Lucifer is a Fallen Angel sometimes equated with Satan. In Latin, Lucifer means “light bringer,” and he originally was associated with Venus, the morning star. Lucifer’s identity as a prideful angel cast out of heaven with his followers—who became Demons—rests mainly on legend and poetic literature, such as in the works of Dante and John Milton.
The sole biblical reference to Lucifer occurs in Isaiah 14:12: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn!” The reference is probably to the boastful king of Babylon, a prediction of the fall of Babylon and its king. Jerome’s translation of the Bible, the Latin Vulgate, made Lucifer the chief fallen angel. His rebellion against God with the sin of pride caused him and his followers to be cast from heaven. The fallen angels lost their beauty and power and became Demons.
2 Enoch, also called the Slavonic Apocalypse of Enoch, names the leader of the fallen as Satanael (Satanail). The text may date to the late first century, although some scholars believe it to be of medieval origin, because it exists only in Slavonic.
According to the text, God creates the ranks of angels on the second day of creation, shaping them out of a great fire cut off from rock. He gives them clothing of burning flames and fiery weapons. He gives orders that each one should stand in his own rank.
God tells the prophet Enoch:
But one from the order of the archangels deviated, together with the division that was under his authority. He thought up the impossible idea, that he might place his throne higher than the clouds which are above the earth, and thus he might become equal to my power. And I hurled him out from the height, together with his angels. And he was flying around in the air, ceaselessly, above the Bottomless.
Lucifer has received most attention in Christianity. In the early years of Christianity, the name was sometimes applied to Christ as the light bearer. The early church father Origen, who lived in the second and third centuries, equated Lucifer and Satan; later, Augustine and Jerome were among those who followed suit. By the Middle Ages, both Lucifer and Satan were used as names for the Devil. Lucifer could apply to the Devil in either his prefall or postfall state. Milton’s Paradise Lost and Dante’s Inferno strengthened the connection of Lucifer to Satan. In Mormonism, Lucifer (Helel in Hebrew) is a brilliant and powerful archangel, a son of Elohim (God the Father) and brother to Yahweh (God the Son, Jehovah, or Jesus) and to all of the children of Elohim including all of the souls of humanity. Lucifer became obsessed with pride and attempted to take over Elohim’s family and subvert the Father’s plan for his children. A struggle of wills ensued, and Lucifer and his followers lost. They are exiled to Earth and are permitted to tempt people. When Elohim’s purpose has been fulfilled, Lucifer and his Demons will be exiled to the “Outer Darkness,” completely cut off from divine light and love.
In the hierarchies of Demons in magical lore, Lucifer is emperor of Hell and ranks above Satan, one of his lieutenants. When conjured, he appears as a beautiful child. Lucifer rules Europeans and Asiatics. In the 19th century, Leo Taxil, a Frenchman who excelled in occult hoaxes, perpetrated the fraud that Freemasonry was associated with worship of Lucifer. Although the hoax was thoroughly exposed, Taxil continues to be cited by opponents of Freemasonry. Some modern occultists and satanists see Lucifer as an archangel of light who will incarnate in human form at key times to confer enlightenment and redemption.
- Kelly, Henry Ansgar. A Biography of Satan. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
- The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Vols. 1 & 2. Edited by James H. Charlesworth. 1983. Reprint, New York: Doubleday, 1985.
- Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Lucifer: The Devil in the Middle Ages. Ithaca, N.Y., and London: Cornell University Press, 1984.