THE CHILDREN OF LUCIFER
AND THE BROTHERS OF CHRIST
(Give me Liberty or give me death.)
One of the problems with "old age" orthodox religions, especially Christianity and Islam with their explosive and potentially violent fundamentalism, is a one-sided dualism that excludes a proper understanding and appreciation for mythology. In the case of Christianity, the claim is made that Yahve was a kind and benevolent deity above reproach who even is supposed to be endowed with omniscience and omnipotence.
What I'm getting at here is that Lucifer, which means "Light Bearer," also known as the Angel of Light, is confused with Ahriman or Satan, and for this reason he is supposed to be a liar. But this is not true. Lucifer is the bringer of ancient wisdom (the serpent has always been the symbol of wisdom in Oriental tradition), of freedom and independence, and of knowledge of good and evil which gave man the potential to become a god in his own right. This is confirmed not only by Christ himself in John 10:34, but even more poignantly by Helena Blavatsky, who went so far as to claim that Jahve was the evil god out to enslave humanity while Lucifer was the benevolent liberator.
The truth is somewhere in between. Eduard Schure (1841-1929) wrote a very interesting play entitled "Children of Lucifer." Before presenting the best scene below, here is the argument of the play:
It is a time when Constantine has declared Christianity to be the religion of the world, and the last relics of paganism are being stamped out relentlessly. But the city of Dionysia still cherishes its tradition, in spite of the presence of a Christian Bishop; and the Proconsul Harpalus, has been sent to reduce it to submission. Damis is loyal to his old beliefs, but Phrygius has lost his own kingdom and bows to the inevitable. Theokles (the hero of the play), a young nobleman of Dionysia, a true pagan, returns from his travels to find his City about to be given over to Rome. The Proconsul arrives, and by offering to the people all the pleasure and profit which Rome can give, is received with applause, and Androcles, a friend of Theocles, has to surrender the keys of the City.
A riot, however, has taken place because of a placard signed Harmodius, denouncing Rome and calling upon the citizens to rise. (Harmodius and Aristogeiton in Greek history are the prototypes of liberty.) Theokles tells his friends that he is the writer of this proclamation.
At the suggestion of Lycophron, an old grave-digger and seer, he leaves the city for a wild region of the Taurus Mountains in order to get advice from Heraklidos. Here he comes to the Temple of the Unknown God, where he is initiated by Heraklidos in the mysteries of Lucifer and "the heavenly voice," and is given a new name, Phosphoros, and armed with the vision of "the Star and the Torch." But he is warned that he will only become a "Hero" when a virgin's love for him is so fearless that she renounces her god to follow him.
Thus prepared he sets forth on his travels, and arrives at an oasis of lower Egypt where a Christian temple is kept by the "Father of the desert." Here is Cleonice, who has dedicated her life to virginity and prayer, but who has seen Phosphoros, or Theokles, in the market-place of Dionysia. She is determined that if Phosphoros comes her way she will curse him, but the Father of the desert cautions her against her rashness. Phosphoros arrives and Cleonice carries out her threat, though in doing so she relents, and it is clear that Phosphoros has conquered her; but he leaves the cloister never to see her again.
He receives information from his friends at Dionysia that he has been pardoned on condition of his return to defend his conduct, and they warn him that this is only a trick. In spite of this friendly warning, he determines to return to Dionysia at once. Thessalus, an old servant of Cleone's family, arrives at her cloister and tells her that he has met Phosphoros, who has told him that he is on his way to Dionysia to stand his trial as an enemy of Caesar. Cleonice thereupon leaves the cloister to help Phosphoros in his trouble.
She finds on arrival that Phosphoros is cast into prison, and among his friends Phrygius is hesitating. The trial takes place. Phosphoros in his speech makes no defence but carries the attack into the camp of his opponents. He is condemned to death, but this is mitigated to banishment if he can get one person out of the crowd to say a good word for him. Cleonice immediately intervenes. The crowd, to whom Cleonice is well known, is loud in its applause, the Proconsul is killed, the Roman soldiers driven back, and Phosphoros is proclaimed Archon of Dionysia.
The Christian Bishop knows that he has the Roman Empire in his support and is determined to work the ruin of the happy pair, who are now married. Soon Phosphoros learns that his armies are giving way, and in spite of encouragement and help from Cleonice, is feeling despondent. Cleonice herself is entrapped by a monk to leave her house in order to meet the Bishop. The loyal Damis arrives with bad news for Phosphoros. Damis is, however, at a critical moment able to release Cleonice, who has been cast by the Bishop into prison, and again the people are turned to favor Phosphoros.
But the invincible armies of Rome are pressing on, Phrygius has deserted his friends, and the Bishop employs the time by a forceful appeal to the superstition and fear of the populace, when he pronounces "anathema upon the accursed pair." There are more riots in the City, Phosphoros nd Cleonice are separated, the Armies enter, and Phosphoros flees to the temple of the Unknown God, where he is expected by the old initiate Heraklidos.
Cleonice also finds her way there, but the Roman armies, with the Christian Bishop, are intent upon their destruction. Cleonice is prepared to die with Phosphoros. Phosphoros, in the old pagan spirit, is determined at any rate to fight, and refuses to yield; but it is borne in upon both of them that their sacrifice in death will be the fulfillment of the greatest human ideal and will help to bring about in humanity a truer Christianity, and they take of the same poisoned cup, and perish.
At this moment the Bishop and the troops enter the Temple, but fall back terrified at the vision of the flaming star and the fiery cross. The Bishop drops his crozier, the troops kneel, while Heraklidos gives the Sign of the Times - the Cross of Christ upon the Star of Lucifer.
Below is Scene II from Act Two, the fabulous description of how Theokles meets Lucifer Himself in the Temple of the Unknown God, whereupon he is given the name Phosphoros.
WARNING: The following scene can be very dangerous for fundies and Bible-Christians, who may be risking a heart attack.
Theokles, then Heraklidos, who emerges slowly through the bronze door of a building adjoining the gateway on the right. He wears the white robe of a Hierophant, golden tiara, on his white hair intertwined purple fillets, and carries an ebony sceptre adorned with a golden lion.
HERAKLIDOS: You who have dared to climb the forbidden mountain and to pass the threshold of his Temple with a naked sword in your hand, of what god are you an initiate?
THEOKLES: Of no god.
HERAKLIDOS: Are you a king then?
THEOKLES: Not that either.
HERAKLIDOS: By what right, then, being neither priest nor king, do you dare to knock three times on the fateful brass? Know that the call of the shield reverberates through the deeps of Being. No power can recall the sound, wave on its course in the infinite. Its triple signal summons the triple god. If I make him speak for you, he will manifest himself in his aweful majesty. How will you a mere mortal, endure his radiance and his voice, you who are neither the king of any nation nor the initiate of any cult?
THEOKLES: It is true that I am no more than a mere mortal. But by the immensity of my desire I feel myself to be a king, and by the terror which my soul has overcome I am an initiate.
HERAKLIDOS: Indeed? I know not which is the greater, your audacity or your arrogance! Are you perhaps some charlatan who believes that by an act of furtive pilfering he can filch the eternal mysteries, or else some sacrilegious reprobate prompted by an impure intent? Approach this chasm. I know some who after a single glance into its depths were seized with giddiness and let themselves fall. Others have been unable ever to forget it and believe that they are falling, falling for ever into a bottomless void. Weigh your strength then and consider. You can still withdraw.
THEOKLES: A man does not withdraw when the desire of a lifetime is staked upon one hour and when he knows that hour to be come. Foolhardy? Maybe, but neither sacrilegious nor a charlatan. I am a man who means to view Heaven and the Abyss before acting and to match the God which he carries within him against the God of the universe. The terrors you speak of do not frighten me. They cannot equal the hell of thoughts which I bear within me without trembling or flinching.
HERAKLIDOS: You speak like a predestined hero. Your name?
THEOKLES: Theokles of Dionysia.
HERAKLIDOS: Who sends you?
HERAKLIDOS: It is well; I was expecting you. Your words suit your deeds as a sword-hilt the blade; that is the mark of the strong. You are a true son of Japhet, one of those who walk under the sign of the sun and whom I, heir of the ancient sages, am bound to defend. Now what do you ask of me?
THEOKLES: To learn my destiny, and to find the path that I seek.
HERAKLIDOS: It is upon you to choose your destiny and to find your path. But I am able to bring forth from the Unfathomable and the Eternal the Powers which have begotten you and the Guardian Angel who rules over your soul.
THEOKLES: Ah! If only you could!
HERAKLIDOS: I will attempt it. Concentrate your soul in the depth of your heart and do not stir from here till I call. (Heraklidos kneels, prostrates himself, then kneels upright. then he prays as follows, with uplifted arms.) Lord Who hast Thy throne in the Unfathomable, King of Heaven and Earth, Father of Worlds and Souls, Zeus - Adonais, I invoke Thee. Permit that one of Thy Rays be manifested to this fearless one, to this son who ascends to Thee filled with audacity and noble purpose! (A white flash issues from the inaccessible sanctuary. Heraklidos stands up again.) The Unknown God will speak. (He traces a circle in the air.) Step into the circle. (Theokles steps into the middle and stands still. Heraklidos takes incense from the copper bowl near the black sphinx and throws some on the altar fire. A red flame flashes out.) And now in the Name of the Almighty, speak, Powers of Heaven and Earth! I invoke the Guardian Spirit who rules over this man! (He raises his sceptre. Thunder is heard underground. A crimson light comes from the chasm.) The mountain quivers on its base. The columns of the Temple reel. Red flashes proclaim the coming of the Spirit. He is the most powerful of all in the Abyss.... (To Theokles.) Grasp your sword in your hand and behold!
(A beautiful figure slowly rises and appears above the chasm. The Fallen Angel is seated on a planet half riven and seamed with crevasses. One of his hands is chained to the globe by an iron ring riveted to the soil by a thunderbolt. In the other hand he proudly raises a torch in the darkness.)
THEOKLES: Sublime and awful Angel, I tremble and exult at the sight of thee. Every fibre in my body quivers. My Life Force, multiplied a hundred-fold, seethes as though it gushed exultantly from the well-springs of Generation and of Eternal Desire. How sad and how splendid thou art, O my Guardian Spirit, my God, my Lucifer!
LUCIFER: Thou hast summoned me; what wouldst thou of me?
THEOKLES: To be like thee.
LUCIFER: Try then.
THEOKLES: How can it be done?
LUCIFER: Believe in thyself and strive with the Eternal with all the force of thy being.
THEOKLES: Wilt thou support me?
LUCIFER: Yes, for as long as thy faith in thyself lasts.
THEOKLES: Since I have seen Thee, I feel it to be invincible. But why, O mighty Angel, is thy immortality shot through with pain and why does the shadow of death darken thy brow?
LUCIFER: When God said: Let there be light! I was born, radiant and proud, of the breath of His mouth. A star gleamed on my forehead. Soaring through space I cried: "I am Intelligence and Liberty, I am Light! I will not obey Thee. It is through myself that I mean to be, to know and to conquer." - "Seek, then, Lucifer, through Pain and through Death!" said the Eternal. Then I came near to the heart of the Almighty to steal His fire. Stricken by its splendor, I fell, I the Star of the Archangels, dragging down with me a shower of suns and of demons. I fell into the Abyss upon an accursed planet and the Star on my brow has faded. since that day I have ranged through space with this torch kindled at the tabernacle of the Eternal, and slowly I am recapturing His universe. Wouldsts thou rather enjoy without effort the uncreated Light or attain it with me through Pain and Death?
THEOKLES: Rather a hundred thousand deaths and everlasting pain than forego a single fragment of my liberty!
LUCIFER: Art thou as strong as thou believest?
THEOKLES: My whole being aspires towards thee and ascends at sight of thee up to unimagined heights. My heart kindles at thy torch of pride and light.
LUCIFER: It is well. Henceforth thy name shall no longer be Theokles, but Phosphoros. For thou wilt bear my light before men. Go on thy way.
(He sinks into the black chasm amid red flashes and renewed underground thunder.)
PHOSPHOROS: He is plunging again into the gulf.... He disappears! Oh that moan from the abyss, where millions of damned souls groan and wail without response.... Terror seizes me anew. O Lucifer, my mortal pain is heightened by thy immortal pain! Shall I be able to endure it and to sustain thy torch? I have presumed too far on my strength. I feel myself fainting....
(He reels and backs a few steps.)
HERAKLIDOS: Beware! Do not pass the circle or you risk your life. The abyss is seething and its fumes vomit forth demons. (He stretches out his sceptre over the chasm.) Now hear the other voice!
(He takes more incense from the righthand tripod near the white Sphinx and sprinkles it on the altar. A flame of dazzling whiteness flashes out. At once sweet music is heard from the inacessible sanctuary.)
PHOSPHOROS: What are those celestial strains, like the harmony of the spheres, or the incense which comes from the heart of the Seraphim? It softens the bowels of the rock; the huge mountain seems etherialized.... the columns of the Temple vibrate like lyres.... and the innermost soul unfolds its flower.
HERAKLIDOS: It is a voice from above. Look! The music becomes light, and the light is about to speak!
(A Star appears above the chasm; it is a five-pointed Star of a vivid whiteness with a golden core. It glitters like a sun; a voice comes out of it.)
THE HEAVENLY VOICE: Phosphoros! Phosphoros! Thou hast the brand that burns and the torch that shines. But to make thee a hero, a spotless soul must believe in thee. One alone is enough. But without it thou wilt be nothing.
PHOSPHOROS: Where dwells such a soul?
THE VOICE: Phosphoros! Phosphoros! To make thee a hero, a virgin must burn for thee with a fearless love and renounce her love to follow thee. A woman with the seven rays of Glory must plunge into her own heart the seven swords of Pain. Feelest thou the strength to awaken such love?
PHOSPHOROS (with a cry of joy): Yes! By all the forces of Desire, by the torch of Lucifer I feel strong enough!
THE VOICE: Fulfill thy destiny! Beware of pride which leads to the Abyss. And follow the Star of Love.... Light is a Voice.... Let its Voice be thy Light!
(The star vanishes.)
HERAKLIDOS: The Abyss has spoken and Heaven, too. The Guardian Spirits have baptized thee with a Divine name. Thou called on them; they have chosen thee; henceforth thou must obey them.
PHOSPHOROS: The Torch! The Star! When shall I see them again?
HERAKLIDOS: Thou wilt see the Torch again in the hour of struggle, but the Star will kindle on thy brow under the breath of a divine womn.
PHOSPHOROS (Grasps the arm of the Hierophant and cries with passion): A woman's breath mighty enough to kindle the Star on the brow of the Warrior? (He lets go Heraklidos's arm.) This woman, thou makest me dream of her, thou bringest her living before my eyes.... with her transparent flesh and the passionate ringlets of her dark hair; her eyes fountains of light, her mouth a flower of tenderness and strength.... (He shakes his head.) O overbold seer, dangerous prophet, why cast this devouring fire into my heart? Even the hair of the Maenads and the caresses of the sBacchantes cannot kindle such flames of desire!
HERAKLIDOS: It is with that fire that heroes are forged. Thy heart is on the anvil. Let the hammer beat and the sparks fly.
PHOSPHOROS (not listening): The soul who will believe in me.... the virgin who will leave her god to follow me.... the Titan woman born of the love of the daughters of Eve with the Archangels.... Where could I ever find her?
HERAKLIDOS: Believe in thy Star and thou wilt find her!
PHOSPHOROS: O mysterious sister of my desire, begotten of the blood of my travail and the vapor of my dreams, on what height, in what abyss am I to seek thee? To discover thee I would ransack the world and suffer a thousand deaths. Vast is the universe, but vaster still is my desire! And yet, Heraklidos, I leave thee with regret. These temple columns where the gods have spoken to me, when shall I be able to contemplate them again?
HERAKLIDOS: O Phosphoros! One day thou wilt return here.
PHOSPHOROS: Will it be a day of victory or of defeat?
HERAKLIDOS: God alone knows. But what matter if thou remainest equal to thyself?
PHOSPHOROS: O wondrous Sage, thou who dwellest like a lion in the cave of Truth, thou hast shown me the signs, thou hast made me to speak the Guardian Spirits who reign over me. In their presence my own soul has risen like a warrior in arms. By revealing me to myself thou hast set me free for ever. Because of that I call thee my Master and my King.
(He kneels before the Sage.)
HERAKLIDOS (putting his hand upon Phosphoros's head): And I, O Phosphoros, I call thee my son. Be the awakener of souls and the trumpet-blast of the Unknown God in the world of the living. And now to action!
PHOSPHOROS (rising): The Star and the Torch summon me! Farewell!
HERAKLIDOS (stretching out his sceptre): Till we meet again!
I would like to add one more scene from the play - Act Four, Scene VI. Cleonice and the Bishop:
THE BISHOP: Cleonice, rebellious woman, you who were once the pure Virgin of the Desert, hear me. I am about to pronounce the anathema of the Church upon this man accursed who has ruined this city and set up the cult of the Angel of Darkness. But I will try to save you still. Abandon the outcast, if you will not receive the anathema with him.
CLEONICE: Do not hope to win me back! Did not a bold messenger from my noble hero come just now to break the bars of your church in which you sought to lock me in among the bones of the dead, so as to stifle my love under your crozier? My church is as wide as the earth, as high as heaven where shines the star of Lucifer. (She throws her arm round the shoulders of Phosphoros.) Yes, I love the Angel of Light and his Hero. The more you curse him the more I shall love him. For I love him with that love which preceded the birth of the world and will outlast it, that love whence divine souls flowed and which springs from the heart of God. This love dreads nothing, knowing itself immortal. It laughs at your threats, your bonds and your torches.
THE BISHOP: Threefold disaster upon you! Have you thought that, accursed upon earth, you forfeit heaven too?
CLEONICE (ironically): And if I parted from him, if I cringed at your feet, ould he enter Heaven with me?
THE BISHOP: Never! What comes from God returns to God; but what comes from the devil returns to the devil. He is damned to all eternity.
CLEONICE: Then keep your Heaven! I choose Hell with my belovd!
THE BISHOP: Be ye then both accursed. In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, I excommunicate you and deliver you into the hands of Satan! Children of the Evil One, be abhored of all men and all spirits, a thing loathed by day and at the mercy of the night. Be it forbidden to all Christians to greet you, to pray, work or eat with you. Let no priest sustain you in the hour of death. May your bed be fruitless, your hearth ill-omened. Let those who shall give you bread, water and fire be accursed with you. Let thre be solitude wheresoever you shall set your foot. Let terror march before your eyes and death at your heels. Let all nations drive you out, mountains fall upon you, rivers ngulf you, heaven and earth cry out on you: "Anathema upon the accursed pair!" (To the deacons.) Throw down the brands. (The deacons fling the brands to the ground and quench them with their feet.) May your lives be trampled under foot like these brands, may your souls be quenched lik these flames!
THE MONK (to the people, pointing at the pair): Behold Anti-Christ and his concubine!
THE YOUNG MEN of the phalanx (guarding the household altar, move with drawn swords towards the Monk, crying): Coward!
PHOSPHOROS (checking them with a gesture): Let us endure with unmovd souls the excommunication of the oppressors of the soul and the hatred of their slaves.
(Exit the Bishop with the deacons. The People have drawn back, horrorstruck, but remain as though fascinated by the luminous couple, who stand in solemn posture before the altar between the ranks of the phalanx and the maidens, amid a forest of swords, torches and palm boughs.)
THE MONK (aside): I believe that notwithstanding the curse he will seduce them again. (Aloud - to the People.) Begone, heathens!
Read the whole play: Children of Lucifer
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