How Beleth Took The Veil
By Jo Hart
"She walks in beauty, like the nightGeorge Gordon, Lord Byron
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies."
It was in the dawn of time, when the world was still damp and marked more clearly with the thumbprints of its Creator, that she first trod the empyreal marches. The stars rose in her eyes, and the moon caught in her hair like a silver comb, and she was the most beautiful and the most terrible of all the angelic spirits. Budding shoots that would becom ethereal forests whispered adoration and leaned towards her as she walked. Tiny inchoate ethereals, products of the first dreams, fled from her shadow and stared at her from hiding with yearning eyes that would never again look on anything else, being struck instantly blind by the sublime perfection of her face.
She had many names. Star of the Evening. The Aureate. Lady of the Thousand Sighs. Beauty that Renders the Eye Sightless. Angel of Fear. Beleth.
The story of the fall is usually told with the idea that Lucifer became proud and jealous of mortals, and that he seduced Beleth away from her angelic lover with poisonous lies and false promises. Actually, the opposite is true. It was Beleth who first seduced him. Beleth who whispered thoughts of rebellion into his ear. Beleth who stood by his side with a mask-like face and refused to speak to Blandine or even to look upon her face, sending the Angel of Dream away weeping.
We could explain why, but the logic that made sense then doesn't make sense now. The original angels were perfect beings, celestial in form and free of mortal or ethereal imperfections. So it was natural for the angel of fear, whose beauty could blind or kill lesser beings, to reach an understanding that beauty was truth, and hence that the lack of beauty was a sign of corruption, and of lesser souls. Nothing so beautiful as an angel could ever be evil. Nothing so ugly as humanity could ever truly be good.
Safe in her lovers arms, she wondered silently about God's plans, and about why He was introducing evil into their perfect world. Not only the evil of ugliness, but also the evils of sickness, madness, and of free will -- which could never be as beautiful or as perfect as doing His Will without question or complaint, as the angels did. And Blandine smoothed Beleth's glorious hair, as soft as sheer silk and darker than fuligin, and murmured only that the corporeal creatures had beautiful dreams; and because she was the angel of dreams, this settled the matter for her.
But the angel of fear was not satisfied. If she was the most beautiful of all the angels in heaven, then Lucifer was the fairest, so it was naturally to his side that she went. Her resolve and her confidence had been shaken by Blandine's response and she needed to assure herself that other opinions might gel better with her own. So she seduced the Archangel of Light, and he was smitten utterly by the quiet, glorious creature who came to him as the sun was setting, because she had been known previously for her solitary habits and her aloof ways. He was proud, and prided himself privately that the most desirable angel in Heaven had left her lover to seek him out, and Beleth's questions about beauty and truth and the purpose of humanity struck a chord with him.
"Remember me? I used to live for beauty ..."
Leonard Cohen, "First we take Manhatten"
So there was war in Heaven. The story is well known enough not to bear repeating. And before the rebel angels were defeated and thrown out of the silver city, Beleth led one last attack on the tower she had built with Blandine's help. Her forces and her terrible will forced the timid angels out into the marches, where she terrorised them into joining her party, and she stood at the base of the tower and called in a dreadful whisper for Blandine to come down and face her.
And the Archangel came. For the first and the only time, Blandine came armed with the burning sword, "The End of All Hope", that sent violent ripples of flame leaping about her and outlining her slender, armoured form. As they fought, Beleth was dealt one last dolorous blow across the face, and she fled screaming from the person who loved her more than anything in the world.
Her beauty was destroyed in that blow, before she Fell with the rest. When she found herself in Hell, she was no longer the most lovely to look upon of all the angels, but the most hideous of all the demons. Even Lucifer turned away, shallow to the end, and named her Princess of Nightmares, ordering her to go away to somewhere where he would never have to look at her face. To this day, Beleth rarely appears to her followers in celestial form, and always wears a veil -- her ugliness is as terrible as her beauty once was.
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