Zoroastrianism is the oldest continuously practiced religion in the world and features a multi-faceted faith that is built on the good-evil duality with the benevolent and supreme deity Ahura Mazda at its head with the spirit of destruction Ahriman as its main antagonist. Zoroastrianism has been practiced at least as far back as 5th century BCE and perhaps even further; it’s philosophical systems are believed to have influenced Second Temple Judaism, Gnosticism, Greek philosophy, the Baha’i faith, Buddhism and even Christianity and Islam as it is the first recorded religion to deal with themes such as judgment after death, a heaven and hell, the idea of free will, and even messianic themes. Zoroastrianism is still practiced today, though most of the followers are now in India rather than the Middle East. World wide estimates of practitioners of Zoroastrianism set the number at between 110,000 and 120,000 people.
Zoroastrianism believes that Asha, or truth and order, stand in opposition to Druj, or lies and deceit. These two ideals are found in Ahura Mazda, also known as Ormuzd or Spenta Mainyu, as the god that governs Asha and in contrast Angra Mainyu, who we know as Ahriman, the lord over legions of demons who carry out his will frustrating, confusing and bothering humans.
So, What About Ahriman?
Ahriman is the ultimate evil, though according to the Zoroastrianism belief he will ultimately be destroyed. In the time he has been here he is believed to have created 99,999 diseases and is the cause of all human ailments from war to famine to disease. He has six archdemons named Evil Mind, Tyranny, Enmity, Violence, Wrath and Falsehood similar to the Seven Deadly Sins of Christianity: Greed, Lust, Evny, Gluttony, Wrath, Sloth and Pride. Because the earth is under his influence we have to suffer his whims while the eternal battle we have no control over rages around us. His demonic spirits seek to keep us severed from Ahura Mazda and the Asha by cleverly keeping us mired in materialistic wants so that we are too busy to focus on the higher desires of the soul such as truth and enlightenment. Their goal is to keep us from following the Three-fold Path of Asha: Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds, by keeping us focused on ourselves and the selfish wants that we have.
Zoroastrianism is still practiced in some parts of the Middle East where it had its start and Ahriman is somewhat synonymous with the Islamic devil Iblis. He specializes in deceit and trickery – there is even a story of Ahriman having a son that he raises to be evil and then tricks into killing a man he believes is his father.
There are two variations of Zoroastrianism: Reformist or Traditionalist but no matter which version you choose to look into Ahriman will always be the main antagonist and for good reason. This isn’t a demon that you want to mess around with. With everything from pestilence to plague to throw at anyone that catches his fancy you don’t want to be the one foolish enough to draw his attention to you.