Ahriman

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The head of Ahriman according to a sculpture created by Rudolf Steiner.

Ahriman (Middle Persian: "evil spirit"), also called Angra Manyu (Avestan) or Mephistopheles (from Hebrewמֵפִיץ mephiz "the corrupter" and ט֫פֶל tophel "the liar") and referred to in the Bible as Satan, is according to the ancient Persian tradition the power of darkness, the Spirit of Darkness[1], who opposes the light God Ormuzd (Ahura Mazda) as an adversary. He bears the epithet Peetiare ("source of evil"), which is often used alone[2]. According to Rudolf Steiner, an earthly incarnation of Ahriman is still to be expected "in the West" in the present cultural epoch. Ahriman has established himself in the intellectual soul, which has come into being through the unconscious transformation of parts of the etheric body.

„In this second member of the human soul, the intellectual soul, that is, in the transformed part of the etheric body, Ahriman has established himself. He is in there and leads man to false judgments about material things, leads him to error and sin and lies, to everything that comes from the intellectual or mind soul. In all this, for example, that man gives himself up to the illusion that with matter the right thing is given, we have to see whispers of Ahriman, of Mephistopheles.“ (Lit.:GA 107, p. 247)

Characteristics

Ahriman opposes every creation with a negative counter-creation. He is the embodiment of all evil and the causative agent of 9999 diseases. His dwelling place is the underworld, from which he brings darkness, death and disaster into the world. Through Ahriman's work, man's insight into the spiritual world is obscured, so that he only sees the material outside world. Matter is the realm of Ahriman. He brings the forces of death into the world. Ahriman seduces man into error and lies, which become the seed for causes of disease in later incarnations - and he is the master of the intellect.

„He is a knower, a sage of death. He is therefore also the master of the intellect.“ (Lit.:GA 211, p. 111)

Ahriman in the mythological tradition

According to later Persian mythology, as transmitted especially in Zurvanism, Ahura Mazda and Ahriman are twins and children of Zurvan, the Uncreated Time, also called Zaruana Akarana. Ahriman, thinking that rulership would fall to the firstborn, forced his premature birth, but Zurvan rejected his sacrifice (cf. Cain and Abel) and Ahura Mazdao was elevated to king of heaven. Ahriman, however, was banished together with Lucifer to the underworld where they would rule as the Great Serpent, the united diabolic and satanic power, for 9000 years (Rev 20:1–3).

The Greek writers knew the evil spirit of their Persian neighbours under the name Areimanios; in the Avesta the fuller form of the name Anromainyus occurs, which means the "fear-causing spirit", according to another derivation the "striking or death-bringing spirit".

In the Gâthâs, the oldest part of the Avesta, it is only mentioned once explicitly, but already in the Gâthâs there is talk of the "two spirits", which are opposed to each other in thoughts, words and works and have created the good and evil entities.

According to the first chapter of the Vendidad, Ahura Mazda (Ormazd) created 16 countries one after the other, but Ahriman laid the seeds of misfortune and ruin in each of them.

According to the 19th chapter of the Vendidad, Ahriman has made a vain attempt to induce Zoroaster (Zarathustra) to apostatise from Ormazd, and Zoroaster, for his part, goes to work on him and his evil creation with sacrifice and prayer.

According to the Avesta, all other evil spirits, whose different types are distinguished, are subject to the command of Ahriman, and the "bad creatures" - poisonous snakes, predators, rats, mice, vermin - were created by him.

According to the later religious books, for which the foundations are already given in the Zend Avesta and in the reports of the Greeks, world history proceeds in four cycles of 3000 years each. With the third cycle begins the battle between Ahriman and the creatures of the good spirit, which lasts 6000 years. Then Ahriman will be destroyed and a new imperishable and glorious world will be created.

In the Mithra religion and in Zurvanism, Ahriman is worshipped as a god. Animals belonging to the evil power are sacrificed to him. On reliefs of Mithra, Ahriman is depicted lion-headed with a serpent entwined, sometimes with two keys.

Anthroposophy sees in Ahriman a being who, in harmful exaggeration of the materialistic-technical mind, forms the antithesis of the intoxicatingly indulgent, world-fugitive Lucifer. With Christ's help, man must hold the middle ground between the two beings and their qualities.

Ahriman is a spirit gifted with a penetrating but cold intelligence that exceeds human comprehension, but which he eagerly closes within himself. In contrast to Lucifer, he therefore appears as the spirit of darkness and opposing powers, who wants to darken and block the human soul's access to the soul-spiritual world, in order to increasingly chain and restrict its consciousness to physical corporeality. (Lit.: Bühler, p. 137ff)

More precisely, the name Ahriman does not designate a single entity, but a whole series of entities which, on the Old Sun, have not reached their full height of development, thus have remained behind. On the Old Moon they thus become tempters of the Angeloi.

Ahriman, however, is not to be called evil in the absolute sense. His remaining behind on the Old Sun can also be understood as a sacrificial act that makes a valuable contribution to the overall development of the world. Thus, Ahriman's contribution is essential for man to attain the freedom that he can later repay through the unfolding of surplus love.

Literature

Steiner big.jpg
References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: verlag@steinerverlag.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - books, lectures and articles by Rudolf Steiner online (Jim Stewart).
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.

References

  1. In an even deeper sense, however, the Asuras, the Spirits of Personality who have deviated from the right path, are also called Spirits of Darkness. Their darkening power still far surpasses that of Ahriman,
  2. cf. U. Hannemann: Das Zend-Avesta, p. 154 google