Following the teachings of Anthroposophy,[i] Barfield uses Ahriman to mean that Spirit Being within man’s consciousness which seeks to trap the mind within a “cockney wakefulness that forgets it has ever dreamed at all” (Unancestral Voice 88). Ahriman endeavors to utterly obliterate mankind’s sense of the past; chronological snobbery is his handiwork.

The work of Ahriman is directly opposite to that of Lucifer. Each serves a pivotal role in the evolution of consciousness as a whole.

 Detected and understood, they [Ahriman and Lucifer] may be balanced against each other in such a way that both of them will work in the psyche as rightful energy. Undetected they co-operate, all the more intricately, all the more subtly, because of the opposite directions from which their impulses come. It is this that enables them to play so skillfully into one another’s hands in their joint exploitation of humanity.
(Unancestral Voice 70)

 Moreover, Ahriman serves as well as both ‘the peculiar opponent and the peculiar underling of Michael. He is in truth the dragon underneath the archangel’s feet’.(Unancestral Voice 73)

Ahriman’s real purpose, as Burgeon learns from the Meggid in Unancestral Voice, is “to destroy everything in human thinking which depends on a certain warmth, to replace wonder by sophistication, courtesy by vulgarity, understanding by calculation, imagination by statistics” (73). When C. S. Lewis describes an individual (in That Hideous Strength) whose

 education had had the curious effect of making things that he read and wrote more real to him than things he saw. Statistics about agricultural laborers were the substance; any real ditcher, ploughman, or farmer’s boy, was the shadow. Though he had never noticed it himself, he had a great reluctance, in his work, ever to use such words as “man” or “woman.” He preferred to write about “vocational groups,” “elements,” “classes,” and “populations” . . .

he has noticed, Barfield would say, the effects of Ahriman at work.

“The aim of Ahriman,” can be summarized as follows:

  to anticipate the future, precociously; to bring about, long before their appointed time, conditions which, if all goes well, will rightly obtain in the future, but which can only appear in the present as a wicked caricature. In pursuit of this aim he will persuade you, if he can, to eradicate the past instead of transforming it. He abhors tradition. History is his bane. He operates in the present age, principally in the field of mind, leaving the feelings free for Lucifer to exploit.

(Unancestral Voice 72)


[i] See Steiner, Lucifer and Ahriman.

Copyright © 1997 — Owen Barfield Literary Estate.       Return to Top.