Quis ut Deus?

‘Am I more like God than you because I am stronger?’

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… It was, it seems, the Romans, that most militaristic of empire building peoples

who first insisted that St Michael should be seen, that is, depicted,

in a military light, the Commander-in-Chief of an ‘Army of Angels’, as it were.

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After Constantine’s defeat of Licineus at the Battle of Adrianople AD 324

which the Emperor attributed to the Archangel Michael he had a painting

of the Saint slaying a Dragon commisioned for the Michaelion,

a Christian Sanctuary nearby, which was previously dedicated to healing waters.

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This lead to the now standard iconography of Archangel Michael

as a ‘Warrior Saint’, who slays a single-headed Dragon.

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All empires rely for their dominance, to a certain extent,

on military prowess but the militaristic mind-set of the Romans

infiltrated every aspect of their culture,

and their newly acquired religion, alas, was to be no different…

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In following this route the Holy Roman Empire

made the same mistake that extreme Islamists of today make

when they perpetrate terrorist acts in the name of ‘Jihad’,

that is, they confused the edicts of an inner conflict with its outward projection.

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Or was it just a straightforward case of demonising ‘the opposition’,

and are these the same thing anyway?

‘War in Heaven’…

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… We have to wait until the final book of the ‘New Dispensation’ before we

encounter a Dragon.

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“And there was war in heaven:

Michael and his angels fought against the dragon…”

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The Dragon in question, though, is red and, “… has seven heads,

and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads…”

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This being the Book of Revelation we may well wonder about the symbolism…

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Unusually for this text we do not have to wonder for very long for we are told,

“… and the Great Dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the Devil, and Satan…

he was cast out into the earth and his angels were cast out with him.”

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At which point we realise that although the book purportedly deals with ‘last things’,

this particular vision has to do with ‘first things’, the Third Day of Creation to be precise,

and the expulsion from Heaven of Lucifer and the Fallen Angels…

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Why this Dragon should have seven heads is an interesting question made all the

more interesting by the fact that few if any of the depictions of St Michael

show him in combat with a seven headed Dragon or accompanied by any other angels!

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Also worth consideration is the attempt to visualise ten horns on seven heads…

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It can be done thus: the two ‘end-heads’ and the ‘central-head’ have two horns each,

and the other four heads have only one horn each.

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In this context the phrase, ‘for a time, times and half-a-time,’

which was first brought to our attention

in the Book of Daniel, and is again utilised

later in this Chapter of Revelation, springs to mind.

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It is possible that the Seven Headed Dragon is a symbol of time.

Satan is earlier described as the one, “…which deceives the whole world.”

A description which could also serve for time…

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The Creation, in this schemata, takes seven days to complete,

and seven is the basis for a number of natural rhythms and cosmic cycles,

and is the symbolic number used throughout the text of Revelation…

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Obviously, we still, in some part, retain this rhythm by following a seven day week.

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For the ‘Old Dispensation’, Friday, Saturday and Tuesday,

which is Venus, Saturn and Mars would represent, ‘times’,

whilst Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday,

that is, Sun, Moon, Mercury and Jupiter would be, ‘half-times’.

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And for the ‘New Dispensation’, Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday,

and their corresponding Planetary Cycles would be considered, ‘times’,

whilst Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and their

corresponding Planetary Cycles would be the ‘half-times’.

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But does any of this really matter?

Over such things, traditionally, are wars fought and countless lives lost…

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With regard to this particular stained glass window we might wonder

why Michael needs to be armoured, with a hand resting on the

pommel of his sword, in order to weigh

the souls of the dead?

 

Graven Image…

10 Top Pictures Of Saint Michael The Archangel Full - Archangel Michael Wallpaper Hd, HD Wallpaper Download #1990668

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‘ … And look! A man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold… His body also was like beryl and his face had the appearance of lightning. His eyes were as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to burnished brass. The voice of his words was as the voice of a multitude… and he said, “… To you am I now sent. Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, your prayers were heard and I am come for your prayers… I am come to make you understand what will befall your people in the latter days. I will show you the literal truth of these things. There is no other that can do this.”‘

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It is very difficult to find any illustrations for this piece.

Perhaps that is linked to the Hebraic injunction against graven images.

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In the current climate of image saturation it might be worthwhile

 considering the possible reasons for such an injunction…

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Speaking of his encounter with the ‘man clothed in linen’ Daniel says, “I alone saw the vision and the men that were with me saw it not but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled and hid themselves… I was left alone and threw myself to the ground. When he spoke I stood, trembling, and when he had finished speaking I was strengthened.”

Elsewhere in the text Daniel is less sure of this being’s precise nature:

“… And look! One like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips. I opened my mouth and spoke… Then there came again, and touched me, one like the appearance of a man…”

Michael is described both as a ‘Chief Prince’, and as ‘Daniel’s Prince’ by the narrator.

And later, as a ‘Great Prince’… “How long until the end of these awful things?”

Then I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the water of the river, swear by the Ever-Living One as he lifted his right hand and his left hand to heaven, “For a time, times, and half a time and when the breaking of the power of the holy people comes to an end, then shall all these things be fulfilled.”

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Already, after this brief overview we can glimpse some of Michael’s traditional attributions.

He is concerned with ‘end times’.

He strengthens and protects the individual and can be petitioned on behalf of nations or ‘a people’.

He acts as a bridge and can communicate, high to low, and low to high.

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In times of hardship and stuggle he may well be worth invoking…

 

Curiosities…

St Michael’s victory over the Devil – Sculptor, Jacob Epstein

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The French occultist, Eliphas Levi, the German philosopher Franz von Baader, and the Theurgist, Louis Claude de St. Martin spoke of 1879 as the year in which Michael overcame the dragon.

In 1917, Rudolf Steiner the founder of anthroposophy, similarly stated, “In 1879, in November, a momentous event took place, a battle of the Powers of Darkness against the Powers of Light, which ended in the image of St Michael overcoming the Dragon.”

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All of which is, to say the least, curious…

The traditional texts which mention Michael, and they are few, do not mention a dragon, and yet, iconographically, St Michael slaying the dragon is almost as ubiquitous as St George…

Religious paintings, sculptures and stain glass windows are all in agreement despite many, if not most,  of them being produced before 1879!

So what is going on?

Pull up a seat…

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‘ … And look! A man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold… His body also was like beryl and his face had the appearance of lightning. His eyes were as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to burnished brass. The voice of his words was as the voice of a multitude… and he said, “… To you am I now sent. Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, your prayers were heard and I am come for your prayers… I am come to make you understand what will befall your people in the latter days. I will show you the literal truth of these things. There is no other that can do this.”‘

– First appearance of Michael :  The Book of Daniel, Chapter 10: 5-21

St Michael de Rupe…

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It is something of a ‘dream come true’ to be here,

looking at this in all its technicolour glory.

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Traditionally, Michael is depicted either ‘slaying’, or ‘fixing’, or as we might say, ‘drawing’, or even ‘tickling’, the dragon, or, he is depicted with scales and sword in, or on, or above clouds.

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So at a stretch this could even be described as traditional.

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But look at his apparel…

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This is St Michael, the Celt,

or St Michael, the Hermit,

or St Michael, the Druid…

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Of all, of which, we whole heartedly approve.

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And look at the colours:

the golds, and greens, and reds…

Earth colours!

Or dragon colours.

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And look at the way in which he is holding his sword.

He could be ‘sighting-a-line’ or ‘plumbing-a-depth’.

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But if we are calling this traditional,

then where are the clouds?

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Ah, where indeed…

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Blinded by the Light…

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… So, we return to the quest.

And turn shining eyes to the south.

Not that we ever left it, yet the churches had definitely ‘fallen off-line’…

Until Skipton.

Until one particular stained-glass window in Skipton.

It is tempting to think that later traditions lose much that is essential to preceding ones.

In magical traditions derived from the Hebrews, the Archangel Mikael is a guardian of the south quarter and if a ‘Michael Window’ is present in a church, it is a relatively safe bet that it will be found on a south wall of that church.

So, why were we charging around St Michael’s, Hathersage, looking at stained-glass windows on the north wall, with such singular precision?

Because we were desirous of another window.

This headlong, wilful charge, bugles blaring, could well have been our undoing, had we been alone.

There was no ‘Michael Window’ in St Michael’s, Hathersage.

But there was this…

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So, what to say of this banner?

It is a work of art, certainly.

It is a work of art which transcends the medieval style of its composition, although, the ‘S’ as an ‘eight’ and the ‘M’ as an ‘omega’ are remarkable.

The ‘lance’ too, as ‘celtic crozier’, is a sublime touch.

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Was the dragon always golden?

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Does this hue, denote the beginning or even the end of a process?

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Was the beast once much bigger?

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Is this really how one earns one’s ‘spiritual wings’?

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The spirals on the Saint’s shield are, to say the least, suggestive…

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 But the burning question which most readily springs to our mind is this:

if we nearly missed this depiction

can we hope to find the Archangel when it is being deliberately ‘hidden’?

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Given…

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If we ever had any doubts about what it is we do, then the circumstances of our ‘flying visit’ to Skipton was lying in wait to dispel them.

‘Hell, we weren’t even supposed to be going to Skipton!’

Over the course of the last five years, this ‘fella’, along with his close associate, St George, has appeared at various intervals to trail new revelations in their wake.

Given the nature of our endeavours it is entirely possible that our conversation the previous night had called this ‘revelation’ into being.

Or, had we been ‘called’ and that conversation merely a premonition of what was about to transpire?

Such ponderings are legion on the quest.

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Some of the easy to miss symbolism of this window, whose artist is still, as yet, unknown to us, is itemised below…

The dragon is situated on an island with two fruit trees which both appear to be bearing apples.

The sinuous coils of the dragon’s body is wrapped around the two symmetrically arranged trees.

The dragon’s body is multi-hued.

The dragon’s head is central and points skyward, and, in apparent acceptance, towards Michael’s raised spear.

Despite initial appearances Michael does not stand on the mainland but upon a rock or cloud.

Michael’s head is surrounded by a night sky of stars.

We await translation of the inscriptions on the banners or scrolls which also coil around the two trees.

The radiant symbol above the whole appears to be the greek letters, Omega, and Iota, conjoined.

One really curious thing, is that, from below the Dragon looks quite menacing… Yet from above, less so?

Those readers with a penchant for arcane symbolism will not be surprised to learn that the church which houses this window has been struck by lightning on two separate occasions.

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