The Meaning of the Term ‘Lightbearer’
The word “lightbearer” in its literal sense means he who bears the light. It is synonymous with a person who searches for knowledge and enlightenment and who in so doing seeks to bring it to mankind. It is in this pure and beautiful sense of the word that “lightbearer” has been used in the name of the Lightbearers Organization and as a reference to Baron Eugene Fersen.
Historically, however, the word “lightbearer” has been given several meanings which today have resulted in its misalignment with its true meaning. It is for this reason and for the sake of this beautiful word itself, that we believe it necessary to clarify and heal some of the historical associations and interpretations thereof.
The origin of the word “lightbearer” is manifold both in terms of language and context. Linguistically, it is a translation of its Hebrew, Greek and Latin equivalents while the word’s contextual use has been found in religion, mythology and astronomy - all of which are themselves intricately interwoven.
“Lightbearer” has its first religious root in the Hebrew phrase “Heylel ben Shachar” in passage 14:12 of the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament, meaning “son of the morning star”. In this passage Isaiah is alluding to the pride of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II - prophesying his eventual fall by referencing mythological accounts of the planet Venus. In astronomy, Venus is known as the Lightbearer - the Morning Star - because it rises on the early morning horizon heralding the sunrise.
The Greek translation of heylel (morning star) is phosphoros meaning lightbearer (also heosphoros meaning dawn-bearer), while the equivalent Latin translation is lucifer from lucis, light and ferre, to bear – literally lightbearer. Although today Biblical scholars agree that Isaiah was referring to the Babylonian king, misinterpretations of the Biblical text, starting with St. Jerome’s Vulgate Latin translation in the early 5th century and poetic associations in Dante's Inferno and Milton's Paradise Lost, has led to the common Christian belief that lucifer in this instance is a reference to the satan myth of the fallen angel instead.
We intend to pass no judgement as to the intention (if any) of this erroneous association but believe it is suffice to say that while the term lucifer or lightbearer is linguistically correct as a translation of the Hebrew heylel, its subsequent association with the satan myth is not. Interestingly, Jesus Christ Himself is twice associated with the Morning Star or Lightbearer in the New Testament (II Peter 1:19 and in Revelations 22:16) while the word lucifer occurs only once in the King James Version of the Bible and not at all in any other English version despite it being so deeply embedded in the mind of Christian followers.
The word lightbearer may have several associations but its true and literal meaning cannot be lost as it is unambiguously expressed in the word itself. We hope that this brief historical account helps to at least neutralise any negative charges which have imprisoned this beautiful word for centuries and trust that its own self-contained truth will ultimately set it free.
Written by Tania Kotsos LB
for The Lightbearers World Center
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