God, companion, lover, friend;
Enemy, trickster, guardian;
Lord of Light;
King of Hell;
Prince of Darkness;
or the Devil himself.
O Lucifer, Who art Thou?
Bringing up Lucifer is a sure-fire way to spark a lively debate. As controversial as they come, the Lord of Light or the Prince of Darkness depending on your opinion, renders strong emotional responses in many. Was Lucifer a god or a devil? The Lord of Light or the King of Hell? There’s no definitive answer to be found, leaving me asking, “O Lucifer, Who Art Thou?”
My Uncle Lucky
I’ve had a complex intimate relationship with a spiritual companion who I understand to be Lucifer for at least a couple of decades. I’ve written about my Uncle Lucky before where I told the story of how I said a long goodbye to him. In typical Uncle Lucky style, he didn’t stay away for long. I should have known that any entity (who knows if he’s a god?) that has any many forms as he does would just re-invent himself. Given his outlaw nature, I also should have anticipated that he would come back if, and when, he chose. Of course, I could resist, but Lucifer has a way of always being present whether in my private witch world or in the popular culture.
My Lucifer presented himself to me in his angelic form, at least for a while. Now he’s back to being his old faded rock star self once more. Or maybe he’s Mercury in human form? I just get a grip on who he is to me and then *poof* he’s either changed form or has wandered off. My experience with Lucifer as a difficult to define entity seems to be reflected in how he’s been portrayed and in other peoples personal understanding. This poses the question: “O, Lucifer Who Art Thou?”
Lucifer and the Witches
There is absolutely no way that I could summarize the multitude of ways that Lucifer is conceptualized throughout history. I couldn’t even do a decent job on the diverse ways that he’s seen in our contemporary time. I’ll leave that up to more earnest thinkers. Instead, I’m going to talk about some of aspects of Lucifer that seem relevant to those of you with a heart like mine.
Lucifer, interestingly, was a minor deity that the Romans based on the Greek Eosphorus (aka Phosphorus). The name means “Light Bringer” in Latin. There is also a connection to Venus through the use of Lucifer to describe the Morning Star.
Perhaps the most important contribution of Lucifer to modern witchcraft comes from the classic Aradia or A Gospel of the Witches where Lucifer impregnates Diana with Aradia. Diana herself had been referred to as Lucifer in ancient Rome, just as Hekate had also been called Phosphorus. Lucifer is also seen in the ancient texts as a torch bearer, akin to the two previously mentioned goddesses. So, Lucifer is an epithet used to describe deities and a minor god himself. In either role, Lucifer has been strongly associated with witchcraft down through the centuries.
Dancing with the Devil
Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight? I don’t know about you, but I think that Lucifer in his role as the Devil of the Witches is an ideal magickal companion. This is the devil that Christians were so outraged over. Whether we call him Lucifer or The Horned God, he is there as a compilation of various energy currents as dangerous as they are appealing. Identifying Lucifer with the Christian devil is a whole other topic that I’m not going to get into. I’m talking about the dark, delicious energy that can attend our rites if we seek it or sometimes even when we don’t. This energy can be dangerous or we can summon it for our own purposes. It is the devil in those historical depictions, engaged in erotic interaction with witches. This characteristic of Lucifer is like playing with fire. But, don’t many of us like to do just that?
A Witch’s Companion
While I have waltzed a time or forty with Lucifer as Devil of the Witches, my understanding of him extends to that of being a companion. He’s been one of my beloved spirit guides for most of my adult life, although I think his energy has always been with me. I’ve never experienced Lucifer as the aforementioned Torch Bearer or Light Bringer. The same applies to his role as The Morning Star, it simply doesn’t apply to my understanding. To me, he has always been the Earth-Bound Angel, guiding me along my Middle World journey of this life. He looks a lot like the Lucifer from the show Supernatural.
This is probably the best description of how I personally see Lucifer and is an example of how we see ourselves in the gods. I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian home where Lucifer was very much vilified based on the church’s teachings. I always felt like an outsider, so it makes sense that I would identify with this rebel prince who caused such an uproar in heaven. As a witch, I staged my own rebellion when I rejected the faith of my upbringing and mainstream thinking.
Lord of Englightenment
While the Rebel Prince left the Upper World for a darker climate, Lucifer as the Morning Star is very much of the Upper World, the realm of the intellect. This is another characteristic that has Christian underpinnings, but it’s never resonated me with. The whole idea being that the Christian Lucifer/Devil/Satan was used as a tool to squelch paganism, extinguish rebellion and kill thousands of “witches.” Enlightenment and any form of personal agency was sinful. From this perspective, the Lord of Enlightenment was evil incarnate.
I consider my long-standing connection with Mercury (Hermes) is a reflection of this type of energy current. In this way, the Lord of Enlightenment is certainly familiar to me, as I think to many witches. We are typically insatiably curious creatures, hellbent on knowledge and discovering the mysteries. This energy current comes to us with different names, but it is luciferian through the application of the epithets of Light Bringer or Torch Bearer. Here Lucifer grants knowledge to humanity symbolized through a promethean fire.
Prince of Darkness
That rebellious side of Lucifer ended him up as the King of Hell in Christian mythology, a common view largely shaped by Milton’s Paradise Lost. Hell was the lot of those who sinned. I personally reject this whole idea, although Lucifer as the Prince of Darkness resonates with me deeply. There are many magical traditions that interpret Lucifer in this way, or at least that this is one aspect of his personality. Ruling over the darkness, much more like the Under World realm than the Christian hell, Lucifer guards the threshold and lights the way. This threshold between darkness and illumination can provide us with an energy current for navigating our way through our personal Under World. It’s also reflective of the struggle between debauchery and self-discipline. I often work with Under World energy in removal magick, so I do see my Uncle Lucky as a helpful mediator in this regard.
O, Lucifer Who Art Thou?
There is so much more to write about Lucifer, but I’m stopping here with this summary of some of the ways that he can be applied to various roles and energy currents that are useful in my personal witchcraft. I’m not sure if I have described one deity (or entity) or different ones. Lucifer remains as complex as compelling, refusing to come forward with a narrow definition to soothe my mind.
Perhaps this multi-faceted, contradictory mythology that crosses from the most esoteric branches of theosophy to popular TV shows is what underlies Lucifer’s enduring popularity. Whether as the sexy bad guy or the gender-bending Lord of Enlightenment, there is an aspect of Lucifer for everyone – even if it’s to fear him as the King of Hell. Or is it that we call a bunch of different entities and things “Lucifer?” So here I am back where I started asking, “O Lucifer, Who Art Thou?”
PS – Here’s a great blog that discusses the idea that “Lucifer” is a descriptor rather than an actual god. There’s also a link to a fantastic journey to the God of Light from The Unnamed Path.
Visit Keepingherkeys.com to learn about all sorts of things, but there is no more about Lucifer. You’ll have to go elsewhere for that.