This blog continues my examination of archetypes, so make sure you read Part One and Part Two first if you haven’t already – and catch up with the videos that go with them. This time I look at how archetypes can manifest as Archangels.
Watch the video as well!
Archetypes get wings!
In the last couple of blogs I’ve been talking about archetypes. In last week’s offering I was explaining how the archetypes arise in cultures around the world as gods. In this blog I’m going to show how the planetary gods can also be identified with certain Archangels.
A management team?
The word ‘angel’ comes from the Greek angelos, meaning a messenger. Similarly, in Hebrew malakh also means messenger. When we add ‘arch’ to ‘angel’ we have given the messenger extra status… an Archangel is a celestial ‘manager’, overlighting a ‘department’ with a specific function. We could think of them as ‘ministers’ in charge of various activities – they act on behalf of the ‘Prime Minister’, who in this analogy would be the equivalent of the chief god. Their departments are archetypal and it’s fairly straightforward to identify how the Jewish Archangels, later adopted by the Christians, can be matched with gods in other traditions, especially with the Greek gods, who give their names to the planets.
How many Archangels?
Out of all the recorded Archangels, the Christians focus on very few, generally just four: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Auriel (aka Uriel). In the 20th century, the Catholic Pope told his flock they should only be concerned with these four – obviously he was getting a bit concerned about potential influence emerging with the popularity of New Age angel cards! Protestants don’t accept even those four, while Eastern Orthodox Christians accept more (the exact number varying, depending on which authority you choose).
In the Book of Tobit, the Archangel Raphael announces that she (or he) is one of seven ‘spirits who stand before the throne’. Some early Christians did identify seven – adding Jophiel, Chamuel and Zadkiel to the four already mentioned. But, since there are multitudes of divine actions in Creation, we could say there are countless celestial intermediaries, constantly engaged with the task of sustaining divine creative activities. Traditions found in Jewish scriptures describe some Archangels as being in charge of ‘hosts’ of angels – tsaba in Hebrew, or stratia in Greek, also means an ‘army’.
Because there have been many centuries of angelic lore, with the original Jewish tradition being overlaid with Christian and Islamic concepts, it is almost impossible to identify a single definite way of working. We can compare this complexity to the many different approaches to astrology – with some practitioners preferring one house system over another, and some accepting ‘rulerships’ for the modern planets and others preferring to stick with the traditional Hellenistic method.
How many celestial bodies?
Just as we can say there are armies of angels, so there are countless stars, planets and asteroids in the heavens! But in angelology, as in astrology, it’s usually helpful to work with limited numbers. So we could identify the most significant planets we can see with the naked eye, along with the Sun and the Moon, and take them as our starting place. After all, that’s what our ancestors did and they gave us a rich tradition to start with.
My teaching about Archangels is based on  personal experience during pathworking sessions and inner conversations with them, going back to 1982, and  scholarly research for my Master’s dissertation about angels in the Kabbalah. These two strands have convinced me how helpful it can be to get to know Archangels as spiritual mentors. I mostly work with twelve Archangels, associated with the planets. Sometimes I communicate with a different group of twelve, the Archangels of the zodiac signs.
Planet = god = Archangel
In the Western esoteric tradition, Archangels are associated with different planets. The most important heavenly body for humanity (and indeed the whole of life on Earth) is the Sun, and the Sun god has been worshipped for many generations in many guises, such as Mithra. Then, two thousand years ago, Christianity came along and associated Jesus as the Sun or ‘Son of God’. Before Jesus’s time, the Archangel Michael was associated with the Sun.
I suggest the ‘seven spirits that stand before the throne’ described in the Book of Tobit are the Archangels we can associate with the visible heavenly bodies in our solar system. But I would add Earth to this group – making eight. Beyond the reach of human sight, astronomers have identified three bodies that have been brought into the astrological system in recent centuries: Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. We also know that Pluto is a binary system, having a moon named Charon. So we can say that Pluto is a mirror of our Earth and Moon binary. This is why, in my teachings, there are twelve Archangels in all, with eight ‘before the throne’:
- Sandalphon and Auriel = Earth and Moon
- Gabriel = Mercury
- Raphael = Venus
- Hanael = Mars
- Michael = Sun
- Zadkiel = Jupiter
- Samael = Saturn
And four beyond our sight, surrounding the ‘throne’
- Raziel = Uranus
- Zaphkiel = Neptune
- Metatron and The Shekinah = Pluto and Pluto’s Moon, Charon.
What’s in a name?
The Archangels usually have a Hebrew name describing their specific area of activity. For example, raph means ‘healing’ in Hebrew and el means ‘god’, so Raphael is usually translated as ‘healer of God’, but could equally be ‘healing god’, or ‘divine healer’. Some of the names make it really obvious what their archetypal role will be. In the case of Zadkiel, the zad prefix means ‘righteousness’ or ‘justice’. Zadek is Hebrew for the planet Jupiter, so there’s little to debate about that association! However, none of the other Archangels have names directly associated with the planets, and we have to go by a combination of traditional stories and intuition. Concepts found in Jewish mysticism – the received wisdom known as Kabbalah – will help us find a route through the inner kingdom, so I’ll cover some kabbalistic ideas in the next blog.
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