Felix Culpa

ImageThe concept of felix culpa is said to originally stem from the writings of St. Augustine (thought St. Ambrose is also a contender), and can be seen within the Easter Vigil of Exsultet:

O certe necessárium Adæ peccátum,

quod Christi morte delétum est!

O felix culpa,

quæ talem ac tantum méruit habére Redemptórem!

O truly necessary sin of Adam,

destroyed completely by the death of Christ!

O happy fault,

that merited so great a redeemer!

Within this context, the ‘fortunate fall’ as it is often referred to, is used to explain why God allows evils to occur—so that a greater good may arise from them. Man’s fall to temptation within the Garden of Eden is thus a ‘necessary’ sin, one which allowed for Christ’s martyrdom to happen in the first place, and through that humanity was witness to the grace and mercy of God. 

It could also be said that mankind’s fall not only allowed for Christ to fulfill his role as savior, but also allowed for humanity to redeem themselves. Within the Garden of Eden, the first of men were created sinless, entitled to all that God had to offer without any knowledge that it could just as easily be taken away. They were granted the joys of paradise for simply being and existing. Upon their exile from the Garden, it is said that the righteous were still not allowed admittance back into Heaven after death—not until Christ’s sacrifice. This gave humanity a second chance, a chance to earn their own entry into heaven once more. But notice, despite being redeemed through Christ, paradise is not something we are ‘entitled’ to any longer—it is something to work towards, something that must be earned. And through that effort, the rewards are thus much more appreciated than if we, as Adam and Eve, were simply given them without having to lift a finger. It also introduced a choice, where man could either choose to accept Christ’s gift and work towards eternal life, or reject the second chance given and accept an afterlife of being separated from God.

But for me, felix culpa is not limited to this interpretation alone.It could be applied to either of the two ‘falls’—mankind’s and Lucifer’s. And if we believe the theory that Lucifer was the serpent that led Eve to temptation, the two falls become entwined—after all, without the Lightbearer’s own fall from grace, would the latter have even happened?

Luciferian interpretation of man’s fall often sees humanity as being given the chance to grow and learn through their own mistakes, rather than being caught in the child-like state of naivete that Eden provided. Eve was offered knowledge, the chance to become more and know more than what was offered through Eden, but at a price. Lucifer’s own fall, whether spurred by the hope for change or the love of his God, also came at a terrible price.And even if we look at it through the lens of Christianity, in which Lucifer is said to be evil incarnate, without his fall could God’s goodness be fully appreciated without having something to compare it to?

Ultimately, felix culpa to me is based on two important ideals—the first being that of choice. Lucifer had the choice to rebel, Eve had the choice to bite the fruit, Jesus had the choice to sacrifice himself for humanity, and through Christ humanity regained the choice of their afterlife. While no doubt the original context of felix culpa necessitates the omniscience of God, of a concept of fate and a grand design, I’m rather partial to the ‘fortunate fall’ interpretation, of having to do with ‘luck’ and chance and risk. Why should the ‘rewards’ (knowledge, redemption, etc.) be offered so cheaply, that we should not have to risk anything of value? Our choices are made so much more significant if they are difficult decisions to make, and it is said that God wanted humanity to choose to follow him; for what value would it hold if we should be forced to obey? 

The second part of felix culpa would be knowing and understanding the worth of something through its loss. Both humanity and Lucifer were separated from God upon their respective falls, but where one has the ability to win back that union, the other does not. Through Iblis, we see that eternal separation only serves to make his love burn all the brighter. Through Original Sin, humanity lost not only paradise, but the security and comfort that paradise provided. Their fall, as brought on by the serpent’s temptation and the choices they made, introduced death and suffering which offered a comparison through which life could be more fully appreciated. Had they remained in the Garden, would they have understood and appreciated life without also knowing death? Joy without grief? The knowledge of our own mortality, that our lives on this earth are limited and brief, is what allows us to understand the value of living. 

“From this descent

Celestial Virtues rising, will appear

More glorious … than from no fall.” (Paradise Lost, Book II. verses 14-16)

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An Explanation of Sorts

I’ve gotten some rather distressed messages lately from my followers, asking about the direction I’ve been going with my recent posts. Although they haven’t directly said it, I think they’re concerned that I’m ‘repackaging’ the Abrahamic faiths into a Luciferian-friendly exterior. I think they’re concerned that I’m focusing on Lucifer’s worship and love of God too much, which is admittedly rather unheard of within Luciferianism, and accepting that YHWH is just, good, perfect and should be trusted implicitly.

Basically, if I’m saying that Lucifer loves and worships YHWH, what purpose does his rebellion serve? Why should we look up to him within a belief system that gains its strength from his revolt, and from his doubt and questioning?

First off, I just want to point out that I know my recent perspectives are highly un-Luciferian in nature, at least to the majority of Luciferians who would not agree with such statements. I have never, and will never, claim that my beliefs and viewpoints are characteristic of all Luciferians, or Luciferianism as a whole.  

From the beginning, my path has been about questioning and doubting. This has not changed. Whereas at first I was led to question the validity of viewing Lucifer as the enemy, I’m now prompted to question the Luciferian tendency of viewing God as the enemy. For me, it has never been about finding out who as ‘wrong’ or ‘right’—I’m just trying to figure out the entirety of the story. From there, I’ll make my own judgments. Shaping my beliefs off the biases of Luciferians is no better than shaping it off the biases of Christians.

Luciferianism as a faith is highly critical of stagnation. My posts are no more than a roadmap of where I came from, and where I am now—they’re not a final destination. My perspectives and thoughts will inevitably change and morph, be broken and rebuilt—and that is what keeps it growing and thriving. 

But apart from my faith as a Luciferian, I’m also a devotee of Lucifer. I’m lead to try to understand each and every aspect of his, from humble lover of god, to the Adversary of man, to the rebel angel who slew his brothers, to the Throneless King, and everything in between.  If I were to only honor one part of him, strive to take in only those certain qualities, I would reflect only a portion of him. That is not what I seek to do. I cannot pick and choose only the parts of him that I agree with, or am comfortable with, and still claim to embody him.

In regards to the possibility of Lucifer still loving YHWH, does rebelling necessarily negate all love? Does love mean we are blind to another’s flaws, or do we love them in spite of those flaws? Why does it seem impossible that Lucifer may love his God while still acknowledging his faults? I personally don’t see how Lucifer’s devotion to his god diminishes the importance of his other aspects, or makes them seem inferior in any way. If anything, I find it even more inspiring that he would make the decision to rebel, to fall, to disagree and question in spite of the love that encompassed his entire being.

Lucifer’s Fall, Revisited

So I’ve talked about the various interpretations of Lucifer’s fall before (here if you don’t remember), and I’ve sort of talked a bit of my opinion of each one. But yesterday I was asked which version I personally believe in, and I had to stop and think for a moment.

I don’t think that there is necessarily a ‘correct’ version. I think that all of these versions, in some way or another, are connected.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be an ‘either, or’ situation—why couldn’t Lucifer have fallen because of the accumulation of these significant details?

Now, admittedly, I don’t quite have everything sorted out just yet as to the specifics of how each interpretation fits into the others, but I have been speculating on how Lucifer’s intense devotion to YHWH and the accusation of him being too prideful may work together.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:12-14).

This passage, while initially the product of a mistranslation, has been used to show how Lucifer thought himself above his station in the hierarchy of heaven, seeking to rise above his position as a servant of god, to God himself. I have heard some accusations that he sought to be better than God, but I think that stems from a misunderstanding of the line “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God”. We know from other points in scripture that angels are often interpreted as stars (“And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads, and his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth” Revelation 12:3-4), and so he sought to become more than the angels, but not necessarily more than God—he did, after all, still refer to him as the ‘Most High’. If you’ll think back to Eve’s temptation in the Garden of Eden, once more we see this familiar enticement of becoming ‘like God’.

However, I don’t think this goal to become like God is specific to Lucifer. The term ‘Christ-like’ refers to the desire to become like Christ, to become like God, through a person’s actions and beliefs. There is that yearning to emulate him out of love, to become more like him and in turn be closer to God. Within the folk Catholicism I grew up with, women are compelled to take on the virtues of Mary, of giving the self as a Marian devotion. If we understand and in essence become the Mother of Christ, we are better able to understand and connect with her son and God.

The only difference I see is that I don’t believe the concept of becoming Christ-like or Mary-like within Christian context leads to direct unification with God—in doing so, one might seek to better understand God and bear fragments of his Grace in the service of others, but I don’t think they see themselves as losing their sense of ‘self’ so that God is all that remains.

From what I’ve studied thus far, this latter concept of becoming unified with God is more prevalent within Sufism.

“My God! You have lifted me so high that I feel I have lost all of me, and nothing has remained of me. Thus, I am You, for two we cannot possibly be One.”

-Abu Yazid al-Bistami

“Between Me and You, there is only Me; Take away the Me, so only You remain” –Mansur al Hallaj

Sufi mystic Mansur al-Hallaj was said to have been executed for heresy, and uttered controversial statements such as Ana al-haqq—I am Truth (God). However such a proclamation was made within the confines of the  ideals of divine unification and disintegration of the self, as he believed himself in his devotion to be removed of all except that which was of God. 

 So turning back to the Fall, when questioned as to whether or not he still remembered his God,Iblis replied:

 Oh Musa, pure mind does not have need of memory – by it I am remembered and He is remembered. His remembrance is my remembrance, and my remembrance is His remembrance. How, when remembering ourselves, can we two be other than one? My service is now purer, my time more pleasant, my remembrance more glorious, because I served Him in the absolute for my good fortune, and now I serve Him for Himself.’ (The Ta-Sin of Before Endless-Time and EquivocationVerse 15).

Is it really pride if in seeking to become like God he was willing to give up his sense of self? Pride could also be referring to the sense of pleasure gained from the achievements and accomplishments of others we are associated with—and there was none whom Lucifer was more highly associated with nor in awe of than his God. It is said, after all, that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So for me, interpretations of the Fall as due to pride, seeking to become God, or devotion to God are not mutually exclusive, but rather complementary.

Of Worship and Submission, or Lack Thereof

I’ve mentioned this before several times, and it remains an integral part of my faith: I do not worship Lucifer, and I am not allowed to bow down before him or any other entity or god. This was pretty much the first and only term that has been explicitly non-negotiable within my Work.

However, it wasn’t until recently that I came to understand why this restriction was so crucial, why I was pretty much forbidden from doing so. Obviously, if I’m working towards Apotheosis, submitting wholly and entirely to another being may be detrimental—but that’s still no reason to forbid it. I was even more confused as to why I was barred from bowing and kneeling at the precise moment I became aware of the sacredness of such an action, when I first felt compelled to do so out of love.

For years I just accepted it for what it was—maybe this was another quirk of his, similar to his dislike of being thanked. It seemed odd that for one accused of being so prideful, he mocked and refused any show of submission in his honor.

But now that I’ve been delving more into Islamic theology, and in particular Sufi interpretations of the fall of Iblis, I think I’ve figured out why this restriction was of such importance.

Iblis’s crime at first glance seems to be much the same as Christian interpretation—he allowed pride to get the better of him.

“It is We Who created you and gave you shape; then We bade the angels prostrate to Adam, and they prostrate; not so Iblis; He refused to be of those who prostrate.
(Allah) said: “What prevented thee from prostrating when I commanded thee?” He said: “I am better than he: Thou didst create me from fire, and him from clay.” (Quran, sura 7 (Al-A’raf) ayat 11-12).

However in the Tawasin of al-Hallaj we are led to see things differently:

“If I prostrated before another than You or if I did not prostrate it would be necessary me to return to my origin, since You created me of fire, and fire returns to fire, according to an equilibrium and choice which are Yours”

“He put me far from others because of my jealousy for Him alone…He showed my lack of worth because I praised His Glory…He left me because of my union, He unified me because he cut me off. He cut me off because He had prevented my desire.

By His Truth I was not in error in respect to His decree, I did not refuse destiny.

If He punishes me with His fire for all of eternity I would not prostrate myself before anyone, and I would not abase myself before any person or body because I do not recognize any opposite with Him! My Declaration is that of the Sincere and I am one of those sincere in love.”

Iblis would not bow to Adam, believing him to be unworthy of the same exaltation and worship meant to be bestowed only upon God, his creator and the being he was made to serve. This resistance caused him to be parted from his God, earning him the title Shaytan, derived from ‘Shatana’ which roughly means ‘to be far from’. However, while he may have been disobeying the command to prostrate himself before mankind, it is said that he did so in order to obey a greater command—that all praise and worship belongs to God alone. His rebellion was thus a rebellion born out of adoration and obedience to God’s law.

 Similarly, the concept extends to the commands given regarding other gods:

“For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14).

 

“God forgiveth not (The sin of) joining other gods with Him; but He forgiveth whom He pleaseth other sins than this: one who joins other gods with God, Hath strayed far, far away” (An-Nisa Verse No:116).

 And although I didn’t understand it at the time, I was similarly expected to keep this commandment with Lucifer: If it is thus my choice to turn from Christianity and not to worship YHWH, then I am not to worship or bow to any other entity or god—Lucifer included. If I strive to be a reflection of his ideals, then it only makes sense that I abide by the very commandment that he fell to uphold and protect.