The Suffering Gods

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“You are the god who understands. You know rejection, loss, and grief.” – Aaron Shust

 One of the most important aspects of Christ’s identity within Catholicism is the combination of his being both divine and mortal—of being capable of redeeming humanity through his divinity alone, but choosing to suffer and die as a man.

 When discussing Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows or Christ’s crucifixion, it is often in the context of them bearing the weight of our guilt and sins, of suffering for a brief moment in time so that we might be spared of that same pain.

 But not so with Lucifer. As the Mourningstar, his grief is perpetual. It is not one fixed event, not a means to an end. Unless you hold to the idea that Lucifer fell as a direct result of gifting humanity with knowledge, his suffering serves no greater purpose. There is no hope for redemption or salvation in return for his grief. He does not grieve to spare humanity of their suffering. He grieves because of loss, some might say as punishment for his actions.

 But perhaps this suffering is not entirely without purpose. There’s a certain kind of knowledge that can be gained through grief, and a certain kind of beauty as well. At the loss of a loved one, we mourn over a life well lived, however short it might have been. We cry because of the impact that person had on our lives. Had they never shared that connection with us, there’d be no reason for us to feel pain in their absence. And so I’m led to believe that Lucifer’s grief over his lost home and kin is born out of love.

 However, there’s another sort of suffering that is relevant to both Christ and Lucifer. In his final hour, Christ was said to have broken down and asked his father, “Why have you forsaken me?”. Some say this was a sign of his humanity. Another interpretation is that it was at this point in which he felt the weight of the world’s sins, and was compelled to cry out a phrase which hangs heavy on the tongues of those he sought to save, burdened with suffering as a result of their sins. I find this particular interpretation rather interesting, considering a discussion I had concerning the etymology of the name Iblis within Islam:

“Iblees (Satan) name comes from the root بلس (balasa) which means to give up hope or to despair, because he despaired in the mercy of God. Thinking that you’ve slipped up or intentionally sinned so much that Allah can’t and won’t forgive you isn’t real talk, it’s satanic.”

While Christ intentionally bore the burden of humanity’s sins and despair during his crucifixion, it could be said that Lucifer unintentionally bears the burden of the world’s sins and despair now. How often do we accuse the devil of being the source of all evil in the world, of leading us to sin? How often do we shrug off the responsibility of our own actions onto his shoulders? If the weight of humanity’s sins in that one moment caused Christ to cry out in despair, is it really any surprise that Lucifer would lose hope in there being any mercy granted to him from his god, after lifetimes of being burdened with that same weight?

We find ourselves feeling equally grateful and guilty at Christ’s suffering for our sake, because it was humanity that he died for, and humanity that scorned and condemned him for his sacrifice. But Lucifer? Perhaps the majority believes he deserves such suffering. Perhaps ‘love and pray for thy enemy’ does not apply to him. But the way I see it, while Christ suffers and grieves for us, Lucifer suffers and grieves alongside us.

I think it is therefore fitting that Lucifer be referred to as the ‘god of this world’. Job 1:7 seems to back up the idea that he was not cast down to ‘hell’, but rather to earth. It is fitting that an entity exiled for his flawed nature should spend his days amongst equally flawed beings. It is fitting that a ‘god of this world’ should know and understand human sentiments, and be able to relate to those he offered the gift of knowledge to, and subsequently introduced grief and suffering to.

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Lightning Take My Soul

O, Mourning Star. . .

Mourning Star:  A slight variation off of the previous title, with a very different meaning.  Mourning is define as “the expression of deep sorrow for someone who as died”.  Frequently, I see Morning Star and Mourning Star used interchangeably, and I’m not sure if that’s the result of a language barrier or a dialect shift (like “color” vs. “colour”), but there is a very clear difference, in my eyes, between the two.  I almost consider “Morning Star” the before-the-Fall title, and “Mourning Star” the after-the-Fall title.  This title acknowledges that he is still bright, still beautiful, still an angel or star, but it also acknowledges that he may be in mourning after his Fall.  He may not show this side to everyone, and most days he may not feel this way, but I believe that for a time, and maybe even now and then lately, so many years later, that…

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Devotional Luciferianism

Luciferianism is an umbrella term of sorts.While there are certain beliefs that could be applied to all Luciferians, and specific values that we all hold dear, how we carry out our practice differs from person to person. Some may seek self-growth and knowledge through the practice of magic (which can further be separated into ‘high’ or ‘low’ magic), others may strive for apotheosis through complete detachment from theistic perspectives, and still others might revere Lucifer and his mythology in the agnostic sense and use it to guide their choices in life.  Some of the more well known branches (in no particular order) are:

  • Ceremonial Luciferianism
  • Luciferian Witchcraft
  • Atheistic Luciferianism
  • Theistic Luciferianism
  • Monadic Luciferianism
  • Gnostic Luciferianism

 Personally, I don’t fit neatly into any of these established branches. I don’t really incorporate magic of any sort into my practice. I’m rather intrigued by Gnosticism, but I haven’t studied it in depth or know enough to comfortably call myself a Gnostic Luciferian. While I am polytheistic and do believe in a ‘Lucifer’ entity (well, to an extent—I’m actually rather agnostic when it comes to this), I approach Luciferianism as a practice in a more atheistic manner. I seek for practical applications of the values imbedded within the belief system, and use them as tools for self-growth.  

My beliefs are also largely shaped by contemplation on Abrahamic texts and philosophies, including those of more esoteric sects within the ‘big three’ religions. There’s a particular emphasis on the Catholic Catechisms, but that’s because it is the faith I grew up in and am most familiar with.

And as I’ve mentioned countless times before, my practice is hardly the ‘be all, end all’ of Luciferianism. In fact, I consider it a minority within a minority belief system. So I thought it would be best if I refined my practice by giving it its own identifier, distinguishing it from the various other practices and branches that fall under Luciferianism. 

I settled on ‘Devotional Luciferianism’ for a number of reasons. Devotion suggests ‘love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause’, which I think accurately encompasses the entirety of my practice in that neither Lucifer nor the atheistic values of Luciferianism are the singular centerpoint of my faith. While I may be uphold the value system to the highest regard, I am also utterly in love with the god who inspired those qualities in the first place. 

Through learning and knowing more of my god, I simultaneously learn more about myself. While this may be in part because of my desire to reflect the qualities I see within Lucifer, it is also because the more I try to understand Lucifer, the more I must engage in self-reflection. It requires an entirely different perspective from that which I grew up with, and it consequentially brings questions of my own beliefs up to the forefront. 

While Lucifer is said to have sought his own personal advancement, seeking to be on equal terms with God, through tempting humanity with knowledge he also aided their own advancement. This is how I view my own path—simply because I am working towards self-growth and apotheosis doesn’t mean that my own Work can’t contribute to his. Through honoring him, I can be equally honoring myself and vice-versa. When even my offerings to him must in some way be of benefit to myself, I think it’s only fitting that I in essence be a devotional to him and his Work, through embodying his values and furthering my own self.

The Great Destroyer

“…Set me like a star before the morning
Like a sun that steals the darkness from a world asleep
And I’ll illuminate the path You’ve laid before me
But for now just let me be

Bind up these broken bones
Mercy bend and breathe me back to life
But not before You show me how to die
No, not before You show me how to die

So let me go like a leaf upon the water
Let me brave the wild currents flowing to the sea
And I will disappear into a deeper beauty
But for now just stay with me
God, for now just stay with me”

The devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy—or so it is often said. I, for one, have never shied away from this expression—experience has taught me that it holds some amount of truth.

In order to move forward, sometimes we have to let go of the things that are holding us back. In order to get to the core of ourselves, surrounding walls must be broken down. There’s no use building on top of a weak foundation if it’s all going to come crumbling down anyways—sometimes starting over is best. And (as paraphrased from Salman Rushdie’s infamous Satanic Verses) before this metaphorical rebirth can happen, first one must experience death.

Lucifer falls into the role of Destroyer through the trials of Job, in which he strips away all that Job held dear within his life—his health, his family, his fortune. I do not believe, however, that it was merely destruction for destruction’s sake. Having posed the question to God as to whether Job’s faith and devotion was built upon rock or sand, the destruction was meant to give Job a chance to strengthen his faith without the blessings that had initially prompted him to worship god, or take a different route entirely.

But apart from being the initiator of others’ destruction, I would argue that Lucifer is also intimately familiar with what it means to have everything you’ve ever known laid broken at one’s feet. He facilitated his own symbolic death through his rebellion, but upon losing his place at the right hand of God, he also gained the chance to rebuild himself into something greater than before.

“From the ashes,

Beauty rising like the morning star, and everything is come to light

In the wreckage,

Waking to a wonder unexpected, from this ruin comes new life

From these remains

A kingdom shall be raised”

-Jason Gray