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Aspects of Ahriman

Copyright: @2014 John Easter.

Aspects of Ahriman

John Easter

First some relevant quotes.
“Also Zoroastrian dualism – another invaluable treasure of the religion, twin to its spentic nature – can be deemed universal” “As Universalist Mazdeans we are led by this to promote even more briskly the dualistic vision which was first taught by Zarathushtra in the Holy Gathas.

Any attempt of denying or diluting this vision – which is both morally and intellectually sound, beside being realistic – is a deadly threat to the meaning and role of the Good Religion.” “Neither should we reduce the great long lasting battle to a mental conflict within man” “We should engage in detecting and classifying any traces of dualism in human history and even in cosmic history”
-Universal Mazdeism. An Outline by Michele Moramarco

“J. R. R. Tolkien’s love of myths and devout Catholic faith came together in his assertion that mythology is the divine echo of “the Truth”. Tolkien wrote that myths held “fundamental things”.”
-Meditation Triangle Units: Psychosynthesis and the Inner Life pp. 31-32 by Philippe L. De Coster, D.D.

“and of Evil this alone is deadly certain: Evil is.” “Blessed are the legend makers with their rhyme of things not found within recorded time. It is not they that have forgot the Night”
-Mythopoeia by J. R. R. Tolkien

“The essence of evil is abuse of a sentient being, a being that can feel pain. It is the pain that matters.” “Yet mental and spiritual abuses are as common, as destructive and painful, and partake fully of the spirit of evil.” “We can judge the deed without judging the doer of the deed. A torturer may be acting from fear or from misled rationalization; but torture remains an absolute objective evil.”

“Natural and moral evil are two facets of the same problem. It may also now be time for humanity to consider that its responsibilities go beyond humankind and extend to other beings as well – to animals and even to plants.” “The story of the Devil is grim, and any world view that ignores or denies the existential horror of evil is an illusion.”
-The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity pp. 17-18, p. 24, and p. 260 by Jeffrey Burton Russell

“The human willingness to menace the entire planet with destruction in order to oppose whatever nation or group is currently defined as the enemy may reflect the will of the Devil himself, the Prince of Darkness who consciously chooses to destroy and ruin the cosmos to the extent he is able. Inflicting suffering for the sake of suffering, doing evil for evil’s sake, the Devil is by definition the personification of cosmic evil.”

“There is no reason to assume that the active evil in the universe is limited to humanity. There is also no reason to assume that the cause of human evil lies in human nature alone.” “an entity beyond as well as within the human mind.”
-The Prince of Darkness: Radical Evil and the Power of Good in History p. 2 and p. 275 by Jeffrey Burton Russell

Devil figures from around the world.
This paper is a list of specific evil deities around the world, outside of the Middle East, that are roughly, more or less, equivalent to Ahriman or Satan within their own cultural contexts. Lesser or regular evil spirits associated with possession and general harm that are mentioned in almost all cultures are not covered in detail. Nor are Underworld and Trickster deities who are not necessarily evil.

The title, Aspects of Ahriman, is based on the concept of how Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, and Maha-Devi(Great-Goddess) are supposed to really be different aspects of Brahman or God in Hinduism. The reason is because these particular infernal names refer to the highest dark principles instead of just any individual demon like Aeshma in Zoroastrian lore or Asmodeus in Jewish lore.

I. Africa

Apep, also called Apophis in Greek, is the Egyptian god of evil. Egypt is within the North Africa region. He was depicted as a giant snake, crocodile, or dragon. Set/Seth, who was originally Ra’s bodyguard that fought against Apep, was later identified with the hostile attributes of Apep and took his place. Apep may also be related to why Satan is symbolically described as a snake and a dragon in the Bible.

Apep was the embodiment of the concept of Isfet, meaning falsehood and injustice, which is the opposite of the concept of Ma’at, meaning truth, justice, righteousness, order, balance, and cosmic law. Ma’at and Isfet are very similar to Asha, meaning truth, righteousness, and morality, and its negative opposite, Druj, in Zoroastrianism, and also to their Vedic Sanskrit cognates, Rta and Druh, which roughly mean the same.

“As Egyptians saw it, ma’at was perpetually threatened by monstrous beings dwelling in the abyss of the netherworld – and the leader of these embodiments of isfet was the gigantic, dragon-like serpent Apophis, or Apep. Apophis was a god, but an evil god – ‘he of evil appearance’, ‘he of evil character’ are among his epithets.”

“Moreover, he had always been there. The world and the gods had a beginning but chaos had no beginning, and nor had chaos-monsters. This was true not only of Apophis but of the whole army of strange, menacing beings – hybrid creatures, monstrous beasts, headless men – who are shown, on the walls of the tombs in the Valley of Kings, lining the banks of the underground river, threatening the sun-boat as it passes by.”
-Cosmos, Chaos, and the World to Come: The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith pp. 21-22 by Norman Cohn

The term, Bushmen, or San, refers to many different but related nomadic peoples within the Southern Africa region. They speak of a good creator god or culture hero called Cagn, Kaang, Khu, and Thora, depending on the tribe, and an evil god called Gauna or Gawa, associated with death and wicked spirits, and is the source of all trouble in the world.
See Primal Myths: Creation Myths Around the World p. 31 by Barbara C. Sproul.

The Khoikhoi/Hottentot are another major group within the Southern Africa region that are closely related to the Bushmen/San. They speak of a good creator god or culture hero called Tsui goab(wounded knee) who wounded his knee in a great battle where he fought and defeated the evil god, Gaunab, associated with sickness, death, and killing, and is the lord of a realm called the dark heaven, as opposed to Tsui goab’s red heaven.
See Primal Myths: Creation Myths Around the World pp. 34-35 by Barbara C. Sproul.

The Ngombe live in the forests of Zaire which is now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo within the Central Africa region. They speak of a good creator god called Akongo and an evil god called Ebenga, meaning the beginner, who is associated with evil magic and bringing sorrow to mankind and the world.
See Primal Myths: Creation Myths Around the World pp. 47-48 by Barbara C. Sproul.

The many different Mande peoples of the Mande language family are mostly in Mali and other countries within the West Africa region.

They speak of a good creator god called Mangala who created a cosmic egg that contained the growing universe within. He also created 2 pairs of twins that consisted of a male and a female each. They were also inside the cosmic egg and were still developing. Pemba, one of the males, grew tired of being confined and ripped himself out of the egg.

He then attempted to create his own world but it was corrupt. Pemba’s actions disrupted the balance created by Mangala. Mangala had Faro, the other male, sacrifice his life and then spread his remains over the universe in order to restore the physical world and go back in accord with Mangala’s original plan and balance. Mangala then revived Faro.

Pemba doesn’t seem particularly evil in the myth but his attempt as forming the world outside of Mangala’s plan caused unbalance. This has a general but noticeable similarity with Zoroastrianism. Particularly the relationship between Ahura Mazda, Spenta Mainyu, and Angra Mainyu with the relationship between Mangala, Faro, and Pemba.
See Primal Myths: Creation Myths Around the World pp. 66-67 by Barbara C. Sproul.

II. Europe

Greek myth, as recorded in the texts, portrays the gods as good in general but sometimes capable of very cruel acts towards humans. So both the good things and the bad things about the universe were thought to come from the same gods generally speaking. In particular the Greeks did not seem to always like what Ares, the god of war, embodied.

This also goes for Hades/Plouton, the god of death and the underworld, who while was sometimes portrayed as grim, was only performing what was considered a neutral, natural, and necessary function that was portrayed in the personalized myths to be in full agreement with his brothers, Zeus of the sky and Poseidon of the sea.

There is also Nyx who is the ancient elder goddess of the night and is of the same generation as Gaia. She is the mother of numerous grim entities such as Charon the Styx ferryman, the 3 Fates, the 3 Furies, the Keres, Discord, Doom, Misery, Fraud, Nemesis, Thanatos, and many others. Some of these beings became servants of Hades/Pluton.

Interestingly Nyx is also described as one of very few entities that might be a match for Zeus because in one myth where Zeus was angry with one of her children named Hypnos, a minor god of sleep, Nyx protected him and Zeus hesitated as he came before them and chose not to fight.

Strangely even Nyx and her children seem to of been regarded as more neutral rather than evil like Hades/Plouton. Perhaps this reflects a general monistic bias among the Greeks where nothing can act contrary to the will of the gods, which was objected by Plato.

“Praised be Plato for having made in his Republic (II,379 b-c) the noble statement that evil doesn’t occur from God, and that consequently a different principle operating in the cosmos must be ascertained, but let’s not forget that the among the Greeks, despite their enmity to the Persians, Zarathushtra was held in high esteem.”
-Universal Mazdeism. An Outline by Michele Moramarco

““Neither, then, could God,” said I, “since he is good, be, as the multitude say, the cause of all things, but for mankind he is the cause of few things, but of many things not the cause. For good things are far fewer with us than evil, and for the good we must assume no other cause than God, but the cause of evil we must look for in other things and not in God.” “What you say seems to me most true,” he replied.”
-Republic book II (379c) by Plato and translated by Paul Shorey

The ancient Greeks did acknowledge a host of man consuming monsters and dragons that had no redeeming qualities under the gods. Most of these monsters were thought to be descended from Typhon and his monstrous mate Echidna. Typhon is described as a massive dragon like creature with a hundred heads and fire flashing from his eyes. Gaia created Typhon as revenge against Zeus for imprisoning the Titans.

After destroying many cities Zeus fought with Typhon directly and their battle caused earthquakes and storms. Zeus finally defeated Typhon with his lightning and then cast him down into Tartarus where he is said to continue generating hot dangerous storm winds. Typhon seems to be the closest thing to a real Devil figure within Greek myth.

The Aesir deities, such as Odin, Frigg, Thor, Loki, Baldur, Tyr, and Heimdall, and the Vanir deities, such as Njord, Freya, and Frey, form one group and are the main gods and goddesses of the Norse pantheon.

The Aesir & Vanir are opposed by a group of similar supernatural beings called the Jotuns(giants) who seem to be wild and chaotic nature deities more prone to harming humans as a whole. However many individual Jotuns are capable of being good and are even close allies of the Aesir & Vanir. This is very similar to the Formorian giants and their relationship with the Tuatha De Danann god like beings in Irish myth.

There are 3 main types of Jotuns, Hrimpursar(frost giants), Bergrisar(mountain giants), and Eldjotnar(fire giants). Of these it is the ice giants and the mountain giants that are roughly of the same class of beings as the Norse gods. Although the gods have fought many battles against them, it is from these groups that the Aesir & Vanir have recruited many allies.

It is the Eld-Jotnar(fire giants) that are the most different from the gods and even distinct from other Jotuns as their origin is uncertain other than that they come from Muspelheim which means the land of flame. There seems to be no instances of friendship between them and the gods.

Surt, which means the black one, is the leader of the fire giants of Muspelheim that fight against the Aesir & Vanir during Ragnarok or the Norse Apocalypse. Surt kills Frey and then uses his sword of fire to burn and destroy the Earth. The fire giants are comparable to demons and Surt seems to be the closest thing to a real Devil figure within Norse myth.

“Only Surt remains to the last, to fling fire over the whole world, so that the race of men perishes with the gods, and all are finally engulfed in the overwhelming sea: The sun becomes dark. Earth sinks in the sea. The shining stars slip out of the sky. Vapour and fire rage fiercely together, till the leaping flame licks heaven itself.”
-Gods and Myths of Northern Europe p. 38 by H. R. Ellis Davidson

“Scholar Rudolf Simek theorizes that “the concept of Surtr is undoubtedly old”, citing examples of Surtr being mentioned in works by the 10th century skalds Eyvindr skaldaspillir and Hallfreor vandraeoaskald, in poems collected in the Poetic Edda, and that the name of the volcanic caves Surtshellir in western Iceland was already recorded in the Landnamabok manuscript.

Simek notes that jotnar are usually described as living to the east in Old Norse sources, yet Surtr is described as being from the south, and that this “surely has to do with his association with fire and heat”.

Simek says that “in Iceland Surtr was obviously thought of as being a mighty giant who ruled the powers of (volcanic) fire of the Underworld”, and Simek theorizes that the notion of Surtr as an enemy of the gods likely did not originate in Iceland.”
-Surtr article on Wikipedia on Rudolf Simek in “Dictionary of Northern Mythology”

Indo-European tribes have already migrated to Europe before Zarathushtra’s time in 1700 B.C. or 3700 years ago. However the earliest Proto-Germanic tribes, who developed out of the older Indo-European tribes that settled in northern Germania & southern Scandinavia, may of formed during the Nordic Bronze Age between 1700-500 B.C. or during the Iron Age Jastorf culture which began in about 500 B.C.

The Nordic Bronze Age was exposed to foreign influences through trade with Central Europe and the Mediterranean and includes groups such as the Greeks, Egyptians, and others. Iranian influence may of also been transmitted towards the Proto-Germanic culture while it was still developing out of the older Indo-European culture that settled in Germania. This would possibly explain why some of the oldest myths within the Norse Poetic Edda, such as the Voluspa, contain several similarities with Zoroastrian texts.
See In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology and Myth pp. 84-87 by J.P. Mallory

The Chronicle of the Slavs by the German priest, Helmold of Bosau, states that West Slavic groups spoke of a good god and a bad god. The good god is unnamed but the bad god is called Chernobog which means black god and so the good god is thought to be called Belobog which means white god. There are also some South Slavic expressions, in Bulgarian & Serbian, that refer to a white god and others that seem to refer to an evil god.

Place names that sound similar to Belobog and Chernobog are found in West Slavic Poland & Czech Republic, East Slavic Ukraine, and even non-Slavic Germany. The Czech historian, Jan Peisker, theorizes that there was Zoroastrian influence on the Slavs.

Non-Slavic but neighboring Romanian folklore has some noticeable Zoroastrian and Mongolic & Turkic like influences. Zoroastrian influence was possibly transmitted by Zoroastrian influenced Sarmatians.

“Linguistic evidence indicates that before the collapse of Common Slavic, that is, before the fifth century AD, the Slavs had been subjected to strong linguistic influences, primarily seen in loan words, from Germanic-(Gothic) and Iranian-(Sarmatian) speaking peoples.

It is from the Sarmatians (or the Scythians), for example, that Slavicists derive the Common Slavic words for ‘god’, ‘holy’ and ‘paradise’ plus perhaps several score more terms. Even the names of the major rivers of the European steppe – the Don, Dnieper and Dniester – are all of Iranian origin.”
-In Search of the Indo-Europeans Language, Archaeology and Myth p. 77 by J.P. Mallory

The problem is that the Sarmatians and Scythians, while Iranian or Iranic, were generally non-Zoroastrian. However Yuri Stoyanov in, The Other God: Dualist Religions from Antiquity to the Cathar Heresy p. 67 and pp. 334-335, suggests that some Sarmatians might of been influenced by Zoroastrianism. Alternatively the Slavs could of have been influenced by roughly similar Mongolic & Turkic traditions instead.

III. Uralic

The Devil is called Lempo in Finnish folklore but this may have to do with late Christian influence. In Finnish myth there are 3 or 4 goddesses who are sisters that seem to be regarded as evil because they are associated with disease, pain, and suffering. Vammatar is the goddess of evil, suffering, pain, disease, and misfortune.

Loviatar is both the mother of 9 diseases and the ruler of Pohjola, which is the cold land of evil comparable to the Norse Nifelheim. Iku-Turso is a destructive sea monster sometimes said to be the father of the 9 diseases with Loviatar. Louhi, the witch that summons Iku-Turso in the Finnish Kalevala epic, seems to be the same being as Loviatar.

The other 2 sisters include Kivutar, associated with pain and suffering, and Kipu-Tytto, associated with death, pain, illness, and diseases, who might be the same being as Loviatar. Kalma, which means stench of corpses, is a goddess of death and decay that is accompanied by Surma who is a terrible beast that embodies sudden and violent death. Ajatar is an evil female spirit that manifests as a snake or dragon that spreads disease.

Mubpienalmaj means “the evil one” but it seems to be a word that refers to all evil deities in general. More specifically there is Ruto/Rota who is the evil god of disease, sickness, and death that rules over Rotaimo, which is the Sami equivalent of the Norse Nifelheim and the Finnish Pohjola.

There is a Sami myth where the rebellious Mano, the moon god or goddess, urges Attjis, associated with darkness, to kill his brother Njavvis, associated with light, which resulted in evil spirits and ghosts coming out of Rotaimo to cause destruction on Earth.

The Devil is called Tuhi/Tuhja(empty or contemptible one), Kurat(evil one), and many other names in Estonian folklore but this may have to do with late Christian influence. Tuhi seems similar to the Baltic devil like figures, Velns/Jods in Latvian folklore and Velnias in Lithuanian folklore. Sarvik(horned one), the demon in the Estonian Kalevipoeg epic, is Tuhi’s brother in law.

The Devil is called Ordog in Hungarian folklore but this may have to do with late Christian influence. However there might have also been some earlier Zoroastrian, Mongolic, and Turkic influences on Ordog as well. Ordog stirs a huge cauldron full of souls, which he collects.

IV. Asia

Nirrti is an evil goddess in the Rig-Veda who, like the concept of Druh, represents the opposite of Rta, which means order. Rta is the Vedic Sanskrit cognate of Zoroastrian Asha, which means truth, righteousness, and morality.

“However, there were men who did ally with the demons, and who were led by them to the lap of Nirrti, or Destruction. In the Rg Veda (7.37.7), Nirrti is personified as the goddess of disorder and disintegration, and, subsequently, as the abode of the dead.”
-Eschatology in the Indo-Iranian Traditions: The Genesis and Transformation of a Doctrine p. 111 by Mitra Ara

Kali, not to be confused with Kali the goddess, is the god of evil and the demon associated with the Kali Yuga, which is the apocalyptic Dark Age in Hinduism. Kali was created by Brahma but chooses to oppose Vishnu and Shiva. Kali is even said to go as far as to attempt to possess Shiva in order to corrupt scriptures.

Kali is very similar to Kroni in the Ayyavazhi sect of Hinduism where the equivalent figure is also said to assume avatars that oppose the avatars of Vishnu. Vishnu as Kalki is said to defeat the forces of Kali/Kroni during the Apocalypse in the Kalki Purana text.

Shenlha Okar(wisdom deity of white light), also called Shiwa Okar(peaceful white light), is the most important god in the non-Buddhist Yungdrung Bon tradition and is the Tibetan god of wisdom, light, and compassion which is a description comparable with Ahura Mazda(God) in Zoroastrianism.

The Bonpos speak of a creator god, called Yang dag rgyal po, who created 2 gods called Od zer Idan(bright one) and Myal ba nag po(black suffering). Myal ba nag po is the Tibetan god of evil in Bon and is associated with darkness, violence, grief, and demons. He opposes Od zer Idan who is associated with the color white, goodness, peace, and joy, and may be the same being as Shenlha Okar.
See The Religions of Tibet pp. 214-215 by Giuseppe Tucci and translated by Geoffrey Samuel.

This has a noticeable similarity with Zoroastrianism. Particularly the relationship between Ahura Mazda, Spenta Mainyu, and Angra Mainyu with the relationship between Yang dag rgyal po, Od zer Idan, and Myal ba nag po.

“the Tibetan Bonpos, for perhaps a thousand years, have been unanimous in claiming, on the authority of their sacred texts, that Staggzig – i.e. Iran in one sense or another is the holy land from which their religion spread.”
-Dualism in Tibetan Cosmogonic Myths and the Question of Iranian Influence by Per Kvaerne

3.Mongolic & Turkic
Tengri is a sky god that is considered above all the other spirits and seems to of been interpreted in a monotheistic sense. Bai-Ulgan or Ulgen/Ulgan is the god of goodness and is either interpreted as the same being as Tengri or as the son of Tengri. Erlik, also called Er Kishi, is the god of evil in various Mongolic & Turkic traditions.

Erlik was the first creation of Tengri or Ulgen and was made the highest assistant but he wanted to be equal and because of his pride and anger he taught men to do evil and his followers made negative things such as sickness to harm mankind with.
See Altaic Epic: Poems from the Turkish Epic by Gene Doty and Gulten Yener.

“In a cosmogonic myth recorded among the Abakan Tartars, both God and his companion, whom he created and bade to dive and bring back sand, are envisaged in the shape of ducks; subsequently, the second duck begins to act as God’s rival and the myth enhances further its dualist tendencies by introducing the wicked Erlik Khan, the Lord of the Underworld and corrupter of man.

It is worth noting that before evolving into a lord of the lower world and the realm of darkness as well as judge of the dead, apparently in at least some Altaic traditions Erlik was originally a celestial deity.

Particularly important for the history of religious dualism are those Altaic traditions in which Erlik appears as second only to the highest god, Ulgen, and as his assistant in creation and is assigned important demiurgic functions, as he not only takes part in the anthropogonic process but also begins to act in some kind of opposition against the first demiurge.

In Iakut traditions Erlik is associated with the so-called ‘Blue Boundlessness’ and possibly with the water element, whereas in Buriat mythology he is seen as the leader of the wicked black or eastern spirits.

Erlik plays a major role in Siberian Turkic and Mongol shamanistic traditions and their ideas of the afterlife (both he and his spirits could be seen as abducting souls for their realm): shamans are often depicted as invoking, offering sacrifices to and propitiating Erlik, undergoing a descent into his lower world and encountering the king of the underworld.”

“Subsequently, Erlik tries to seduce mankind and creates his own heaven but it banished into the underworld.”
-The Other God: Dualist Religions from Antiquity to the Cathar Heresy pp. 133-135 by Yuri Stoyanov

Shangdi, later called Tian, is the equivalent of God in Chinese folk religion, Taoism, and Confucianism. There is a Chinese Taoist myth that the Jade Emperor, before he was the Jade Emperor, defended the heavenly realm of the Chinese gods from a very powerful demon and his army of demons. After he defeated the demon the gods made him the Jade Emperor.

There is also another Chinese myth, with many variants, about Gong Gong, also called Kanghui, who is a water god & black dragon that wanted to be the chief god and rebelled against the heavenly realm of the Chinese gods but was defeated by a god, usually Zhu Rong. After his fall he smashed his head against Mount Buzhou which tilted the Earth and caused floods but the damage was repaired by Nuwa the serpent goddess.

Gong Gong also had a main assistant called Xiang-liu who was a 9 headed black snake monster or dragon associated with floods, Earth destroying poison, and eating people and animals.
See Handbook of Chinese Mythology pp. 124-125 and pp. 214-215 by Lihui Yang, Deming An, and Jessica Anderson Turner.

Gong Gong, the rebellious black dragon and water god, and his 9 headed minister, have a noticeable similarity with Yam, the chaotic sea god, and his 7 headed serpent, Lotan, in Canaanite myth, with Satan, as a Dragon, and the 7 headed Beast in the Book of Revelation, and also with Ahriman and the 3 headed Azi Dahaka in the Avesta.

Ame-no-minakanushi(Central Master), later called Kuni-tokotachi, is the equivalent of God in Shinto. The Kojiki, the oldest Shinto text, mentions the Yaso-Magatsuhi-no-Kami, which means the eighty myriads, or gods/spirits, of disorder and evil. The Kojiki also mentions O-Magatsuhi-no-Kami, which means the great god/spirit of great disorder and evil.

The Nihon Shoki, the second oldest Shinto text, mentions a god/spirit called Amatsu-Mikaboshi, also called Ame-no-Kagaseo, that opposed the authority of the heavenly kami(gods/spirits) over Japan and was defeated.

“The Ainu are the native, aboriginal people of Japan. Subjugated by the Japanese(the Yamato people) in 812 A.D. and forced to retreat to the northern islands of Hokkaido(in Japan) and Sakhalin(in Russia), the 16,000 remaining Ainu are hunters and fishermen.”

“Ainu religion is generally classed as animistic, but it has many dualistic features as well. A supreme god dwells in the highest heaven and many lesser deities, including an evil one who created death and disease, populate the lower regions. Ancestor worship, propitiation of evil forces, belief in a future life, and judgment before god with the fire goddess as chief witness are major features of the religion.”
-Primal Myths: Creation Myths Around the World p. 215 by Barbara C. Sproul

V. Notes about Siberia.

“The investigation and recording of popular cosmogonic traditions in eastern Europe, Central and northern Asia and northern America in the nineteenth century demonstrated that a number of these cosmogonies share some significant motifs which are not present or are less accentuated in other areas.”
-The Other God: Dualist Religions from Antiquity to the Cathar Heresy p. 131 by Yuri Stoyanov

“As for the idea of dualism in cosmogonic myths, it is a well-known fact that we find the idea of an evil opponent of the good creator-god throughout large areas of Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central and North Asia, and North America” “In Asia, this idea is found in particular among Altaic and Mongolian peoples.”
-Dualism in Tibetan Cosmogonic Myths and the Question of Iranian Influence by Per Kvaerne

1.Iranians and Siberia.
Besides Africa and the Middle East some of the oldest ideas and views about the Devil might of come from the cold and harsh lands of prehistoric Siberia, particularly the distant origins behind the stories of Erlik and his related equivalents in Greater Mongolia and other northern lands.

This would explain the common ideas shared between Iranians, Tibetans, Mongolians, Turks, the Ainu of northern Japan, and other Central & North Asian groups.

As for the Iranians, because of the ancient ruins of the Sintashta and Arkaim settlements, their earlier Proto-Iranian or Indo-Iranian ancestors most likely hailed from an area much further north than either Iran or India. Particularly an area like Russia or Kazakhstan where they would of had more opportunities for contact and exchange with Central & North Asian groups near Siberia.

It is possible that these views actually reflect a common prehistoric substratum that even predates Zoroastrianism and that Zarathushtra was, through his revelation, elaborating and clarifying on a basic idea that was already well known to his audience though in much less pronounced and crystal clear forms.

Just as Zarathushtra also expounded a good and loving God in a much more definite and crystal clear way than in the myths of the peoples around the world before him.

Interestingly Ahriman’s base on Earth is said to be on a mountain called Arezura which is associated with the far north and the cold in later Zoroastrian texts such as the Vendidad, Bundahishn, and Dadestan-i Denig. This is roughly similar to the cold and evil lands in Finnish & Norse myth.

2.Ural Mountains and Siberia.
As for Eastern & Northern Europe, Uralic groups, such as the Sami, Finns, Estonians, and Hungarians, had distant ancestors from the Ural Mountains and beyond which is near Siberia. Like the neighboring Slavic & Baltic languages, the Uralic languages show traces of Iranian and Indo-Iranian influence and contact.

“The cemetery excavation at Sintashta, in the south Ural steppe, has yielded compelling evidence for the importance of warriors in that area around 1500 B.C. Of special interest to us are finds that suggest correlations with the warrior activities condemned by Zarathustra.”
-Heaven, Heroes, and Happiness: The Indo-European Roots of Western Ideology p. 192 by Shan M. M. Winn

As for Mongolic & Turkic influences on Uralic groups, Todote, the god of evil and death, seems to be the Uralic version of Erlik among the Samoyedic peoples east of the Ural Mountains. The Sami Ruto/Rota and the Hungarian Ordog are also similar to Erlik.

Pohjola is the northern, cold, and evil land in Finnish myth. Rotaimo is the evil underworld, opposed to the good underworld, where evil spirits and ghosts dwell in Sami myth. In turn these may of influenced the Norse Nifelheim which is described as a misty, cold, and harsh land of the frost giants that has a sub-region called Nastrond where the wicked are punished. There is also a less bad underworld or sub-region simply called Hel.

3.North America and Siberia.
This could even possibly explain why some Native American tribes, who’s ancestors appear to of migrated to North America from Siberia in multiple waves, have stories that speak of a good god and an evil god. However an independent realization of this insight is just as likely if not more likely as is the case with the Maori in New Zealand. Though some reinforcement from Siberia does appear to be a possibility.

“There is an increasing amount of evidence that very early forms of the earth-diver myth certainly played an important role in the cosmogonic systems developed in prehistoric times in Central and northern Asia upon which the North American cosmogonies are evidently dependent.”
-The Other God: Dualist Religions from Antiquity to the Cathar Heresy p. 137 by Yuri Stoyanov

VI. North America

1.Ojibwe/Chippewa & Abenaki
The Ojibwe/Chippewa and the Abenaki are 2 of many different groups within the Algonquian language family, which is mostly throughout the Midwest and Northeast regions of America and also in Canada.

The Ojibwe/Chippewa speak of a goddess, called the Great Earth Mother, who had 2 sons, Glooskap, and his twin brother, Malsum, also called Malsumis in the Abenaki version. In the Abenaki version, Tabaldak, the high creator god or the Great Spirit, takes the place of the Great Earth Mother and created them instead.

Glooskap became a good wise creator god but Malsum chose to be evil and tried to destroy Glooskap’s creations. Eventually Malsum attempted to kill Glooskap directly and seemingly succeeded but Glooskap immediately revived and then defeated Malsum. His spirit then went underground where he still attempts to torment people and animals.
See Parallel Myths pp. 61-62 by J. F. Bierlein.

The different but neighboring Iroquoian groups have similar myths as well. They seem to be mostly independent of late Christian influence and have some noticeable similarities with Zoroastrianism. Particularly the relationship between Ahura Mazda, Spenta Mainyu, and Angra Mainyu, with the relationship between Tabaldak, Glooskap, and Malsumis.

The Wyandot/Huron are one of many different groups within the Iroquoian language family, which is mostly throughout the Northeast region of America and also in Canada. They speak of a goddess who has 2 sons, Tijuskeha, also called Good Mind, and his twin brother, Tawiskarong, also called Evil Mind.

Tijuskeha becomes the good creator god while Tawiskarong chooses evil and even kills the goddess who was their mother. Later Tawiskarong kills Tijuskeha but Tijuskeha revives and then kills Tawiskarong though his spirit remains.
See Primal Myths: Creation Myths Around the World pp. 245-248 by Barbara C. Sproul.

There are similar myths among other Iroquoian groups. This Iroquoian version shows obvious similarities with the Algonquian versions. The alternative names of Good Mind and Evil Mind show further Zoroastrian similarities.

“However, a version of the earth-diving myth does become integrated into the dualistic scenarios of some versions of Iroquois cosmogony, with their dramatic accounts of the struggle between a good and a bad twin, their creations and counter-creations, and the evil twin becoming ultimately a king of the dead.”
-The Other God: Dualist Religions from Antiquity to the Cathar Heresy p. 136 by Yuri Stoyanov

3.Quechan/Yuma & Kumeyaay/Diegueno
The Quechan/Yuma and the Kumeyaay/Diegueno are 2 of many different groups within the Yuman–Cochimi language family, within the Southwest region of America and also in Mexico.

The Quechan/Yuma speak of a good creator god called Kokomaht, also called Tuchaipai in the Kumeyaay/Diegueno version, and an evil god called Bakotahl, also called Yokomatis in the Kumeyaay/Diegueno version.

Kokomaht was the first being and Bakotahl came out of him and is regarded as his twin brother. Kokomaht wanted Bakotahl to be his assistant in creation but Bakotahl was jealous of Kokomaht and created disease, plaques, and bad intentions, to destroy Kokomaht’s creations.

Kokomaht was killed by the magic of a frog called Hanyi, the daughter of Kokomaht in some accounts, who might have been persuaded by Bakotahl. However Kokomaht’s spirit remains and Komashtam’ho, who is the son of Kokomaht, finished the creation of the world. The spirit of Kokomaht continues to protect people while Bakotahl continues to torment people.
See Parallel Myths pp. 63-66 by J. F. Bierlein.

Though linguistically unrelated and not neighbors, these Yuman–Cochimi myths show obvious similarities with the Algonquian & Iroquoian myths and also have the same Zoroastrian similarities.

This actually has to do with South America and not North America. The Guarani people, of Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, speak of a creator god called Tupa who created Angatupyry, called the good spirit, and Tau, called the evil spirit. Tau is the father of 7 monstrous gods.

This has a noticeable similarity with Zoroastrianism. Particularly the relationship between Ahura Mazda, Spenta Mainyu, and Angra Mainyu with the relationship between Tupa, Angatupyry, and Tau.

VII. Oceania

The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand and speak an Eastern Polynesian language related to Rapa Nui in Easter Island, Hawaiian in Hawaii, and many others.

In one version of Maori myth, Io, the high creator god, made Rangi, the sky father, and Papa, the Earth mother, who in turn gave birth to many gods, which included Tane, associated with light, life, and the making of humans, and his brother, Whiro, associated with evil, darkness, sickness, disease, death, and wickedness.

Whiro was angered by Tane’s involvement in creation and they fought many fierce battles. Eventually Tane defeated Whiro who then retreated to the underworld threatening to eventually bring all men and gods with him. He dwells in the underworld realm called Tai-whetuki or the House of Death. He also has hosts of evil gods and demons under him.

Whiro attempts to cause death in all sorts of ways and also competes for the souls of all humans. The souls could also go to the sky world of the gods or to the good underworld of Hine, the goddess of the night and the daughter of Tane, who actively tries to save souls from Whiro. Whiro was represented with the lizard.
See Maori Religion and Mythology: Part 1 and Part 2 by Elsdon Best.

The Australian Aborigines, of the Blue Mountains region in the New South Wales state, speak of a good Dreamtime creator god called Baiame and an evil god called Marmoo. Marmoo was jealous of Baiame’s creations and wanted their destruction. He created insects of all kinds to eat and destroy the world and all living things.

Baiame, Nungeena the mother goddess, and all the good gods created birds of all kinds to kill and eat the insects. Marmoo’s plan was thwarted but its thought that he plans another attack while the birds are thought to be looking forward to another feast.

The Bikolano people, of the Bicol Region, speak of a good creator god called Gugurang and his brother, an evil god called Aswang or Asuang, who always attempts to steal Gugurang’s sacred fire.

In one myth Aswang succeeded in obtaining the sacred fire but he misused it, which resulted in the burning of many villages throughout the world. Gugurang defeated Aswang and then saved the world by making it rain with the help of the other gods.

The Bilaan people, of Southern Mindanao or the Davao Region, speak of a good creator god called Melu who is assisted by Fiu Weh, called the good spirit, and Tasu Weh, called the evil spirit.

This has a noticeable similarity with Zoroastrianism. Particularly the relationship between Ahura Mazda, Spenta Mainyu, and Angra Mainyu with the relationship between Melu, Fiu Weh, and Tasu Weh.

The Tagalog people, throughout the Philippines, speak of a good creator god called Bathala. Bathala and the Tagalog pantheon are said to be opposed by Sitan who’s name seems to come directly from late Christian influence.

However Sitan has 4 destructive agents called Manggagaway, associated with diseases, Manisilat, associated with discord between families, Mangkukulam, associated with fire and bad weather, and Hukluban associated with shape-shifting and death.