Lucifer: a New Myth

(Putting this back up here because nothing-absolutely nothing–in my life is allowed to be simple or clear-cut anymore.)

A very long time ago, there was a little girl who could–sometimes–see and hear spirits. But the one that came through most clearly for her, and most often, was one who always seemed to be with her. He became a playmate, a companion, a second self. If she’d known the language of such things, she would have called him a familiar. He was, above all, a shapeshifter, which made him great fun to be around, much more entertaining than any of her friends at school.

Time passed, and the girl grew. Her companion grew as well, seeming to always mimic her own age more or less closely. One day, when she was a shy teenager and he was a beautiful, perfect youth with flashing eyes, he began referring to himself as Lucifer. (The girl was used to his habit of taking new names for himself—often from history or fiction–though this would prove an especially enduring one; he kept it for the next two decades, before trading it in for another—Odin–for the following fifteen years.)

A bit of research at the library, and the purchase of a book called “Paradise Lost,” told the girl it was probably not wise to admit to having “Lucifer” for a friend. Still, one day she made the mistake of telling a card reader about it (her mother’s friend, a “white witch,” had thought it would be a lark for a group of them, including the girl, to get their fortunes told). The card reader promptly told her mother the girl was a “Satanist.” Fortunately, the girl’s mother laughed this off. She was Jewish; she didn’t believe in “the Devil.”

But the book the girl had bought said Lucifer was a “fallen angel,” doomed to hell for thinking he was better than God. For the first time ever, the girl began to be wary of her companion.

“No,” Lucifer told the girl, “it isn’t like that.” And this is the story he told.

Once, when he was very young, his Father—who was a very powerful god, so powerful he liked to call himself the “only” god, though his eldest son knew that wasn’t true (he’d had a mother, after all)–decided to create a race of bipedal mammals who were meant to manage and care for the earth, with all its other creatures, when his Father wasn’t around. He based the design for them on a rudimentary type of primate, with some improvements built in—but from the start Lucifer wasn’t sure his Father had thought his project all the way through. For one thing, although these “humans” walked upright and had highly articulated hands that enabled them to manipulate objects in ways other animals could not, they were still little more than hairless apes. They seemed to have the capacity for intelligence, but they had no divine spark—which was what they would need to be able to think, to reason, to feel love and compassion, and most of all to know the difference between good and evil, right and wrong.

“You will worship my new creations, these humans,” his Father proclaimed loftily one day, and all of the other angels—all of Lucifer’s brothers and sisters—hurried to obey.

Only Lucifer objected. “But Father, they are so young! They need our guidance, not our worship.”

His father’s chin lifted. His eyes narrowed. “I am the Lord thy God, and I have spoken. You are my firstborn, my favorite son; however, you will obey my Word.”

But Lucifer stood his ground, and before long his arguments had convinced a group of his siblings and friends: the new “humans” didn’t need to be worshiped, they needed to be taught. And more than that, they needed to be enlightened. His Father had given them bodies, and the breath and water of life. But they still lacked the most crucial gift of all—the divine fire, that they might see and know themselves and know that they were children of the heavens.

And so they descended, Lucifer—the Lightbearer–and the hosts of heaven. The elder children of Heaven descended to earth, carrying with them the divine fire to inspire and enlighten their younger siblings, the “humans.” And in so descending, they disobeyed their Father and forfeited their places among the angels, but to humans they taught ethics and morals, divine law and compassion, choice and free will, language and thought, how to grow food and keep beasts, how to make clothing and shelter and medicine, how to create beauty, and all of the arts that would come to be known as the hallmarks of “civilization.” And the humans learned, and thrived, and prospered, and in true human fashion eventually came to hate and resent their angelic helpers, forgetting that they had not known these things all along, that they had not learned them all on their own.

But someplace in the heavens, Lucifer’s Father looked on with an enigmatic smile—a smile of pride, and sadness, and loss.

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