Book of Alchemy

Alchemy -13

Chapter 13

Angels

 

    Angels as seen from the theological point of view.  Because angels are considered spirits we cannot see with the human eye as they really are, so to say, but they have at times assumed bodies and appeared to man, and at such times the beauty of their outward appearance and a seeming of the various colors as testified to indicate their innate glory, dignity, power and splendor.

 

    For even though they are considered unseeable and also acknowledged seen, brings to mind all that is pure, bright and holy, for when we meditate on these heavenly spirits we are reminded of our Father’s Love who sent His angels to guide and guard us, as it says in the Bible, in our battle with the enemies of salvation.

 

    The name angel in its widest meaning is applied to all those spirits whom God has created without designating them to any particular path or physical world as our souls were, to the union with the body.

 

    These, of course, are complete spiritual substances which had their virtue tried, and some of them revolted against their Creator and were cast down, for these were those designated as the demons or fallen angels and they still seem to have retained certain levels of rank with Lucifer or Beelzebub as their prince and seek to bring to their own level the beings from God.  For the Testament reveals that even Jesus was not exempt from this.

 

   Thus, it was we had the other angels which remained faithful to God, who blessed them and confirmed them in grace and bestowed upon them the glory and happiness of celestial realms (heaven).  Those are the good angels, the bright and Holy Spirits that stand about the throne of the Father and they offer praise, honor and benediction to God and those whom serve him.

 

    The name most frequently given to angels is messenger; in Hebrew, Mal-ak; in Greek, Angelos, and rendered in the Vulgate as angels.  Like the word “apostle”, the name denotes an office, not a nature.  St. Augustine says “you ask the name of this nature, it is spirit, and you seek to know its office, it is an angel.”

 

    There are three angels that have proper names which are accepted in Catholic writings – Gabriel, Michael and Raphael.  Other names were considered uncertain and were rejected by Pope Zachary in the Roman Synod of 745 AD.

 

    The belief in angels flourished among the Jews from the most ancient times and among Christians until certain reformed sects rejected the invocation of saints and gradually the angels became less remembered though not intentionally so, perhaps.

 

    There are many references to angles in the Holy Scriptures and angels are represented as personal beings endowed with the understanding and will that is gifted with true personality, not a divine emanation or mere powers or ideas of deity.

   

    The belief in angels is common to almost all nations of the world and is a constant universal tradition of almost all people.   St. Paul says “in God all things are created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, dominions or principalities or authorities.”  The New English Bible quotes the same passage – Corinthians 1:16 also, “the invisible order of thrones.”

 

    Theologians accept three hierarchies of angels, each of which is divided into three orders or groups or choirs.  The first hierarchy consisting of the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones.  The second of Dominions, Virtues and Powers.  The third of Principalities, Archangels and Angels.  Thus, a total of nine orders according to tradition.

 

    Within the scope of these, some are called assisting angels at the Throne of God and other ministering angels unto other creatures.  It is felt that an angel may perform services for Raphael in ministering to the son of Tabias who said he was one of the seven who stood before the Throne of God.  The Scripture says “Thou hast made man a little less than the angels.”  This, of course, is to explain that angels are pure spirit where man is composed of spirit and matter.

 

    Angels are most generally accepted to be pure intelligence devoid of any kind of body, though some have disputed this they say they have bodies and others compromised, calling angels corporeal and composite in comparison with God who alone is absolutely Simple.

 

    These angels are called incorruptible and immortal for death consists of the separation of soul and body.  They could cease to be only by animation through the omnipotence of God, for the angels can pass or move with lightning speed from one spot or place to another.

 

    The angels are described as being able to speak to one another and to man.  They sing God’s praise, the praises of joy and Thanksgiving, just as Paul says “are they all not ministering spirits sent to minister to those who shall receive inheritance of salvation?”  The Christian churches accept that each man individually has a guardian angel, for our Lord says “their angels always see the face of my Father which is in Heaven.”  Some persons also feel that nations, kingdoms and provinces have special angels assigned to watch over them while others believe he divided the earth into nations corresponding to the number of his angels but since there are tens of thousands of angels this would require further definition.

 

    St. Thomas said “all corporeal substances are ruled by angels.”  In Cardinal Neuman’s poetic thoughts goes thus: “every breath of air and ray of light and heat, and every beautiful prospect, is as it were the skirts of their garments, the waving of the robes, of those whose faces see, those in the face of heaven.”

 

    The Catholic Church does not worship angels as God but assigns to them a reverence and honor that man may secure the help and intercession of these Holy Spirits.

 

    The ministry of angels according to the Catholic Scriptures is plainly to protect the just, to inspire holy thoughts, to defend from danger, to heal, to pray for and console mankind, and to escort him at last to heaven.

 

   “He hath given his angels charge over thee, to guide thee, in all thy ways.”

 

    Let us now take a good look at the parallel teachings of the old mystics and the reality of these things as they really are.

 

    The word “angel” means a messenger, a “bringer of tidings”.  Mention of the angels and of their office as “messengers and ministers from God” is so frequent in the Scriptures that belief in their existence is embedded in the Christian tradition.

 

    In this tradition, the angelic host is divided into three tiers, or hierarchies, and each of these is in turn divided into three choirs.  The most commonly accepted division and order of the angelic host is that established by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, as follows:

 

First Hierarchy:          Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones

 

Second Hierarchy:      Dominations, Virtues, Power

 

Third Hierarchy:         Princedoms, Archangels, Angels

 

 In the First Hierarchy, the Seraphim are absorbed in perpetual love and adoration immediately around the throne of God.  Seraphim, as representatives of Divine Love, are usually painted in red color and sometimes hold burning candles.

 

    The Cherubim know God and worship Him.  Cherubim, representing Divine Wisdom, are portrayed in golden yellow or in blue.  They are sometimes shown holding books.

 

    The Thrones sustain His Seat.  Thrones represent Divine Justice.  Frequently, they wear the robes of judges and carry the staff of authority in their hands.  They are believed to receive their glory directly from God and to bestow it upon the Second Hierarchy.

 

    The Second Hierarchy, composed of the Dominations, Virtues, and Powers, is made up of the regents and the governors of the stars and the elements. They, in turn, illuminate the Third Hierarchy with the glory which they have received.

 

    Dominations are crowned, carry scepters, and sometimes orbs, as emblems of authority.  They represent the Power of God.

 

    Virtues carry white lilies, or sometimes red roses as symbols of Christ’s Passion.

 

    Powers are often dressed in full armor as victorious warriors against the hordes of evil devils.

   

 It is through the Third Hierarchy, the Princedoms, Archangels, and Angels, that the heavenly contact is maintained with the created universe and with man; for these are the executors of the Will of God.  In relations to man, the Princedoms are the dispensers of the fate of nations; the Archangels are the warriors of heaven; the Angels are the guardians of the innocent and the just.  Both Archangels and angels are the messengers of God to man. 

 

    In addition to the functions already listed, the angelic hosts act as the choristers of heaven.

 

    Archangels

 

    In spite of the fact that angels are almost universally represented in Renaissance art, only the archangels have assumed an individual form with definite character and attributes.

 

    Revelation 8:2 mentions “the seven angels which stood before God”, but they are not acknowledged by name in the Church.  Seven great angels are occasionally introduced as being in attendance at the Crucifixion, and in scenes of the Last Judgment.  More often, they are used as decorative figures.

 

    The four archangels mentioned in the Scriptures are Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel.  According to the Hebrew tradition, these four archangels sustain the throne of God.  Of these four, only the first three are given distinct personalities and have been accorded the title of saint.

 

    As heavenly messengers, guides, and protectors of the church militant on earth, their gracious beauty, divine powers, and lofty relations with mortal man have made them most prominent in Christian art.

 

    St. Michael

 

    The name of the Archangel Michael means “like unto God”.  Christian tradition describes him as the Captain-General of the hosts of heaven, the Protector of the Jewish nation who became, after the Christian revelation, the Protector of the Church Militant in Christendom.

 

    God has bestowed upon Michael many and great privileges.  It is he who will sound the last trumpet at the general resurrection; “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”  (I Corinthians 15:52)

 

    It is his office to receive the immortal spirits when they are released from death and to weigh them in a balance.

 

    His office of Protector of the Hebrew nation led him to become the guardian of the redeemed in Christendom against his old adversary, the Prince of Hell.

 

    The representations of St. Michael the Archangel in the Renaissance era were many.  He is invariably depicted as young and beautiful, and most often clothed in a dazzling coat of mail with sword, spear, and shield.  Resplendent wings rise from his shoulders.  He sometimes wears a jeweled crown.

 

    Most frequently, he is doing battle with Satan, who is represented as a serpent, dragon, or demon.  This refers to the dramatic description in Revelation 12:7-9, “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

 

    When Michael is represented carrying scales, or balances, in his hand, he is acting in his office as the weigher of souls.

 

    St. Michael frequently appears in Old Testament paintings, such as the Sacrifice of Isaac, Moses and the Burning Bush, with Joshua at Jericho, and at the Rebuking of David.  He plays an important part in the legends of the Virgin, and it was Michael who was sent to announce to the Virgin her approaching death.

 

    St. Gabriel

 

    The Archangel Gabriel, together with Michael and Raphael, is given the title saint in the Christian Church.  His name means “God is my strength”.  He is the guardian of the celestial treasury, the Angel of Redemption, and the Chief Messenger of God.  It is in this latter office that he figures so prominently in the Christian tradition.

 

    It is Gabriel who is sent to Daniel to announce the return of the Jews from their captivity.  He foretells the birth of Samson in the likeness of a “man of God with the countenance of an angel” (Judges 13).

 

    It is Gabriel who appears to Zacharias in the temple and tells him that his wife Elisabeth shall bear a son who shall be called John.

 

    He is the Angel of the Annunciation: “And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.  And the angel came in unto her, and said, “Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.”  (Luke 1:26-28)

 

    As the Angel of the Annunciation, Gabriel usually bears in his hand a lily or a scepter; in the other he carries a scroll upon which is inscribed Ave Maria, Gratia Plena (Hail Mary, full of Grace).

 

    In the earlier paintings of the Annunciation, Gabriel is usually shown as a majestic figure and richly robed.  He wears a crown and bears a scepter to indicate sovereignty.  His wings are large and many-colored.  His right hand is extended in salutation and benediction.  He is the principle figure, while the Virgin is represented as receiving the angel with the utmost submission and in deep humility.

   

    It is to be noted in representations of this scene after the fourteenth century that a change in the importance of the Virgin and Gabriel takes place.  The Virgin becomes the more prominent person and the superior being.  She is portrayed as the Queen of the Angels.  Gabriel no longer carries the scepter, but he bears a lily as the symbol of the purity of the Virgin.  He is usually shown kneeling with his hands folded on his breast.

 

    St. Raphael

 

    The Archangel Raphael, whose name means “the Medicine of God”, is chief of the guardian angels and the guardian angel of all humanity.  He is represented as the benign friend of those he serves.  He is usually shown as the protector of Tobias on his journey to Gabael in Media; (See Tobias, the Old Testament in Section V).  It is from this ancient Hebrew romance that the attributes of Raphael are gathered and portrayed.  Raphael is the protector of the young and the innocent.  Especially does he watch over and protect the pilgrim and the wayfarer.

 

    He is usually pictured as a kind, mild, and loving person.  His dress is that of a pilgrim or traveler: he wears sandals, and his hair is bound with a diadem.  He carries a staff in his hand, and there is sometimes a gourd of water or a wallet slung to his belt.

 

    When he is portrayed as a guardian spirit, however, he is richly dressed and a casket or wallet held by a golden belt is slung over his shoulder.  He bears a sword in one hand, and the other is raised in the attitude of a warning gesture, as though to say, “Take heed.”

 

    Christian tradition relates that it was Raphael in his office of guardian angel, who appeared to the shepherds on Christmas night with the message: “Fear not: for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

 

    Uriel

 

    Uriel is portrayed much less frequently than are Gabriel and Michael.  The name Uriel signifies “the Light of God” and in Milton’s Paradise Lost, the archangel is represented as the regent of the Sun.

 

    Early legend states that it was Uriel who, as ambassador of Christ, appeared to the disciples at Emmaus.

 

    In art, Uriel is usually represented carrying a scroll and a book indicating his role as interpreter of judgments and prophecies.

 

*       *       *       *       *       *       *

 

    The heart center of the man, the same 666 mentioned in the Testament, is taken as a number symbol for the radiant physical energy which is the outer vesture of the spiritual son.  It loses its evil significance and the good is then represented by the son of Jehovah.

 

    Tipareth is the point symbolizing the ego center in the heart of man, for here we feel the influx of the Cosmic radiance.  One thing that we must make sure of is we must not suppose it to be some power of our own.

 

    “When we come to ourselves” we then come into direct communication with the Cosmic dynamo and recharge our batteries, so to speak, from the reservoir of the universal vital energy.

 

    For as children of the spiritual son, which Tipareth represents, we began to live radiant, beautiful lives letting the universal Light manifest through us knowing we possess the sacred inheritance as sons of God, of ever increasing strength and knowledge which enables us to administer the perfect law at work in all things.

 

    When we speak of the Son, we mean a central point.  A Son is a condensation or vorticose center of universal electro-magnetic energy in the body.  Even so is the heart a condensation of the power descending through the paths above it in the Tree of Life.  So when you raise your hands and open yourselves up to the Father, with the force of the Father and the essence of his being coming through the crown chakra, while through the hands moves the electro-magnetic forces of the earth and this universe, thus centering and feeding our Son.

 

    As a Son, as you radiate or diffuse its energy into the world system of which you at that time are to begin the gravitational center, so does the Ego Tiphareth fuse its power into the path below it.  These paths correspond to the component elements of human personality and your students also become or fit into these paths.

 

    As you become a primary being or synthesis of the world creation and the focal point in which you are concentrated, all Cosmic power is focused upon your centers.  “Your World” exists being the True Self of yourself is its creating and sustaining center because that center is one with and inseparable from the originating principle of the whole, the Father on High and the seven lights before the Throne.   

 

    Thus you become the ageless wisdom, and its paraphrase is nothing the philosophical and scientific developments of these primary conceptions of man’s true place in the Cosmic order.  You are the Son.

 

    The following might be called the ways of the mystic.

 

1.  What man calls Self is but the body.

 

2.  The animal kingdom is more fully under the vital soul in that realm, yet in some highly evolved animals there is a degree of responsiveness to the higher, resulting in a personality variation.

 

3.  Thus, it is possible for the animal of man to develop into a higher state.

 

4.     The human personalities are as the upper surface of this same sea, a reflecting of the sky overhead and the glittering of the sky with the sun Light of the Christos.

   

5.  For all through many life waves of evolution, the guiding and directing impulse has been that of the higher soul.  It is the continuous unbroken history of Adam.

 

6.  The son of my soul as a poet sang, the archetypal, creator Adam or the Christos is the son of the higher soul, present as a nucleus of every human soul, the very center of Self.

 

7.  The son inherits that which was gleaned and threshed out of the darkness for it is the combined efforts of wisdom and understanding of that which came before.

 

8.  For when the child has grown and most of the hard work is done, then comes the marriage with the Father, for then has a person advanced in the life cycle or age, all sense of separateness is at an end.

 

     At this time of life or state of development, no longer should the personality attribute itself to the ego powers which really have their origin in a higher level.  For no longer is the son spending itself as a prodigal son of his substance in riotous living away from the Father.  For that which was given him by the Father, no longer does the personality puff itself up with the pride of achievement which is not its own.  For he is looking back and sees that that which he aspired to and considered not the source from which it came failed, but that which he sometimes was most bewildered in succeeded and was apparently a gift of God. 

 

    Then one day perhaps in his deepest depression and loneliness he catches a glimpse of the truth about the dweller in the heart and yearns to return despite his feelings of unworthiness and his failures in the light of his past and its wastefulness.

 

    Yet even before we fully return to this presence, that central present son within, its power comes forth to meet us with its best gifts and instead of us losing our help, strength and power, instead of being treated as shameful runaways, we find our divine rights and all of our privileges fully restored, for it is the one reality that does it all.

 

    Here we recognize the tie made by our Lord Jesus Christ and we learn that by turning to him and the true source of the son within, the true source of our powers, we are able to accomplish what we never can do so long as we suppose ourselves to be “on our own”. 

 

    This is the secret “of the mighty work and miracles”.  Here in this state you have accepted man as the instrument – you, as the instrument of God.

 

    In the Tarot, this is being the 6th Sephirah and it is reminiscent of the 666 in number of the beast of revelations, which is also the number of man, for 666 is a solar number representing man as a center of solar activity.  The implication of evil comes when the solar power is materialized (as Rome was under Nero), through assumption of divinity and the use of the solar symbol to represent that false mockery of the true divinity usurping the divine powers for evil deeds.

 

    For all of a sudden there comes a clearing, and we realize that from the first breath of individualization when it passed over the expanse of the true supreme center.  Here before that, in it could be seen the ripple of a smile of the original nomads, those whom had not been formed into groups of nations or they were just wandering children.  They had no origin, no family, no ties but all those were moving toward the child born of woman.

 

    But since Christ was born and created to grow and died, everything has continued in motion because he has not yet attained the fullness of his form.

 

    He has not gathered about him the last folds of the garment of the flesh, the love woven for him by his faithful.  The mystical Christ has not reached the peak of his growth, therefore the full becoming of the full Cosmic Christ, thus it is that we may say that the wandering ones, they are and at the same time are becoming and it is in the continuation of this engendering lies the ultimate driving force behind all created activity.

 

    For by the incarnation of the Christ which redeemed man, the very becoming of the universe too has been transformed.  Christ is the tool of even the natural evolution of live beings evolving into the Holy.

 

    Here we have the truth that makes free the divinely prepared cure for the faithful, but ardently moved minds that suffer because they cannot reconcile in themselves two almost equally imperative vital impulses – faith in the world and faith in God.  One might say that they were wrestling with the angels, but we are not, however, simply being nursed and rocked and suckled by Mother Earth.  Like children who have grown up we must learn to work by ourselves and give active help to the Mother who bore us.  If we then make up our minds to accept whole-heartedly the manifestation of divine will registered in the laws of nature, our obedience must make us throw ourselves into a positive effort.  Our cult of passivity must ultimately be transformed into a passion for work.  What we now see we have to do is not simply to go forward in the human task but in some way to bring Christ to completion.  We must therefore devote ourselves with still more ardor, even in the natural domain to the cultivation of the world.

 

    For the revelation of the Cosmic Christ has made our hearts more vividly conscious of how much we are bound up with our contact with things.

 

    Now it is with added urgency that there echoes in our ears the voice that calls us, that summons us to master the secrets and the energies of the universe and to dominate them. 

if the kingdom of god is to come about, man must win the sovereignty of earth.

 

    To establish and to bring forth in simple manner the truth of this statement, it would not be essential to define an exactness of the worlds progress towards perfection whether it be natural or achieved through human skill or through alchemical processes regardless; but that which you contribute to the pulsation of Christ since the eminent progress has been made of the natural soul of the Cosmos.  Since the Cosmos is centered in Christ, it must be accepted as proof that in one way or another collaboration with the development of the Cosmos holds a central and primary duty of the Christians and it is in this movement that nature grows in beauty and the body of Christ reaches its full development.

   

    It is the position, the duty of the teacher and master to raise his consciousness to a level above that of humanity and become aware of the great truths not perceived by ordinary people.  The perception of these truths also arouses in one who recognizes them the desire to impart them to others.

 

    Those who know these truths are conscious teachers of the higher Self transmitting to their contemporaries and to posterity what they have themselves experienced.  These are the leaders of the new age.  It is in this way that we correlate our work with the hosts and make ourselves more accessible to the divine hierarchy, for to become a full master and teacher of the realm means to be a Prime Cause of the actions of man and his relations and the nature and personality of the reborn earth.

 

    In the following or last section of this chapter I have placed material which you will find interesting that carries the Masonic connotations and relations and it is worthy of a place in the pages of these truths.   

 

    The Allusion of the Ritual is obviously to the four Worlds of the Kabalah.  The 10 Spheres of the Briah world proceed from Malkuth, the last of the 10 emanations.  The 10 spheres of the world Yezirah from Malkuth of Briah; and the 10 of the world Assiah from Malkuth of Yezirah.

 

    Of colors, black is Earth; white the Water; blue the Air and red the fire, wherein also are involved very great secrets and mysteries.

 

    The apparatus employed in The Great Work consists of the Moist bath, the Dry bath, the Vases of Nature and Art, the bowl of oak, lutum sapientiae, the Seal of Hermes, the tube, the physical lamp, and the iron rod.

 

    The work is perfected in 17 philosophical months, according to the mixture of the ingredients.  The benefits reaped from it are of two kinds – one affecting the soul, and the other the body. The former consist in knowing God, Nature and ourself; and those to the body are wealth and health.

 

    The Initiate traverses Heaven and Earth.  Heaven is the World manifest to the Intelligence, subdivided into Paradise and Hell; Earth is the World manifest to the Senses, also subdivided into the Celestial and that of the Elements.

 

    There are sciences connected with each of these.  The one is ordinary and common; the other, mystic and secret.  The World cognizable by the Intellect has the Hermetic Theology and the Kabalah; the Celestial Astrology; and that of the Elements.

 

    The Ritual of the Degree of Kabalistic and Hermetic Rose has these passages:

 

    “The Sun, on entering each of his houses, should be received there by the four elements, which you must be careful to invite to accompany you, that they may aid you in your undertaking, for without them the House would be melancholy: wherefore you will give him to feast upon the four elements.

 

    “When he shall have visited his 12 houses, and seen you attentive there to receive him, you will become one of his chiefest favorites, and he will allow you to share all his gifts.  Matter will then no longer have power over you; you will be no longer a dweller on the earth; but after certain periods you will give back to it a body which is its own, to take in its stead one altogether Spiritual.  Matter is then deemed to be dead to the world.

 

    “Therefore, it must be revivified and made to be born again from its ashes, which you will effect by virtue of the vegetation of the Tree of Life, represented to us by the branch of acacia.  Whoever shall learn to comprehend and execute this great work will know great things, but depart not from the center of the square and the compass to do this.

 

    “Another Jewel is necessary for you, termed the Kabalistic pantacle, which carries with it the power of commanding the spirits of the elements.  It is necessary for you to know how to use it, and that you will learn by perseverance if you are lover of the science of the Sages.

 

    “A great Black Eagle, the King of Birds, he alone can fire the Sun, material in its nature, that has no form, yet by its form develops color.  The black is a complete harbinger of the work, changing color and assuming a natural form, out of which will emerge a brilliant Sun.

 

    “The birth of the Sun is always announced by its Star, represented by the Blazing Star, which you will know by its fiery color; and it is followed in its course by the silvery luster of the Moon.”

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