The Book Revealing the Future in a Religion without Books: the Apocalyptic Visions of Yezidi Seers

In: International Journal of Divination and Prognostication
Eszter Spät Cultural Heritage Studies Program, Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University Vienna Austria

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This article studies the “book,” or defter, of Yezidi seers in Northern Iraq. Following an oral religion in an Islamic environment where only “people of the Book” enjoyed legitimate status and social acceptance, Yezidis have developed various strategies to compensate for the absence of a written sacred book. The most unique among these is the phenomenon of “falling into book,” which refers to the altered state of consciousness experienced by some Yezidi seers. “Falling into book” provides the seer with a glimpse into both the past and the future, thus serving as a source of divination and prognostication, which ranges from addressing personal problems to foretelling the (usually apocalyptic) fate of the Yezidi community and the world. Thus the “book” of the seers is perceived to be a kind of “heavenly knowledge,” equal or even superior to the revealed texts of bookish religions.

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