by Henry T. Edge
Exploding the Satan myth was an important part of the work undertaken by H.P. Blavatsky in bringing to the world the message of Theosophy. This curious perversion of the truth has done much harm during the ages from which we are emerging. Its rectification will be coincident with a new gospel of hope and help to humanity. H.P. Blavatsky issued a challenge to theology by boldly naming her new magazine LUCIFER. This name, as its etymology shows, means "light-bringer," and is applied to the morning star that heralds the light of day. Its equivalent in Greek is Phosphoros, which means the same. It is strange indeed that an angel with such a name, indicating such attributes, should have been transformed into an angel of darkness, a synonym for Satan, the evil counterpart of God, foe alike to God and man.
To understand how this has come about, we must refer to the sacred allegory found in the early chapters of Genesis, whose meaning has been similarly perverted. If it were asked what reason we can give for preferring the Theosophical teaching to the usual theological interpretation, we can give two answers. One is that to understand any given scripture it is necessary to compare it with other scriptures. By adopting this method, we sift out from each whatever is accidental and arrive at what is essential and common to all. The other is that the true explanation is found to conform to the facts of human experience, whereas the false interpretation conflicts with those facts. During Christian times, there has always been an antagonism between religious sanctions and the spirit of free inquiry. The authority of churches and of representative religious leaders has been unfriendly and often hostile to individual initiative in the search for truth. Often there has been war to the knife, at other times mutual indifference. At the best, there have been attempted adjustments between elements assumed (by those attempts) naturally diverse.
The natural intelligence of man has felt that the truth must be one and single, not divided into two opposite species. A God that is all wise and all loving cannot rightly be conceived as an obscurantist. Then there is the well-known problem why such a God could create man, allow him to fall or be led by Satan into corruption, and then provide for his rescue by doubtful means and one that (in strict theological interpretation) comprehends but a minute fraction of the human race. Things like these have driven many worthy souls out of religion altogether, unaware that there was any genuine truth to replace the spurious article which they have rejected. This is what is meant when we say that the theological interpretation conflicts with human experience instead of explaining it. This divorce between two vital aspects of truth has also had a disastrous effect on science, causing it to propound a view of man's origin and nature based on purely physical influences. The duality of man's nature is the most common fact of experience, constituting as it does the entire motive of the drama of human life. It is surely the function of any body of doctrine, whether it pose as religious or scientific, to explain this fact of man's duality. If we compare the stories of man's creation as found in the various scriptures and mythologies, we find everywhere a dual creation of man. He is created as an innocent being, without knowledge of good and evil, without free choice, living in a state of harmless and unprogressive bliss. Afterwards he is enlightened by the gift of divine fire, which turns him into a responsible being, made in the image of his divine creators, and destined thenceforth to learn wisdom by experience of pain and pleasure, wrong and right. Such is the true interpretation of the allegory in Genesis.
The Serpent is man's real Saviour. It is this Serpent that teaches man the knowledge of good and evil and makes him like unto the Gods. The Serpent is actually the Lord God in another form, perfecting his own original work and making of the earlier mindless man a complete being, a fitting image of his divine author. The Greeks tell the same thing in the story of Prometheus. He takes compassion on helpless mankind and brings fire down from heaven in a tube, enlightening men. There is the same apparent hostility between Zeus and Prometheus as between the Lord God and the Serpent. It is evident that the man of Eden, and the man whom Prometheus enlightened, were little better than automatons. Such a being could only become a real man by having a choice given him. Only thus could he exercise free will, that attribute of divinity. The exercise of free will and choice can be construed into an act of rebellion. Satan is said to have rebelled against God and fallen from heaven. He did so in compassion for man, performing an act of self-sacrifice for the salvation of man, just as Prometheus sacrificed himself and was ejected from Olympus to be fastened to a rock. Satan is the head of a host of angels, who with him rebelled against God and fell from heaven. They were the true enlighteners of man. This allegory of the Fallen Angels has been so misrepresented that it may seem as though we were being profane in so speaking of it. In fact, it is one of the most holy and sublime teachings of ancient wisdom.
The kind of evolution studied by science cannot produce anything higher than animals. The human self-conscious intelligence can never have been evolved from the animal mind. It is a gift apart. This gift of the divine intelligence is passed on from beings that have it to those who come after them. It is brought to men from above, not worked up from below. The scriptures say that in ages long gone by, man walked with the Gods. Man had intercourse with divine beings. It was thus that man received that marvelous intelligence which, all obscured as it is by his mortal clay, yet makes him so immeasurably above the animals. The earliest races of mankind were mindless, sinless, and devoid of initiative. Later in evolution, the divine fire was passed to man from beings who had acquired it before. Man was enlightened. This teaching regarding the evolution of human races is too long to be entered into here, but can be found in Theosophical books. It is allegorized in the Bible and other sacred books. The temptation of flesh in the Garden of Eden is a gross misinterpretation of the allegory. God has been represented as cursing forever what was a purely natural act and function. Here is another false antithesis, by which natural functions have been connected with the idea of sin. Man has been set at war with himself.
Endless moral confusion has gone down through the ages. If this Biblical Satan is a name for man's enlightener, and not the archfiend and enemy of God and man, nevertheless there may be a real devil among us. This devil is our own personified passions and evil thoughts. We know this devil by experience. We know how the alliance between fleshly passion and human self-consciousness can engender an evil personality that steps into our clothes and wears our mask. It is not mere physical immorality, harmful though that may be, that is the worst foe of man. It is selfishness, hate, anger, cruelty, and heartlessness. These whither and petrify the soul. It is riot those who have been most noted for sanctimoniousness who have been most free from this kind of sin. Man's true redeemer is that Divine Spirit which was breathed into him when from being an unselfconscious creature he became like unto the Gods. For man, good is what expands and evil is what contracts. Good sets the common weal above so-called personal interest. Evil seeks to promote self-interest regardless of the common weal. Good is constructive and makes for harmony. Evil is destructive and makes for discord. Equally fatuous are both those who accept the Eden story in its literal sense and those who scoff at it as foolish superstition. They both make the same mistake. They are guilty of the same lack of proportion. The story is symbolic and allegorical. The same symbols are universally found.
What is that Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, that Tree of Life, that pleasure garden? The Garden is the state of primitive innocence in which dwelt early man, when yet the light from Heaven had not kindled the latent spark within him. The Tree, Tau, and Cross are universal symbols of the Wisdom-Religion, as is the fruit which hangs near the top of the Tree. Around the Tree, we often find a Serpent coiled -- the universal emblem of Wisdom. ("Be ye wise as serpents.") This is the origin of the Christian Cross, which should symbolize the sacrifice of self for Self, the salvation of man by exchanging the mortal for the immortal, the true Resurrection from the dead. These most sacred symbols have been turned into a dogmatic system, in which man is made to believe himself doomed by the sin of Adam to eternal damnation, only to be saved by an act of homage to a crucified God. See how good and evil have been mixed up, that which is holy profaned, and man made to damn his own God-given faculties. The above is not an advocacy of anything like Satanism or devil worship, or any such evil cult as may be found lurking in dark corners today. The distinction between good and evil is clear enough. If Satanism means the deification of evil passions, black magic, and sorcery then the name of the divine archangel has again been traduced. Such unhallowed cults are simply one of the natural results of denying man his own natural power of self-directed evolution. By cutting him off from the true light, we drive him to seek refuge in false lights. The Bible is one of the world's sacred scriptures. When we know the keys, we can interpret it aright. It can also be interpreted entirely wrong, so that a fraud has been practiced on humanity. The above is written to clear away some confusion. It is time that the crucified Christ was resurrected from the tomb where his so-called followers have cast him. It is time that man should again recognize his true Redeemer in the Christ within all men.
As published in THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM of April 1936; page. 264 to 268
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