The Emperor/Throneless King

So far I’ve discussed Lu’s Lightbringer and Warlord aspects, but I don’t believe I’ve talked about zir Emperor aspect in depth. I don’t directly interact with this particular aspect, however it is the primary facet that I ‘represent’ (that’s not exactly the right word, but I can’t think of anything better to use at the moment). But before I explain why that is, I think I should define what I mean by zir ‘Emperor’ aspect.

In many ways, Lu’s Emperor and Warlord aspects play off of one another, but while Lucifer the Warlord acts as the strategist and General, Lucifer the Emperor is zir ‘public’ face, the voice of the Rebellion. It is this aspect that causes such talk of zir ‘lust for power’, and desire to take YHWH’s throne for zir own—which isn’t quite true. Ze came into this position of power not through greed or envy, but out of necessity. If ze had not instigated the rebellion, if ze hadn’t questioned the authority, control, and intentions of his Maker, who else would have? Consequentially, it fell upon zir to lead those who believed in zir cause, even in defeat.

Both Lu’s Warlord and Lightbringer aspects were present before the Fall, and as such retain some qualities influenced by YHWH. But zir Emperor aspect is a post-fall only aspect, so while he has attained a pseudo King-God role similar to that of YHWH in his own right, the fact that this role was created after the rebellion has caused the two to be quite contrasting. Lu has no desire to become what his Maker was (is?), and as such their Emperor aspects are entirely different.

I often like to think of this aspect as the Throneless King, rather than the Emperor. It’s a grounding reminder that this role holds none of the glory of a traditional King role. It isn’t even a hierarchal title in terms of status. Lu does not hold this position to ‘rule’ over subjects, or to be praised, but because ze has a responsibility to zir people, a responsibility to those who sacrificed everything for zir ideals and Fell alongside zir. But there is a sense of pride in this aspect, no matter how grim the circumstances that led to this role being thrust upon zir. Or perhaps that pride is present because it fell upon Lu to restore what had once been a defeated people, a family of broken and exiled angels who flourished and in essence created a ‘heaven of hell’. But I would also argue that Lu’s ‘empire’ extends beyond the brothers who Fell, to the devotees that have chosen this path, and perhaps even to all of humanity, whose innovations and drive for knowledge can be attributed to the gift given by the serpent in Eden. Maybe there’s some small grain of truth to the scornful phrase that gets toted around within Christian circles, of Lu as ‘king of this world’. However, that is not an argument in support of Lu being the cause of suffering and hate in the world—that is ultimately dependant on our own choices and actions.

Because ze is in this role as Emperor, the choice to call myself zir student and devotee places a rather heavy burden of reflection on the both of us. Even if the majority of people I interact with don’t know about Lu or my relationship to zir, it doesn’t negate the fact that my words and deeds reflect back onto zir as my mentor. Just as I strive to be an accurate representation of zir ideals, so too does Lu get judged based on what zir devotees say or do. A prime example would be of the stereotypical media representation of devil-worshippers ‘killing in his name’—even though these people probably have no clue as to what Luciferianism actually consists of, or that Lu would not approve of their actions in any way, the fact that they are committing these crimes and aligning themselves with zir perpetuates the opinion of Lucifer as ‘evil’.

I know I’ve gone on and on before about how Luciferianism is not a belief system rooted in theory, but rather action. Thus calling myself a Luciferian does not make it so, but rather my actions serve as identification (LucifersPA outlines some of the traits expressed by Luciferians quite well in this post). And for those that choose to pursue a closer working relationship with Lu, such as student or devotee, the necessity to act in a manner befitting of one of zir own becomes critical, due to his aspect as the Emperor. I know of several other devotees who are prompted to take care of what they do or say in any and all situations. There are also some who are encouraged to be mindful of one’s appearance and health—however invisible we may be to the general public in terms of our faith, we still act as reflections of Lu in this world. For me, this is not so much a restriction or hindrance as it is a form of protection in the situation that my faith were to be ‘found out’—even though Lucifer and Luciferianism carry a deep stigma attached based on misconceptions, my actions and words go against that stereotype and are representative of what Lu actually stands for within Luciferianism. Just because I would have this ‘new’ label on me to others doesn’t mean who I am has changed, my faith and my everyday life are irrevocably intertwined—and I should hope that others would recognize this (although the stigma is so deep-rooted that I highly doubt it would completely eliminate the possibility of alienation).

[Related posts: The Warlord and the Lightbringer, Bearer of Light, So-Called ‘Luciferians’]

Out of Curiosity

What do you all find resonates most strongly with your deities, or what are some strange things that remind you of them?

For me, it’s a combination of:

  1. Lightning

The first time I heard of Lucifer being associated with lightning by another of his devotees, I scoffed and blew it off as being utter nonsense. I thought it was just something the person had come up with to make him sound more powerful or cool or whatever. That same night, I was woken up by one of the most intense thunder storms I’ve ever experienced, complete with lightning that lit up the room as though it were midday. There had been no warning of any incoming storms in that area beforehand.

I was shaken enough to go back and do some proper research before disregarding the UPG completely. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s some (speculative) basis of this connection in the gospel of Luke:

“And he [Jesus] said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (10:18)

 I used to love watching lightning strikes, and being completely in awe of how a single strike could illuminate even the darkest of nights. But I was also acutely aware of how destructive lightning could be, and was always nervous when it got too close for comfort. It was stunning and awe-inspiring, but dangerous all the same, much like a certain angel I know.

 I’ve also mentioned how sometimes I get a buzzing sort of sensation in my left shoulder blade when Lu is around—almost like the buildup of static charge from a storm.

 

2.  Freshly fallen snow

This doesn’t have anything in scripture to back it up (I don’t think so, anyways), but the bite and even the scent of cold air after a snowfall reminds me of him. It has a certain kick to it that snaps me awake and keeps me alert, not unlike Lu tends to do. The cold chill makes me sharply aware of everything, from the icy kisses on the tip of my nose to the whisper of the winter wind at the back of my neck.

And the stillness and silence, where everyone seems to be too afraid to draw in a breath lest they disturb the tranquility, reminds me of him too. More often than not, he is quiet and hesitant to influence my choices unless necessary.

And looking back on these things now, I find myself rather amused that they have something in common—in both instances, they involve something falling from the heavens to the earth. 

Shadow Work

To be honest, I never even knew this was an actual ‘thing’. I didn’t have a name for it, I just knew it was what my workings with Lu largely consisted of.  But apparently a lot of other people have gone through it and call it Shadow Work, based off of Jung’s Schattenarbeit (psychological shadow work), which fits rather nicely I think.

Others have noted that it isn’t really talked about within the pagan community—sure, there’ll be mentions about its importance here and there, but there are no guidelines or helpful tips on how to go about it. And that’s because Shadow Work practices are unique to each person’s needs. It’s an introspective practice that deals with our inner selves, so it wouldn’t make much sense for another person to tell someone how to go about it.

Shadow Work is a self-built process—it is ultimately up to us what we want to confront and what we’re willing to risk. That being said, this isn’t going to be a how-to guide. It’s only an overview of the broad expanse of Shadow Work as I have come to know it.

For some, Shadow Work may consist of confronting one’s own inner demons. Facing one’s fears is usually a crucial step in this practice. This can be potentially dangerous, not to mention traumatizing. Even our mental fears can have scarring effects. Others must make peace with the darker parts of themselves, their shame and regrets. Already, you can probably see why many would not be willing to share their own experiences with Shadow Work, due to the intensely personal nature of such work. Shadow Work tests limits, and seeks to break them.

You know those ‘difficult questions’ I always talk about? The ones that rip holes in the fabric of our spirituality, or that make us doubt that which we love and hold on to for support? Those are a part of Shadow Work too. The answers may not always be pretty, may not be what we want to hear, but it’s what we need to hear. Each one of those questions has the potential to tear apart the vision of reality we have built for ourselves, the ‘truth’ we cling to like a security blanket. We have the option of letting those questions haunt us or facing up to them. And on the occasion that they cause our truths to crumble around us, we have the choice of leaving it in ruins or attempting to rebuild it.

But it isn’t about morphing our fears into something more acceptable, or sugarcoating our flaws. It’s about owning up to them. Sometimes, we can even use them to our advantage. And it’s not always about overcoming or getting rid of our fears—sometimes a healthy dose of fear can be a good thing.

The end goal is not about defeating your shadow self. Those shadows are essential for spiritual growth. They are as much a part of our world as the more pleasant aspects. Instead, it’s about learning how to deal with them, living in a controlled sort of flux with our shadows. A balance, if you will. Comfort and security are nice, but fear keeps us sharp and aware. It is not a balance between ‘good’ and ‘evil’, or ‘light’ and ‘dark’.

And as you can imagine, not everyone reaches the end of some phase of their Shadow Work. Some might give up halfway, and it’s important to note that this is NOT a sign of weakness or failure. There are very real reasons as to why we fear things, why we hide away from some parts of our shadow selves, and sometimes the cons outweigh the pros in such situations. Emerging from the entirety of a phase of Shadow Work does not always equate with emerging a happier, stronger person. It isn’t a battle to be fought, with only two outcomes. If anything, it’s about how much you’re willing to ‘connect’ with the shadow. How much can you accept as a part of yourself, as a part of your reality?

I’ve heard the theory that we as humans cannot possibly hope to contain the amount of energy/knowledge/power/whatever that deities are capable of, because we would break under the sheer force or pressure. I see Shadow Work as being similar to that concept. Not everyone can delve as deeply into their shadow for fear of losing themselves or their sanity. There are very real consequences of Shadow Work that affect our mental and physical states, a common one being severe depression and/or suicidal thoughts.  

So how do we know when to stop or keep going when it comes to Shadow Work? We don’t. But personally, if I feel that something is not worth the effort or I’m in serious danger of losing everything I’ve achieved thus far, I would stop. Sometimes we have to recognize when it’s prudent to cut our losses and move on to something else.

I don’t know how others reconcile Shadow Work with their respective deities, but for me, Shadow Work is mostly solitary. Lucifer oversees my progress, but he doesn’t play an active part in it.  He does not ‘guide’ me in any way that might influence the end result. He has only once been an active participant in my Shadow Work, but that was because I was dealing with my Christianized fear of Him at the time. But even then, it was almost as though he was trying to dissuade me from making the choice I thought he wanted me to make. But mostly, he only initiates phases of my work by presenting me with questions or situations, and then leaves me to flail and deal with the consequences on my own. Then again, that’s just the type of mentor he is.

If you’re going to call it ‘spiritual warfare’, don’t romanticize it

I’ve been talking with a few devout Christians lately, and have had a few start following my blogs. I was pleased to note that we could get along, and even have calm and rational discussions regarding our faiths. I find myself finding more similarities between us than differences, as a matter of fact.

 But one thing I noticed they seem to mention a lot when referring to Lu, or the antagonistic relationship that their god and my own has, is that the ‘war has already been won’. They place a lot of emphasis on the biblical prophecy that says my patron will be defeated (again). Although they may not say it directly, they imply that they are on the side that will claim victory, while Lu and his devotees will be defeated (and cast to Hell, one would presume). Now, clearly not all Christians have this sort of mindset, but it does seem to be prevalent even amongst the mild of the faith.

It seems like such a fixed concept—like our Work is such a lost cause. So what’s the point of all this if it won’t make a difference in the end?

The point is that it’s not about winning, but standing up for what we believe in.

Maybe it’s because the end goal of Christianity revolves around salvation and redemption, which necessitates the defeat of ‘evil’, that they seem to focus so heavily on treating Lu as an enemy, and our Work as a battleground.

And I would be lying if I said that Lu isn’t interested in ‘winning’. He’s a leader of a rebellion, for goodness sake. But its also not just about winning for the sake of winning—its not about overthrowing some god as a show of power or force. And it’s definitely not about taking away others’ faith, unlike the majority claim.

I don’t want to think of this as warfare. I don’t want to see Christians or the Christian faith as my enemy. And no, this isn’t me just trying to seem ‘holier than thou’, or trying to project my faith as being more loving or peaceful—my faith isn’t built on the foundation of love that theirs is, I would never argue that. I just don’t think they realize what the implications of morphing this into a battleground would entail. I’m sure no matter what ‘side’ you’re on, you’d think that your cause was the right one, that your side was the ‘good’ side. But the reality of war is that there isn’t a good side and a bad side. If you want to call it a war, you have to be willing to admit that there will be atrocities committed by both sides. And I suppose in that respect, I already do see it as a war, despite my resistance towards it.

I grew up with stories of war. My parents and their siblings fled their homeland because of a civil war. I grew up hearing about heads being mounted on pikes, and bodies being dumped in front of doorsteps as messages and warnings from both sides of the war. My family didn’t shield me from the grim reality of what they had experienced, but encouraged that I learn the full truth—not the sugar coated stories that made it seem as though the guerillas were the ‘good guys’. I heard about the forced recruitment of civilians into both the government army and the guerrilla army, and the horrors committed by both sides.

Fighting battles, or ‘spiritual warfare’, seems to be a rather romanticized image. We always think we are fighting for what’s ‘right’, what’s ‘good’. But treating another god or faith as the enemy doesn’t mean they’re automatically evil. Insulting my god and laying blame on him doesn’t mean your own is innocent. 

Just because I believe in Lu’s cause doesn’t mean I refuse to acknowledge the negative aspects of what his work entails. Even if we only see this as ‘spiritual warfare’, it doesn’t mean that ­­there is no harm being done. Everything comes with a consequence, no matter what side you’re on.

They accuse Lu of making them doubt, of planting the seeds of mistrust and disbelief in their heads about their faith and their god. I don’t deny this. I don’t deny that he can and will make them question their beliefs, just as he has made his devotees do so. Do I think he does this with malicious intentions, or as an attempt to gain converts to his cause? No. It isn’t about converting or gaining followers, it’s only about getting them to think for themselves, rather than relying on what they have been told. It’s about acknowledging that we have a choice—and some may willingly choose to honor the very god he rebelled against.

But that doesn’t excuse the harmful results of such questions. I cannot count how many times I’ve heard it said that ‘the devil targets you when you’re at your weakest’. I will not argue with that statement. Speaking as someone who had their world turned upside down when I was at my lowest, who had my faith shatter when I was at my weakest and needed it the most, I know only too well how traumatizing such doubts and questions can be. My path now is only the result of how I managed to piece back the shards of my spirituality, but I know that it was a very real possibility that that experience could have broken me completely.

I do not defend those actions, or make excuses for Lu. For the most part, those he targets have not chosen the path that I have—they have not chosen to have their faith and beliefs tested and tried, they did not ask for Lu to make them question their spiritual foundation. But you know what? Neither did I, at first. And it might be biased of me to say this, because I managed to emerge from these trials as a stronger person, but I do think there is some good that can come of Lu’s interference.

But not everyone will be able to rebuild their mangled faith. Some may have nothing left to rebuild. And I can only imagine the hate and distrust that would arise from such a situation—if Lu had broken the very faith that kept me going, and I hadn’t been able to emerge from that experience a better person, if I had nothing else to live for, I would loathe him and his actions. I would be on the other side of this so-called ‘war’. And I know that this is exactly why some Christians show such hatred toward my patron—I understand how his actions could be damaging. I can see how they would come to think that my god has nothing to offer them except mental anguish, and how the ‘opposing’ faith would be more appealing. After all, it does present itself as an ideal faith, centered around love and forgiveness. But just like any belief system, my own included, it has its flaws. It just depends on what sorts of flaws and faults you’re willing to live with—which ones don’t conflict with your own ideas of morality?

So call it a war if you will. Hate my god all you like. Plot his downfall, rally against my work, claim victory over a battle of your own making. 

Its admirable that anyone would believe so strongly in something, that they would devote themselves wholeheartedly to a cause.

But know that nothing is ever as simple as good vs. evil. If you want to call it a war, you should be willing to acknowledge that your own side has its own fair share of imperfections, of actions and principles that may be considered ‘unjust’ by others who do not share your ideals. If you aren’t willing to acknowledge the faults of your own belief system, of your own god, who are you to be criticizing anyone else’s? This doesn’t just apply to Christians—I’ve seen pagans just as guilty of ignorance, of launching smear campaigns against monotheistic faiths and against my own deity while pretending that their own belief system was the epitome of perfection. It may be perfect for you as an individual, but don’t go imposing your ideals of perfection on everyone else.

There He’s Standing with His Open Heart

I can’t recall how many times I’ve asked myself if I made the right choice, to integrate myself with matters of the divine while dealing with the issues of this life as well. Was it really the best decision to accept Lu as my patron? The combined pressure of both worlds can be overwhelming, and sometimes I end up avoiding one in favor of the other.

And I have to admit, often that means neglecting my duties as one of Lu’s own. It means choosing what seems more real, as the skeptic in me mocks my devotion and belittles his and my Work. In times such as these, it’s difficult for me to remember the importance of my faith, because in terms of tangibility our work is entirely spiritual, mental, and emotional—it’ll never support me financially, it’ll never have a firm foundation in the material world, and I can’t see proof of it’s worth beyond my own mind. My relationship with my god and my work as his student cannot be assessed as easily as other situations. It cannot be evaluated through its payoff, and it certainly cannot be appraised by anyone other than Lu or myself.

So why do we do it? Why do we put so much time and effort into cultivating divine relationships, into doing tasks that may be meaningless to anyone else, into learning things that aren’t always relevant to our lives?

I can only speak for myself, and my reasons may be difficult to comprehend. One of the problems with dealing with Lu through emotions and feelings is that often I can’t describe in words the extent of my devotion, or the meaning behind our work. It is one thing to say that I’m his devotee, and quite another to live it. I could say that my work involves blogging and living to his standards, of bearing some of his burden, and of having my actions and words reflect back on him as my patron and vice-versa– but it goes beyond that. It goes beyond the mere act of being his disciple, but rather the yearning to be of use to him—to be a force of change in this world as he has been a force of change in my own life.

He is often accused of being too proud, of wanting to outshine his creator—to be brighter than the source that breathed life into him. And how can I, as his disciple, aspire to be anything less? He made it clear at the start of our patronage that my help would not be accepted if all I hoped to accomplish was to please him, or to repay debts that don’t exist. I had to want this for ‘substantial’ reasons, to feel as strongly for these causes as He did.

I thought I did. But it wasn’t until he began projecting his own emotions onto me that I realized how mistaken I had been. How does one even begin to describe a god’s sorrow, or his joy? All I know is that my own human emotions could not compare to His. He kindled the glowing embers of my own sentiments, feeding them with his own fiery passions.

But something like this can’t be undone. His grief, joy, and rage remain as muted imprints, irrevocably intertwined with my own emotions. And this is one of those consequences of my patronage to Lu that I spoke of before. I can’t unfeel these things, I’m stuck with them whether I continue to work with him or not.

So while I may whine and complain about the stress levels that being his disciple inevitably raises, I know that deep down I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can’t help but do his work, not only because I admire what he represents, but because the sentiments he has stirred within me won’t let me forget. I cannot fathom living my life feeling what I do, knowing what I know, and not make the effort to be a reflection of his ideals in this world.

It is because of this that I can endure that nagging voice at the back of my mind that mocks my faith; it is why I endure the weariness of my role as His student. It goes beyond what appears true, because this feels real–the emotions, the devotion, and his presence in my life. In the end, that’s what keeps me faithful, despite the silence (or rather my inability to ‘hear’ him) and despite the frustration. I can’t say for sure if the choice I made was the best one, but the fact that I keep choosing this god and this path, each and every day, has to mean something.

Tricksters

As someone who struggles with the generalizations made of her own deity, you’d think I wouldn’t fall trap to the sweeping statements made of other archetypal figures. Nope, I’m just as susceptible to them as everyone else.

In particular, I’m referring to the unfortunate generalization of trickster deities. Now, many of you know that my patron has a strong dislike for Loki, the Norse trickster. What some of you may not realize is that technically my patron is also a trickster.

Woah, wait, what? Lu, the level-headed (and sometimes emotionally detached) warlord is a trickster? That can’t be right. Tricksters are supposed to be mischievous pranksters, out to blow shit up for some laughs.

Those were my initial thoughts, at least.

But one has to realize that like any other type of deity, tricksters come in a variety of personalities. There are some who are light-hearted and playful, others like Lu whose trickster-like methods are a means to an end, and then there’s Loki…who…is kind of in between, I suppose.

Take, for example, the latest Lu/Loki incident (found here). Loki is well known for using pranks as a method of tearing down the ego, and presenting a realistic view of people/gods. On the one hand—I can see that his impersonation of Lu was an attempt at poking fun at Lu’s pride (not only of himself but also of his devotees), and so had a greater purpose than just annoying him, but…let’s be honest here, it was also probably just for his own amusement. And although Lu can have his occasional light-hearted moments, he is incredibly goal-oriented and practical—so yes, I can see why Loki’s antics would frustrate him.

I suppose in my comparison of Lu to other trickster gods, I got caught up in broad sweeping statements and fell prey to flawed logic like, “well, if trickster A acts like this, so must trickster B”. This resulted in my adamant denial of Lu as a trickster for quite some time when I was first getting to know him, despite other devotees’ insistence. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that someone as…businesslike (not quite the right word, but close enough) as Lu could also be considered a trickster.

Not only that, but some tricksters seem to be outcasts in their own pantheon from the get-go. They are looked down upon by the other gods because of the nuisances they create, and usually stand alone, without much support from anyone else for their unpopular opinions. Sometimes mythos will have them do a great deed, and the pantheon will welcome them back into the fold with newfound respect.

But Lu didn’t start off as an outcast. He was once the most beloved of his creator, and respected by his kin. Even during his rebellion and consequential fall, he was not alone—mythos says that others shared his beliefs wholeheartedly, or at least enough to risk everything in their rebellion.

Does this mean Lu isn’t really a trickster? Not necessarily. If we consider the story of how Prometheus cheated the gods of their preferred sacrificial share (found here, scroll down to Sacrificial Share), or even his better known tale of the theft of fire/Lu’s offering of the Fruit of Knowledge, we see obvious trickster mannerisms—the same sort of sly, cunning planning and scheming that other tricksters portray. But in all of these stories, the focus is not on the scheme itself, but rather the end goal. He doesn’t switch offerings, steal fire, or tempt Eve for his own personal amusement, but to set plans in motion. As a warlord, he has plans within plans and intricate, sometimes perplexing strategies.

And so by judging tricksters as one-dimensional, not only was I failing to understand my patron better, but also misrepresenting several other deities who fall under the same category. This type of generalization doesn’t just happen with tricksters–it happens with all other sorts of gods as well. This is the reason I have such a problem with archetype labels, because a lot of the time they try to fit deities to the standards set by the majority. However, I also realize that I hold a very hard-polytheistic view on the nature of deity, so clearly to those who identify as soft-polytheists, this whole issue may be a moot point.

Loss of Faith

So many times I’ve heard people pull away from Christianity due to a resentment in YHWH, or because they feel betrayed. When I first began questioning Catholicism, I had the same sort of sentiments—how could a perfect, loving god allow such cruelty and violence? How could they sit and watch, while so much suffering is going on in the world?

What I find interesting is that most pagans don’t follow suit when faced with similar predicaments. If a prayer goes unheard, they don’t (for the most part) lose faith and stop worshipping their gods.

I can’t speak for all pagans on why this appears to be so, but I can say from my own experiences why I find it easier to forgive my patron for watching from the sidelines as I struggle, moreso than the god I was taught to trust all throughout my childhood.

“Let go and let god” seems to be a popular phrase amongst those of the Christian faith, and my own family likes to use a similar sentiment. This was the core tenant of my catholic upbringing—to literally surrender my destiny and place my trust in god.

Now, this god was asking for a shit-ton of trust and blind faith—but I couldn’t place my faith in a god who wasn’t fixing what I saw as being wrong with the world. Instead, he was allowing such injustices and inhumanities as murder and rape to happen, turning a blind eye those that were suffering.

But its not like Lucifer was stopping these things from happening as well. He doesn’t cause hurt and suffering, despite what many say, but neither does he rid the world of them. How does that make him any different, any more worthy of honor and respect?

Lucifer doesn’t claim to be perfect. He doesn’t ask for blind faith, and he certainly doesn’t want me to go running to him with every problem I may have. The way I see it, YHWH wants humanity to turn to him and ask to be saved, but Lucifer…he wants humanity to save itself.

“It is the greatest of tragedies that brings out the best in mankind. It is the utmost adversity under which humanity flourishes best” (paraphrased from here)

This is the reason I am able to forgive Lucifer for watching as I struggle to keep my head above water, for leaving prayers unanswered, for watching as humanity inflicts cruelties upon itself.

But I’m curious to hear what others have to say concerning this particular phenomenon, of losing faith in god/god(s) when their help is needed the most.