Probably descendants of the ancient fire-magicians, though the Persians claim that ancient Persian Yezidis were led to Persia from Basrah by their Prophet, Iezed. They are now regarded as Devil-worshipers or Shaitan-worshipers, centered in the mountains and deserts of Kurdistan, Armenia, Persia, Turkestan, Syria, Mesopotamia and environs. For this reason, the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran recently put thousands of Yezidi to death -- perhaps all of them. Grant feels their cult goes back to Sumeria, but connects the word to Yesod. It is also the religion that Crowley took for his own cult of Shaitan-Aiwass, after ridding it of latterday Xtian influences.
Gurdjieff describes the Yezidis as a simple, superstitious people, easily hypnotized, but he began his search amongst them for the fabled "Sarmoung" monastery (branches of which are scattered between Mesopotamia and the Northern Himalayas, which it is believed he eventually found and where he received his most important training).
Originally they were said to summon the lowers demons and elementals, fully acknowledging the evil of the King of the "Black Powers," who opposes Allah. But their rationale is that one day Allah and Shaitan will reconcile their differences and those who have shown disrespect for Shaitan will then suffer for it, bringing both God and Devil after them. Like the Eskimos the Yezidis believed, as HPB quotes, "Keep friends with the demons; give them your property, your blood, your service, and you need not care about God - he will not harm you!" (God is perfect, therefore not a threat, but demons are imperfect, and so, unpredictable).
Yezidis are not related to the rest of mankind. There is no evil. The devil has repented and returned to his place in Heaven. Now the universe is ruled by a septenary consisting of Yazid (worshipped as a peacock) and six helpers. The Creator, as in Gnosticism, has nothing further to do with the world.
Actually, modern Yezidism is a mixture of unorthodox Islam and Xtianity. The real name of the God of the ancient Yezidis is unknown as they were forbidden to utter it. In Iran of recent times they have undoubtedly all been put to the sword.
The Yezidis (sometimes spelled Yazidi or Yazdani) are a specific subset of the Kurdish people, about 3 to 5 percent in terms of population, and live in parts of traditionally Kurdish areas currently located in northern Iraq, northeast Syria, and southeast Turkey. They were popularized among esoteric afficionadoes in the 1960s by Anton Szandor LaVey's The Satanic Rituals, in which was presented a supposedly Yezidi ritual. Earlier in the 20th century they were notoriously known as "Devil Worshippers," which appellation endeared them to LaVey and followers of the "Left-Hand Path" ever since -- somewhat innaccurately.
The term Yezidi comes from the ancient Iranian term for angel or divine being -- similar to the Sanskrit concept of the devi or powerful being, somewhat less than a God, but far beyond the powers of ordinary mortals or superbeings. Thus, the Yezidis are better thought of as angel worshippers than devil worshippers -- although the Angel that they worship is indeed Lucifer; and in fact, angels and "devils" are but two variations of the same concept of semi-divine being. (Even the term "devil" comes from the same Sanskrit root devi that can also be an angel.)
Lucifer is known as Melek Taus, the Peacock Angel, to the Yezidis; and in direct contradiction to traditional Christian (even Muslim) theology, he is not viewed as in any way "fallen" or evil. In fact, this Melek Taus is looked upon as a great and mighty Archangel; the Archangel who is responsible for the creation of this mundane sphere out of the pieces of the Primal Pearl or Cosmic Egg. Those familiar with Gnostic creation myths will recognize this story as that of the Demiurge, or material creator -- but again, without the "evil" connotations that myth tends to carry.
The most holy city in the cultural sphere of the Yezidi people is Lalish, located in what is now northern Iraq. It was here that the first great leader and human founder of the religion, Sheik Adi ("Original Sheik") lived and died. He is held in quasi-divine regard himself by Yezidis, some considering him a physical manifestation of Melek Taus much in the way that certain heterodox Muslim mystics see Muhammed as the "Divine Man" or the way that Baha'is speak of Baha'u'llah as a "manifestation" of God. These concepts are cognate with the Indian idea of the avatar, or divine incarnation in human form.
Melek Taus, the Great Archangel of the Yezidis, is generally depicted (as far as outsiders know) in the form of a Peacock symbol, which is also presented in the form of a bronze sculpture revealed to believers during their holy festivals. The major Yezidi holy festival is the weeklong Feast of Lam; it takes place in October, and followers are expected to make the pilgrimage to the tomb of Sheik Adi in Lalish if they are able to. This weeklong holiday is a celebration of the Creation, and takes place around the same time of year that the ancient Zoroastrian and Mithraic celebrations were held. This interesting coincidence may allude to an ancient Mithraic origin of Yezidism, although this point has never been definitively proven. Even more intriguing, Melek Taus' birthday is celebrated in mid-December -- coinciding with the birth-celebration of Mithras and other Solar gods such as Christ. Other indications of Yezidism's origins with ancient solar-cults is in the practice of its followers to prostrate thrice facing the rising sun.
The Yezidi depiction of their God as a bird is unique to their culture (at least in the Middle East), and it is somewhat interesting to realize that the peacock is an Indian bird, not known in the Middle East in historical times. Whether this speaks of an Indian origin of the Yezidis, or a wider range of the peacock in ancient times, is not known. It may even be that the peacock symbol used for Melek Taus was in the most ancient of times another bird more native to the Kurdish region. For instance, another sacred representation used by the Yezidis is the rooster. Both birds may also reinforce the apparent connection between Yezidi religion and ancient Gnosticism and Zoroastrianism.
Part of the ongoing persecution of the Yezidis by Arab governments, especially in Iraq, is to deny them even their separate identity as Kurds; in Iraq, the official policy is to refer to them as "Ummayad Arabs," connecting them (through improper historical data) to a branch of the Arabs rather than the Kurds. This effort to erase Yezidi identity has effected the Yezidi culture considerably, and it is common for higher-class Yezidi to take on Arab dress and language in an effort to conform and protect their property, while lower-class Yezidis continue to hold on to their Kurdish traditions.
Muslims and Christian governments tried many times in history to "convert" the Yezidis to their way of thinking; most of these methods met in failure, at which point violence was sometimes resorted to. The Ottoman government perpetrated several pogroms against the Yezidi people in the 17th through the 19th centuries, eventually driving thousands of them out of their territory and into the Russian Caucasus, where they may have been some influence upon the thought of Gurdjieff, whose Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson depicts as its central character a decidedly "demonic" being who nevertheless appears to have humankind's best interests at heart.
Scriptures of the Yezidi
While the Yezidis do not, strictly speaking, possess a "holy book" like the Christians or Muslims, they do draw inspiration from various scriptures and historical writings that frequently seem to convey a revelatory character. Most important of these for our purposes is a brief collection of hymns to Melek Taus that is said to be authored by Sheik Adi and known as the Ilwa or Unveiling of Truth. It may be presumed that this collection was at one time in the distant past much longer, parts having been lost over time, or perhaps hidden from the profane and then lost during the many Yezidi flights from persecution. There is also the Black Book or Meshaf i Resh, said to have been written by a descentent of Sheik Adi, namely Hasan ibn Adi.
In the beginning The Invisible One brought forth from its own precious soul a white pearl.
And It created a bird upon whose back It placed the pearl, and there He
Then on the first day, Sunday, It created an angel called Izrael.
He is Archangel over all the Angels, he who is Melek Taus, the Peacock Angel.
He is the first to be, and to know that He is; for the One can know nothing.
On each of the other Days of the week the One brought forth Angels to serve Melek Taus.
After this, the Invisible One retreated into Itself, and acted no more; but Melek Taus was left to act.
Seeing the barrenness of the ether, He created the form of the seven
heavens, the earth,
He created mankind, animals, birds and beasts in the pockets of his cloak.
Then He brought man up from the pearl accompanied by angels.
He gave a great shout before the pearl, after which it split into four pieces.
He made water flow from its inside, and that water became the sea.
After that He created a ship in which He rode thirty thousand years,
After which Melek Taus came and lived among men in the city of Lâlish,
Where His temple remains to this day.
He lifted up His voice and the sea became solid and became the earth.
Then Melek Taus brought two pieces of the white pearl.
He placed one below the earth and the other He placed at the door of heaven.
Then he placed in both of them the sun and the moon.
From the scattered fragments of the white pearl He created
And He created fruit trees and plants on land and
And He created a throne upon a throne.
And it was so!
Revelation of Melek Taus
(fragmentary; lost parts marked with brackets)
it is true that My knowledge compasses the very Truth of all that Is,