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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Yezidis

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Lurker on the Threshold

Thresholds—doorsteps—are sacred. Neither inside nor out, both inside and out, the threshold is, like all other betwixt-and-between places (and times), a major locus of sanctity in any building.

In Old Craft lore, the Horned, preeminently god of the In-Between, is said to be seated on every threshold. Every passage through that doorway is (or at least has the potential to be) thereby a rite, an encounter with a god.

For this reason, they say, it's best not to tread directly onto a threshold; one should step over it instead. (It's old woodsman's lore never to step on anything you can step over.)

This is really a pretty subversive idea. Every building contains within its very fabric a place inherently sacred to Old Hornie: your house, the supermarket, the mall. Every building makes a place for Him. So there's a place sacred to the god of the witches in every synagogue, church, and mosque on the planet. Now that is subversive.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
From the Sacred Songs of the Yezidis

Much like the European Old Craft, the religion of the Yezidis, the people of the Peacock Angel, is an oral tradition transmitted largely through the medium of songs. These songs, called qewls, are sung at gatherings by a caste of itinerant musicians, the qewwals.

This excerpt (stanzas 1 and 16-22) from the Qewlê Šêxubekir (“Hymn of Sheikh Obekr”) relates the generation of the Heptad, the Seven Holy Powers (“angels”), of whom Melek Tawus, the Peacock Angel, is Chief (cp. the seven yazatas of Zoroastrianism).

Qewls are notoriously difficult to translate and interpret, due to their obscure vocabulary and densely allusive nature, but these stanzas shine with a simple jewel-like clarity in their contemplation of the Great Mystery of Something from Nothing.

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Nine Jars of Compassion: A Folk-tale of the Latter-Day Dobunni

They say that He of the Horns looked upon his people and his heart was moved with compassion at their suffering.

For an age and an age, two ages, he wept, and the tears of his weeping filled nine jars.

And when his weeping was ended, he took these nine jars and, with their waters, extinguished the fires of Hell.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Devil's Bird

The Mothers and Fathers reckoned the Horned One as god of animal life generally—what, in History of Religions lingo, is known as a “Master of Animals”—but for all that, he is rarely ascribed a sacred bird of his own. Birds, of course, are given mostly to the Sky Powers: raptors to Thunder, water-birds to Sun and Moon, etc. It's fascinating that these embodiers of the animal god's being should be given to other gods, as if they somehow constitute his yearning for them, as Earth's quartz yearns to the Moon. But to Himself the lore alots the merest avian handful: corvids, perhaps the peacock (see below), the robin (as Promethean bringer-of-fire) and, of course, the cock.

Everyone knows that the rooster—I suppose one really must say “cock” here—is the Devil's bird, (“Men call me the Devil,” he is reputed to have told Scots witch Isobel Gowdie, “but they know not what they mean”), and better it be if it's black. It's a staple of Southern (American) folklore that to invoke the Devil you sacrifice a black cock at a crossroads at midnight. Why a cock? Standard etiology would have it that the cock, being preeminently the bird that proclaims the coming of light, is the sworn enemy of the Prince of Darkness, Enemy of Light. But, as one might expect, matters are considerably more complex than that.

The domestic chicken originated in Southeast Asia and, it would seem, first came to the British Isles with the Romans (Yeates 166). Nonetheless, one finds the cock's head associated with the Horned One on the coinage of the Dobunni, the Keltic tribe that in later days morphed into the Hwicce, the “Tribe of Witches.” The rooster has a reputation as the most virile and pugnacious of birds, a fitting emblem for the father and protector of the people, the Pater Hwicciorum (Yeates 165-9). (Interestingly, though, the use of “cock” for “penis” derives, not from the name of the bird, but from the sense of “water-tap.”)

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