- In ZOROASTRIANISM, the DEMON of all demons and the source of all evil. Ahriman originally was a primordial desert spirit who became the personification of evil in Zoroastrianism. As such, he is not immortal, and eventually his reign of terror will be conquered by the forces of good.There are different legends about the origins of Ahriman as the evil god. In one, Ahura Mazda, the good god, created the universe and twins called Spenta Mainyu (the spirit of Light, Truth, and Life) and Angra Mainyu (the spirit of Darkness, Deceit and Death). The twins fight for supremacy and their battleground is Earth. Over time, Spenta Mainyu became absorbed into Ahura Mazda, and Angra Mainyu became Ahriman.The battle between the two forces continues and will last for thousands of years, divided into eras. After the fourth era, three saviors will appear, who will destroy Ahriman and all his forces of evil. In a variation of this legend Ahura Mazda created Angra Mainyu in a moment of doubt when he was making the universe.According to another legend, Ahriman and Ormazd (a contraction of Ahura Mazda) were twins born to Zuvan, the creator deity. Zurvan declared that the firstborn would be supreme ruler. Ahriman ripped himself out of the womb in order to be first. Zurvan was bound by his promise, but he limited the time that Ahriman could rule. At the end of that, Ormazd would take over and reign in goodness and light. The Earth is presently under the rule of Ahriman; that is why there are drought, famine, war, disease, pestilence, and other ills. To aid him in his rule, Ahriman created 99,999 diseases, and six archdemons, called Evil Mind, Tyranny, Enmity, Violence, Wrath, and Falsehood. He also created a female demon named AZ and a dragon. The archdemons struggle against the six archangel amarahspands, or “Bounteous Immortals.”Ahriman tried to maim the prophet Zarathustra but failed.A legend about Ahriman says that he had a son named Zohak, whom he trained to be evil. He told Zohak to kill his own father. He disguised himself, however, and Zohak killed someone he thought was his father. Ahriman, again in disguise, became chef of the palace. Zohak was so impressed with him that he offered to reward him. Ahriman asked only to kiss his shoulders. When he did so, SERPENTs sprang from the spots. Every time Zohak cut them off, they grew back. Ahriman entered in another disguise, as a doctor, and told Zohak that he had to feed the serpents human brains every day. Zohak complied and became Ahriman’s pride. The son ruled for a thousand years and finally was destroyed.RUDOLF STEINER, the founder of anthroposophy, said Ahrimanic forces are intelligent, clever spirits that seek to keep people mired in materialism.FURTHER READING:- Hyatt, Victoria, and Joseph W. Charles. The Book of Demons. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1974.- Mack, Carol K., and Dinah Mack. A Field Guide to Demons: Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subversive Spirits. New York: Owl Books/Henry Holt, 1998.
Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology. Rosemary Ellen Guiley. 2009.