Lucifer and the Craft

This post was originally published as an article in the November 2012 issue of Living Stones Masonic Magazine.  It is published here with the kind permission of the owner and editor Living Stones Magazine, Brother Robert Herd.

Let us begin our discussion with three quotes that frequently find their way into discussions concerning The Craft and Lucifer:

“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!”

-ISAIAH 14:12 (KJV)

“Lucifer, the Light-bearer! Strange and mysterious name to give to the Spirit of Darkness! Lucifer, the Son of the Morning! Is it he who bears the Light, and with its splendors intolerable, blinds feeble, sensual, or selfish souls? Doubt it not!” 

-ALBERT PIKE in MORALS AND DOGMA OF THE ANCIENT ACCEPTED   SCOTTISH RITE

“When the Mason learns that the key to the warrior on the block is the proper application of the dynamo of living power, he has learned the mystery of his Craft. The seething energies of Lucifer are in his hands, and before he may step onward and upward, he must prove his ability to properly apply energy.”

-MANLY P. HALL in THE LOST KEYS OF FREEMASONRY

Combining the essences of the three quotes, we arrive at something like this: Lucifer (popularly regarded as Satan) fell from Heaven, bears the “Light” and the controlling of Lucifer’s (the Devil’s) energy is the Mystery of The Craft. This results from perfunctory examinations of these three quotes; a considered study of them (and a few more lines previous to them in their respective texts) can help to cure this myopic ignorance.

A charge frequently made against The Craft is that it is involved in evil doings, including the worship of The Devil (or Lucifer, in this case). The Internet does not suffer a lack of anti-Masonic websites advancing this line of thought; Pike’s quote (as well as the fictions of Leo Taxil) is usually given pride of place; Manly P. Hall’s less so. But both are often given as proof of The Craft’s “devil worship.”

We cannot too quickly fault those who assume that the mention of Lucifer either in connection with The Craft (as in Manly Hall’s quote) or by a noted Freemason (Albert Pike) indicates that our Order is something nefarious. After all, Lucifer is simply another name for Satan, isn’t it? In popular parlance, yes, Lucifer is a synonym for Satan; less commonly, Lucifer is a distinct entity from Satan.

In the main, I wish for my readers to know that:

  • The Lucifer of the Bible is not The Devil, and
  • The Craft should rightly venerate Lucifer.

In translating the Hebrew Tanakh into Latin (The Latin Vulgate), St. Jerome, in the Book of Isaiah, rendered the Hebrew word “heylel” (meaning “day star” amongst other things) into the Latin “Lucifer.” “Lucifer” comes from the Latin words “lux” (meaning “light”) and “ferre” (meaning “to bear.”) The Septuagint renders the word as the Greek “heosphoros.” Jerome, recognizing that the word “heylel” in the Hebrew Tanakh and “heosphoros” in the Septuagint both referred to the morning star, or Venus, quite reasonably rendered them as the word “Lucifer” – the Latin name for Venus.

Most modern translations of Isaiah 14:12 do not use the word “Lucifer” at all; the New International Version instead gives us “morning star”, the New American Standard Bible offers “star of the morning”, and Young’s Literal Translation uses “shining one.”  It is noteworthy to mention that even the King James Version of 1611 affords us this note concerning “Lucifer” in the margin: “Or, O daystarre.”

Importantly, Jerome did not confine his use of “Lucifer” to Isaiah 14:12, wherein the word refers to a fallen and prideful Babylonian king; see this entry under “Lucifer” from the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia:

The name Lucifer originally denotes the planet Venus, emphasizing its brilliance. The Vulgate employs the word also for “the light of the morning” (Job 11:17), “the signs of the zodiac” (Job 38:32), and “the aurora” (Psalm 109:3). Metaphorically, the word is applied to the King of Babylon (Isaiah 14:12) as preeminent among the princes of his time; to the high priest Simon son of Onias (Ecclesiasticus 50:6), for his surpassing virtue, to the glory of heaven (Apocalypse 2:28), by reason of its excellency; finally to Jesus Christ himself (2 Peter 1:19; Apocalypse 22:16; the “Exultet” of Holy Saturday) the true light of our spiritual life.

Here are two of the above cited verses from the Vulgate with their King James Version concordances:

THE LATIN VULGATE

KING JAMES VERSION

Second   Peter 1:19   “et habemus   firmiorem propheticum sermonem cui bene facitis adtendentes quasi lucernae   lucenti in caliginoso loco donec dies inlucescat et lucifer oriatur in cordibus   vestris” Second   Peter12:19   “And we have the more firm prophetical word:   whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light that shineth in a dark place,   until the day dawn and the day stararise in your hearts.”
Job   11:17   “et quasi meridianus   fulgor consurget tibi ad vesperam et cum te consumptum putaveris orieris ut Lucifer Job   11:17    “And brightness   like that of the noonday, shall arise to thee at evening: and when thou shalt   think thyself consumed, thou shalt rise as the day star.”

In Revelation 22:16, Jesus refers to himself as the “bright and morning star.”  I think it reasonable to suggest that He could have called himself “Lucifer.” 

Note further:

Fourteenth century English philosopher and theologian John Wycliffe advocated for the translation of the Bible into the common tongue. Here is Job 38:32 from the “Wycliffe Bible:” “Whether thou bryngist forth Lucifer, that is, dai sterre, in his tyme, and makist euene sterre to rise on the sones of erthe?” (“Whether thou bringest forth Lucifer, that is, day star, in season, and makest evening star to rise on the sons of earth?”)

and

Augustine of Hippo, writing in the 4th century A.D., gives us this in On Christian Doctrine: “…the Romans made an attempt to dedicate the star which we call Lucifer to the name and honor of Cæsar. And this would, perhaps, have been done, and the name handed down to distant ages, only that his ancestress Venus had given her name to this star before him…”

Considering all of the above – the meaning of the Hebrew word “heylel,” contemporary translations, the explanatory note of the 1611 KJV, Wycliffe’s translation, and the commentary of Augustine (but one of several early Christian writers that referred Lucifer to the morning star) – it ought to be plain that “Lucifer” is the day or morning star, and therefore the planet Venus.  It is incorrect to synonymize the Lucifer of the Vulgate and Satan.  This error arose when Jesus’ words in the text of Luke 10:18 (“I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven”) became linked to the Vulgate’s translation of Isaiah 14:12, which seemingly describes the same event.  Isaiah 14:12 describes the fall of a prideful Babylonian tyrant; Luke 10:18 the fall of or victory over “ha-Satan,” the accuser and opposer of mankind.  “Lucifer,” having enjoyed multiple utilities, should therefore be considered more a descriptor and less a proper name.

Having, I think, provided sufficient evidence that “Lucifer” of the Bible is not The Devil, let us then ask just who (or what) Pike claims “bears the Light” and just whose “seething energies” Manly Hall claims the Mason can possess in his hands.

Since Lucifer is the “Light Bearer,” let us examine the concept of “Light” in Freemasonry.  Here are some comments by other writers on it:

“Light is an important word in the Masonic system. It conveys a far more recondite meaning than it is believed to possess by the generality of readers..it contains within itself a far more abstruse allusion to the very essence of Speculative Freemasonry…Freemasons are emphatically called the Sons of Light, because they are, or at least are entitled to be, in possession of the true meaning of the symbol; while the profane or uninitiated who have not received this knowledge are, by a parity of expression, said to be in darkness.” 

-ALBERT MACKEY in ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FREEMASONRY, page 446

 “To the Ancients, Light was the cause of life; and God was the source from which all light flowed; the essence of Light, the Invisible Fire, developed as Flame manifested as light and splendor.”

-ALBERT PIKE in MORALS AND DOGMA OF THE ANCIENT ACCEPTED SCOTTISH RITE, page 13

“So important , indeed, is it (Light), and so much does it pervade with its influence the whole Masonic system, that Freemasonry itself anciently received, among other appellations, that of Lux, or Light, to signify that it is to be regarded as that sublime doctrine of Divine Truth by which the path of him who has attained it is to be illuminated in his pilgrimage of life.”

-ALBERT MACKEY in THE SYMBOLISM OF FREEMASONRY, page 148

 “Light is the key which opens the door to our mysteries, and it is the same Light which ‘shines in every letter of the Koran,’ and is the Light of Mithra, who is the light of Ahura-Mazda. It is the same Light from which Moses shaded his eyes when it appeared to him in the bush…It is that Light of which it is written in our Scriptures that ‘the Light shineth in the Darkness and the Darkness comprehended it not.’ “

-J.S.M. WARD in FREEMASONRY AND THE ANCIENT GODS, pages 61-62

 “The true Mason is not creed bound. He realizes with the divine illumination of his lodge, that as a Mason his religion must be Universal. Christ, Buddha or Mohammed. The name means little, for he recognizes only the light and not the bearer.”

-MANLY P. HALL in THE LOST KEYS OF FREEMASONRY, page 64

Of The Light I have written on my blog, The Blazing Star, that “once the Light has worked itself upon the soul, it shall, like the incense, smolder, become rarified and rise up and out of that which contains it; unfettered, it climbs to heights unimagined and finds Deity, for the Light has severed decisively the chains of materiality that bound it.” (http://www.theblazingstart.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-pot-of-incense-some-brief-comments.html)

THE LIGHT IS THE SUPREME ARCHITECT OF THE UNIVERSE AND HIS SUBLIME POWER. It is the Logos, the Word of God, set ablaze and delivered to mankind by, to the Christian, the Holy Spirit. The Light, to speak Qabbalistically, is that which flows into the first sephira (Kether) and thence through the other sephirot; it is the “pressure” which forces this flow.  The Light is Truth. The Light is Knowledge, and self-Knowledge.  It is gnosis in its most complete sense.  The Light is perfect balance; it is everything and no-thing all at once.  The Light is the Blazing Star set on the field of black-and-white checkerwork.  Know it by its antitheses: ignorance, malice, envy, imprudence, impurity, unforgivingness, selfishness, sensuality, and materiality.  Union with the Light was the First State of man, and it is the whole aim and business of this earthly existence to establish again ourselves in that lofty realm.  In ancient days, this was the operation and purpose of the Mysteries; a shade of such persists in our day as Freemasonry.

Very well for the Light…but who is Lucifer?  Lucifer is MOSES.  Lucifer is JESUS.  Lucifer is PROPHET MOHAMED.  Lucifer is SIDDARTHA GAUTAMA and the subsequent BUDDHAS.  Lucifer is GURU NANAK and the GURUS that followed him, and so on.

Thus should Lucifer be venerated, not reviled.

“Lucifer” is the archetypical Light Bearer – a soul that has shed Truth upon mankind; it is not the name of an hubristic angel cast out of Heaven, but rather an honorific, a title rightly belonging to the great teachers of our race – those who have been bridges between the Spark of Deity entombed within us and the ineffable fury that is Deity. In this sense, these Great Ones are avatars of the Light.

Now, for a bit of mysticism.  As earlier discussed, the Hebrew word translated by Jerome into “Lucifer” is “heylel.” (H1966 in Strong’s Concordance).  “Heylel”is הֵילֵל in Hebrew.  These Hebrew characters (from right to left) are He, Yud, Lamed, and Lamed.  Gematriacally (as each Hebrew character also has a numerical value) we have (again, from right to left) 5+10+30+30 = 75.  Refining the numerical value further, let us sum the digits (7 and 5) and arrive at 12…the sum of whose digits leaves us with the number 3 – three being the number of Deity (the Triune God to Christians).  It is noteworthy that the third card of the Tarot is the Empress, which, in the “B.O.T.A. Tarot Deck” (B.O.T.A. stands for “Builders of the Adytum – a school of the Western Mystery Tradition founded by occultist Paul Foster Case.  The B.O.T.A. Tarot Deck revealed the Golden Dawn’s Tarot-card-and-Hebrew-character associations) bears the Hebrew character “daleth” – thought to be a pictogram of a door.  Does Lucifer present us with a door – a door to gnosis?

Returning full-circle:

“When the Mason learns that the key to the warrior on the block is the proper application of the dynamo of living power, he has learned the mystery of his Craft. The seething energies of Lucifer are in his hands, and before he may step onward and upward, he must prove his ability to properly apply energy.”  

Given what we now know of the Light and of Lucifer, let us revise somewhat Hall’s comment by replacing a few select words:

“When the Mason learns that the key to the warrior on the block is the proper application of the dynamo of [Light], he has learned the mystery of his Craft. The seething energies of [Jesus, Mohamed, Buddha, etc.,] are in his hands, and before he may step onward and upward, he must prove his ability to properly apply energy.” 

Replacing but a few words yields a powerful, innocuous and altogether truthful statement.

On to Albert Pike: adding the lines previous and subsequent to the usually-quoted words of Pike, we have:

“The Apocalypse is, to those who receive the nineteenth Degree, the Apotheosis of that Sublime Faith which aspires to God Alone, and despises all the pomps and works of Lucifer. Lucifer, the Light-bearer! Strange and mysterious name to give to the Spirit of Darkness! Lucifer, the Son of the Morning! Is it he who bears the Light, and with its splendors intolerable, blinds feeble, sensual, or selfish souls? Doubt it not! for Traditions are full of Divine Revelations and Inspirations: and Inspiration is not of one Age nor of one Creed. Plato, and Philo, also, were inspired.”

Pike tells us that “The Apocalypse” (the Book of Revelation) is the Apotheosis, that is, the deification or sanctifying, of a faith which seeks only God but yet despises “the pomps and works of Lucifer.”  Here Pike is sarcastic and incendiary simultaneously, marveling that any faith seeking God could despise the work of Lucifer – of our Avataric Lucifer who dispenses Light to mankind.  Further he points to the irony of calling the Spirit of Darkness, i.e., Satan, by the name Lucifer – the “Light Bearer,” and rightly states that the Light born by Lucifer is incomprehensible and enfeebling to minds and hearts ill-prepared to receive it.   Finally, Pike echoes Hall’s sentiments by rebuking the premise that Light belongs to but a single faith.

And just as surely as the Avataric Lucifer has not been nor will be the jewel of a single age, people or creed, neither is the Light it bears exclusive to a single age, people or creed.  As Manly Hall said, “The name (of the Light-bearer) means little, for he (the Mason) recognizes only the light and not the bearer.”

Behold! I tell you a mystery (to borrow a few words from Paul in First Corinthians): our purpose is to slip the surly chains of flesh and this earthly plane, to ascend ever higher to the First Cause, the Almighty Architect of the Universe. Indeed, the one who achieves this has become a blazing torch, that “shining city on a hill.”  Such a one can claim the mantle for himself: such a one can be Lucifer.  And such a one is worthy of veneration.

About Anthony Mongelli, Jr.

Brother Anthony Mongelli, Jr. was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on December 7, 2001, in LaGuardia Lodge #1130 on Staten Island, NY. He is currently the Lodge's Junior Warden and Ritual Director. He is also a Royal Arch and Cryptic Mason. Bro. Mongelli writes frequently for his blog, The Blazing Star. He has had his work published in Living Stones Masonic Magazine and The Working Tools Magazine. He is also presently writing a book entitled, "The Three Most Important Symbols of Craft Masonry." His blog is here: http://www.theblazingstart.blogspot.com
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