Wednesday, 20 April 2011

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!

Fallen Angel carving on tree
on the Laramie West Side,
carved by  Eric Tkachenko
Fallen Angels are scorned by some and trumpeted by others. But they seem to always stir up strong emotions. There are many stories and myths about fallen angels and about similar beings, in many cultures. Most people know just the following two verses, one from Isaiah and the other from Jesus:

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!  For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.  Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. ~Isaiah 14:12-15 
 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. ~Luke 10:18
There's debate about the first one, but I won't go into that here.  The point is, people assume that first of all Lucifer and Satan are the same, and second of all that the only fallen angels are the third of the angels that are said to have followed him in rebellion.  But there are many stories of fallen angels besides this story that seems to have eclipsed the rest.  This post isn't meant to be exhaustive on the subject, just a rambling of my thoughts and an excuse to post the picture above that I've been meaning to take for years.  For a good, more exhaustive, source on fallen angels, I would recommend The Book of Fallen Angels by Michael Howard.

Take the Watchers for instance.  They appear in Genesis as follows:

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them.  That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.  And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.  There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.  And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.  But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. ~Genesis 6:1-8
This story is paralleled in Sumerian legend, and expanded in the Books of Enoch.  In the Enoch, there are 200 Watchers who fall.  In the Islamic version, there two Watchers, who are watching human kind and complain about how they are acting.  Allah rebukes them and tells them in the same situation, they'd do the same and they took this as permission and went to live as men.  The Watchers and other fallen angels figure high in many Luciferian strains of witchcraft.  In Feri, the Feri Guardians, the Lords of Outer Space, are said to be the same as the Watchers.  Some witch traditions say witches are the descendants of the Nephilium, the children of the Watchers, translated giants in the passage above.  To read a little more about the Watchers, see the following two links:

The Lords of the Outer Spaces: Notes on the Unusual Guardians of Feri Witchcraft
The rise of the Watchers

Another important story related to the Watchers is that they taught mankind sciences and magic.  When the Flood was coming, Tubal-Cain or someone else carved two Pillars, one of wood so water wouldn't hurt it, and one or stone so fire wouldn't hurt it, since it was unknown how judgement and destruction would come.  On the Pillars, he carved the secrets of science and magic as taught by the Watchers, specifically Azazel.  After the Flood, the pillars were found and the knowledge learned.  The Freemasons relate these two Pillars of Boaz and Jachin in King Solomon's Temple and the Two Pillars figure highly in Freemason mythology and ritual.  Though I haven't personally read it, I recommend The Pillars of Tubal Cain by Michael Howard and Nigel Jackson.  I've talked to Mike on lists and highly respect his knowledge and scholarship on history and myth in general, and witchcraft it particular.

Another fallen angel, though with a different twist, is Melek Ta'us, the Peacock Angel of the Yezidi, and seen as the Blue God, Dain y Glas, in some parts of Feri.  According to my favourite version of the tale, God created seven angels.  Melek Ta'us was one of them.  When God created Adam, he told the angels to bow down to him.  The rest did, but Melek Ta'us refused.  This story is paralleled in Jewish legend with Satan or Sammuel, and in the Qu'ran with Iblis, who seems to be an angel in the verse, but a djinn other places.  The difference is that in these other stories, God is mad and kicks Satan/Iblis out of heaven.  In this story, God is pleased with Melek Ta'us.  It was a test.  But God wanted to test him once more.  He throws him into hell.  Melek Ta'us, rather than dwelling on his suffering, seeing the suffering of others in hell.  He has compassion on the people suffering and cries for them, and his tears put out the fires of hell.  Pleased once more with Melek Ta'us, God rewards him by putting him over all of creation and over man.  God then left and left Malak Ta'us to rule.

Sammuel, who I mentioned, is seen kind of as the dark Adam, with his mate, Lilith, as the dark Eve.  In many Jewish legends, he is the leader of the fallen angels, and would be a better parallel for the modern Christian view of Satan/Lucifer than HaSatan, the Advisary, in the Book of Job, who is there seen in the court of heaven and as part of it, not an outcast.  Sammuel is often seen as the serpent in the Garden of Eden.  Volumes could be written on Sammuel and Lilith and how they have been viewed in different places and different times in the history of the Jewish people.  I'll leave them for a later post.

~Muninn's Kiss


  1. What would be your take on the idea that the Adversary of Job, being in the court of heaven is the same as Lucifer/Sammuel/Christian Satan? Seen from the outside, someone can see that one is testing us and the other one detests us... but from a perspective of the court, the actions have the same results. Testing, pushing, tempering. Of course to follow them is to err as that is to fail the test.
    I am playing more "Devil's Advocate" here than anything.. just curious on reponses ;)

  2. At least in how he portrayed in Job verses how he portrayed in Christianity (at least after a certain point), he is very different. Christianity portrays Satan/Lucifer as the epitome of evil wanting nothing more than to destroy the souls of man and to take God's place. The Advisary in Job seems much more as a servant of God there to give the other side, the legal term of "Devil's Advocate".

    Satan in the New Testament is very different than HaSatan, the Advisory, in Job. I have read Jewish sources that describe him similar to the New Testament as well, so I don't think the version in the NT was made up later and stuck in or edited in, but there's no way to prove that either way. Satan in the New Testament is definitely fallen, not a servant of God like in Job. And the demons are said to serve him, demons being another topic. The idea of Satan has definitely evolved and taken in other ideas since then, though. There is a large mythos of Satan in Christianity that is much larger than what is in scripture.

    Lucifer, of course, is hard to pin down, since the gulf between the Roman Light Bearer and the Christian Satan, Father of Lies, Lord of Air and Darkness, is so great. Lucifer was the planet Venus as the Morning Star, a name used for Jesus in Revelations. In fact the Roman Lucifer, Greek Phosphorus, is much more like the figure of Jesus in Christianity than Satan.

    Sammuel is similar, and some of the stories overlap, but "feels different" to me than Lucifer/Satan (the feel from reading, not from working with). He is definitely proud like Satan and Lucifer are shown, but it feels like the pride of a general, rather than a king. Sammuel never desired to rule, just to have his way. And Lucifer/Satan tend to be seen as the opposite of God in our dualistic modern society, whereas Sammuel was the opposite of Adam. Rather than the being the evil enemy fighting God, Sammuel is the dark side of humanity, our Twin.

    Azazel, the leader of the Watchers, is also often associated with Lucifer/Satan. It's hard to separate the fall of the Watchers from the idea of a rebellion and war in heaven, an idea that definitely came later for a few short verses.

    And there's Iblis in Islam, who is the "devil" figure in Islam. He more than likely came from an older Mesopotamian story, but I haven't studied him much. The interaction of Jews, Christians, and Muslims throughout history, plus the interactions before Jesus and Mohammad, have cause bleed over and borrowing between cultures.

    And of course, Melek Ta'us is equated with Ilbis by Muslims and has been taken to be Lucifer/Satan by many Christians, so the Yezidi are often called Devil worshippers by Muslims and Christians alike.

    Of course, all three are often associated with the serpent in the Garden of Eden, depending on who you ask or which myth you read. And the lines of other myths have blurred over time as well. Whether the original names referred to same being or not, they have merged with time.

    There is power in the use of a name, and in the belief of humans. Maybe we've created a being to go along with our myths or maybe not. But I'm pretty sure the original beings were separate and distinct. Or, which is always a possibility, that all of these similar myths are echoes of a far earlier myth.

    As far as purpose, is the purpose of HaSatan the same as the Christian Satan? I don't think so. Christians tend to not see Satan as a test to overcome as much as an enemy to defeat. Though the role in the New Testament seems much closer to that of in Job than the modern view.

    I think I'll rework this response into a new post, since I put this much effort into it. ;-)

    ~Muninn's Kiss


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