Editor of The Norwalk Hour:
In his recent letter to The Hour, Samuel Walter Taylor makes a very common error in his reference to Lucifer when speaking of his demoniac attributes, a theological misinterpretation which has gained almost universal acceptance. Like many of the other legends which were taken over and incorporated into occidental religion, the legend of Lucifer has been distorted to mean something which is diametrically opposite its original import, the proof of which should be obvious to any thinking person. Lux, or Lucifer, as the name itself connotes, means Light, and not darkness or something evil, but theologians, with their customary skill and proficiency in mutilating ancient allegories which they did not understand, made of Lucifer, the "Luminous Son of the Morning," the personification of evil, or Satan, the prince of darkness. This unscholarly and un-philosophical procedure can be attributed only to one of two things: either gross ignorance or willful misinterpretation. According to Yonge, "Lucifer is no profane or Satanic title. It is the Latin Lucifer, the light-bringer, the morning star . . . the name of the pure, pale herald of the daylight."
The allegory of Lucifer, the first Archangel who fell from the heavenly state, embodies some profound teachings of occult philosophy when rightly interpreted, but one cannot hope to find an enlightened interpretation in a school of thought that for centuries has denied the existence of an occult philosophy and that there is an esoteric aspect to religion as well as its external form and dead-letter interpretation.
According to occult philosophy, Lucifer, the "Luminous Son of the Morning" is symbolic of Divine Intelligence in the depths of Chaos in the early dawn of cosmic manifestation, for Light is the first differentiation of Space. As stated in Genesis, an occult account of cosmic evolution which the early Hebrews borrowed from the Babylonian mystery teachings, and which the Babylonians had derived from still earlier sources; " — darkness was upon the face of the deep (Chaos), and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters (Space). And God said, "Let there be light: and there was light." " Today, in the depths of outer space, in the "fiery" but cold nebulae, this same cosmic intelligence is at work as world systems are born in space and enter upon their aeon long day of cosmic manifestation, and Light, which is the first manifestation of Divine Intelligence projecting itself upon the screen of matter can be called "evil" only in the most abstract sense — that all manifested life, or material evolution, is relatively gross as compared with pure, unalloyed spirit. Both Spirit and Matter, like light and darkness, complement each other, and are but two aspects of the same thing — the Great Unknown and ever unknowable. Yet men have tried to define God by dragging the ineffable down to the level of their own feeble understanding with personal attributes and qualifications which at best can be but a sorry caricature. This is probably true of all the exoteric world religions with the exception of Buddhism, the teachings of which do not embody the idea of a "personal" God or "personal" Devil.
After man had invented a personal God to account for what was good out of necessity, and to balance the picture, he had to blame someone for what he considered evil, so Satan made his appearance upon the scene of theological speculation. As Lucifer of the ancient legend symbolized Light and Intelligence, what could be more natural than that men steeped in an age of superstition and medieval darkness, should point the accusing finger at this legendary hero of ancient lore, and make of him a scape-goat. Light and intelligence were not popular in those days, and it offered an excellent opportunity to discredit the older religions and philosophies. It never occurred to them, nor does it seem to have dawned upon the mass of mankind today, that it is man alone, due to his ignorance and violation of the impersonal laws of Universal Nature, who is the real creator of all evil, discord and strife. It is so much easier to blame someone else, so upon the person of poor Lucifer was planted all the evidence of the viciousness of human nature, and he has been under sentence ever since.
By the same token it is likewise much easier to be "saved" by someone else rather than by our own striving to understand the fundamental laws of our own being and our own inherent spiritual capacities which alone can transmute the baser qualities of human nature. And there is little hope that the world will be spiritually improved to any perceptible extent until men are spiritually awakened to the truth of their own inherent divinity, and that "the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world" is the real "Christos" crucified on the cross of matter. Beneath the external beauty and dramatic presentation of religious ritual lie those fundamental truths so necessary to man's well-being and spiritual progress, and which one day will be recognised for what they really are, bring new light and hope to the hearts and minds of men. And like the prodigal son, a regenerated humanity will wonder why it was blissfully content to live upon the husks for so long a time.
As Mr. Taylor suggests, there certainly is need for "more light" in our religious institutions and lives, but I do not believe the kind that comes in electric light bulbs will accomplish the desired result. If such were the case, Broadway would be a veritable paradise on earth. There is plenty of light there, but very little spirituality emanating from the blase faces of the mass that wander aimlessly about.
Light of a more profound nature is needed — a spiritualization of the ancient teachings which have become encrusted with mere ritual, ceremony and form with the passing of time and human
1. Reprinted from The Norwalk Hour, December 28, 1940. (return to text)