Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Birth of Light


Translated from Eliphas Levi's" Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie."

Reprinted from "Lucifer"

THE "Lucifer" of the Kabalists is not a proscribed and fallen angel, but the spirit which illuminates and regenerates by fire; he is to the angels of peace what the comet is to the peaceful constellations of spring-time.

The fixed star is beautiful, radiant and calm; she drinks in the aromas of Heaven, and looks lovingly on her sisters; clad in her dazzling garments, and her brow adorned with diamonds, she smiles as she sings her morning and her evening hymn; she enjoys an eternal repose which nothing can disturb, and solemnly she treads the path assigned to her among the sentinels of light.

But the wandering comet, all bloodstained, and her tresses unloosed, rushes on from the depths of the sky ; she dashes across the track of the peaceful spheres like a chariot of war breaking the ranks of a procession of vestals; she dares to breast the burning sword of the guardians of the sun, and, like a lost spouse who seeks the partner visioned in her lonely night watches, she forces her way even into the tabernacle of the King of Day.

Then she rushes out, breathing forth the fires which consume herself and leaving in her train one long conflagration; the stars pale before her approach, the herded constellations, which browse upon the starry flowers in the vast meadows of the sky, seem to flee from her terrible breath. The grand council of the stars is called, and universal consternation reigns. At last the fairest of the fixed stars is charged to speak in the name of the heavenly concourse, and to propose a truce with the errant messenger.

"My sister," she says, "why troublest thou the harmony of these spheres? What harm have we done thee, and why, instead of wandering at hazard, dost thou not, like us, take up thy settled rank in the Court of the Sun? Why dost thou not join with us in chanting the evening hymn, attired, like us, in a robe of white clasped above the breast by one pure diamond? Why dost thou allow thy tresses, dripping with the sweat of fire, to float across the vapours of the night? If thou wouldst but take thy due place among the daughters of Heaven, how far more lovely thy mien! Thy face no more would be burnt up by the fatigue of thy unheard-of journeys; thy eyes would shine forth clear, and thy features smile with the tints of lily and of rose, like those of thy happy sisters; all the stars would recognise in thee a friend, and far from fearing thy transit, they would rejoice at thy approach. For thou wouldst be united to us by the indissoluble ties of universal harmony, and thy peaceable existence would be but one voice the more in the anthem of Infinite Love."

But the comet replies:
"Deem not, my sister, that I could stray at chance and disturb the harmony of the spheres. God has traced for me my path, as thine for thee, and if my course appears to thee uncertain and erratic, it is because thy rays cannot reach so far as to embrace the outlines of the great ellipse which has been given me for my career. My burning tresses are the banner of God; I am the messenger of the Suns, and I bathe me in their fires that I may distribute them on my path to those young worlds which have not yet sufficient heat, and to the declining stars that shiver in their solitude. If I court fatigue in my long joumeyings, if my beauty is less mild than thine, if my attire less virginal, I am no less than thee a worthy daughter of the sky. Leave in my hands the awful secret of my destiny, leave to me the horror which encompasses me, and slander me not if thou canst not understand me. None the less, shall I fulfil my appointed task. Happy the stars that take their rest and shine like young queens in the stately concourse of the Universe; for me, I am cast out, a wanderer, and claim the Infinite as my only fatherland. They accuse me of setting on fire the planets which I warm, and of terrifying the stars which I illume. I am reproached with disturbing the harmony of the worlds, because I do not revolve round their own fixed points, and because I bind them one to the other, setting my face alone toward the only centre of all the Suns. So rest assured, thou fairest star, I will not deprive thee of one ray of
thy so peaceful light ; the rather, I will squander on thee my warmth and my own life. Who knows, but I may vanish from the sky when I have consumed myself? My lot will still have been a noble one! For know that in the Temple of God the fires that burn are not all one. Ye are the light of the golden torches, but I, the flame of sacrifice. Let each accomplish her own destiny!"

Her words scarce uttered, the comet shakes her tresses loose, covers herself with her burning shield, and plunges once more into infinite space, where she appears to vanish for evermore.

It is thus that Lucifer appears and disappears in the allegories of the Bible.

One day, so says the book of Job, the sons of God had assembled in the presence of their Lord, and among them came Lucifer.

To him the Lord said: "Whence comest thou?"

And he replied:
"I have journeyed round the world and travelled throughout it."

This is how a Gnostic gospel, re-discovered in the East by a learned traveller, explains, in treating of the symbolical Lucifer, the genesis of Light.

"Truth which is conscious of itself is living Thought. Truth is the Thought which is contained within itself; and formulated Thought is Speech. When the Eternal Thought sought for a form it said: 'Let there be Light.' Therefore this Thought that speaks is the Word, and this Word says: 'Let there be Light, because the word itself is the light of the spirit.' "

The uncreated light, which is the divine Word, sends forth its rays because it wishes to be manifest, and when it says, " Let there be light," it commands the eyes to open; it creates the Intelligences.

And, when God said: "Let there be light," Intelligence was made and light appeared.

Then, the Intelligence which God had breathed forth, like a planet detached from the Sun, took the form of a splendid Angel and the heavens saluted him with the name of Lucifer.

Intelligence awoke and it fathomed its own depths as it heard this apostrophe of the divine Word, "Let there be Light." It felt itself to be free, for God had commanded it so to be, and it answered, raising its head and spreading its wings, "I will not be Slavery."

"Wilt thou be then Sorrow? " said the uncreated voice.

"I will be Liberty," answered the Light.

"Pride will seduce thee," replied the supreme voice, "and thou wilt give birth to Death."

"I must needs combat with Death to conquer Life," said once again the light created.

God then unloosed from his bosom the thread of splendour which held back the superb spirit, and as he watched him dive into the night, cutting in it a path of glory, he loved the child of his thought, and smiling with a smile ineffable, he murmured to himself: "How fair a thing was this Light!"

And Sorrow was the condition imposed upon the free being. If the chief of the angels had not dared confront the depths of night, the travail of God had not been complete, and the created light could not have separated itself from the light unrevealed.

Perhaps Lucifer, in plunging into the night, drew with him a shower of Stars and Suns by the attraction of his glory?

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