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Liberty or Freedom is such an important concept and ideal, and yet it is regrettably so little understood, let alone practiced, even by the very nations purporting to live by that ideal. This remark is, of course, a generalisation, as there are thousands of individuals, families and organisations in the world that do live or try to live this ideal, although they might know it under another name. So what does Liberty really mean?

Liberty, a word derived from Old French liberté and Latin libertas ("freedom”), itself derived from liber ("free"), is usually taken to mean freedom in the sense of absence of restraint, control or restrictions, including from excessive government control and often with the sense of being free to act, believe or express oneself as one chooses. However, its truer original meaning, which is far more satisfactory, unselfish and civilised, is a state of love – love for each other and love for all life, including being governed (or governing) in a loving way. A clue to this is the associated word, liberal, from Latin liberalis, meaning “generous, selfless, noble, gracious, munificent”.

Liber is a Latin word for the Sanskrit pri, meaning “love”, or “loving kindness”, from which the English word free is derived. The word and notion of friendship has the same derivation. The goddess Freya, who is commonly associated with the goddess Venus, personifies this state of being. The Statue of Liberty in New York harbour, presented to the Americans by the French, and the Statue of Freedom that crowns the US Capitol in Washington DC, are sculptural representations of this same ideal or divine principle. It is also encapsulated in the sayings: “God is our friend”, “friend of God” and “God is love”. Whether many people fully understand what true freedom really is or means is, however, a moot point, but let’s hope that one day the whole world will.

The person who is truly free is the one who has become the embodiment or manifestation of love. In effect, this means the human being who lives his or her life in complete loving service for the good of others: for, as the philosopher Francis Bacon writes, divine love is love in action and the purpose of humanity is to imitate or be the image of this. Such service is a self-sacrificial act of love. This produces the initiatic death of the psyche that culminates in its illumined rebirth or resurrection. This illumination is the real state of freedom – the state of love that has risen above and is therefore free of all selfish or egoistic desires, thoughts and actions.

Freedom, or the state of being free, has always been considered the state of the true initiate, who lives his or her life in a way that is unselfishly loving, understanding and in service to life. It is the state of true philanthropy or charity. Someone who has achieved this state and maintains it was known classically as “Liber Bacchus”, “the Free One”, the true “child of God” Who is Love. Such a person has become free of all selfish materialistic and egoistic desires, thoughts and actions, especially including greed in all its various guises, which are the ties that hold us earthbound in what the ancients called “hell”.



If we look at the whole world, we can see the Spirit of Freedom in the process of being discovered and released globally, although it is still early days in terms of whole nations and many religions. The Spirit of Freedom (Venus) is accompanied by her lover, Justice (Mars), who sweeps away all injustice, such as tyranny, corruption, greed and selfishness. The two go together hand-in-hand. This also is shown in New York’s Statue of Liberty and Washington’s Statue of Freedom – the former bearing a torch in her right hand and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) in her left, the latter wearing a helmet and holding a sheathed sword in her right hand and a laurel wreath and shield in her left. Unregulated freedom is as bad as unfriendly regulation: the one is licentious, the other oppressive.

One of the major interpretations of freedom has been freedom from slavery, so that every person, man or woman, is born free and entitled to remain free. This has been such an important realisation and political decision, but it has been forgotten that there are many kinds of slavery. Those who are held in relative poverty and lack of power and influence by those they work for, who take all profits for themselves, are victims of enslavement. Those who are threatened and told what to believe, how to behave or how to vote if they want to keep their jobs – or sometimes even their lives – are also victims of enslavement. Those who are fed lies or conned in some way by those who thereby take power over them are also victims of enslavement. In fact, any type of greed – greed for power, greed for money, greed for fame, whether in politics, religion or business – tends to create a system of slavery. When justice is slanted or perverted to support the greed, or is beyond the reach of the poor, then the enslavement is complete.

Other major interpretations of freedom are freedom of speech and freedom to vote (in a democratic society). Again, these are important freedoms, but often abused by people who do not understand that freedom means a state of love. Deliberate hate speech, for instance, is not free speech; neither is a deliberate lie spoken to hurt another, or to mislead for selfish purposes. Truly free speech is spoken from a loving heart. This does not mean to say that this denies the ability to comment on, criticise or even satirize – far from it; it all depends on the motive.

Freedom to vote is the lynchpin of democracy; but here is the rub. Democracy does not necessarily produce good leaders or a truly free society. There is liberal democracy and there is illiberal democracy. From what I have said above, it should be obvious as to which is what.