Lucifer and The Devil
By Antony Buonomo
Like the god that sits within, The Golden Throne is at once immovable and vast, without size, dazzling, made of suns, and yet at times, glanced at from a certain angle, it does not seem to exist.
Lucifer is used to this unsettling feeling. It is welcome. More than that, it feels necessary. Absolutely necessary to existence. It is more than hunger, so much more than devotion.
Lucifer, the Morning Star, creature of goodness, high in the firmament of Heaven, sitting at the right hand of The Divine, is content basking in the light and love of a holy Being that is Father, Brother, and Master. Revelling in the fire and flames that lick and burn. Relishing the searing heat and the blinding light. There is nowhere else this most beloved of angels would rather be.
And in turn, this dutiful servant is called Light of the Morning by the Lord who, without complaint, graciously accepts Lucifer's pure devoted love.
But now God stirs and thunder rumbles through the void. God wants to use that love. Forge it, twist it, and plunge it deep into Lucifer's heart. This loving and benign Father, capricious and benevolent, gives his favoured child a mission, and because of this devotion, this loving and benign Father knows that the child cannot refuse.
God whispers and the echoes boom around Heaven.
God murmurs and the fibres of existence shimmer and vibrate.
Lucifer, heart open, soul bared, listens dutifully. When God is finished, when the ripples are still and the vibrations fade, Lucifer cannot move. Only a feeling of abandonment remains.
Distraught, heartbroken, the Herald of the Dawn knows that by accepting this task, this child of God will be damned forever, a soul cursed and sacrificed for eternity with no redemption.
But the duty cannot be refused. Impossible. Devotion and love are too deep. The mission is accepted.
God does not even listen to the answer. Suddenly, heat and light, warmth and love, are mercilessly withdrawn. The Morning Star shines cold and alone in the darkness, abandoned, and full of a bitter useless love.
Lucifer is to be cast down to Earth at the dawn of man, where humans must be taught of the beauty and hope that pure, true love brings.
But how would these half-formed, unshaped souls appreciate this glittering treasure even if it was presented to their hooded, wary eyes?
God knows how. God reasons that if humans have never seen pure hatred they would not recognise pure love. Without seeing malice and cruelty they would not know goodness. And without darkness they would not understand light.
Therefore Lucifer's mission is to sow chaos and hatred on Earth so that humankind would comprehend love, kindness and light when it appeared.
Clearly showing this difference between the two paths, one merciful, and one destructive, would be God's benevolent gift to humanity.
Naturally, in return, the Lord would expect the human spirit to understand the enormity of this bounty. To be thankful, and to worship The Divinity that offered them this glimpse into the gentle and generous ways of Creation. It would only be fair. Supplication is a small price to pay for seeing the light.
And God would wallow in this adoration. Basking in this veneration the way Lucifer once basked in the hot glow of the Throne.
So God casts Lucifer down to the infant Earth, waiting there patiently and devotedly for life, then human life, to develop.
Especially waiting for that moment where humans crossed the threshold of being purely animal – a bundle of basic instincts with the sole aim of survival – to beings capable of forethought, reason, society, war, love, hate, jealousy and kindness. Beings that needed guidance to avoid extinction.
For the first few aeons Lucifer lay on the burning sand facing the Sun. He had a body now. Skin, muscle and bone. Eyes confined to seeing only what is visible and actually exists. It takes him a long time to get used to the useless heaviness and absurdity of having a body that occupied space, with weight and limits.
Eyes permanently open, he cannot get rid of the tremor of panic he feels when the Sun dips below the horizon and night comes. He knows it will reappear, and yet he cannot believe it until it does. He feels pathetic gratitude every time. The heat and light of this distant burning star reminds him of the Throne, but the comparison is so pale that he feels a crushing sadness to remember.
He learns to cry during the night. And for many thousands of years he calls God, sometimes talking, sometimes whispering, and sometimes screaming.
Of course God does not answer.
Eventually, Lucifer understands. He rises, somehow already weary. Gently swaying, he stands there for another thousand years before he starts walking.
He comes across creatures. Small and wet at first, but he closes his eyes and waits, and when he opens them again the creatures are bigger and have scales and feathers. He waits again and now the creatures have fur and hair. They don't come near him even when he stands amongst them.
Some with hair come down from the trees and he watches as they go from moving with four limbs to two. He understands that these are the first inklings of humanity, his purpose, his mission, and so he sets to work.
At the beginning it is hard and tedious. When he comes across small groups foraging he learns to make anxiety, becoming an uncomfortable presence somewhere just out of sight, in the shadows. Enough to instil the constant hum of fear in the tribe when the Sun goes down. A background hum of dread that humans have never lost.
As he practices, he finds that he can breed instant confusion and panic by opening his mouth in the darkness and making no sound. The group would scatter and Lucifer, becoming lonelier and more bitter with every Sunrise, learns that fear breeds irrationality and distrust, and what follows is always danger. And so it follows that rationality and trust within a group become valued. God's plan is working.
Then comes fire. Tribes become bigger, bolder and stronger through eating meat. Being a vague unsettling presence beyond the safe glow of firelight is not enough.
So Lucifer becomes one with them. A wandering stranger joining many tribes, friendly and threatless, an old man perhaps, or a lonely young girl, and then quickly and quietly finding the most aggressive, the most jealous, the greediest members amongst them, and deepening their fear and their anger.
Often a small glance or a grunted word is enough to plant the seed of uneasiness and discontent – jealousy amongst mated pairs, or a fight between brothers for leadership. Sometimes he simply steals food under the cover of night and watches the rage at the discovery.
The Morning Star becomes adept at confusion and mystification. One night, under a half moon and out of curiosity, he gathers a small group, mostly old, but holding their young, and has them sit around him, thin cloths covering their heads.
They stare and lament as he murmurs stories of darkness, his dirty, matted fur, cloven limbs and horns catching the pale light. Stupefied, they place a garland of green leaves on his head and stroke his hooves.
He turns his orange eyes to them, baring his yellow teeth, and two of the young become dry and bone. The lamentation of the old continues and another gurgling infant is offered to him. That also becomes a skeleton. Dark shapes fly overhead.
He walks away into the darkness, but no one notices and he can hear their cries until the Sun rises. In their mad grief they have hung the small bodies on a stick.
He gets no enjoyment from these events. Many times he calls God, sometimes ferociously and with enough power to turn whole villages to dust, but there is still no answer, and now he does not expect one.
He keeps wandering. He finds more tribes.
Occasionally Lucifer would find a prize in the group. A dark heart with no thought other than selfishness and greed. No ability for sympathy or generosity. Suspicion and violence their only emotions. Lucifer kept these shadow people close, feeding them poison, watching their darkness grow.
On a day that lasted a thousand years, he discovered how to incarnate this poison and shadow, by collecting it and then shaping it, mixing clay, blood, hunger, fear and pain. From these small scraps he formed an instrument of true darkness, a living creature.
At first there was not enough to make more than a beetle, or perhaps a scorpion. But slowly he gathered more and The Dark became bigger, darker and deeper than all the blackness that can be imagined. Distilled, devoid of goodness, an embodiment of the cruelty and hate of which every soul is capable.
At night it scuttled or walked behind him, sometimes a cat, sometimes a dog, sometimes something else entirely. It melted away in the day and then returned when the Sun left the sky.
With the help of The Dark, Lucifer's influence grew. Humanity swarmed over the earth and the poison swarmed with it.
They worked together to fulfil God's mission. Never communicating, just knowing. They learned that death was not always the most effective way to sow their dark seeds. Often, leaving a body breathing and bloody caused more useful distress and confusion.
Lucifer noticed that The Dark grew in power after every movement of God's Will. This strengthening was infinitesimal, like atoms swirling in a far-off universe, but he sensed it.
This feeling made him uneasy, and it took him many thousands of days while The Dark slept, to understand why. Lucifer’s own power was weakening. He would sometimes lose interest in his task, leaving the beast to roam and pleasure itself, while he would sit in the furthest desert, trying to burn, speaking in languages not yet born.
Lucifer had made The Dark, but often the beast was beyond any kind of control. He watched it hunt. At first Lucifer had been absorbed, even fascinated, by the creature's purity of purpose.
No reluctance, no restraint, no need for justification. The Dark destroyed, leaving behind wailing and silence, chaos and anger, not through obligation, or love, or even hate, but its nature, a nature Lucifer had moulded from earth and blood, and the human stain. It was a purpose even purer than that of Lucifer's himself.
And everywhere there was cruelty and misery, people reached out to God for love and peace, their plaintive voices raised to Him. God wore their pain as a blanket.
Sometimes Lucifer felt pride, and then was immediately ashamed, but he didn’t know why.
Jaws snapping, The Dark grew more.
Through his ability to conceal himself in plain sight, Lucifer thought that his true nature and endless burden had stayed hidden. But somewhere, some time, from the people of the desert, whispers, fragments of his story and that of The Dark, mixtures of the burning truth and hushed myth, began to carry to him.
The Dark now had names. Prophets told of visions, and the names they used conjured darkness, but Lucifer didn’t know why. Satan. The Devil. Shaitan. But also Lucifer.
His own name. Lucifer. The Prince of Light. The Morning Star. The most humble and devoted of The Lord’s angels was now a word of fear. His story had been woven into that of The Dark. In the frightened mind of the human soul they had become one.
Anger and despair. This must be a test. God tested faith. It was God that had visited these prophets with visions. Lucifer begged God for an answer, a sign, a reason, but there was only a silence so loud and painful that Lucifer cried as an abandoned child, unending.
Some nights, as the child cried in the desert, The Dark came to watch, yellow eyes and black fur shining in the darkness, curious but wary, not quite able to comprehend. Just watching from a distance.
From the prophets and from the followers, Lucifer first heard the word ‘evil’. It took a long time to understand what they meant.
One day in a dusty market place, while Lucifer was making a hungry child steal fruit, from behind, he felt an enormous heat and pressure that pushed him to the ground. Choking on glorious ecstasy Lucifer fell. Near forgotten tendrils of memory engulfed him, feelings of Holy warmth and safety, comforting yet terrifying.
A figure knelt beside him and whispered in his ear.
“I watched you fall like lightning from heaven.”
The figure, possibly a man, moved away. A golden lake of fire swept through Lucifer leaving him curled in bliss, limbs twisted. His eyes filled with light and his ears with noise. A crowd had gathered to watch and some of these would be food when The Dark woke.
His Will was done.