Christianity mostly concerns itself with a very limited number of Archangels and only two of them are mentioned in the standard text of the Bible. But this stained-glass window from a Christian church shows a large gathering of Archangels with their names.
Watch the video for some more thoughts about Archangels not discussed below!
How many Archangels are there?
Christian tradition tends to focus on seven Archangels. There is a scripture called the Book of Tobit that is not included in The Holy Bible used by Protestant Christians, but is included in the Catholic version. In this story, concerning a young man who is assisted by an Archangel in disguise, we learn that the Archangel Raphael is one of the seven angels who stand ready and enter before the glory of the Lord (Tobit 12 v 15).
It is very likely that the notion of seven Archangels developed because the ancient astronomers, who were also astrologers, identified the seven celestial bodies in the solar system (those visible to the naked eye) as divinities. The Babylonian sky watchers thought of these divinities as individual, self-serving gods, but Jewish mystics and scholars described them as Archangels in service to a transcendental God, who sat on a divine throne beyond our understanding. The seven-branched menorah that takes pride of place in synagogues to this day probably represents these seven spirits – the seven heavenly ‘wanderers’ observed in the days before telescopes were invented.
The church window above labels the seven Archangels as Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Chamuel, Raphael, Jophiel and Zadkiel. These Archangels are often mentioned in New Age teachings and are invariably associated with the seven chakras (I haven’t got time to explore chakras here, but they will be a topic for a later blog). In the next blog I’ll explain more about those seven names and why, perhaps, they don’t coincide with the Tree of Life Archangels that we are going to meet over the next few parts of this series.
However, there are plenty more Archangel names in the Jewish texts that pre-date Christianity and the old mystics reported experiences with many Archangels. Especially significant are the Archangels associated with the Gates of Light – the sefirot on the Tree of Life. Several of these were traditionally understood to also govern the five visible planets and the two luminaries – the Sun and Moon. That makes seven, although they don’t necessarily coincide with the seven names we just looked at from the Christian window. Sometimes with Archangel names we can assume that, over many generations, they have been subject to ‘Chinese whispers’. Perhaps Babylonian and Jewish whispers! There are also Archangels assigned to all twelve signs of the zodiac. Again, there are variations when it comes to naming them. I’ll talk about them in a later blog.
Archangels as pillars in your Inner Kingdom
In my courses I explain how the Tree of Life Archangels can be powerful archetypal allies. They are energetic formulas that underpin Creation, providing an invisible architecture that will support your everyday life. But you are the builder! Are the foundations and pillars of your inner temple sturdy? Or are they a bit wobbly and in need of attention? You can find out more about individual Archangels in my Signs & Wonders video series.
After the mediaeval craftsmen thought they had finished building the cathedral at Wells, in England (1176–1450), they discovered the structure was basically unstable. This meant they had to – very hastily – create new buttresses inside the body of the cathedral that would secure the nave and prevent the walls from caving in. If you take on the metaphor that your personal life is a cathedral, then you need to pay attention to the interior structures and make sure they are sound. The masons at Wells had created a stunning West Wall with saints and angels beaming down on the faithful as they entered the building. But, if the inner structure proved to be essentially unsound, then all the outside decorations would be of no value to anybody. In the same way, whatever outer trappings of worldly success we can demonstrate, if your inner life is out of order, then events will unfold that will create cracks in the façade.
Archangels of the Tree of Life
There are ten sefirot on the Tree of Life. Each one is a container of light energy. Think of the map as an energy-flow diagram, where Divine Light flows through pathways like water flows through a plumbing system and, every so often, collects in reservoirs. Essentially, the light has no colour but, when we engage with Tree of Life pathworking, we tend to experience changing colours, as though pure light has fractured through a prism.
Each container is ‘guarded’ or ’governed’ by an Archangel. The two sefirot at the top and bottom of the Tree – called the Crown and the Kingdom – have two Archangels each in attendance. So there are twelve Archangels altogether.
The Tree of Life as a sacred Temple
Think of the Tree of Life as the ground plan for a temple. The main body of the Tree of Life is the lower section below what is described as a non-sefira, a mysterious place where there is no Archangel. This place is associated with the Ruah ha Kodesh – the Breath (or the wind) of the Holy – the Holy Spirit that moves across the face of the waters (Genesis 1 v2). Below the Ruah ha Kodesh there are seven sefirot. These are homes for the seven spirits who stand before the throne, as described by Raphael in the Book of Tobit. But one of those sefirot is the domicile for two Archangels. So now we have eight guardians and we can associate them with the five planets, the two luminaries, and Earth. We can see that the ‘pillars’ for our earthly life will be stable if we may attention to the Divine qualities associated with the sefirot on the lower part of the Tree.
The Holy of Holies
The Ruah ha Kodesh is like the veil, or curtain, that separates the main action in the part of the Temple where worshippers gather, from the mystical priestly activities. Behind the veil, the Holy of Holies is hidden from everyday view. That space is where the priest could, like the seven angels, enter before the glory of the Lord. This is where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, before a schism which occurred when King Josiah – around 600 BCE – instituted severe religious reforms. Some priests protested by hijacking certain Temple artefacts, including the Ark, which has never been seen since. (As a quick aside, it was Josiah who expelled the Asherah from the Temple – she was the ancient representation of the Divine feminine, the consort of the masculine Yahweh. Judaism then developed as a truly patriarchal religion).
In early Jewish Temples, the curtain was woven of four colours, red, blue, purple and white, said to represent the colours of Creation. The priest would step through the curtain to symbolise that he was stepping outside the sensory world in order to commune with the Divine. A High Priest was able to take on an angelic role in order to deliver Divine wisdom for the tribe. In a Christian Church we find a similar idea, where a rood screen traditionally conceals the altar from the view of people in the nave.
Beyond the ‘veil’ of Ruah ha Kodesh we find three more sefirot – a fundamental trinity of Divine qualities. Love, Wisdom and Power underpin all creative processes. There are four Archangels associated with those sefirot, one of whom is the mighty Metatron. Another is the magical Archangel Raziel. I’ll cover these transpersonal Archangels in a later series of blogs.
My SoulSchool Gateway course, Accessing Angelic Realms, has been designed to help you explore angelic opportunities for yourself. Check out the course here. I will be delighted to support your spiritual journey as you discover the potential of the Archangels in your own heavenly kingdom. As always, I suggest a twice-daily meditation practice will open portals into your inner kingdom. If you haven’t already found a technique that easily and reliably takes you to a place of deep stillness, take a look at The Shefa Method.
You can learn how to work with the great Archangels of the Tree of Life by enrolling on my new course, Accessing Angelic Realms, either as Self-Study or with personal supervision from me. There are currently Special Offers on both versions of the course.
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