The term Lumen Naturae (which in Latin means “the light of nature”) appears in various texts written by the legendary psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung, and its meaning points to a light that is contrasted with the light of revelation seen in traditional theology as a source of knowledge for Man. The Lumen Naturae is the light that shines imminently within all of matter (hence The Light of Nature), though it also seems to be a reference to the unconscious psyche. For Jung it is “whose strange and significant workings we can observe in the manifestations of the unconscious”. In this sense, the Lumen Naturae is one of those aspects of Jungian thought that, though it seems to not to be as talked about as often (not even by other Jungians), appears to be more central to Jungian thought and philosophy than it is given credit for, and it can be used as the bridge through Jungian philosophy to, situated within that realm, a doctrine that can postulate a doctrine of spiritual materialism that carries Jungian psychoanalytical philosophy and, I might say, a sort of Luciferian essence into a higher form in which, through Hellenic spiritual and philosophical influences among various other philosophical contours, it may attain a form that can assert itself in the present landscape – in other words, one where spiritual substance can be formulated in an atheistic context, outside of and in opposition to Christianity, in a manner where it attains depth, heritage and, from there, power, in the darkness of the Light of Nature. What darkness, you may ask? That is what you will find out over the course of this article.
A very lenghty and detailed exposition of the Lumen Naturae can be found in Volume 8 of Jung’s Collected Works, Alchemical Studies. It is here, in fact, that Jung lays out dichotomy between the Light of Nature and the Light of Revelation. In the process he introduces Paracelsus, the man from whom Jung gets his conception of the Lumen Naturae. For Jung, Paracelsus was a man who had two “mothers”, two substances from which he derived his thought and spirit; the Christian (specifically Catholic) church on the one hand, and Nature on the other:
To the mother in her highest form, Mater Ecclesia, he remained faithful all his life, despite the very free criticism he levelled at the ills of Christendom in that epoch. Nor did he succumb to the great temptation of that age, the Protestant schism, though he may well have had it in him to go over to the other camp. Conflict was deeply rooted in Paracelsus’s nature; indeed, it had to be so, for without a tension of opposites there is no energy, and whenever a volcano, such as he was, erupts, we shall not go wrong in supposing that water and fire have clashed together.
But although the Church remained a mother for Paracelsus all his life, he nevertheless had two mothers: the other was Mater Natura. And if the former was an absolute authority, so too was the latter. Even though he endeavoured to conceal the conflict between the two maternal spheres of influence, he was honest enough to admit its existence; indeed, he seems to have had a very good idea of what such a dilemma meant. Thus he says: “I also confess that I write like a pagan and yet am a Christian.” Accordingly he named the first five sections of his Paramirum de quinque entibus
morborum “Pagoya.” “Pagoyum” is one of his favourite neologisms, compounded of “paganum” and the Hebrew word “goyim.” He held that knowledge of the nature of diseases was pagan, since this knowledge came from the “light of nature” and not from revelation. “Magic,” he says, is “the preceptor and teacher of the physician,” who derives his knowledge from the lumen naturae. There can be no doubt the “light of nature” was a second, independent source of knowledge for Paracelsus. His closest pupil, Adam von Bodenstein, puts it like this: “The Spagyric has the things of nature not by authority, but by his own experience.” The concept of the lumen naturae may derive from the Occulta philosophia of Agrippa von Nettesheim (1533), who speaks of a luminositas sensus naturae that extends even to the four-footed beasts and enables them to foretell the future.
Paracelsus was definitely a Christian, of this there is no doubt, he even says “Christian knowledge is better than natural knowledge, and a prophet or an apostle better than an astronomer or a physician”, but he also confesses that he writes “like a pagan” and the reason for this seems to be that he considers the knowledge of the nature of diseases, essential to his practice as a physician, to be pagan in nature because it is knowledge of the world. The Light of Nature thus in the context of Paracelsus refers to knowledge of the physical universe, knowledge of nature, the knowledge held by scientists (such as astronomers) and physicians, while the Light of Revelation (which Paraselsus equated with the Holy Spirit) refers presumably to theology, or the knowledge of God, the “knowledge” held by prophets and apostles.
From Paracelsus, quoted within Alchemical Studies alongside more commentary from Jung, we get this description of the Light of Nature:
It is, therefore, also to be known that the auguries of the birds are caused by these innate spirits, as when cocks foretell future weather and peacocks the death of their master and other such things with their crowing. All this comes from the innate spirit and is the Light of Nature. Just as it is present in animals and is natural, so also it dwells within man and he brought it into the world with himself. He who is chaste is a good prophet, natural as the birds, and the prophecies of birds are not contrary to nature but are of nature. Each, then, according to his own state. These things which the birds announce can also be foretold in sleep, for it is the astral spirit which is the invisible body of nature. And it should be known that when a man prophesies, he does not speak from the Devil, not from Satan, and not from the Holy Spirit, but he speaks from the innate spirit of the invisible body which teaches Magiam and in which the Magus has his origin.
The light of nature comes from the Astrum: “Nothing can be in man unless it has been given to him by the Light of Nature, and what is in the Light of Nature has been brought by the stars.” The pagans still possessed the light of nature, “for to act in the Light of Nature and to rejoice in it is divine despite being mortal.” Before Christ came into the world, the world was still endowed with the light of nature, but in comparison with Christ this was a “lesser light.” “Therefore we should know that we have to interpret nature according to the spirit of nature, the Word of God according to the spirit of God, and the Devil according to his spirit also.” “He who knows nothing of these things is a gorged pig and will not leave room for instruction and experience.” The light of nature is the quinta essentia, extracted by God himself from the four elements, and dwelling “in our hearts.” It is enkindled by the Holy Spirit. The light of nature is an intuitive apprehension of the facts, a kind of illumination. It has two sources: a mortal and an immortal, which Paracelsus calls “angels.” “Man,” he says, “is also an angel and has all the latter’s qualities.” He has a natural light, but also a light outside the light of nature by which he can search out supernatural things. The relationship of this supernatural light to the light of revelation remains, however, obscure. Paracelsus seems to have held a peculiar trichotomous view in this respect.
There is a noticeable dualism in Paracelsus’ thought (or more or less what we are presented of it by Jung), a dualism concerning God and Nature. Such a dualism is further established when Jung refers to his writings in Philosophia Sagax, wherein he describes Man as “one part temporal, the other part eternal, and each part takes its light from God, both the temporal and the eternal, and there is nothing that does not have its origin in God”. This itself is not too dissimilar to the sort of dualism you usually see from the average Christian, but there is an intruiging undertone to what see of Paracelsus nonetheless. In theory, he positions the Light of Nature as lesser than the Holy Spirit, because in traditional Christianity Nature is framed as less valuable than God, its creator, but despite this traditional dualistic framing the Light of Nature has a special place in Paracelsus’ ontology on the grounds that it is essential to understand the natural world in the same vein as God’s word is to be understood via the spirit of God. Despite Paracelsus’ commitment to Christianity, this Light of Nature appears to be associated with paganism because for him the pagans “still possessed the Light of Nature” because they acted in the Light of Nature in its divine. This appears to mean that, for Paraclesus, the pagan view centered around nature and activity within it as the means of engaging with the sacred. This is perhaps the interpretation given by a Christian lens as to what constitutes paganism, given that medieval Christianity drew a line of separation between the world and the spirit, with spirit outside the world being the subject of Christian teaching and spiritual knowledge, so is to be treated in the context of that lens, but what this means is that the “pagan” impetus of the Light of Nature refers to the situation and engagement of knowledge with realm of Nature. Further it seems that, according to Jung at least, the Light of Nature may well have been the strongest theme in Paracelsus’ thinking, as Jung says:
The authenticity of one’s own experience of nature against the authority of tradition is a basic theme of Paracelsan thinking. On this principle he based his attack on the medical schools, and his pupils carried the revolution even further by attacking Aristotelian philosophy. It was an attitude that opened the way for the scientific investigation of nature and helped to emancipate natural science from the authority of tradition.
If Jung’s account of Paracelsus is accurate, then the Light of Nature can be treated, at least in context, as the spark of experiential authenticity, dervied from Nature and our species-being situated within it, which leads to a scepticism of authority and tradition and their tendency to obfuscate the truth of the world we live in. Within a materialist framework, this Light of Nature is the principal Light, and from there Nature becomes the principal source of light, knowledge and Being, and cannot be situated in any secondary domain, in any realm of “revelation”. It does not answer to the pacification offered by the constructed realm of ideated truth, whether from the church or from the “woke” authorities of the modern age, only to the truth itself within Nature. Indeed, despite his faith, Jung sees this Light of Nature in juxtaposition to his faith as the most important source of his creative energy, flowing from his natural and personal temperant of discontent, for this reason Jung cites Paracelsus as a Faustian figure, a prototype of a line that goes from Faust to Nietzsche, something that was only counterveiled by the pious maxim “I under God and God under me”.
Jung reasserts this assessment later on:
He was a well-intentioned, humble Christian. His ethics and his professed faith were Christian, but his most secret, deepest passion, his whole creative yearning, belonged to the lumen naturae, the divine spark buried in the darkness, whose sleep of death could not be vanquished even by the revelation of God’s son. The light from above made the darkness still darker; but the lumen naturae is the light of the darkness itself, which illuminates its own darkness, and this light the darkness comprehends. Therefore it turns blackness into brightness, burns away “all superfluities,” and leaves behind nothing but “faecem et scoriam et terram damnatam” (dross and scoriae and the rejected earth).
For Jung, this Light of Nature is a pagan feeling, on the grounds that it constitutes the veneration of the natural world, and its process of transformation:
Paracelsus, like all the philosophical alchemists, was seeking for something that would give him a hold on the dark, body-bound nature of man, on the soul which, intangibly interwoven with the world and with matter, appeared before itself in the terrifying form of strange, demoniacal figures and seemed to be the secret source of life-shortening diseases. The Church might exorcise demons and banish them, but that only alienated man from his own nature, which, unconscious of itself, had clothed itself in these spectral forms. Not separation of the natures but union of the natures was the goal of alchemy. From the time of Democritus its leitmotiv had been: “Nature rejoices in nature, nature conquers nature, nature rules over nature.” This principle is pagan in feeling and an expression of nature worship. Nature not only contains a process of transformation—it is itself transformation. It strives not for isolation but for union, for the wedding feast followed by death and rebirth. Paracelsus’s “exaltation in May” is this marriage, the “gamonymus” or hierosgamos of light and darkness in the shape of Sol and Luna. Here the opposites unite what the light from
above had sternly divided.
We also notice something peculiar in that we find, according to Jung, the Light of Nature is capable of embodying spirt as well as matter, thus in some ways providing a map by which to encapsulate even the supposedly extra-natural as, in fact, entirely within the natural, and thus all falls under Nature and therefore the Light of Nature becomes the true light of all. In this light, we see the Light of Nature as, more than only the skeptical light of natural consciousness, the spark of the unconscious, a light hidden within the unconscious of mankind, which animates the collective unconscious. Jung writes:
Nature is not matter only, she is also spirit. Were that not so, the only source of spirit would be human reason. It is the great achievement of Paracelsus to have elevated the “light of nature” to a principle and to have emphasized it in a far more fundamental way than his predecessor Agrippa. The lumen naturae is the natural spirit, whose strange and significant workings we can observe in the manifestations of the unconscious now that psychological research has come to realize that the unconscious is not just a “subconscious” appendage or the dustbin of consciousness, but is a largely autonomous psychic system for compensating the biases and aberrations of the conscious attitude, for the most part functionally, though it sometimes corrects them by force. Consciousness can, as we know, be led astray by naturalness as easily as by spirituality, this being the logical consequence of its freedom of choice. The unconscious is not limited only to the instinctual and reflex processes of the cortical centres; it also extends beyond consciousness and, with its symbols, anticipates future conscious processes. It is therefore quite as much a “supra-consciousness.”
So the Light of Nature then becomes more than just a metaphor for skeptical and naturalistic inquiry in a standard sense, but also something that lurks within the unconscious of human beings, perhaps even analogue to that often quoted aspect of Jung’s thought relating to the descent into darkness for the pursuit of knowledge and truth. The call to go into the underworld, then, takes on the character of the ontological inquiry into Nature, Nature not just in the outer sense, but in the dark recesses of the human psychological and psychorreal sphere, in which the hidden, perhaps even “occult”, currents of the mind and the world are to be discovered, and from which meaning is to be grasped, meaning of a kind that is not typically accessible in everyday life, and yet is perhaps immanent in life itself.
There is much more that can be said about this Light of Nature, however, outside of Jung himself. Indeed, many commentaries take note of the Lumen Naturae as reference to a source of knowledge couched in the natural world as opposed to revelation from God. From Georg Nicolaus’ C.G. Jung and Nikolai Berdyaev: Individuation and the Person: A Critical Comparison, we see the following:
The lumen naturae is a ‘second, independent source of knowledge’ set against the light of revelation, which is received through faith. It is ‘the quinta essentia, extracted by God himself from the four elements and “dwelling in our hearts” …The light of nature is an intuitive apprehension of the facts, a kind of illumination’. It is the highest treasure of nature, and has a twofold source: both a ‘mortal and an immortal’ one. It is the light of the scintilla animae, ‘the divine spark buried in the darkness’. The heart, where this divine spark is hidden, is also ‘the seat of the imagination’, so that the lumen naturae is the source of the alchemical vera imaginatio, the key to the opus.
As a ‘light in the darkness’ the lumen naturae is a source of true knowledge in the unconscious. Nature, too, has spirit within itself: ‘Nature is not matter only, she is also spirit. Were that not so, the only source of spirit would be human reason’. The lumen naturae in the unconscious is responsible for the fact that the unconscious is not only nature, but also a source of genuine spirituality which ‘anticipates in its symbols future conscious processes. It [the unconscious] is therefore quite as much a “supra-consciousness”.
The lumen naturae turns out to be a second source of ‘revelation’, one which dangerously competes with the supernatural ‘light of faith’ even though, according to Paracelsus, both lights in the end have the same source: ‘the unity of God’. In fact, as the ‘Enlightenment’ and the rise of modern science late showed, this union of the two lights is anything but unproblematic: the potential conflcit of the two lights goes to the heart of the problem of the ‘death of God’ in modernity.
Then from Marilyn Nagy’s Philosophical Issues in the Psychology of C. G. Jung: Portraits, Policies, Programs, and Practices, we see thus; for starters an assessment of Paracelsus that, ironically, positions the Christian Paracelsus one of the ancestors of the ancestors of the modern atheistic naturalist impetus regarding knowledge, God notwithsdanding of course:
The second problem for Paracelsus was the doctrine of revealed knowledge. We cannot accept things on faith, he said, just because someone else has told us it is so. We must look instead to Nature and to the truth which God has put there for us to read. “Pagoyum” was a favorite neologism, made up of “paganum” and the Hebrew word “goyim”. It meant that the truth is revealed not by authority or dogmatic faith but in nature herself, which is by contrast pagan. We can find the truth for ourselves.
The path to this knowledge is through direct personal experience. That meant getting away from rationalized theories and being with people in the world, listening to a story of a strange cure told at a wayside inn, observing not only the pathology but also the life circumstances of an ill woman.
More than that, thought Paracelsus, we must adopt the attitude of the naturalist, believing that Nature does indeed reveal the signs of God. We must not be skeptical, not “drown in work, abandoning research, saying it is beyond our understanding and thus failing to kindle the torch which will enlighten us.” Even in the face of our ignorance we must be obedient servants of this task. “As the light of Nature is like crumbs from the table of the Lord, for all the heathen to grasp, and has departed from Judah, so it behoves us not to give in, but to pick up the crumbs as long as they fall.
And then, on the Light of Nature itself and the means by which to acheive its realization in humans:
The method by which we obtain this knowledge and come to the light of nature has to do with coming into contact with a deeper level of our own natures which is connected to the larger processes of nature. For example, we know that scammonea purges, but this does not help us to understand the process itself. Just as there is a kind of science in a pear which teaches it how to be a pear and not an apple, so we should try to listen through the process of the scammonea. “When you overhear (‘ablauschen’) from the scammonea the knowledge which it possesses, it will be in you just as it is in the scammonea and you have acquired the experience as well as the knowledge. We find that place in ourselves which is in sympathetic correspondence with the principle of the external object, and we know it because we know ourselves. There is thus a much more direct, internal path to knowledge than objectivized processes of the rational mind.
We get a peculiar description of the lumen naturae in the notes for Carl Becker’s Asian and Jungian Views on Ethics:
In alchemical terms, lumen naturae is the “light of nature” as opposed to the numen of spiritual revelation. It is a sol invisibilis given to the individual, accessible through and identical with the “subtle” or “astral” body (ochema pneuma). It offers each individual “sufficient predestined light that he err not”. Phenomenologically, lumen naturae is experienced as scintillaes; sparks of the world soul scattered throughout the dark sea of night, germinal luminosities which are the seedbed of worlds to come (mundi futuri seminarium). This natural force, also described as an underworld fire, an ignis mercurialis, is synonymous with the pagan cosmos and aion.
Something to be mindful of is the “pagan cosmos” and the “pagan aion”. In pre-Christian Greece (the context we can assume is being referred to in this passage) Cosmos would refer to the order of the universe, and the very word simply means “world”, though can be interpreted to mean “universe” in the sense of the order of creation itself (for lack of a better word at least), though its Indo-European root word “konsmos” or “kems” means “to put in order”, thus Cosmos signifies the natural order of the world or the universe. Aion in Greek paganism refers to a god of time, more specifically time without limit, though he could also be taken as more of an abstract representation of time itself, as was the case in the Mithraic Mysteries, and the word Aion means “eternity” or “vital force”, thus signifying Aion as the vital force of infinite time. The connection made in this passage is that the Light of Nature is to be related with Cosmos and Aion and thus it is the light of the natural order of the universe and the bright flame of infinite time, or that at least is the inferrence we are to make. This broadens the concept of the Light of Nature significantly, though its association with the natural order (Cosmos) need not stretch it too far, insofar as it may, through identification with the natural order, signify immanent spiritual and intellectual awareness of Nature and its order, and from there the enlightenment that follows. The enlightenment, therefore, consists in the awakening of Man’s knowledge of Nature, and its relationship to Nature, and from there alignment with Nature – this can be rendered, from my perspective, in two senses; the first sense is the outer Nature, referring to the natural cosmos, its environment and more importantly its inner workings, while the second sense is the inner Nature, as in the Nature of all individual human beings, for which I would use the Chinese (or more specifically Taoist and neo-Confucian) concept of Ziran as an appellation, and the sum harmony of Man in relation to Nature is judged by his relation with both the Cosmos and with Ziran. The Light of Nature, then, could possibly be the spark that lights the way in this regard, leading humans away from artifice and rigid dogmas and towards independent and authentic existential inquiry and being in harmony with Nature in a holistic sense.
True to Jung’s assessment that the Light of Nature is a “pagan feeling”, there is a certain archetypal association established by Jung between the Light of Nature and a mythical figure from the pagan realm, namely Mercurius, the Roman form of the Greek god Hermes. It is safe assume the Mercurius that Jung speaks of in Alchemical Studies has more to do with alchemy (as the title suggests) than with paganism proper. Nonetheless, let’s have a look at Jung’s Mercurius. We can begin by highlighting his connection to the Light of Nature through alchemy:
The light hidden in nature and particularly in human nature likewise belongs to the stock of ancient alchemical ideas. Thus the “Tractatus Aristotelis” says: “See therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.” The light of nature is indeed of great importance in alchemy. Just as, according to Paracelsus, it enlightens man as to the workings of nature and gives him an understanding of natural things “by cagastric magic” (per magiam cagastricam), so it is the aim of alchemy to beget this light in the shape of the filius philosophorum. An equally ancient treatise of Arabic provenance attributed to Hermes, the “Tractatus aureus,” says (Mercurius is speaking): “My light excels all other lights, and my goods are higher than all other goods. I beget the light, but the darkness too is of my nature. Nothing better or more worthy of veneration can come to pass in the world than the union of myself with my son.” In the “Dicta Belini” (Belinus is a pseudo-Apollonius of Tyana) Mercurius says: “I enlighten all that is mine, and I make the light manifest on the journey from my father Saturn.” “I make the days of the world eternal, and I illumine all lights with my light.” Another author says of the “chymical marriage” from which arises the filius philosophorum: “They embrace and the new light is begotten of them, which is like no other light in the whole world.”
Later on, Jung expands the connection between Mercurius and the Light of Nature through the connection between Mercurius and fire:
Many treatises define Mercurius simply as fire. He is ignis elementaris noster naturalis ignis certissimus, which again indicates his “philosophic” nature. The aqua mercurialis is even a divine fire. This fire is “highly vaporous” (vaporosus). Indeed, Mercurius is really the only fire in the whole procedure. He is an “invisible fire, working in secret.” One text says that the “heart” of Mercurius is at the North Pole and that he is like a fire (northern lights). He is, in fact, as another text says, “the universal and scintillating fire of the light of nature, which carries the heavenly spirit within it.” This passage is particularly important as it relates Mercurius to the lumen naturae, the source of mystical knowledge second only to the holy revelation of the Scriptures. Once more we catch a glimpse of the ancient role of Hermes as the god of revelation. Although the lumen naturae, as originally bestowed by God upon his creatures, is not by nature ungodly, its essence was nevertheless felt to be abysmal, since the ignis mercurialis was also connected with the fires of hell. It seems, however, that the alchemists did not understand hell, or its fire, as absolutely outside of God or opposed to him, but rather as an internal component of the deity, which must indeed be so if God is held to be a coincidentia oppositorum. The concept of an all-encompassing God must necessarily include his opposite. The coincidentia, of course, must not be too radical or too extreme, otherwise God would cancel himself out. The principle of the coincidence of opposites must therefore be completed by that of absolute opposition in order to attain full paradoxicality and hence psychological validity.
The mercurial fire is found in the “centre of the earth,” or dragon’s belly, in fluid form. Benedictus Figulus writes: “Visit the centre of the earth, there you will find the global fire.” Another treatise says that this fire is the “secret, infernal fire, the wonder of the world, the system of the higher powers in the lower.” Mercurius, the revelatory light of nature, is also hell-fire, which in some miraculous way is none other than a rearrangement of the heavenly, spiritual powers in the lower, chthonic world of matter, thought already in St. Paul’s time to be ruled by the devil. Hell-fire, the true energic principle of evil, appears here as the manifest counterpart of the spiritual and the good, and as essentially identical with it in substance. After that, it can surely cause no offence when another treatise says that the mercurial fire is the “fire in which God himself burns in divine love.” We are not deceiving ourselves if we feel in scattered remarks of this kind the breath of true mysticism.
Thus, Mercurius is directly identified with the Light of Nature as the light which not only contained within itself spirit associated with the divine but also a certain abysmal quality associated with the fire of Hell, thus in some ways containing spiritual light as well as darkness within itself, but is more importantly associated with some sort of spiritual revelation. The association with the chthonic realm beneath the earth is, in my view, rather consistent with the association of Hermes with the underworld. Chthonios was one of the epithets affixed to Hermes within the Greek cults, and as Hermes Chthonios the god was invoked in private rituals inteded for casting curses, binding spells and raising the spirits of the earth, as well as being honored in festivals of the dead. Hermes in general was often associated with the underworld due to his role as the guide of souls in the underworld, and was always worshipped as a chthonic deity for aspects relating to fertility (hence why he was often venerated in the form of a phallus). And indeed, that role of Hermes containing both heavenly light and infernal darkness is consistent with how Hermes was seen both as an infernal god of necromancy and a benevolent protector and shepherd of souls. Not to mention, for his connections to revelation, look no further than the Orphic Hymn to Chthonic Hermes, which calls him “divine revealer”. In this sense, Hermes, or rather Mercurius, becomes an emblem of chthonic revelation, the revelation of Nature, whose light comes not from above but from within itself, through its own darkness, its murky mist which is illuminated by Man, through its negative foundation in which we see the mutual and often contradictory struggle that turns the wheels of freedom and fate.
Before we get into what this means, I’d like to get into what this has to do with Lucifer specifically, considering I tagged this with Luciferianism. Jung, of course, interprets Lucifer in a negative light, similar to Satan in that he’s called the father of lies. If nothing else, Jung should probably know that Jesus was also called Lucifer, within the Bible. But more to the point, in Jung’s work Lucifer and Mercurius, not just in Alchemical Studies where Lucifer is framed as effectively a shadow side for Mercurius, but in Man and His Symbols we find that Mercurius and Lucifer are linked together:
Envy, lust, sensuality, lies, and all known vices are the negative, “dark ” aspect of the unconscious, which can manifest itself in two ways. In the positive sense, it appears as a “spirit of nature,” creatively animating man, things, and the world. It is the “chthonic spirit” that has been mentioned so often in this chapter. In the negative sense, the unconscious (that same spirit) manifests itself as a spirit of evil, as a drive to destroy.
As has already been pointed out, the alchemists personified this spirit as “the spirit Mercurius ” and called it, with good reason, Mercurius duplex (the two-faced, dual Mercurius). In the religious language of Christianity, it is called the devil. But, however improbable it may seem, the devil too has a dual aspect. In the positive sense, he appears as Lucifer—literally, the light-bringer.
What is the chthonic spirit? Jung wrote about it as the dark side of the God image, for which sexuality apparently is its most important expression (for which the connection to Mercurius makes sense given that Hermes was often worshipped as a phallus), and he often pointed to this chthonic spirit as a source of both danger and innovation – danger because of the negative aspects of the unconscious, and because of the danger of the submergence of that chthonic spirit, but also innovation because it is within the same realm that human creativity and spiritual revelation are found, not least through the archetypal journey to the underworld. Donald Kalsched, writing in The Inner World of Trauma: Archetypal Defences of the Personal Spirit, remarks that Jung, despite his commentary on the development of Yahweh into a positive archetypal through the transition from Old Testament tyrant to New Testament shepherd as mediated through Job, always complained about Christianity handing Man’s chthonic spirit over to the Devil, to the realm of evil and the ego, rendering itself incomplete by casting out the chthonic element of the psyche, which for Kalsched lies at the root of his preference for alchemy to the point that he supposedly preferred Mercurius (or Mercurius Duplex) as the mediator of the Godhead instead of Jesus on the grounds that, unlike the Jesus we know today, Mercurius represented the complete union of opposites made possible by his chthonic nature. Exactly where Kalsched gets this assessment is not clear, and even a cursory analysis of Jungian psychology does not suggest it to be anti-Christian in content, not to mention we have reason to believe he despised what he called the “anti-Christian” culture of modernity. Nevertheless, like as Marx would do for Hegel, we can take key insights from Jung’s framework and use them to build a framework outside of Christianity, just that we cannot in the process of this assume things of Jung that are not true for Jung.
In any case, is there a mythic link between Mercurius and Lucifer that can be extrapolated? In the official canon of ancient Greece and Rome, most likely not, unless you make a loose link involving Nominos (the evening star) and Azizos (the morning star) who were identified with Hermes and Ares respectively and were worshipped, in their evening/morning star capacity, as heralds of the sun god Helios. Despite this there is some identification within the tradition of Luciferianism. Ben Kadosh, the eccentric father of Luciferianism, identified Lucifer with Hermes in Lucifer-Hiram through the Snake Principle, the principle of the serpent symbol, which he said belonged to Hermes-Mercurius, and described Hermes as one of the four shapes of the Lucifer (the other three shapes being the Moon or “a Moonintelligence”, Venus, and Jupiter). At first this seems outlandish, and it does indeed speak to the general loose connections that tend to be conjured up within occultism, but there was also a curious note in Asian and Jungian Views on Ethics which, although tangential to the Lumen Naturae, does touch on the relationship between Lucifer and the other gods of Greek paganism:
In Christian myth, Lucifer (literally “light-bearer”) became a rebel archangel whose fall from heaven was referred to in Isaiah 14, 42: “How thou art fallen, oh day-star, son of the morning.” This Old Testament passage, part of a polemic against the King of Babylon, was interpreted to mean that the chief of the angels who “kept not their estate” was named Lucifer before he fell, and thereafter Satan, the Adversary. This Lucifer was identified with Phosphoros and the Phosphoroi, pagan terms which referred both to the “morning and evening star” and to a particular shining or revealing quality associated with the gods prior to the Olympian cults. Thus, Hestia’s hearthfire, Hermes’ wayfinding, Artemis’ knowledge of the wilds, Hekate’s dark wisdom, Selene’s shining, Persephone’s underworld knowing, Pan’s spontaneity, and Aphrodite’s beauty were all a quality of “Phosphoros”. It was this identification that allowed Christian apologists to maintain with Augustine, that “Omnes dii genitum daemona/all the gods of the pagans are demons” and that these demons are the devil. Thus, they turned Lucifer into Sata, the adversary of Jahweh, the Old Testament God. Another often-used passage was Genesis 6 in which the “sons of God” who were set over men “fell” by copulating with “the daughters of men,” thus producing a race of demons. Those two were identified with the pagan Gods. All of those demons were seen to occupy themselves particularly with the divination and magic which was their “light”.
The identification of Phosphoros with countless gods from the ancient Greek world is sourced to Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher’s Lexikon der Grieschischen und Romischen Mythologie (or “Lexicon of Greek and Roman Mythology”). Sadly, however, I am unable to find a translation of it into English, so I couldn’t tell you what the German copy I did manage to find on the internet could tell you. If there’s anyone among my readership who can read and translate German, please get in touch so I can get a good look at what Roscher had to say about Phosphoros, particularly in relation to Hermes since there are no extant sources to Hermes (let alone Pan, Aphrodite, or Hestia) being given the Phosphoros epithet. One interesting lead it might present, however, is a either way of conceptualizing the Light of Nature which contains the abstract forms associated with the various gods (that is to say abstract ideas that correspond with hearthfire, wayfinding, knowledge of the wilds, dark wisdom, shining, underworld knowing, spontaneity and beauty), or just a separate conception of said abstract qualities that perhaps ties back to the Light of Nature. Either way, one can make parallels to the way Christianity sometimes took aspects of pagan mythos and, when they were not making demons of it, elevated aspects of it to the realm of abstract concepts relating to the divinity of God or the content of Christian salvation (for example, Christianity uses the Greek terms zoe and aion, which are associated with two gods from Greek myth, Dionysus and Aion respectively, to refer to their idea of eternal life in Heaven), which can be taken as way to compete with the heritage of Christianity, or just drawing lessons from it at a time where Christianity is still dominant in the Western world.
But, in totality, what have we established in regards to the Light of Nature? Admittedly, we seem to get a very broad and open-ended concept – the Light of Nature encompasses the skeptical intellect in alignment with Nature over dogma, the spark of the unconscious, the “fire of the underworld” which perhaps could be taken as the illumination of the unconscious, and even Jung’s prevailing conception of the “chthonic spirit” that underpins the unity of opposites. Jung’s analysis of Paracelsus’ intention is that the Light of Nature and the Light of God (the Lumen Dei) are to be taken as complimentary opposites, two separate means of attaining knowledge, sometimes even seen as co-existent in ideal circumstances. But, if we deal in a cosmos that is uncreated, whose order is thus self-emergent or self-arising (or Ziran), and whose basis is essentially fully materialistic in that the prima materia of the universe is matter-energy, where is the Father, where is the creator, and at that point if God is put in doubt where is the Lumen Dei? The Light of Nature is thus the Light that remains, and indeed always has been with us, whatever our illusions about ourselves would tell us otherwise, and it has been the spark by which we engage independently with and against the world around us, in alignment with Nature within and without, the source of existential authenticity once it becomes awakened. It is thus a latent relational construct that encompasses many psychorreal attributes, philosophical concepts and archetypal constructs, all of which fall back into the same theme in the end.
That is the Light in absence of any God that, I think, becomes the source of a much clearer concept of philosophical grounding than many other concepts that I have played with in the past. Indeed, it creates an anchor of spiritual engagement rooted in the premise that it is Nature and Man’s relationship to it that is the central locus of meaning rather than striving under a God in Heaven (whether it be Yahweh, Allah, Vishnu or any other), while building a meaningful, if anything, religious (if you choose such a word) base that does not require those Gods, because the Light of Nature operates on a basis that rejects their authority.
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