The Al-Jilwah, Satanism, And Isya Joseph

Unfortunately, two of the links in my first blog entry regarding the Al-Jilwah are not working any more. Thankfully, I saved the information. Last week I decided to compile all of the information I’ve found into one single entry. I published it on my Facebook and now I’ve decided to put it here for safe keeping. Here it is, in it’s entirety

A few months ago I began wondering about the Al Jilwah. Why was it so popular? When did Satanists begin identifying it as inspired by Satan? Why had no one else done any thorough investigation into this?

I stumbled upon this website1 which states that it’s use as a Satanic document began with Anton LaVey’s use of it in The Satanic Rituals. It also stated the name of the author of the used text, Isya Joseph, and that said author was one of fiction and poetry.

I searched long and hard for information on this person to no avail at first, so I turned my focus onto the book itself: ‘Devil Worship: The Sacred Books and Traditions of the Yezidiz’2. Although this book was interesting, I had no evidence of Isya Joseph’s credibility, and one quote from the very first page of the book stands out as a red flag. It says that the translator of the document Al Jilwah “…was a man of culture, in sympathy with western thought.” which means that he thought of the Yezidis as Devil-Worshipers not because they actually were but simply because they differed in religion. Another issue I had with it is the reliability of this particular translation. According to the Temple Of Set reading list3:

“This rare little book was Anton LaVey’s source for the Yezidi section of #6L, including the ritual texts quoted. As noted in #6N, Joseph bases these rituals and his own conclusions upon an ‘Arabic manuscript presented to me by my friend Daud as-Saig ~ a man of culture, in sympathy with western thought, etc.’ When Joseph’s book was assessed in 1967 by Royal Asiatic Society anthropologist C.J. Edmonds, he noted that it remained unauthenticated. Fellow R.A.S. scholar Alphonso Mingana considered the ritual texts offered by Joseph as simple forgeries, based upon Mingana’s analysis of their grammar & syntax. These evaluations and objections were apparently unknown to [or ignored by] Anton LaVey when he included the Joseph material in #6L. The Temple of Set’s texts of the Yezidi rituals in question are included as appendices to #6N, and are based upon current doctoral papers at the University of California, Los Angeles, obtained through the Anthropology Library at the University’s Berkeley campus. At the very least, the UCLA papers reveal Joseph’s account and analysis to be significantly incomplete and factually suspect. If you are curious about Yezidi culture, your best starting point is #6AB.” 6AB. “A Pilgrimage to Lalish” by C.J. Edmonds. London: Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1967. (TS-3) “

All of this, coupled with more academic analysis4 refuting Isya Joseph’s claim of devil worship and an older, more accurate translation5 of the Al Jilwah, gave me enough evidence to say that it should not be recognized as Satanic literature. It wasn’t until I had a breakthrough in Isya Joseph’s background that my feelings on the subject were cemented.

Isya Joseph was a participant in religious (read: Right Hand Path) organizations6 in the early 20th century, before he had published ‘Devil Worship’ in 1919, and also attended7 Columbia University and Harvard University where he achieved his PhD in some sort of Semitic studies. What this tells me is that he would not have any concept of Satan/ism as we know it today. And, as I said in an earlier post, calling something devil-worship does not make it so.

So wouldn’t this just prove the opposite, that he was an educated man and his account should be reliable? Not according to the previously mentioned articles. These weren’t just opinions of people having read his work, but of scholars who had sufficient academic resources to back up their claims.

Isya Joseph’s bias against non Judeo-Christian (western) thought also became perfectly clear once I had actually read his book ‘Devil Worship’. The persecution of Yezidi culture is widely known.

I must also ask the reader to entertain the lack of similarity between modern Satanism and Yezidi culture & worship. Nonetheless I am satisfied with the information I’ve gathered here. Feel free to use as you will, with acknowledgement.


I have no beef with Anton LaVey  on this matter. At first I called him lazy and hungry for attention (though that he was), but I have to acknowledge the fact that it was due to his lack of resources that contributed to this. Had the internet been available in the time of his writing ‘The Satanic Rituals’, it would have been done very differently. Even so, we must move on, criticize, correct, and add to what was contributed in the past in the most mature, intellectual way possible. This is the only way forward.

It’s also been brought to my attention that there is a third translation out there that has not been published. I have yet to find out much information about this particular translation, it’s translator, or the authenticity of said translator. An acquaintance of mine is supposedly writing his own thoughts on this subject, but I can not say when he will publish any of it. I’ll be the first one to promote it when he does.

This entry was posted in Literature, Mythology, Religion, Research, Satan, Theistic Satanism and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Al-Jilwah, Satanism, And Isya Joseph

  1. I think many Satanists fall subject to this trap, either they are not that great at cultural studies or they consider some authors to be an authority on the subject. I’ve been debating this issue for many years, and unfortunately many ‘studies’ come from American sources which continue to blunder when trying to determine what the Yezidis believed, and how their beliefs were passed on.

  2. Pingback: An Open Letter To The Joy Of Satan | Sin City Satanist

  3. Pingback: Satanism’s Misinterpretation Of Yezidi Culture and The Al Jilwah | Sin City Satanism

  4. Pingback: Satanism and The Al Jilwah | Sin City Satanism

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