Lucifer, The Ugly Duckling and the Marquis de Sade
I have been granted many opportunities in my personal experience, to feel immersed in the archetypal personification and mythos of the “Outcast”. I had not yet dwelled on this theme with any scrutiny beyond my experience, until recently. As I opened to it, I found an array of archetypal, mythic stories, that revealed or inspired, many new dimensions and nuances about the mythic significance of the outcast, that I had not previously considered.
I have chosen 3 outcasts, of which 2 are mythical figures – Lucifer, and the Ugly Duckling, and 1 actual, the Marquis de Sade. I was strongly influenced by the first 2 archetypes – Lucifer, and the Ugly Duckling, from my earliest memories, but did not encounter de Sade until much later in my adult life.
For there to be outcasts, there must consequently be, those who cast out. Considering these pairings of ins and outcasts, brought to mind a variety of polarities in the internal and external realms of experience, that seemed to have some relation to the myths of being an outcast.
One aspect involved the concept of the shadow. That part of the individual or cultural identity which is tossed out, shunned, or hidden from view. The entrance of the shadow to the exploration brought in a counterpart of the shadow, called a projection. A projection is a part of the self that is “cast upon” another individual or group, that the self or culture denies about itself. These are often projections onto a person or a group as being, evil, immoral, corrupt, godless, uncivilized, pathological or despicable, for instance.
Another element common to the outcast is a fall from grace. This fall can also indicate a descent, into the underworld or other dark realms. This brings in the insinuation of the metaphors of above and below, or heaven and hell, civilized and primitive, and even the masculine and the feminine. I will consider some of these aspects as they appear in the 3 outcasts I have chosen to look at.
Lucifer is a very intriguing, tangled thread of a figure, who seemingly originated as a Roman god. He had even earlier manifestations, under different guises in mythologies from Sumeria and Greece, before he became the biblical character, I experienced as a little boy.
I can still see snippets of images from my illustrated catechism in 2nd grade, of Lucifer being cast out of heaven. I recall the nun, squat, ancient and terrifying, telling the tale of the fallen angel, Lucifer, in ominous tones. I recall the image of the gloriously radiant and powerful, golden haired, arch-angel Michael, hovering in the blue heavens with a sword. It was Michael, that personally booted Lucifer, with gnashing teeth, but with lowered head and tucked tail, out of heaven. I recall the image of Lucifer falling out of the sky, with his horde, into the fires of hell.
At the time, Lucifer garnered no empathy from me. I wanted to be one of the good guys, especially an arch-angel, not just an angel! I similarly aspired to the “White Hat” versus the black, as a boy.
As I began the inquiry into Lucifer’s place in mythology, history and religion, I was astonished at what a rich, if not tangled up tale, had developed around Lucifer, and his eventual transition into the more sinister, Satan. Lucifer was a Latin name that was the translation of the Greek name Phosphorous. (Themythindex.com, Phosphorus, n.d.) He was the brother of Hesperus, or the Evening Star (Saturn). Phosphorus was the Greek god named for the Morning Star (Venus), that came out of the darkness of the night. So Lucifer means “morning star”, in the Latin, the bringer of light. His identity since the Christian era, has been as one of the brightest of stars, that was banished in disgrace, back into darkness, for disobedience to god, in the Christian myths.
The main story from the bible tells how there was god, and there were 3 squads of angels, god created, with 200 angels each. Lucifer, Michael and Gabriel, each led a squad. When god created humans, he commanded the angels to commit to being the servants of humans. Lucifer took this as beneath him, and refused to take the demotion. God, takes a hard line, against this sin of pride, and instructs Michael to banish Lucifer and his horde, in an apparently made for the occasion, eternally burning hell.
There were several myths that referred to Prometheus (Themythindex.com, Prometheus, n.d.) and similar pre-Christian, mythological characters, who all stole some of the main god’s fire, or prevented some annihilation scheme of all the humans on the earth, when the main god got angry. This act of defiance would anger the main god and the culprit, like Lucifer, was often banished to suffer or be disgraced or perpetually tormented, in some way or other.
This theme of defiance, or refusal to accept an order contrary to its nature, is an elemental aspect of the rebellious outcast. This also brings in the opposite theme of the Tyrant, shadow of the King, imposing absolute order, unmercifully. Lucifer in the biblical account is, overnight, downgraded from an angel of light into the serpent of Darkness, Satan. Satan is duly made into the poster child for what happens when one defies or disobeys supreme authority, in this case the Christian god.
“Paul revealed that there is a spiritual entity that is energizing the children of disobedience, a spirit of the air, and Ireneaus declared that this spiritual entity is Satan.” (Lowe, 2011, p59)
Associating disobedience, or defiance of the imposed order, with the devil , or evil, is an ancient tactic for those in power to condemn any opposition. It is interesting that mythology is full of defiance of the main god’s authority…even by other gods or near gods themselves, not just in the human realms.
I take in the god, who banished Lucifer to permanent disgrace, with no consideration for him, as what had been described as the most shining of god’s angels, as a god unwise and immature. A tyrant. The outcast, and in this case the archetype of Lucifer, could be pointing to the spirit of rebellion against tyranny. This also points to the irony of the Outcast as potential Hero!
The outcast Lucifer, then became demonized into the more sinister forms of the archetype represented by Satan and the Devil. It is the Devil who seduces the weakness of human desire, the weakness of the flesh, the very body that carries us through life. In a way, god’s banishment of Lucifer was also a condemnation of the flesh, of the imperfect body. In a larger sense, Lucifer’s banishment was an elitist condemnation of imperfection, and the impossibility for a fulfilled life, that imperative of perfection creates in the soul, of any imperfect human aspirant. Jungian analyst Marion Woodman commented in her video documentary, Dancing in the Flames, “The desire for perfection rejects life.” (Adam Reid, 2009)
Lucifer could stand as a metaphor for this instinctual, wild, earthy, primitive form of consciousness, our physicality. There are parts of our cultures and parts of us, that aspire to perfection, to the lofty disembodied, spiritual realms, that have tried to portray our instinctual natures as incapable of godliness. To embrace the realm of the flesh is a descent away from the one pure spirit, or god above. To not free yourself from worldly desires, according to the biblical view, is to condemn yourself to the hell of the flesh.
“Lucifer is a metaphor for this form of consciousness, this physicality. We are divine beings who have ‘followed Lucifer’ so to speak to a lower level of dimensions and we’ve been somewhat trapped here for quite a while. The Bible and all illuminated religious texts are talking about the same thing… you can free yourself from Lucifer (this physical existence) or you can carry on in ‘hell’. “ (DavidIcke.com, blog, 2009)
Another implication of Lucifer as associated with the Morning star, links Lucifer to Venus, the feminine goddess of love and physical beauty, in the Roman pantheon. In this view, the banishment of Lucifer may be akin to patriarchal monotheism’s diminishment of the feminine, and the associated sensual realms of the body and pleasure, the potential of the feminine represents.
The Ugly Duckling
The Ugly Duckling fairytale offers a slightly different perspective on the experience of the outcast. The fairy tale was penned by Hans Christian Anderson in 1843. It was instantly popular and has become an enduring tale ever since.
In the Ugly Duckling tale, there is no infraction committed against a higher power. Even though there was no fall, per se, the demotion of status was delivered, nonetheless. The delivery came via a Stork that got mixed up and left a swan egg in the duck batch. Demotion by accidental caprice. The Ugly Duckling’s status among the duck tribe, was that of an inferior, ugly alien, not deserving of honor, full rights, fair treatment, worthiness or love.
Anderson’s fairy tale takes the Ugly Duckling through a series of hopeful , but failed efforts, to be accepted, cared for, to be welcomed. His deep yearning for mother, father, family and an honorable place in community, is met with rejection, failure or reversal of fortune at every turn. This image of the isolate, pained, exiled wanderer, that fit in nowhere, was seemingly a reflection of Anderson’s own experience of being a misfit as a boy, and brings another shade to the outcast motif.
“Andersen himself was a tall, ugly boy with a big nose and big feet, and when he grew up with a beautiful singing voice and a passion for the theater he was cruelly teased and mocked by other children” (Anderson, 2011, p. 37 )
This brings in the theme related to lost innocence, cruelly rendered, that is often the fate of the outcaste. This sense of innocence betrayed, was potently portrayed in the Disney animated short of the Ugly Duckling. (Disney Studios, 1939)
I have personal memories of seeing this animation at around 5 years old. I recall a complete identification and empathy with the Ugly Duckling. I felt so moved at the end of the film I had to cry. When the Ugly Duckling is discovered to have the destiny to become a beautiful, elegant swan, and be reunited and lovingly welcomed by his tribe, I was crying for joy, not grief.
I watched the cartoon recently, and will just note that the ending I had been remembering was inaccurate to an extent. My imagery was that the actual parents found their son, and in the last frame they are swimming away together, the Ugly Duckling lovingly nestled between them. Just a moment before, the Ugly Duckling was still a little reluctant, or shy to believe he was really being included. In my recollection, I saw how both the mother and father swept a wing out to lovingly embrace their son on each side, and draw him in between them.
So it turns out, my ending was not the same as the ending in the Disney version it was based on. But it was the myth that worked for me apparently, in my unconscious. I can still feel the strong emotions of my personal version. At the age of 5 I did not yet know I was adopted, but I am clear some part of me felt like an Ugly Duckling, out of place and tribe. In the actual ending, the Ugly Duckling happily discovers a brood of swans, and is taken in by them, as one of their own.
What was so compelling to me about the Disney version was the unquestioning anticipation of being loveable and wanted, that the Ugly Duckling irrepressibly displayed. This theme is dragged out through several episodes of supreme, undaunted hope, belief in his lovability, met eventually and inevitably, with harsh rejection.
Disney animators potently captured these emotional rises and inevitable falls. This was amazingly conveyed without any dialogue. The body language and varying tones of honking, spoke with full nuance. It was brutally clear…the Ugly Duckling was an outcast. But one who would eventually be reclaimed and lovingly welcomed home. This theme of the loss, or corruption of innocence leads right into the third outcast, de Sade.
Marquis de Sade
The Marquis de Sade was an outcast in the literal sense. He was a man of royal lineage, in 18th Century France, who was isolated to prison for much of his adult life – primarily for defiance. His defiance was as expansive as his reported sexual depravity, and consisted of defiance of custom, decorum, the church, the government, royalty, and morals…particularly sexual morals. The latter is of course, an understatement. I will speak more to this defiance aspect, but before I dwell too far away, I want to come back to innocence.
Sade suffered the common humiliations of the outcast – loss of freedom, dignity, respect and human rights, but his path of defiance led him to dish out these humiliations and violations as well, if not in equal, then in greater measure, to those he saw as innocent and inferior. The innocents were the plum prize to dispense what has been branded ever since, as Sadistic torment, in spectacular commissions of depravity upon the victim.
Thomas Moore, in his book, Dark Eros, proposes that Sade offers rich insight into the individual psyche and social shadows, when his writing is viewed through the lens of myth and metaphor, rather than the literal Sade. In this mythic regard, the innocent must be initiated, go through the ordeal, take the hero’s journey, to come into its power and destiny. The wound must be struck, that shatters this cocoon of innocence, so the next stage of being can emerge.
“The innocent soul has to be initiated and forced into the dark and fascinating reality of life. If the soul remains innocent, it is not really becoming human, but is just like a plant.” (Moore, 1990) p ix
Sade was a libertine beyond law and morals. But to his own identity and sense of himself, at the core of his soul, he was nobly loyal and unwavering. He had scant respect for the laws, morals and pretension of the royal and catholic culture of his times.
His defiance was artful annoyance and satire. He often royally skewered those who condemned him, from church and society, and exposed their hypocrisy in his plays and novels. There was a rather obstinate pride in his defiance, but a noble allegiance to his innate truth, as well.
“ Sade also confessed the demands he felt in his own nature. In a letter written to his wife from prison he says, ‘ You say that my way of thinking cannot be tolerated? What of it? The man who alters his way of thinking to please others is a fool.’” (Moore, 1990 p. 5)
The outcast can also transform, into the explorer of the uncharted terrain, that it is often banished to. This again brings the outcast back into the hero’s journey, into facing the dangerous, demonized, unmapped, forbidden terrain, where he must retrieve the prize…his very soul, or even the soul of a culture.
Again, a variation on the theme of Venus crosses this path of the outcast, from yet another direction. For Sade’s mythos, the attributes of idealized beauty, tenderness, poetic romanticization of the feminine, and of Love itself are a sham. They are destined to dust, betrayal, decay. Sade chooses to embrace and acknowledge the cold, cruel night of the inevitable Saturn aspect, versus the effort to preserve a Venusian beauty destined to become rotting flesh.
“ Sade shows that Eros can be present in the most unlikely places…to limit Eros to the theme of Venus is to establish a monotheism of the erotic.” (Moore, 1990, p. 115)
In other words, Sade is liberating Eros from the shadow of innocence, which attempts to preserve innocence at all costs…and inevitably fails. Sade says, why fool yourself, or even more limit, your soul any longer.
I have learned through this brief exploration that the archetype of the Outcast is rich in paradox, and worthy of reflection on the many nuances and layers through which it may inform the soul on its journey deep into the mystery of life.
The Myth Index, Phosphorus, n.d, para.1, retrieved from http://www.mythindex.com/greek-mythology/P/Phosphorus.html
The Myth Index, Prometheus, n.d, para.1, retrieved http://www.mythindex.com/greek-mythology/P/Prometheus.html
David W. Lowe, (2011), Deconstructing Lucifer: Reexamining the ancient origins of the fallen angel of Light, Seattle , WA, Seismos Publishing
Dancing in the Flames – documentary video, Director: Adam Reid, Producer: Robin Crumley
Produced In: 2009 http://www.cultureunplugged.com/play/7972/Dancing-in-the-FlamesThere
David Icke, 2009, The Lucifer Archetype, retrieved from http://www.davidicke.com/forum/showthread.php?t=60386
Jens Anderson, (2006), Hans Christian Andersen: A new life, New York, NY, Overlook TP
The Ugly Duckling, cartoon (1939) Produced by: Walt Disney Studios, Anaheim, CA
Thomas Moore, (1990), Dark Eros, The Imagination of Sadism, Woodstock, NY, Spring Publications