Venus, the Devil, Jack Chick and the Freemasons

The brightest star in the sky is in fact a planet, Venus. Venus is closer to the sun than our Earth. Because of this, seen from Earth, it is always in the region of the sun, appearing before sunrise as a morning star, or during sunset, as an evening star. Due to its extreme brightness and proximity to the rising or setting sun, Venus is easy to locate.

The Venusian year is 225 (Earth) days long. While Venus orbits the sun, the Earth orbits in the same direction. As a result, the period of Venus around the sun, as seen from Earth, seems longer: 584 days. The astronomical term for this period is synodic period.

For about 8 months of its synodic period, Venus appears in front of the sun, in other words, west of the sun. It rises as a morning star, at most three hours before sunrise. When Venus goes behind the sun, a state which astronomers call 'superior conjunction', it disappears for about three months. Afterwards, it reappears east of the sun, and becomes an evening star for 8 months. When Venus passes in front of the sun, at inferior conjunction, it disappears for only about a week. (References: 1, 2, 3)

Of course, the planet was named after the Roman goddess of Love and Beauty, Venus. The relationship between the star and the goddess is not a unique Roman tradition. The Romans likely borrowed the idea from the Greeks, who associated the star with their goddess of Love, Aphrodite. The Greeks probably took the idea from the Babylonian cult of Ishtar. Ishtar was a complicated goddess, representing Love, Lust, Fertility, Passion and War. Babylonians called her the Lady of Heaven, and considered the evening star hers. (References: 1, 2)

The earliest astronomers did not know that the morning star and the evening star were in fact the same object. According to some sources, the Greek philosopher Pythagoras (572-492?) first discovered this fact. According to other sources, it was Paramenides (500-450?) who made the discovery. In any case, the fact became known at least by the fifth century BC.

Nevertheless, the Greeks had two separate names for the morning and evening stars. The evening star was called Hesperos, which is derived from an Indo-European root which means 'western'. The morning star was called Phosphoros, which means 'bringer of light', or Eosphoros, 'bringer of dawn'. (Note that the Latinized forms of these names end in -us instead of -os.) Bringer of Light or Bringer of Dawn are logical names, because the morning star appears shortly before the sun, like a herald.
(Reference: 1 )

The Romans also had two names for the star. The evening star was called Vesper, or Noctifer (bringer of night), and the morning star was Lucifer (bringer of light).

Many years ago I learned that the Romans called the morning star Lucifer, but I did not know why the goddess of Love and Beauty, Venus, was associated with the Christian idea of the Devil, who is also called Lucifer. Scientists have recently learned that the surface of Venus is a hellish 480 degrees (Celsius), but the ancients certainly could not have known that. Why did the Bringer of Light become the Prince of Darkness?

I will return to this later.

More than 20 years ago, while I was watching a parade, some of the marchers threw small rolls covered in tin-foil. These rolls looked like rolls of candy, and kids ran to collect them. I picked up one, and peeled off the tin-foil. There were no candies inside, but a small rolled up comic book. I do not remember the story in detail, but generally, it promised salvation for those who accepted Jesus and eternal damnation in hell for those who refused.

That comic was a publication of Jack Chick who during the last 40 years has been publishing religious tracts to convert people to Christianity. Since the time when I read that first comic, I have occasionally found his comics on the seats in buses and restaurants, etc. People leave them there hoping to 'save' a few souls.

Lately I have discovered that his comics are available in the internet, in more than 100 languages in fact. (English Non-English)

Chick's stories aim to unmask Satanic conspiracies which condemn people to hell, and to guide them to Jesus-Christ instead. He attacks the usual enemies of fundamental Christianity, liberal sexual mores, homosexuality, rock music, the theory of evolution, etc. He also writes comics to convert Muslims, Mormons, and 'false' Christians. Catholics might find his tract 'Are Roman Catholics Christians?' interesting.

Probably many people, like me, find the simple-minded paranoia of Jack Chick fascinating. Parodies of Chick-comics can also be found on the net. (Here.)

Several days ago I read a Chick tract against Freemasons entitled The Curse of Baphomet. What is a Freemason? According to Reta Vortaro (an Esperanto dictionary on the internet), a Freemason is:

"A member of a cultural society with secret rites, which exists in many countries and promotes cooperation between members and generally the improvement of morality, fraternity, and justice in society."
(translated from Esperanto).

(References: 1, . 2).

According to the story, the son of a couple has attempted suicide with a gun. He is lying in a hospital, and the doctor is afraid he will die, because he has lost his will to live. The couple is confused. They have always been good Christians. Why would God allow such a catastrophy?

A friend explains that it happened because they are Freemasons, and Freemasonry is a Satanic cult. The couple is shocked. They deny that they worship the devil. The friend 'proves' that Freemasonry is a Satanic cult, by explaining the symbols, and quoting a Freemason leader, Albert Pike, who praised Lucifer as a god.

"... the MASONIC RELIGION should be, by all of us initiates of the high degrees, maintained in the purity of the LUCIFERIAN doctrine. If Lucifer were not god, would Adonay... calumniate him? YES LUCIFER IS GOD..."

The couple rejects Freemasonry, and asks for God's forgiveness. Happily, the son recovers.

I occasionally come across accusations against Freemasons, that they worship the Devil. I do not believe such nonsense, and can sympathize with people falsely accused. On the other hand, I think that if one creates a secret society which uses occult symbols, such accusations are inevitable.

In any case, I wanted to get the Freemason reaction to Chick's accusation. Searching the internet using the words Chick, freemason, Lucifer, and Pike, I found what I was looking for. (References: 1, 2)

I will briefly summarize.

First of all, the Pike quote which Chick cites is a fake by Leo Taxil (real name: Antoine Jogand-Pages). Taxil, who publicly confessed in 1897, sought to defame Freemasonry and embarass the Catholic church.

Hoaxers such as Taxil know that the most clever lies are based on an element of truth. The Freemason philosopher Pike, in his book Morals and Dogma, in fact wrote about Lucifer:

"Lucifer, the light-bearer! Strange and mysterious name to give to the Spirit of Darkness! Lucifer, the Son of the Morning! Is it HE who bears the Light, and with its intolerable light blinds feeble, sensual or selfish souls?" (Reference)

Pike speaks of Lucifer as a bringer of Light (a metaphore for Wisdom, Knowledge), and expresses surprise that the name became associated with the Spirit of Darkness. Elsewhere Pike wrote of "the false Lucifer of legend".

So what then is the relationship between Satan and the morning star? I found the answer in the pages about Freemasonry.

In the English Bible which king James commissioned in 1611, the name Lucifer appears in Isaiah 14:12. The English translation, and probably other vernacular translations, are based on the Latin translation of Saint Jerome (340?-420), from the fourth century. Here is the Latin text:

14:12 quomodo cecidisti de caelo lucifer qui mane oriebaris corruisti in terram qui vulnerabas gentes

(Why did you fall from heaven, Lucifer, who rose in the morning? You are ruined on the ground, you who wounded the people.)

Reading this text out of context, one might suppose that it's about the Devil, Satan, the evil angel who fell from heaven. Many Christians interpret the verse that way. For modern Christians, Lucifer is another name for Satan. But the verse is not about Satan. It is about a Babylonian king who persecuted the Jews. It is part of a satirical song.

The original author of Isaiah, who wrote in Hebrew, mockingly called the king Helal, which means 'day star'. Jerome based his translation on the Greek translation, the Septuagint, which translates the Hebrew word with the Greek name Eosphoros (= morning Venus). As mentioned above, the Latin equivalent of Eosphoros is Lucifer.

In the time of Saint Jerome, Lucifer was not a name of Satan. In fact, a bishop from Sardinia, the founder of a Christian sect, was named Lucifer. (It is interesting that Jerome wrote a sarcastic essay against the Luciferians. In my opinion, 'Lucifer' is an appropriate translation of the Hebrew Helal, (or the Greek Eosphoros). However, I think that Jerome must have smiled when he wrote the above verse.) (References: 1, 2.)

The above explanation is somewhat complicated. I will summarize the main facts.

At first Lucifer was not a name for Satan, but the Latin name for the morning star, Venus. Saint Jerome used the Latin name for the star to translate a biblical verse which mocks a fallen Babylonian king. Afterwards, people misinterpreted the verse as a reference to the fallen angel, Satan. In this way, Lucifer became a name for Satan.

The Freemason Albert Pike mentioned Lucifer in his writings, as the bringer of Light, and was perplexed by the false modern idea that Lucifer is the Devil. The hoaxer Taxil, in order to defame Freemasonry and ridicule Catholicism, spread a lie that Freemasonry is a Satanic cult. As part of that lie, he invented a false quote in which Pike praises Lucifer as god. Taxil confessed in 1897, but some fundamental Christians such as Jack Chick continue to repeat the lie to attack Freemasonry.

I will finish this essay with a little irony.

In the Apocalyps of Saint John (Revelation), 22:16, Jesus says:

"I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star." (Reference)

Jesus says that he is the morning star, in other words, Lucifer. Some malicious sorts like to quote this verse to annoy Christians. Of course, I would never do such a thing.

April 2001
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