Yazidis, the Peacock worshipers: sacred books and the origins of the cosmos

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Second part of a 3-episode series dedicated to the Yezidis and their faith. In this episode: the origins of the cosmos, of man and their two sacred books

“Gli adoratori del pavone” by Giuseppe Furlani

All the information on the Yezidis that you will read in this series of 3 articles is derived from “The worshipers of the peacock” by Giuseppe Furlani, an illustrious Assyrologist of the last century, who in 1930 wrote this book, a milestone in the studies on this faith. In fact, it includes not only some notions about the Yezidis, but even a very rare translation of the two sacred texts (theme of this second episode) and a series of documents of fundamental importance for understanding their nature and behavior.

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The edition of Jouvence also includes other writings, but in this series we will focus only on the last parts of the text, in my opinion most useful for a far-reaching look. For those interested in learning more about the subject, we invite you to purchase this text or, if you prefer English: “Nineveh and Its Remains” by A.H.Layard and if you prefer French: “Les Yézidis – Adorateurs du Diable” by Joachim Menant, both recommended by Furlani himself.

The origin of the universe

“In the beginning the world was an ocean in the middle of which was a tree created by divine power. God stood above the tree in the form of a bird. In a region far from that tree there was a rose bush full of flowers, in one of which Shaykh Sinn had taken his place. This latter God had created him of himself and had given him being. Then God created out of his own splendor the archangel Gabriel, also in the form of a bird, and placed him on the tree, at the He then asked him the question: “Who am I and who are you?” Gabriel replied: “You are you and I am I”.

The angel’s proud answer meant that each of them had its own importance and value and that he, Gabriel, could consider himself equal to God. Hearing the answer, God was angry and chased him from the tree with a blow. of beak. After flying for several centuries, the angel returned on the advice of Shaykh Sinn to God and when he asked the usual question he answered as the Shaykh had taught him. From then on Gabriel remained with God. ”

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The Tawisi Melek

With this text we definitively become aware of the cosmogony of the Yezidi, a decisive moment for all questions related to the divine and to Melek Ta’us, the famous “peacock angel“, absolute symbol of this religion. Also in these passages, the speech made in the first episode regarding the modalities of repentance is easily understood.

The latter, in fact, does not seem particularly related to the Christian Passion, in which Jesus “repents for humanity” through the cross, but is much more so than the “hadith of errors”. Both to counter the tendency to deify Muhammad, and to show how to correct one’s mistakes, many hadiths have been reported over the centuries in which the Prophet says blatant nonsense. For the text reported here, it seems evident that the spirit is decidedly more similar to this second case, showing even more clearly the error of identifying Gabriel with the Devil.

Adam and Eve

“One day Adam saw the wheat plant in heaven and asked the angel who accompanied him what the name of the plant was. The angel replied:” It is the wheat tree, do not eat it because it would hurt you! “But Adam did not he kept to the words of the angel and ate of them. As a result his belly swelled. God was troubled by Adam’s disobedience, rebuked him and drove him out of paradise.

One day a dispute arose between Adam and Eve about the belonging of the children. Eve claimed that they were hers because they had received life from her. Adam argued otherwise and, to prove the legitimacy of his claim, he took two jars and gave one to Eve. They both deposited their sperm in a jar which they then hid under a pile of manure, where they left it for 9 months. Eva opened her jar and found nothing but black worms and insects. Then she opened her husband’s, even before he came, and found a child as beautiful as a diamond.

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With this passage we become aware of some singular aspects of the Yezidi belief, which, if on the one hand distinguish them from every religion, on the other can be “bizarre”. If the choice of opting for wheat rather than an apple does not generate much surprise, Adam certainly does, who in this case will act on his instinct and without any kind of temptation. It is also singular that this wheat does not have “particular powers” but that in fact it “swells the belly” and this would disturb God.

It is in the second part, however, that we learn about really strange things: according to the Yezidis, Eva had sperm and the first man, as well as their progenitor, was generated without her participation. It is not absolutely clear what led to the formulation of such singular theories, the fact is that, even if it does not affect much at the theological level, it is certainly a surprising aspect of this faith.

The sacred books

Before going into the sacred texts of the Yezidis, it is necessary to open a small parenthesis on the two texts present in the book; this because, since this religion is hidden from non-faithful, it is difficult to establish the degree of precision. As Furlani himself states, in fact, there are only two versions that can be consulted: one in Arabic and one in Kurdish. Of the two, the first would seem to be the oldest and is also the one translated by the great Assyrologist, however there are legitimate doubts about the authenticity of the two texts, but how they should be accepted as authentic as they are the only ones available.

Kitāb al-Ǧilwa, “The book of Revelation”

“1. He who existed before all creatures is the Peacock Angel.

2. It was he who sent Abta’us into this world to separate and educate his people and save them from error and imagination.

3. And this was done first through the transmission of verbal discourse, then through this book called Ǧilwah. This is the book that those outside my country should not read. ”

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These verses are those of the premise of the Kitāb al-Ǧilwa, a book which, between the two, is certainly the one closest to the Holy Quran, in which there is almost a direct conversation between God and the believer. We will avoid here showing you further quotes, but it is enough for you to know that it is certainly the more spiritual of the two texts and a sort of summa of the characteristics of the Divine. Abta’us would mean “servant of the Peacock” and, according to Furlani, would refer to Sheikh ‘Adi.

Maṣḥaf-i Räš, “The Black Book”

“18. After a hundred years the Peacock Angel said to God:” How will it happen that Adam will increase, and where is his offspring? “God said to him:” The thing and its execution I deliver into your hands. “He came and he said to Adam: “Have you eaten wheat?” He said, “No, because God forbade me.” He said: “Eat, you will be better.” Immediately after he had eaten his belly swelled and the Peacock Angel he brought out of the garden, left it, and ascended to heaven.

19. Adam was in distress, because of his womb, since it had no way out. God then sent a bird, which came and pecked it and opened an exit for it. And that had rest.

20. Gibrail was absent from Adam a hundred years. He therefore wept and was sad for a hundred years.

21. At that time God commanded Gibril to create Eve. He came and created Eve from under Adam’s armpits, (ie) from the left one.

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The Black Book is certainly the one with the most biblical affinity between the two and this both in terms of style, more similar to a story, and in terms of content, definitely more linked to the local cosmogony. I particularly wanted to report this passage because, if on the one hand it partially denies what I said a few paragraphs before, on the other it simultaneously shows both a great spiritual depth and a great “physical simplification”.

The fact that Gibril is commanded by God to cast out Adam is, in a certain sense, very similar to some of the beliefs that characterized a part of the Sufi world, which made a very interesting judgment on the figure of the Devil. On the other hand, it is evident how, between Adam’s flatulence and the birth of Eve from his armpit, there is a very particular way to tell the human body, taking “unusual” areas for a sacred book.

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