditry (they said), and naturally there was no evidence of nocturnal perversion.  Abjectly poor, they possessed nothing so exotic as a pig or a flagon of wine.  As for their religion, they professed to know virtually nothing about it; either they were protecting secrets from outsiders, or they had really forgotten almost everything.  Considerable knowledge can be lost in a nonliterate society devoted to secrecy and cut off from the world; leaders can die without passing on certain details, and whole villages, stricken by disease or drought, can perish or disperse and vanish.

No doubt the devil worshippers knew more than they told my friends, but in the end they seemed no more sinister than any other group of mountain Kurds, a generally noble-hearted and hospitable people when not engaged in blood-feuds, vendettas, or guerrila warfare.

What, however, is the ‘essence of Satan’?  In a book devoted to the teachings of Ustad Elahi, Satan is said to exist, bound and powerless, a mere fallen angel.  Moreover, ‘apart from man, evil does not exist in nature … the ‘devil’ is simply the way that the domineering self … expresses itself in us. … The story of Satan was over long ago; it only concerns God and him.’  In other words, the Koranic version of the Temptation and Fall (very similar to that of Genesis) is literally true, but irrelevant.  The Satan from whom all believers ‘take refuge’ in prayer is, in truth, a projection of their own spiritual imperfection.  Needless to say, this is not orthodox Islam or the opinion of most Sufis; it is, however, a very interesting resolution to a very thorny theological problem.”

– P. L. Wilson – Iblis:  The Black Light (Satanism in Islam)

Origins of the Cult of Senor la Muerte

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“The Cult of Senor la Muerte consists of hundreds of thousands of followers who are spread out across Argentina and nearby countries. These devotees wholeheartedly worship and praise the Scythe-Bearer, whose magic is ritually invoked in order to gain money and riches, attract the person they love, open the paths to happiness and success, protect them against all dangers, help them to acquire power, heal and banish sickness, cast or deflect curses, and dominate or annihilate their foes.

Within this cult, Senor la Muerte is represented by the image of a skeleton, often cloaked in black, and holding a scythe in one of His hands. The origins of both this representation and the current form of the cult Senor la Meurte is believed to have originated in 1767. It was during this year that King Charles III of Spain gave the order for the expulsion and persecution of the Jesuits who had established themselves in Cuenca del Plata. This political decision was made due to the fact that the Jesuits in Paraguay and Argentina had, at that point in time, gained enough power, wealth and influence to worry the Catholic Church, which in turn convinced the Spanish monarch to act against the Jesuits in a campaign aiming to remove them from the colony and confiscate their wealth.

These Jesuits, who had, with the help of the local tribes of the Guarani Indians, built many richly adorned churches and temples, refused to surrender to Spain. This resulted in an even more forceful approach from King Charles, who more or less declared war upon the Jesuits and all their followers. With their superior military power, and led by General Carlos Francisco de Croix, the Spanish military force wiped out most of the Jesuits, seized their riches, and burnt to ash many of their churches and temples.

In one of the most important of these temples was a very special icon carved out of the holy wood of the Palo Santo tree. This life-sized icon depicted Jesus, Satan and Death in the form of the Skeletal Reaper of Souls. The group of Guarani Indians who themselves had carved this icon for the Jesuits, managed to save the wooden image from the fires that consumed the temple. They brought the great icon with them into the jungle and, before returning home to their respective villages, split the carven image into three separate pieces. They then divided the three parts amongst themselves so that one tribe got the image of Jesus, the second tribe got the image of the horned Devil, and the third got the image of Death, in the familiar form of the skeleton armed with a scythe.

Thus, the three cults of Senor Jesus, Senor Diablo/Satan and Senor la Muerte evolved amongst these tribes of the Guarani. All three cults were more pagan than Christian, for they had deeper connections to their own ancient shamanistic religion and magic, than the religion to which the Jesuits had attempted to convert them.

According to folk tradition, the lineage of the modern day cult of Senor la Muerte is traced directly back to the Guarani tribe that decided to equate the Skeleton Wielder of the Scythe with their own ancient god of death and venerate it as a magical fetish, ascribed with the power to both protect the faithful against ‘bad death’ and punish all of their enemies.

Additionally, influences from Afro-Brazilian religions and systems of witchcraft can be seen within certain manifestations of the cult of Senor la Muerte in Argentina, and these are believed by some to have also been spread to Argentina by the Guarani.

Because of the influence of the African traditions, some followers of Senor la Muerte have compared Him to, or identified the Lord of Death as, an Exu. The Exus that SLM has most often been identified with are the ones connected to graveyards and the skeleton lines of Kalunga and Caveira, such as Exu Lorde da Morte, Exu Morte, Exu Caveira, Exu Tata Caveira, and the ruler of the souls of the dead, Exu Rei das Almas Omulu.

Within some parts of Argentina, this syncretism has developed quite naturally because of the obvious and simple similarities that exist between the two cults. For example, Monday is the day of both Exu and SLM, both utilize black-and-red or black-and-white talismans and candles, and both receive offerings of tobacco, red carnations, red and black candles, liquor, beer, red palm oil, fried or raw pork chops and spicy food.

Like Exu, SLM is viewed as a potential ‘path-opener’ who holds the keys to all locked roads and gates, and has the power to both grant blessings and bring death. Similar to how Exu uses his trident to remove all obstacles that block the path, SLM uses His mighty scythe to cut down, transform, remove or eliminate that which blocks the flow of His power. Both Exu and SLM are also petitioned and paid for their favors, which range from banishing and healing, to committing acts of magical murder.

The above-mentioned syncretism between the two cults may be interesting, but if considered from the initiatory perspective of Quimbana and its views regarding what Exu really is, the syncretism in question will not be valid. The same goes for the more esoteric perspective of the SLM cult, which also makes it clear that the folk-magical syncretism between Exu and SLM is not well grounded and is based only on the similarities of outer attributes of the two cults.”

Liber Falxifer: The Book of the Left-Handed Reaper

Tomino’s Hell

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A popular Japanese urban myth is known as ‘Tomino’s Hell.’  It’s based off of a poem written in 1919 by Yomota Inuhiko, in which the protagonist, Tomino, falls into Hell.  The urban legend states that you may read the entire poem in your mind, but if you read it out loud, it will place a fatal curse upon you.

“Tomino’s Hell” (トミノの地獄) is written by Yomota Inuhiko (四方田 犬彦) in a book called “The Heart is Like a Rolling Stone” (心は転がる石のように), And was included in Saizo Yaso’s (西條 八十) 27th collection of poems in 1919. It’s not sure how this rumor started, but there’s only a warning that “If you read this poem out loud, tragic things (凶事) will happen.”  – Creepypasta Wikia

The powerful and emotive language used in the poem can also be an excellent conduit for Satanic meditations on Hell.  If you’re not superstitious or daring, you might even venture to chant it.

姉は血を吐く、妹(いもと)は火吐く、

ane wa chi wo haku, imoto wa hihaku,

His older sister vomited blood, his younger sister vomited fire,
可愛いトミノは 宝玉(たま)を吐く。

kawaii tomino wa tama wo haku

And the cute Tomino vomited glass beads.
ひとり地獄に落ちゆくトミノ、

hitori jihoku ni ochiyuku tomino,

Tomino fell into Hell alone,
地獄くらやみ花も無き。

jigoku kurayami hana mo naki.

Hell is wrapped in darkness and even the flowers don’t bloom.
鞭で叩くはトミノの姉か、

muchi de tataku wa tomino no aneka,

Is the person with the whip Tomino’s older sister,
鞭の朱総(しゅぶさ)が 気にかかる。

muchi no shubusa ga ki ni kakaru.

I wonder who the whip’s shubusa(?) is.
叩けや叩きやれ叩かずとても、

tatake yatataki yare tataka zutotemo,

Hit, hit, without hitting,
無間地獄はひとつみち。

mugen jigoku wa hitotsu michi.

Familiar Hell’s one road.
暗い地獄へ案内(あない)をたのむ、

kurai jigoku e anai wo tanomu,

Would you lead him to the dark Hell,
金の羊に、鶯に。

kane no hitsu ni, uguisu ni.

To the sheep of gold, to the bush warbler.
皮の嚢(ふくろ)にやいくらほど入れよ、

kawa no fukuro ni yaikura hodoireyo,

I wonder how much he put into the leather pocket,
無間地獄の旅支度。

mugen jigoku no tabishitaku.

For the preparation of the journey in the familiar Hell.
春が 来て候(そろ)林に谿(たに)に、

haru ga kitesoru hayashi ni tani ni,

Spring is coming even in the forest and the stream,
暗い地獄谷七曲り。

kurai jigoku tanina namagari.

Even in the stream of the dark Hell.
籠にや鶯、車にや羊、

kagoni yauguisu, kuruma ni yahitsuji,

The bush warbler in the birdcage, the sheep in the wagon,
可愛いトミノの眼にや涙。

kawaii tomino no me niya namida.

Tears in the eyes of cute Tomino.
啼けよ、鶯、林の雨に

nakeyo, uguisu, hayashi no ame ni

Cry, bush warbler, toward the raining forest
妹恋しと 声かぎり。

imouto koishi to koe ga giri.

He shouts that he misses his little sister.
啼けば反響(こだま)が地獄にひびき、

nakeba kodama ga jigoku ni hibiki,

The crying echo reverberates throughout Hell,
狐牡丹の花がさく。

kitsunebotan no hana ga saku.

The fox penoy blooms.
地獄七山七谿めぐる、

jigoku nanayama nanatani meguru,

Circling around Hell’s seven mountains and seven streams,
可愛いトミノのひとり旅。

kawaii tomino no hitoritabi.

The lonely journey of cute Tomino.
地獄ござらばもて 来てたもれ、

jigoku gozarabamo de kitetamore,

If they’re in Hell bring them to me,
針の御山(おやま)の留針(とめはり)を。

hari no oyama no tomebari wo.

The needle of the graves.
赤い留針だてにはささぬ、

akai tomehari date niwa sasanu,

I won’t pierce with the red needle,
可愛いトミノのめじるしに。

kawaii tomino no mejirushini.

In the milestones of little Tomino.

What Motivates Witch Hunts?

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“Social scientists agree that witch-hunting movements develop during, and are themselves indicative of, intolerable social stress. The formulation of general theories with predictive capability is, however, probably impossible because of uncountable sociocultural variables – but also, as all agree, because of problems in the definition and measurement of ‘stress.’ The processes of such movements, however, and their impacts on society, are striking similar to those in revitalization movements and can be analyzed using similar processual models.

In historical perspective, it is evident that witch hunts and revitalization movements in small-scale societies are both products of and agents of social change, responding to stress and instituting a new order. It has been suggested, too, that they are a form of periodic social regulator. The most dramatic of revitalization movements, such as the Melanesian cargo cults, the Ghost Dance religions of the Plains in the late nineteenth century, and Africa witch-purging movements, are most neatly described as reactions to stressful colonial experiences. But there must exist some critical factors in societies that enact revitalization that enable such movements to develop; stress of similar intensity is surely experienced in the great majority of oppressed movements who do not instigate such movements. Indeed, some research has shown that earlier forms of some revitalization movements occurred at periodic intervals before foreign contact. Seligmann (1910), Williams (1923), and Lanternari (1963) have shown this for prototypes of cargo cults, through analysis of oral traditions. Bohannan (1958) has shown that witch hunts occurred well before the European presence among the Tiv of central Nigeria. And witch hunts have occurred fairly regularly throughout Western history. Dorothy Rabinowitz suggests that ‘an orgy of self-cleansing’ occurs in American society ‘every fifty years or so.’

Historians and social scientists have written much on the sociology of such movements. And psychological interpretations have been brought to bear: what is really going on in a witch hunt? What deep psychic needs are being satisfied in actions motivated by bigotry, by prejudice and against people of different race, religion, culture of life-style, by what are today called ‘hate-crimes?’ Evolutionary anthropology has suggested that cultural intolerance may have evolved as an adaptive defensive/survival mechanism. The ‘we-they’ attitudes evident among so many neighboring societies, expressed in translations of societies’ names for themselves as ‘people’ or ‘human beings,’ and their names for others as something else, are cultural manifestations of such adaptively advantageous attitudes. Displacement of frustration in the form of aggression against those others is a natural result. It has been suggested that scapegoating behavior is a human universal; with the discovery of similar behavior among privates, primatological bases for this type of behavior were suggested.”

– James T. Richardson, Joel Best, David G. Bromley, The Satanism Scare

“Satan’s Hollow” in Cincinnati, Ohio

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“Located in Blue Ash, a suburb of Cincinnati, Satan’s Hollow is an old sewer system that used to house the infamous “altar room” in a mysteriously dry tunnel. A group of Satanists is said to have made animal sacrifices there and opened a door to hell. Female screams can be heard at night and there has been many sightings of various apparitions ranging from floating skulls to demons to an entity known as the Shadow Man.”

Ohio Exploration

“Satan’s Hollow is one of the best known, but least seen, urban legends around here. It is a series of drainage tunnels located in Blue Ash, Ohio, where a group of Satanists supposedly used to meet in some type of altar room, and conduct their rituals. These rituals included holding dark mass, animal sacrifice, human sacrifice, and conjuring. They must have been pretty good, because the legend claims they managed to open a doorway to hell and summon Satan himself. Screams can be heard at night, and there have been many sightings of various apparitions, including floating skulls and a demon, commonly known as the Shadow Man. He is some kind of hall monitor from hell, left here by Satan to guard these tunnels. The shadow man is said to appear in the form of a human, only completely blacked out, hence his name.

While these tunnels certainly are creepy, they aren’t very big. Aside from the area when you enter the tunnel system, you pretty much have to stay hunched over to get through, and they get smaller as you go. The path to the so called Altar Room is a long one, and obviously, since these are storm water drainage tunnels, they are slightly inclined, which makes moving through them even harder. So unless these Satanists are actually the relocated residents of Munchkinville, and strong ones at that, I don’t think they were dragging too many human sacrifices through here. Regardless, by far one the creepiest places around.”

 – Creepy Cincinnati

“Satan’s Hollow is located at 4150 Hunt Road. The history behind this little place makes most wonder what there is a tunnel in the middle of the woods over in Blue Ash? If you know the answer you are one step ahead of most people and if you don’t the answer to that question is that the tunnel was part of an old sewer system many years ago. This sewage system went out of service and all the tunnels were abandoned in the woods but now they are used to drain rainwater from the road down to the creek. Some teenagers have found the tunnel since then and have covered it with graffiti and the rumors that ghosts reside here have only made the vandalism worse.”

– Emily Brickler, Cincinnati Haunted Places Examiner

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This YouTube video documents one paranormal investigative team’s endeavor into the tunnels.

Satan’s Hollow’s legends are similar to those surrounding the Devil’s Cave in Untermyer Park, Yonkers, NY.

Iblis as God of Imagination

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““What is that “essence of Satan” mentioned by those Kurdish devil-worshippers encountered by my friend?”

The answer is suggested by certain texts of the school of “the greatest shaykh”, Ibn ‘Arabi, especially Aziz ad-Din Nasafi’s treatise on The Perfect Man:

‘God delegated his vicegerent to represent him in this microcosm, this divine vicegerent being the “intellect”. When the “intellect” had taken up the vicegerency in this microcosm, all the angels of the microcosm prostrated before it, except “imagination”, which did not, refusing to bow, just as when Adam assumed the vicegerency in the macrocosm, all the angels prostrated to him, except Eblis, who did not.
. . .
Six persons emerged from the third heaven: Adam, Eve, Satan, Eblis, the Peacock, and the Snake.

Adam is the spirit, Eve the body, Satan nature, Eblis imagination, the Peacock lust, and the Snake wrath. When Adam approached the tree of intellect, he left the third heaven and entered the fourth. All the angels prostrated before Adam, except Eblis, who refused. That is to say, all the powers, spiritual and physical, became obcisant and obedient to the spirit, except imagination, which refrained from doing so.’

The word used here for imagination is wahm, which might be translated as “fancy,” in distinction to khyyal, or imagination as the “imaginal faculty.” But in the School of lbn ‘Arabi the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, for in truth imagination (like the Beloved’s tresses) both dissipates and concentrates the faculty of rememberance, and seduces both to “sin and rebellion” and to the vision of the divine-in-things. According to lbn ‘Arabi himself, without images there can be no spiritual realization at all, for the undifferentiated oneness of the Real can be experienced only through its manifestation as (or in) the multiplicity of creation.

Satan is the guardian of a threshold, as Ayn al-Qozat explained, and a doorway is an isthmus, a space-between-worlds, an ambiguous and liminal no-place-place, a land of the imagination. In the West only William Blake recognized the Devil as the imagination; in Sufism this identity has been clear since at least the tenth century. The Sufis who defended Satan were not defending or excusing evil, but rather telling a secret: “evil” has only a relative existence, and it is “merely human.” It is the “shaitan” in each of us which we must “convert to Islam,” as the Prophet said. But the very means by which we carry out this self-alchemy is presided over by that very same force, the power of our imagination, lit by paradoxical moonbeams of Black Light — Iblis himself.”

– Peter Lamborn Wilson, Iblis, The Black Light: Satanism in Islam

Namahage

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The Japanese legend of the Namahage (生剥) refers to demon-like creatures with the appearance of ogres. During the (Western-dated) New Years, men of the Oga Peninsula area of the Akita Prefecture in northern Honshū, Japan dress as the Namahage to admonish children who have been lazy or disobedient.

The men arm themselves with wooden or paper mache deba knives, or a hand-pail made of wood (called a teoke, 手桶) and march in groups of three from house to house, shouting phrases like  “Are there any crybabies around?” (泣く子はいねがぁ nakugo wa inēgā?) or “Are naughty kids around?” (悪い子はいねえか waruigo wa inēka?) Traditional Namahage would chant “Blisters peeled yet?” (なもみコ剝げたかよ namomi ko hagetaka yo), referring to the rashes one develops when they spend hours sitting idly beside a hearth.

Parents of complacent children may pay Namahage actors to visit their children and impart specific lessons to them. Regardless of whether they’ve been paid off beforehand or not, Namahage can expect to receive moshi (or rice cakes) from the average household, and a formal dinner with sake from newly-weds.

The Namahage practice appears in other areas of Japan, including:

* Yamahage in the former Yūwa, Akita, now part of Akita, Akita
* Nagomehagi(ja) (ナゴメハギ) of Noshiro, Akita
* Amahage(ja) (アマハゲ) of Yamagata prefecture
* Amamehagi(ja) (あまめはぎ) of Ishikawa prefecture
* Appossha(ja) (あっぽっしゃ) of Fukui prefecture
* Suneka(ja) (スネカ), Anmo, Nagomi or Nagomihakuri in northern Iwate prefecture
* Amaburakosagi(ja) (あまぶらこさぎ) in Ehime Prefecture (Shikoku)
* Toshidon(ja), parallel practice in Koshikijima Islands, Kagoshima prefecture
* Akamata-Kuromata(ja), a parallel but secretive practice of the Yaeyama Islands, Okinawa

Wikipedia

Today, the Namahage are considered oni, the Japanese term for a demon, devil, ogre or troll. They were originally, however, classified as toshigami – deities of the year and the spirits of one’s ancestors.

The Namahage practice bears some resemblence to the Alpine myth of the Krampus.