Paganism and The Devil

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I’m getting sick of articles claiming that Paganism is based on Satanism, or that the two are the same thing, so I thought I’d dig out and dust off an old article on Lucifer, a very interesting character indeed. Many are aware of the similarities between the pre-Christian horned Gods of Europe and the modern image of the Devil. Horned, with cloven hooves, he resembles Pan, Greek God of pleasure, fertility, and the pastoral. Interesting that this imagery has long been associated with the Devil, considering that the Bible refers to Satan as a serpent or dragon, but never a horned, goat-legged god. This is partly what irritates witches and pagans so much. Because of this, most pagans claim that they ‘don’t believe in the Devil’, but I think we can learn something from the dark deities, demons and archetypes found the all over the world, particularly rulers and messengers of the underworld.

When I first wrote about Lucifer, I found it a difficult and time-consuming article. It seemed to take weeks, despite not turning out as I’d planned. The longer it took, the more frustrated and self-doubting I became, and the more I wondered about my abilities as a writer. Then, I remembered a snippet of something I had read online about Lucifer: that he is the doubt in the mind, the force that makes us question ourselves, question God, and consequently the force that compels us to search for the truth in everything.

No wonder he was reaching out to me at that time in my life – when I was marching firmly down the wrong path, intent on ignoring what I knew, deep down, to be right. My subconscious was probably screaming at me to slam on the brakes, had I listened for even a second. Despite the emotional car crash that followed, I learned a great deal, and without those experiences, I would not be in the positive position that I’m in today.

This is the aim of spirituality, surely – to know and trust oneself.

Does this mean that Lucifer is a force for good – a catalyst for an ultimately positive process? Perhaps not. There’s a chance that Lucifer is just trying to lead me to hell, as Christians believe. Ironically, he is also known as the Father of Lies.

So who is Lucifer? Was he always the seed of doubt planted in the mind? Is he a Promethean character, challenging us to take a bite from the forbidden fruit of knowledge, and uncover the truth within ourselves, and the world

Lucifer was the Latin name for Eosphoros, a Greek god assigned to the planet Venus as it rose and was visible in the morning sky. Hesperus was his brother, and represented the same star as it rose in the evening. Because of its cosmic position, Venus is not visible in the sky at night, and during morning and evening, it is the brightest thing in the sky but for the sun and moon. The ancient Greeks distinguished between the two appearances of Venus each day, believing the planet to be two separate celestial bodies, and assigning deities accordingly. His name is derived from lucis (light) and ferre (to bring). So how did this minor deity become synonymous with the Devil?

Simple: a mistranslation, or rather, a literal translation. In the Vulgate, the revised Latin version of the Bible from 382 A.D., several characters were branded ‘lucifer,’ and the initial was generally not capitalised. This is because it was being used as a description, not a name. In the Old Testament, ‘lucifer’ is thought to refer to a Babylonian king whose pride in attempting to ‘exalt [his] throne above the stars of God’ was punished. It replaces ‘Helel Ben-Shachar’ – Hebrew for ‘morning star, son of  dawn.’ In the King James version of the Bible, ‘lucifer’ became ‘Lucifer,’ and his reputation as a prideful being in opposition to God has been cemented ever since.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!

–        Isaiah 14:12 (King James Bible)

In other versions of the Bible, this passage often contains the translation ‘Day Star’ (also possibly a Canaanite celestial deity), in the place of ‘Lucifer.’

Writer and Angel researcher Gustav Davidson reminds us that:

‘…the authors of the books of the Old Testament knew nothing of fallen or evil angels, and did not mention them, although, at times, as in Job 4:18, the Lord “put no trust” in his angels and “charged them with folly,” which would indicate that angels were not all that they should be.’

–        Gustav Davidson, A Dictionary of Angels, Including Fallen Angels.

It seems that Satan and Lucifer are not the same entity, or even allies. Or at least, they weren’t, in the beginning.

Looking back, I can see that my interest in Lucifer at that time in my life was very telling. I was lying to myself and being foolish. Pride was at the root of most of it. In the Tarot, the 15th card in the deck is the Devil. This card is all about the shackles we place on ourselves and must escape – addiction, negative situations and damaging relationships.

According to the Order of Phosphorus, Luciferianism is a philosophy centred on individuality and self-enlightenment. Many Luciferians view the Adversary as a symbol or subconscious force of self enlightenment and motivation. The Church of Satan regards the Four Crown Princes of Hell – Satan, Lucifer, Leviathan and Belial – as separate entities, existing at each point of the four-armed cross. Unsurprisingly, Lucifer is seen as presiding over the East, the direction of the sunrise, enlightenment, communication, and the intellect. If only I’d understood then the message he was trying to get to me.

Christian bloggers be warned: pagans do not worship the Devil, and were getting tired of hearing it. This could be dangerous for you, as we’re clearly in league with the Devil.

Another irony is that Eosphorus has definitely benefited from the fear surrounding him. Belief empowers both God and Satan, good and evil. Thanks to Christianity, Satan and Lucifer now have their own followers, Churches, religious doctrines, and religious texts.

How you choose to view Lucifer defines how he may or may not affect you, so be careful how you perceive him lest the lies, or the truth, take root in your mind.