Mythological Spotlight #8 Part 2 – Lucifer

Constantino Corti’s depiction of Lucifer

Description

The light bringer, the representation of the morning star. In popular imagination he is typically seen as synonymous with Satan, due to his identification with the myth of the fall from Heaven. Over the years the character of Lucifer has acquired traits associated with adversarial figures because of the role of the light bringer’s concordance with other traditions and stories, and the way they interpreted the bringing of light and the ascension of the morning star. Depending on who you ask, he is either a benevolent figure, a trickster, an evil king of demons or somewhat more ambivalent; an angel, a demon or a man.

 

History

The name Lucifer means “light-bringer” or “morning star”, and seems to be a personification or deification of the morning star.

The earliest appearance of a morning star deity is generally found in the ancient Canaanite deity Attar (also known as Athtar or Ashtar). Attar is mainly known for a Canaanite myth wherein he attempts to take over the throne Baal (aka Hadad), the deity of storms and fertility, with the support of Asherah while he is killed by his rival Mot, the deity of death, but proves to be unworthy of the throne. He is identified with the planet Venus, much like the goddesses Ishtar and Aphrodite. In fact, it is believed by some scholars that Attar may have been a male equivalent of the goddess Athtart or Astarte, or even started out as a male form of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar. The Arabians also worshiped Attar not just as a male deity of the planet Venus, but as a weather deity responsible for rain and thunderstorms, as well as a fertility deity whose fertility is dispensed through rain thus symbolizing the power of the sky as a generative force. The Arabians may also have been recognized him as a war deity. These characteristics mark him as a similar deity to Baal, and it is even suggested that Attar may have been overtaken in Ugarit and Canaan as the warrior deity of fertility and bringer of rain.

Attar may also have been associated with another deity: Chemosh; known to the Hebrew Bible as the Abomination of Moab. Chemosh may have been an important rival of the Jewish deity Yahweh (later YHWH), and at one point the two deities were pretty similar to each other. Both Yahweh and Chemosh were war deities and the deities of a specific tribe or nation (Chemosh for the Moabites, Yahweh for the Israelites), but Yahweh eventually became angrier. Chemosh was also worshiped alongside Ashtar as a syncretic deity called Ashtar-Chemosh. It is important to note that Chemosh might have been identified with the morning star through his syncretism with Attar/Ashtar, but there is little that suggests Chemosh himself is intrinsically linked with the morning star.

The morning star appears in the Bible, specifically the Book of Isaiah, where refers to someone who has supposedly fallen from the grace of God.

How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!” – Isaiah 14:12

The term “morning star”, or Helel ben Shahar, is often substituted for the name Lucifer, and the Isaiah verse is used to link Satan with Lucifer in Biblical tradition. The problem: who is the morning star in this instance? Morning star, and by extension Lucifer, is used as an epithet in the Bible, rather than a name proper, similar to how Satan is used as a title in Judaism. In the Book of Revelation, Jesus identifies himself as the morning star.

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” – Revelation 22:16

Is Jesus, then, Lucifer? And if Lucifer is supposed to be the same as Satan, what does that make Jesus then? What does it make Satan? Not to mention, the title of Lucifer has apparently even been applied to John the Baptist. So what about him? Instead, the morning star of Isaiah is typically identified as a human, more specifically a king of Babylon who is struck down. The king in question is usually named Nebuchadnezzar II. He is known as the king who ordered the construction of the famous Ishtar Gate as well as the purported Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and the walls of Babylon which were famous for the fact that they were so broad that you could race chariots on them. He is also known for leading the expansion of the Babylonian empire through the conquest of the Scythians, Cimmerians, Arameans and Israelites and the defeat of the Assyrians and the Egyptians. He made Babylon one of the largest and most powerful cities of the ancient world, and . He is however portrayed negatively in the Bible, perhaps because he was also responsible for Jews being held captive in and later exiled from Babylon, as well as the destruction of the original Temple of Solomon in 587 BC. Of course, that is one speculation. It is said that the title Lucifer could’ve been applied to any other king. Chapter 14 of the Book of Isaiah is intended to be a prophecy regarding a king who was then mighty but will seen face defeat and fall from glory. Indeed, the king is accused of holding in his heart ambitions of ascent to godhood.

You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.

I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’” – Isaiah 14:13-14

The epithet of the morning star, with its brilliance, is supposed to signify how great the king was or believed himself to be, in order to stress the magnitude of his fall. Lucifer, here, was the title of a human; a human who stood against the Israelites in his quest to expand Babylon and thus he was seen as standing against YHWH himself.

Speaking of Helel ben Shahar, there was an Ugaritic deity named Shahar associated with the dawn. He has a twin brother named Shalim, who is considered a deity of the dusk. Both of them are sons of the sky father El. They are called upon in an Ugaritic hymn to protect the fields and their harvest. Some sources speak of a deity named Helel, who it is claimed tried to usurp the throne of El/Elyon but was defeated by , and they claim that this myth is the precursor to the prophecy of the king of Babylon in Isaiah. However, not much is known about this pre-Isaiah myth.

It is often said that the earliest instance of the name Lucifer being There is another Biblical story that is used to link another Lucifer figure with the idea of a fallen angel. The Book of Ezekiel recounts another prophecy against an ancient king, this time against a king of Tyre, an ancient Phoenician city which was sieged by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar II between 586 and 573 BC. Ithobaal III is said to have ruled Tyre between 590 and 573 BC. The prophecy states that, like the king of Babylon, the king of Tyre viewed himself as a living deity, who had grown proud because of the wealth that he had purportedly amassed through his skill in trading and his wisdom, and that the “Sovereign Lord” will send barbarians against the king in order to kill him. There then follows a lamentation from the “Sovereign Lord” in which the king is compared to an unnamed cherub, who was the “seal of perfection” in the garden of Eden, adorned with all manner of precious stones, but was driven from the mount of God for having being filled with pride, desecrating sanctuaries and trading dishonestly, thereby having sinned against YHWH. Again, there is no implicit attachment to Satan found within the prophecy itself, and the prophecy refers to a human character, with the comparison. There is also no direct reference to the morning star, just that the theme is similar to that of the prophecy in the Book of Isaiah.

The idea of Lucifer as a demonic fallen angel crystallizes in the Middle Ages, replete with infernal artwork depicting him as a horned, animalistic devil. This is no doubt due to the identification of Lucifer with the Satan whom Jesus beheld falling from heaven according to the Gospel of Luke, and of course the pantheon of pre-Christian deities who were used to create the visage of Satan. By this time, there is also the influence of Dante’s Inferno to consider, which had a powerful effect on the Christian, not to mention collective, cultural imagination. In it, Satan is trapped waist-deep in a lake of ice in resentment for the crime of having betrayed God. By this point, Lucifer had already been linked to Satan by the Church and Christian tradition, with the pride and his self-deification of earthly kings identified with the morning star being used to explain the fall of Satan. The seven deadly sins were already codified into Catholic tradition by Pope Gregory I well before the Middle Ages, and in the 15th century these sins were related to specific demons. In the case of Lucifer, it is probably not an accident that the sin related to him is pride.

The closest thing to an actual deity named Lucifer is the Greek deity named Eosphoros (aka Phosphorus, Heosphorus). Eosphoros was the Greek deity of the morning star, which was the planet Venus as it appeared during the day. His name meant “dawn-bringer”. His counterpart, Hesperus, represented the evening star. Both Eosphoros and Hesperus are associated with the planet Venus, and they seem to represent different phases of the morning star. They are also depicted as bearers of light or torches. The two deities are generally accepted as synonymous with or complimentary towards each other, because the morning and evening star are both references to Venus, or rather Venus in certain phases.

This theme may not necessarily have been new to the Greeks. Paul Collins suggests that, in Mesopotamia, Attar and Ishtar may well have represented male and female aspects of the planet Venus, with Attar representing the morning star and Ishtar representing the evening star, and one aspect representing war and the other representing love and sex.

Phosphoros is also a title given to Artemis, the Greek goddess of hunting and the moon. In Rome, this has resulted in the name Diana Lucifer, depicting the goddess Diana as the bringer of light.

The name Lucifer also appears as in a positive context within, of all religions, Christianity. In the Middle Ages, there existed heretical sect of Christianity known as Luciferianism – not to be confused with the modern spiritual movement known as Luciferianism. The medieval Luciferians believed that Lucifer was the actual creator of the world and mankind who was once in heaven before being unjustly expelled by the Christian God, who is seen as the true evil deity, along with his host of angels. They believed that one day Lucifer would eventually overthrow the Christian God. Because they believed the Christian god to be evil, they did all they could to displease him so that they may be worthy of joining with Lucifer in the afterlife. It was basically an inversion of the Christian doctrine concerning good and evil. The sect was, naturally, persecuted by the Catholic Church, with many adherents burning for their beliefs. There is also an older sect of Christians who were known as Luciferians in the 4th century, but they did not worship a being named Lucifer in any capacity. They were rather named after a Roman Christian bishop who happened to be named Lucifer Calaritanus (aka Lucifer of Cagliari), who staunchly defended Catholic orthodoxy and opposed the doctrine of Arianism – a sect that rejected the notion of the Holy Trinity and held that Jesus was created by and indistinct from God. The sect was dedicated to his views on early church doctrine and to the deposing of Arian clerics and excommunication of Arian bishops. Some Gnositcs, consider Lucifer to be a messenger of the true and unknowable God, or an opponent of the Demiurge, even going so far as to identify him with the serpent of Eden. This is, of course, an alternative interpretation of the Genesis account, which tells of the serpent as just a talking serpent. Some Gnostics also believe that Lucifer is identical to the Greek Prometheus.

Lucifer is very often compared to Prometheus, based on the premise that Prometheus stole fire from the gods (or more specifically Zeus) so that he could give it to mankind, thus imparting knowledge. This is unsurprising, given the nature of the Lucifer myth. Lucifer is seen as having gone against the heavens themselves, defying either God or the gods either because he disagreed with their position on how to run the cosmos or simply because he prized the throne of heaven for himself. Either way he was cast down. Prometheus, whether he liked it or not, betrayed the gods so that he might bring the fire of Olympus to mankind, and for this he was chained to a rock until eventually being rescued by Hercules. It’s easy to see how one might draw similarities between the two. Beyond that, however, there is no obvious connection between the two (for one thing, Prometheus has nothing to do with the morning star). Some of this connection stems from the premise that Lucifer and the serpent of Genesis are the same being. According to the Genesis account, however, the serpent has nothing to do with Lucifer, or Satan for that matter. It’s just a clever talking serpent. I suppose the main connection drawn between the two is in the role they play, being dispensers of a kind of forbidden knowledge after all (the knowledge of fire vs the knowledge of good and evil). That said, I think a stronger case can be made between Prometheus and the Grigori – the angels in the Book of Enoch who became attracted to human women, were cast out of heaven and decided to gave the forbidden knowledge of the angels to Man.

Over the years Lucifer has had many roles in newer spiritual or occult traditions before the 21st century. The Anthroposophists considered Lucifer to be the embodiment of the side of Man that is imaginative, creative, artistic, spiritual and idealistic, as opposed to Ahriman who represented the rational, materialistic side of Man. Helena Blavatsky considered Lucifer to be “the spirit of Intellectual Enlightenment and Freedom of Thought” who guides the intellectual progress of humanity and sparked the initial awakening of the soul of Man within the bodies created by Jehovah. The Process Church of the Final Judgement views Lucifer to be one of the four “Great Gods of the Universe” alongside Satan, Jehovah and Jesus. They consider Lucifer to be a deity of light, love and sex responsible for the creation of women. Eliphas Levi considered Lucifer to be the name of a force that he claims was identified by the Hebrews as Samael and Satan by “other easterns” (an identification which, as we’ve established, the historical evidence does not support), and he believes that the “Lucifer of the Kabbalah” is not an evil being but rather “the angel who enlightens, who regenerates by fire”. He has also stated that Lucifer is an angel who shunned heaven so that he may illuminate the “unworked fields of light”, but would not recognize him as an angel of light unless he submitted to “the eternal order”. In his description of the pentagram, he also seems to hint Lucifer as a force of light, in contrast to a force of dusk and darkness, and yet seemingly two sides of the same coin. Albert Pike of the Freemasons has given praise to a figure named Lucifer, which may have led him and his organization to be accused of worshiping Lucifer or rather of worshiping Satan, but it is unlikely that this figure actually is Satan in any way. His views on God and Lucifer were the subject of an infamous hoax by Leo Taxil intended to smear to the Freemasons. Gregor A. Gregorius considered him to be a brother of Christ, while his organization Fraternitas Saturni was of the view that Lucifer is a higher “octave” of the principle of Saturn (with Satan being the lower, implying that the two are two different phases of the same concept), associated with the Logos. Manly P. Hall is said to have praised Lucifer as “the individual intellect and will which rebels against the domination of Nature”. Aleister Crowley at one point identified Aiwass, the spirit Crowley claimed to have heard, with Lucifer, whom he considered to be a solar and phallic force. The Gnostic interpretation of Lucifer found new genesis through the ideas of Ben Kadosh (real name: Carl William Hansen), who views Lucifer as the rebel who gives Man secrets that were forbidden by the Christian church. He also equates him with the Greek deity Pan, and the alchemical element of gold.

In the modern era, Lucifer as an icon found his own spiritual movement, drawing from aspects of the philosophy of Satanism. Luciferianism is a movement with multiple manifestations and more than one organization representing a form of Luciferian philosophy. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Assembly of Light Bearers, formerly known as the Greater Church of Lucifer, based primarily on the ideas of contemporary Left Hand Path occultists Michael W. Ford and Jeremy Crow. Lucifer, for this brand of Luciferianism, is an adversarial figure associated with pride, intelligence and self-liberation, and a desire to climb ever higher on the path of personal evolution towards a maximization of personal potential (a kind of “apotheosis” if you will), and an opponent of blind faith and restrictive religious dogma. His historical attachment to the planet Venus is very much accounted for, but he takes on some adversarial characteristics associated with beings like Satan, Samael, Ahriman or Azazel. He is mostly treated as an archetype, whose qualities are to be applied to any individual who desires to follow the Luciferian path, but some adherents take a more theistic approach. Another organization is the Neo-Luciferian Church, founded by Michael Bertiaux and Bjarne Salling Pedersen. This organization takes a more Gnostic approach to Luciferianism, apparently influenced by Western esoteric tradtion, Gnosticism, Voodoo and the works of Ben Kadosh. They view Lucifer as basically the light-bringer in the original sense, alien to Christianity and having nothing to do with Satan. In fact, there seem to be many Luciferian groups out there today, with their own take on Lucifer and Luciferian philosophy.

 

Conclusion

To summarize again: Lucifer begins in Mesopotamia or Canaan as a deity of war, fertility and the planet Venus named Attar, who sought the throne of Heaven. The morning star was symbolized as other deities as well, one of whom may well have rebelled against El. In Greece he was a non-violent deity who simply brought the light of the morning star, an archetype that gradually metastasized into the concept of bringing the light of knowledge and enlightenment. He also came to be associated with powerful men who may have been seen as godlike, and who in their apparent actions towards the Israelites came to be seen as enemies of YHWH. He became attached to the ideal of Man seeking divinity, which may have linked him to a rather humanistic mythological ideal of the knowledge of the gods being spread to humans by beings who, in doing so, betray the gods. This was Satanic, adversarial, to the Christians who stressed that faith in God was key to salvation, and the idea that Man can grasp the divine on his own was the height of hubris, of sinful pride. This is perhaps how Lucifer transformed from merely the morning star, to the Satanic rebel against God. Like Satan, then, Lucifer is a concept that has evolved throughout the ages, probably for considerably longer than Satan considering that the deification of the morning star originates in Mesopotamian polytheism while the concept of Satan (not more broadly the principle of cosmic evil) evolved from Judaism. Lucifer became the epitome of the ideal of Man seeking the throne of heaven that he may sit upon it, through his own exertion, and through like the morning star or perhaps the Promethean archetype he spreads the light of the morning star, or of fire, to shine on Man. To me, thinking about it on my own, it seems fairly obvious how Lucifer came to be as he is. That the morning star is also the evening star, by virtue of the both of them being Venus, can be very easily interpreted as Lucifer, as a Venus-based archetype, containing both light of day and the darkness of light; or, the archetypal quantities of light and darkness. Perhaps this is what Michael W. Ford is hitting on.

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4 responses to “Mythological Spotlight #8 Part 2 – Lucifer

  1. Pingback: Mythological Spotlight #8 Part 2 – Lucifer | The Satanic Temple Arizona

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