A Year of Faith in Review

This was a year of introspection, and of new understandings.

It was a year of learning to love my god in all his guises, and in all his roles. Of pushing past my theological comfort zone and falling more in love with this being who seemed to represent everything I once feared. Of coming to terms with his seemingly paradoxical aspects, and of facing my own emotional processes when it comes to understanding him.

I came to this faith approximately eight years ago because I was initially drawn by his role as Liberator, as the Throneless King who sought neither praise nor worship, and as the Exiled Prince who rebelled against a tyrant God.

And maybe that was what I needed at the time. An aspect that would initiate my own break-away from that which once burdened and chained me to stagnation.

But the basis of my faith is doubt, and my god is one of change and upheaval. It was inevitable that I’d be forced to reconsider my beliefs, as I’ve done countless times in the past. I’ve been learning to let go of my certainty, and instead embrace the vast nature of Lucifer’s mythos and symbolism, which in its depths holds various aspects that may or may not match my own expectations.

Lucifer is also a god of enlightenment and self-growth, and I think I’m finally starting to understand that all the roads I take to him will inevitably be inverted and lead back to me. Just as he prompts that any offering given to him must in some way benefit me, so too does my desire to know and understand him lead to a greater understanding of the self. No matter how selfless I am in my devotion, he will take and transform it into a method of self-reflection—in this particular case, introspection that forced me to face my discomfort regarding his relationship to YHWH. I had to face the question of what it is about these other aspects that frightened me or made me uncomfortable, and why. Why have I shied away from particular interpretations of his persona, refusing to even consider their possibility?

 I once said something along the lines of wanting to understand my god in his entirety, as though his various aspects were something that could be studied and analyzed to completion—as though I was the one in control of the process. But every time I felt comfortable with one aspect, I’d encounter another that seemed to be its’ complete opposite, that seemed incompatible with what I’d previously seen and understood. They challenged my own conceptions of what I thought I was willing to accept in my devotion, by asking why I was so reluctant to consider certain interpretations, UPG or canonically-based.

I initially fell in love with a god who would not bow to a flawed higher power, who stood as a liberator to mankind and radiated light and joy. I admired him for being everything his God was not. But as time went on, I learned to embrace his grief and suffering, though I couldn’t understand why he should anguish for the very God that exiled him, the God that he had rebelled against. Nor could I understand why mankind’s Liberator would be not only satisfied but delighted when his challenges and temptations brought mankind back into the fold of God, rather than away from it (i.e. the Book of Job). But I loved him all the more for it.

And then I was faced with the startling image of my god as a humble and willing servant, head bowed in submission towards his beloved Lord in the manner I had always been admonished for. I saw him as a spark of God’s own flame, made of the same essence and Grace. And I couldn’t understand why this stark contrast to the deity I had first encountered didn’t frighten or repel me quite as much as I thought it should have. I was once convinced that if Lucifer should resemble YHWH in nature and action, that my devotion to him would be at an end. Far from that reaction, I found my devotion increased tenfold.

My path had been forged from my respect towards his ideals of free will and independence, so why now was I being brought to tears from the sheer beauty I found in his devotion? How could I possibly reconcile this with the god I had found strength in previously, when it seemed to contradict everything I had thought him to be?

This was not a god that I could shape to fit my ideal perception of what a god shouldbe, or what I wanted him to be. This was a god that existed outside of my whims and wishes. I’ve always understood this, and I’ve always kept in mind that there may come a day where my god shows a side of himself that I cannot honor and respect. But every time I reach these limitations I thought were breaking points, I find that my perceptions have shifted so that I am able to see the beauty in aspects that were once frightening. It seems like it was my God who was instead shaping and moldingme to better fit his own purposes, to better comprehend his own past, present, and future.

This is a deity whose submission and love for his creator does not negate his own godhood, a god who both serves and rules in his own right. A god who not only loves and adores the God I once loathed, but is formed of the very same substance. If I can’t accept and love my god in his humility, what worth does my devotion hold when directed at his reign and sovereignty? If I cannot respect him as he once was, how can I love the being he has become?

But more importantly, if I cannot make the effort to understand the aspects that once frightened me, how can I claim to be living my faith? How can I aspire to be a reflection of my god if I deny a crucial component of who he is?

My faith was never about revering Lucifer as a physical being, of any certain shape, form, or visage. And so it could never be fixated on one particular interpretation of his mythos, however much I once thought it was. Ultimately it was always about my devotion to the ideals he inspired, throughout various forms of scripture and mythos. I might have initially been drawn by his aspirations towards freedom and independence as the Rebel Angel, but he is so much more than just that, and his mythology is too complex and dynamic to pigeon-hole in such a manner. So maybe I have learned a lot about my god through this process, but I’ve learned even more about myself.

Through this introspection, I’ve also spent a good portion of the year reconnecting with the religion of my childhood, which quite ironically, also completed its liturgical year a little over a month ago and was aptly deemed the Year of Faith by Pope Benedict XVI. Whereas once the Church was a cold and barren place in my eyes, I’ve come to see it in an entirely new light. Although I can’t say I find myself entirely at home there, there’s a certain serenity that comes from experiencing something that once consumed my god’s own being. I’m learning to find joy in what he once found joy in, even if it’s only by proxy. And while there’s still a ways to go, this is a step towards facing the long-held grudge and animosity I had against the church, and against my god’s father. 

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)

Now that finals are over with…

You know those instances where you think you understand something, but later on realize that you didn’t really get it until now?

Yeah, that happens to me a lot when I’m dealing with Lucifer.

In this case, I’m referring to something he told me years back, at the very start of our patronage. It was the reason behind my ordeal of faith, and behind his dislike of the excess giving of thanks.

Our relationship is not meant to be built on the foundation of guilt or debts to be repaid.

At first it seemed plainly simple—okay, he doesn’t want me to feel like I owe him. It made sense at the time, back when I still thought he strove to be everything that Christianity was not (and believe me, that’s so not the case). Catholicism had taught me that I owed God praise and worship because he created me, and that I owed Christ my love due to his sacrifice on the cross.

It was the giving of thanks that confused me.  What was so wrong with expressing my gratitude, especially in a manner that was not debasing myself? At the time, I simply accepted this as an odd quirk of his and moved on.

The realization of the importance of this restriction was the result of watching a Christian movie. I get a lot of my inspiration from Christian-based movies/music, have you noticed? More evidence of Lucifer not exactly building a system of faith that opposes Christianity.

The movie was Fireproof, which basically tells the story of a couple on the verge of a divorce, and the ‘Love Dare’ that brought them back together again. But the Love Dare is only the result of an even greater driving force—as you may have guessed, the husband ‘finds god’. Long story short, he comes to the realization that in order to love his wife, he must first learn to love god. He must learn to love god because of his sacrifice, to be grateful even through the darkest of times.

“You must learn to love your wife” is the kicker here. How can you learn something that should be innate? And yet, I saw evidence of me trying to do this with my own relationships.

Sometimes, it gets to the point where “Thank you” isn’t enough.  I  have been guilty of entering relationships because I felt like I owed the person my love, as though I could force myself to love them—had to, even, because of how good and kind and wonderful they had been to me.

But I didn’t love them. And eventually it got to the point where I felt trapped in the relationship, unable to leave for fear of hurting this person, who didn’t deserve that hurt.

But in my patronage with Lucifer, if I don’t say thanks, it can’t get to the point where I feel like it isn’t enough anymore. He knows I’m thankful; it doesn’t need to be said or shown. I don’t have to keep trying to outdo myself in expressing my gratitude, and thus am in no danger of agreeing to something out of that feeling of obligation. Guilt and debt will not be the shackles that bind me to Lucifer; I do what I do of my own free will, without chains.

Acts of Devotion

Even after more than 7 years of choosing to leave behind the religion I was born into (Catholicism), I find myself struggling not to revert back to some of the teachings—not because i’m losing faith in my beliefs, but rather because i’m growing stronger in them.

I bet that sounds kind of crazy, coming from someone whose patron god is Lucifer.

But I never really hated the catholic faith, or christianity for that matter. Although I didn’t appreciate being dragged to mass on sundays or being forced to take catechism classes for my first communion, I thought of it as more of a cultural thing rather than a religious duty (those of you that come from a typical hispanic family will know what i’m talking about).

So I went through all of it because my family thought it was necessary—not that I had much of a say in it anyways as a little kid. But looking back on my experiences now, I can appreciate a lot of what goes on in a typical mass.

I was taught that I should show proper reverence to god, to humble myself and kneel when praying. I don’t think I quite understood at the time why I had to kneel, other than it was I was told to do. There was no feeling connected to this act, it didn’t stem from a desire to please god, it was just a show of going through the motions.

Now, however, I understand the innate desire to kneel before one’s god. No longer is it an issue of what i’m told to do, but rather what I want to do. Although I understand that my patron and I are on equal footing, I admire him greatly and wish to pay him the highest respect and honor—and in my mind, that goes back to what I was taught as a child. Kneeling as an act of devotion, then, is what I feel compelled to do when in prayer (not only to him, but to any god who I have chosen to honor).

But in my patron’s eyes, kneeling is an act of subservience. No matter how much devotion and sincerity I put behind it, kneeling in prayer will only be a symbol of inferiority to him. He will not allow me to degrade myself as such, and so I no longer kneel in prayer.

But at least I can say that I understand and appreciate this act of devotion and faith now, and respect those who choose to do so