Saint Lucia (or Saint Lucy) is a Christian Martyr who is celebrated on St. Lucy’s Day, a feast on December 13th in Scandinavian countries, where young girls make a procession dressed in white and boys wear wizard like conical hats with stars on them. In this procession one girl is representative of Saint Lucia and wears a red sash and a crown of candles (so that her hands are free to carry food for her feast), remaining silent while the other children sing hymns to honor Saint Lucia. Saint Lucia is honored as a light-bringer who brings vision and light to “the blind” and the feast represents light overcoming darkness, which is an almost universal Winter Solstice theme based on astronomy. The name Lucia / Lucy shares the Latin root Lux, meaning light, with Lucifer the morning-star and fallen star.
In Catholicism, Saint Lucia’s story is that she was a young Christian girl who had a marriage with a wealthy pagan arranged by her mother. St. Lucia decided to give a large portion of her dowry to the poor. Her fiance heard about this and was outraged and reported her to the Governor of Syracuse who ordered that she burn a sacrifice to the image of the Emperor as retribution. When St. Lucia refused. She was to be burned at the stake but the wood refused to burn. She was tortured and had her eyes removed from her head – and most iconography has her either holding her eyes or her eyes on a plate. Before she was finally killed by a sword, she accurately prophecized the death of both the Governor of Syracuse and the Emperor. Not being raised Catholic myself, I first came across Saint Lucia in American folk magick, where she is worked with and prayed to for psychic ability and the gifts of prophecy.
As we know with many regions that become Christianized or dual-faith, the Paganism and Christianity starts to become very blurred. Old Pagan customs blend into newer Christian ones and older deities and spirits begin to merge with the newer Christian saints. There are several theories about Saint Lucia’s origins in Scandinavian countries. Some link her to Sol or Sunna, and others with Holda and Berchta, who were also celebrated during the Winter Solstice time in these regions. However, one of the most interesting connections that I’ve come across is in The Luminous Stone: Lucifer in Western Esotericism anthology edited by Daniel Schulke and Michael Howard. In it, Swedish ethnologist and occult researcher Fredrik Eytzinger has a chapter on Saint Lucia entitled “Saint Lucifer and the Black Arts.”
In parts of Norway, she’s associated with the various hidden folk of the region and its said that between St. Lucy’s Day and Yule that trolls, witches and evil spirits roam wild in a procession called Lussiferda, where St. Lucia under the name Lussi is a witch and demoness leading the event. In The Luminous Stone, Eytzinger discusses how folks in the western parts of Sweden refuse to take part in St. Lucy’s Feast and that she was either seen as a form of Lilith or as a female embodiment of Lucifer. There are many interesting comparisons with Lilith being the mother of the Hidden Folk and demons in Jewish folklore and with Lucia being associated with the Hidden Folk of Sweden and Norway.