A Lucid Look at Lucifer

From New Dawn Special Issue 10 (Dec 2009)

We have to literarily, philosophically and theologically deconstruct certain concepts before we can really understand them. This is a process where we look beneath and beyond the commonly assumed folklore.

Some readers may think Lucifer is a clearly designated biblical character, the same figure as Satan. Lucifer is the fallen angel in the Bible, in the Book of Genesis. Right? Of course, the answer is no on all counts.

Surprisingly, the word Lucifer appears only once in the Bible in Isaiah 14:12, translating the Hebrew word helel meaning shining one. In the Greek Septuagint translation, it was rendered as heosphoros (Ηωσφόρος) or light-bearer. This word comes from Hesperus, a Greek goddess of the dawn. When the Romans took over the Christian scriptures in the 300s, Jerome translated helel and heosphoros as Lucifer in his Latin Vulgate Bible. Whether in old Hebrew, Greek or Latin, the word was the common name for Venus, the brightest planet, the Morning Star, the Light-Bearer, the Day Star. So in the real meaning of Isaiah 14:12, Lucifer merely describes the vainglorious image that the arrogant King of Babylon would seek to affect.

Some Protestant translations from John Wycliffe and others followed the Vulgate. But the respected Protestant biblical exegete Matthew Henry (Matthew Henry’s Commentary, 1721) says nothing about Lucifer being Satan, focusing on the real meaning of the text, which has to do with the nation of Babylon and its rulers who oppressed the Old Testament Hebrews.

It goes without saying that a simple internet search will bring up mountains of material to the contrary, supporting the “traditional” view that Lucifer is the fallen angel, the Devil, the same as the Satan cited in Luke 10:18. But in truth, the very same term, Day Star, is also applied to the Christ himself in II Peter 1:19, Revelation 22:16, and in the ancient Latin Easter hymn, the Exultet.

In an interesting coincidence, an early Christian theologian and bishop back in the 300s was named Lucifer, so it was obviously not a negative name back then. What’s more, I’m pretty sure Jerome would have known of him since they were contemporaries in the early Church.

In some ways, the personification of Lucifer as Satan is crucial to certain versions of Christianity. Otherwise, if the so-called Fall of Lucifer does not account for the origin of Satan, then the Old Testament is silent on the matter. Regardless of that, only a few Bible versions follow Jerome’s translation. Early Protestants differed. The English King James version used Lucifer, but Martin Luther’s German translation did not. When Luther was in seminary, he studied the Vulgate, so he purposefully differed from Jerome by not using Lucifer. We begin with the King James version:

“How art thou fallen from heaven O Lucifer, son of the morning? How are thou cut down to the ground which didst weaken the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12, King James version)

“Quomodo cecidisti de caelo Lucifer, qui mane oriebaris corruisti in terram qui vulnerabas gentes?” (Jerome’s Latin Vulgate)

“O Lucifer who didst rise in the morning! How art thou fallen to the earth, that didst wound the nations!” (Douay Rheims English translation of the Vulgate)

“Du schöner Morgenstern.” (You beautiful morning star.) (Luther Bible)

“O morning star, son of the dawn!” (New International)

“O Day Star, son of the morning.” (Revised Standard)

“Bright morning star.” (New Revised Standard)

“O Day Star, son of Dawn!” (New English Bible)

“O star of the morning, son of the dawn!” (New American Standard)

Lucifer or Dawn or Venus is also a figure in ancient Canaanite mythology, having nothing to do with Satan or an evil.

The dwelling of the gods and the riding of the clouds are both known to us from the Ras Shamra texts at Ugarit in N. Syria, and so too is Dawn a deity, of whom this figure is described as a son. The most high is Elyon, the title so often used of God…. All these elements may be paralleled in the Old Testament, suggesting how richly Canaanite religion and mythology have influenced Old Testament thought. (Interpreters One Volume Commentary of the Bible, 1971)

Old and new reference sources tell us more:

Lucifer Isa. 14:12. This word, signifying light bearer, occurs but once in our Bible, and then applies to the king of Babylon to indicate his glory as a morning star, or figuratively, a son of the morning. Tertullian and some others suppose the passage to relate to the fall of Satan; and hence the term is usually applied in that way; though, as it seems, without specific warrant. (The Union Bible Dictionary, 1842)

Its application, from St. Jerome downwards, to Satan in his fall from heaven, arises probably from the fact that the Babylonian Empire is in scripture represented as the type of tyrannical and self-idolizing power, and especially connected with the empire of the Evil One in the Apocalypse. (Smith’s Bible Dictionary, 1884)

In spite of this rendering, the proper name ‘Lucifer’ is not in the original Hebrew text. In Hebrew ‘Lucifer, son of the morning’ is helel ben shachar. It could be translated ‘shining one, son of the dawn.’ It is not a proper name, but an epithet for the king of Babylon. (Bryan Knowles, ‘Who Is Lucifer?’, www.godward.org)

Hence, Jerome’s use of Lucifer as a capitalised proper name is not correct. The Roman Church concocted the Lucifer-as-Satan myth after they took over emergent Christianity in the early 300s, as evidenced by references to both Tertullian and Jerome.

If Lucifer is so important, why is nothing else ever said? Light Bearer, Morning Star; nothing negative about that. Lucifer not only does not mean anything negative, as a matter of fact, it doesn’t really seem to mean anything at all, biblically speaking. Out of the over 800,000 words in the Bible and the Apocrypha, Lucifer appears once, and then in an ambiguous reference. Whatever the word means to certain Christian sects, theosophical and metaphysical groups, or secret societies, as you can clearly see it does not come from the Bible!

The Pagan Origins of Satan

Satan (Hebrew ha-Satan, in Arabic Shaitan) translates as adversary or accuser. In all three Semitic religions, Satan refers to the opposite of the good god, or the so-called Devil. This is, of course, a direct transplant from Persian Zoroastrianism into the ancient Hebrew religion and then into the Talmud, Kabala, the New Testament and lastly in the Qur’an. Zoroastrianism poses two gods, one responsible for good and another responsible for evil. The polyglot god traditions found in Genesis reflect this Persian pagan influence.

For some, the image and persona of the Satan is quite fascinating, indeed, perhaps even noble. As readers of English literature know, John Milton addressed this theme in his famous 1667 poetic magnum opus, Paradise Lost. Consider the following hypothesis, based on the multiple Semitic deities portrayed in Genesis.

El in Egyptian is also the Child, who in the early Sabean age, was Sut, the planetary type, Saturn. Later El was transformed into Satan, whom Job introduces as one of the sons of god. Satan was accounted a son and an Angel of God by all Semitic nations. The learned Kabalist, Eliphas Lévi, speaks of Satan thus:

‘It is the angel who is proud enough to believe himself god; proud enough to buy his independence at the price of eternal suffering and torture; beautiful enough to have adored himself in full divine light; strong enough to reign in darkness amidst agony, and to have built himself a throne on his inextinguishable fire.’

He further says that the true name of Satan is that of Jehovah reversed, for Satan is not a black god but the negation of Deity. The Devil of the early Christians, with horns, hoofs and tail was introduced from Babylon through the Jewish Talmud. The Christian religion transforms Satan into an enemy of God, whereas in reality by Satan the highest divine spirit or Occult Wisdom on earth is meant. (E. Valentia Straiton, Celestial Ship of the North)

Eliphas Lévi explains the symbolism of Lucifer:

What is more absurd and more impious than to attribute the name of Lucifer to the devil, that is, to personified evil. The intellectual Lucifer is the spirit of intelligence and love; it is the Paraclete, it is the Holy Spirit, while the physical Lucifer is the great agent of universal magnetism. To personify evil and exalt it into an intelligence which is the rival of God, into a being which can understand but love no more – this is a monstrous fiction. To believe that God permits this evil intelligence to deceive and destroy his feeble creatures is to make God more wicked than the devil. By depriving the devil of the possibility of love and repentance, God forces him to do evil. Moreover a spirit of error and falsehood can only be a folly which thinks, nor does it deserve indeed the name of spirit. The devil is God’s antithesis, and if we define God as He who is we must define His opposite as he who is not. (Eliphas Lévi, The Mysteries of Magic)

Alexander S. Holub in his The Gospel Truth: The Heresy of History (2004), notes:

The Yahwists and Elohists reflected a very early stage of the Israelite religion. This is when it was still essentially a nature/fertility religion much the same as the other pagan religions of the same time and region. It contained things like angels (in the text called Elohim), talking animals, dreams, and the idea of an anthropomorphic deity. This deity brought forth both good and evil as any anthropomorphic deity does. There was no Satan to bring the natural disasters. It was God. It was God also when (he was) displeased with someone simply ‘removed’ him by taking his life. So it was necessary to propitiate and worship this deity in order not to anger him in any way. It was later, after the Babylonian ‘captivity’, that this God became patient, just, and merciful, just like [the Zoroastrian good god called] Ahura Mazda.

When we deconstruct the words, symbols and images, it turns out that Lucifer-Satan-Devil, the source of all evil, is originally neither a Hebrew, Christian nor a Muslim concept, springing directly from much earlier Persian pagan roots. Naturally, all this biblical revisionism is not popular with the priests and preachers. If they couldn’t scare you with Lucifer, the Devil and visions of burning with Satan in Hell, there might be fewer donations. We can’t have that!

Lucifer in Theosophy and Secret Societies

Now that we understand more about the real origins of the word as misused in the Vulgate Bible, we see that various metaphysical groups, Illuminati orders and secret societies essentially created their own deity centred on the image of Lucifer as Light Bearer. Madame Blavatsky, like Eliphas Lévi, said the Holy Spirit and Lucifer are the same entity.

Lucifer, or Luciferus, is the name of the angelic Entity presiding over the light of truth as over the light of day… to the profane [the uninitiated] the Astral Light [universal Soul, the Matrix of the Universe] may be God and Devil at once…. Lucifer is divine and terrestrial light, the “Holy Ghost” and “Satan” at one and the same time…. The Fall was the result of man’s knowledge, for his “eyes were opened.” Indeed, he was taught Wisdom and the hidden knowledge by the “Fallen Angel”…. And now it stands proven that Satan, or the Red Fiery Dragon, the “Lord of Phosphorus,” and Lucifer, or “Light-Bearer,” is in us: it is our Mind – our tempter and Redeemer, our intelligent liberator and Saviour from pure animalism. Without this principle – the emanation of the very essence of the pure divine principle Mahat (Intelligence), which radiates direct from the Divine mind – we would be surely no better than animals. (Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, 1888)

For those wanting to explore beyond this, all the sources cited, and lots more, are not hard to find. Neither have we dealt with the myriad of modern belief systems called Satanism, yet another complex and diverse topic, but that will have to be at another time. For now, read the quotes on page 63 and see what the secret initiatic orders and their high adepts have to say about their god/demigod/demon-god/holy spirit.

Lucifer in Summary

Several conclusions present themselves. Firstly, the Lucifer of the Bible is a minor character at best, mentioned only once, not really standing out or signifying much of anything. The real character portrayed in the Isaiah text is an arrogant Babylonian monarch who oppressed the Hebrew people. Secondly, the mystical interpretations about Lucifer as Satan were added by Kabalistic rabbis, Catholic priests, Islamic mullahs, and Protestant preachers, all with clearly vested self-interests. Thirdly, various occult philosophers and metaphysicians explored and enlarged the Lucifer paradigm, creating an odd sort of god-demigod figure. Lastly, on the outer fringes of this magic and mysticism are the secret societies and Illuminati initiatic orders, especially Freemasons of one kind or another.

Remember, there are secret lodges, degrees and rituals, unknown outside the upper level adepts of the Illuminati orders. Their peculiar Luciferian doctrines and dogma always have had and still do have a significant impact on world history and geopolitical affairs. Not so much because of the rituals themselves, but because of the people who practice this strange cultic religion. Like any belief system, its dogma and doctrines, its morals and values, colour the decisions made by its truly devoted believers. Certain ones are in very high positions in government, the churches and the social order.

I hope some of you will continue your explorations into the occult underground and its impact on the world around us. If my deconstruction of the Lucifer legends and lore has been a literary Light Bearer, then let it be!

This article was published in New Dawn Special Issue 10.
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