‘Heaven’s loud voice?’ …

Blake’s Angel neatly encapsulates aspects of the Books of Daniel and Revelation.

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… “Now is come salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God,

and the power of Christ: for the accuser of our brothers is cast down,

which accused them day and night…

Therefore rejoice you heavens and you that dwell in them.

Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea!

For the devil is come down to you, having greath wrath

because he knows that he has but a short time.”

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Are we to conclude that this is the voice of St Michael?

I think we are meant to.

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We may wonder after the inhabitants

of the earth and sea on the third day of creation?

And Christ’s participation at this early stage?

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The argument, presumably, would be that as the heavenly realms

are beyond time, they include all time, and the passages

we have considered so far are certainly consistent with this theme.

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Strength in relation to St Michael we already know about.

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Salvation is a lifting of veils, or scales, from the eyes:

an awakening into that living realisation which alone grants freedom.

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If some of the traditional attributes of Christ seem to fit Michael,

like casting out devils, then some of the traditional

attributes of Michael can also be seen to fit the Christ.

 

Shadow of the Earth…

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… The Book of Revelation is a notoriously difficult text to understand

because of its symbolism and iconography,

however, chapter twelve, which concerns us here,

is relatively straightforward.

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It commences with a vision: ‘And there appeared

a great wonder in heaven, a woman clothed in the sun,

and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars…’

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This is an astrological description of Virgo, but wait,

‘…And she being with child cried, travailing in birth,

and pained to be delivered.’

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If the Virgin is to give birth then it must be the Great Goddess Isis or the

Virgin Mary, or at any rate the Star of the Sea, Stella Maris…

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Already we start to see the problem.

 The iconography may be precise,

but its interpretation can still be ambiguous,

or could the ‘images-of-heaven’ encompass all of these exemplars?

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‘…And there appeared another wonder in heaven,

a great red dragon, having seven heads

and ten horns and seven crowns upon his heads…’

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Lying alongside the constellation of Virgo in the night sky,

coiling around her, is Hydra, and in Greek mythology,

Hydra appears as a many headed snake, but wait,

‘…And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven

and did cast them to earth.’

*

Not all the stars of the firmament are visible at any one time,

about a third of them move in and out of view over the rim of

the earth’s horizon during the course of a year.

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Just as the ‘night-time’ at any one location

is caused by the shadow of the earth

passing across the face of the sun,

a third of the night sky

is also obscured by the earth’s horizon.

*

Bodies, planetary or otherwise,

moving through space are shadowed.

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But what to make of this psychologically?

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The ‘shadow-side’ of our personality, obscured by a continually

attention seeking conscious mind,

resides in the unconscious, and whilst lurking there,

shrouded in shade, it can be regarded as our own ‘personal devil’.

Menorah?…

Hanukkah Menorah Jewish Judaica Israel Vintage Brass Chanukah ...

Menorah as Chalice

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… The Book of Revelation can be described

as a book of arcane symbolism.

*

It seems to me astonishing that such a work should have been

accepted into the recommended canon when so many

other far less controversial texts are regarded as apocryphal –

this word which now has connotations of spuriousness or falsity

is derived from the Greek word for ‘hidden’ –

Apocryphal works, then, can be regarded

as those books which possess hidden wisdom.

*

It will be useful to consider the opening few paragraphs

of Revelation and compare them to Daniel’s vision of Michael

which we looked at in earlier posts

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“It was on the island of Patmos.

I was meditating on the seventh day

when I heard behind me a voice as of many waters,

“I am the beginning and end, first and the last.”

I turned to see who it was that spoke,

and I saw a figure resembling the Son of Man.

He was standing in the middle of seven golden candlesticks.

His beard and his hair were like white wool.

His eyes were flames of fire.

His countenance was bright, as the sun when it shines at its height.

He was clothed in a long white robe.

About his breast went a golden girdle.

In his right hand he held seven stars.

His words rang out of his mouth clearly

with the poignancy of a double-edged sword:

“I am he that lives and was dead.

I possess the keys to death and hell.

I shall live forever more.”

I fell down at his feet and they were like fine-brass forged in a furnace.

He laid his hands upon me, “You must write down all you see in a book,

and send it to the Seven Churches of Asia.

Let all the churches know that I am he who searches

the reins of the heart and gives to every one, according to their works.

Tell them to remember from whence they have fallen,

to return to their first love lest I come upon them like a thief

and remove their candlestick from its place,

thus speaks the ‘Amen’: ‘I know your works, I know that you have a name,

I know that you live, and yet, you are as the dead!'”

*

It might be difficult for St Michael to be described as the,

‘one who is living but was dead’, but

he could certainly lay claim to being regarded as

‘the first and the last’ and also as possessing,

‘the keys to death and hell’…

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In the Book of Daniel, we may recall,

St Michael was described as a Great Prince,

as a Chief Prince, and as Daniel’s Prince.

‘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…

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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 struggle he may well be worth invoking…

 

Curiosities…

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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

Web of Light…

The Hero’s journey, Sunday, 8th May, 2022…

She carries their gifts… the dead ones, their souls in hers, more than memory.

– Giants Dance

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Take the pouch of seed-stones and hold them close to your heart centre…

Close your eyes… And place into the seed stones your loving intent for growth… And completion…

And a link to attune with them at will…

And then open your eyes, turn and plant some seed stones close to the standing stone or stones with which you have felt resonance…

After you have done this leave your blessing on the stone or stones…

And then walk to the centre of the circle…

*

After the gestural keys of the Chariot and Lovers our adventurers are given time alone with the ancestors…

*

Let us open the doorway through which all may pass and join together to weave the Web of Light.

At this time, when our word is in turmoil, when the bounty of our planet is being stretched beyond endurance and so many of its creatures face extinction, let us add our voice to the Web that is being woven by Seekers of Light across the earth.

Alone, we can do little, but when hearts come together to work in harmony, we can change the world.

Wherever the sacredness of the earth is remembered, wherever the ancient places are revered, wherever a single heart turns away from fear and hatred to Love, a point of Light is added to the Web.

 

Let this Circle be a point of Light within the Web.

Close your eyes. Find a place of peace within your hearts… and prepare for meditation.

Let us weave the Web of Light together…

 

Feel your body, rooted in earth.

Feel the air as you breathe, in… and out… filling your body with its gift.

Your body is a creature of earth.

Your soul is not of the earth.

Your soul is of a finer substance, your life no more than a chapter in its story.

It is eternal… your body a temporary garment that it wears.

Let it fly free…

In your mind’s eye, see the body of the Circle where we stand…

Your Companions are with you, their bodies too relaxed and resting…

Now see the soul of the Circle.

It too is other than its body.

Its stones are a grove of standing pillars in a vast space filled with Light.

Its shape mirrors the universe…

The Circle beyond represents the evolution of your soul… Above the central point imagine a single, brilliant flame that reaches up into the sky.

Follow the path lit by the flame and rise, higher and higher… passing through the sky and out into the darkness of space.

Look back; you can still see your body, perfectly safe and relaxed within this hallowed space and the single point of light that is the sacred flame…

 

…Turn now and rise higher… higher still.

Around you, the stars wheel in the heavens, bright points of dancing light against the indigo sky.

The land spreads out beneath you, a living shadow that reaches as far as you can see and beyond…

From the central light, silver flame spreads, pulsing, across the earth in a great web of light.

Where the threads cross, you know that stones have been set, groves, mounds and pools… places of worship…sacred centres like our own, harmonising the flow of cosmic Life and Light.

You are part of that web, part of its warp and weft.

You are a tender of the Flame.

Feel the life of the earth coursing through its strands… and through you.

Give yourself to its glory.

See the web blaze bright and clean… burning away all shadows, healing all rifts and lighting the land.

Within you, the flame also burns…

Its essence is a steady point of brilliance in your heart, small as a seed, but vast as the universe.

 

You are its guardian.

 

Now slowly, gently, return to the Sanctuary of our Circle, carrying the vision of light within.

Return to your body… meld with it once more…

Allow yourself to feel… your chest, rising and falling as you breathe… your feet on the earth…

And then… When you are ready… Open your eyes… And this guided visualisation… Is over.

*

‘From a towering ego to the magic and hidden strength of starlight balancing the soul in love.’

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Coming of age

"The Love of Souls" -- 1900, by Jean Delville
“The Love of Souls” — 1900, by Jean Delville

I have had my fair share of love letters in my time.  Possibly more than my fair share, not that I would complain. There is something timeless and special about the written word. The first, very first, was a scribbled note on the back of a photo from a young man named Neil. I still have it. He was away on a long holiday with his parents… we were children, no more than that. The first real love letter I ever received was way back too. His name was Malcolm. He was blonde and gorgeous, looking rather like a very young Michael York. Malcolm was a couple of years older than me, very intelligent and we had met and fallen head over heels the way young things do.

It was the first time I had met a boy who looked beyond the surface to the mind. Back then, a time of legs, gypsy blouses and hot pants, few looked beyond, shall we say, the salient points of anatomy. To be able to actually talk with a young man about literature, go to art galleries together, the theatre… it was, for me, a joyous awakening. I could allow myself to be me.

It was also, for a teenager, a hugely romantic affair as we were apart much of the time while he was away at boarding school. Hence the letter. We had spent the summer together, but when September came he was riven from my arms. Yes, I know, I’m sorry… it felt that melodramatic at the time. We were very young. Star crossed lovers….

It wasn’t as bad as it seemed. I lived in Leeds, a city with a brilliant transport network. His school was in the little village of Drax, near Selby… so half an hour into town, twenty minutes by train, ten minutes by bus… then two and a half miles on foot, generally in very high heels… and we could meet. It wasn’t allowed… which, looking back, made it far more exciting. I was smuggled into the stately house on more than one occasion by Malcolm and his friends. Or we met in the village and wandered the woods hand in hand. Terribly romantic.

That couldn’t happen every week and in between there were letters. Almost daily. I will never forget the first. It had come through the door as I left for school, I had been itching to read it, but there were other girls with me until break time and I wanted to curl up ‘with’ him alone. In a corner of the form room, when everyone had left for break I opened the envelope and began to read.

No-one had ever sent me Shakespeare before! Imagine trembling fingers and maidenly heart all aflutter! I can feel the echo of it now…. even now…after all these years.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day…

It didn’t last, of course, in spite of a first ring offered, in true romantic fashion, on one knee. We grew up. But it had left me with many things learned from our time together, including a love of Shakespeare and huge tracts of his work to ponder that I can still quote by heart. Everything leaves its legacy with us and it is up to us to ensure that what remains are not scars but gifts. Malcolm allowed a young girl to see beyond her own unconfident and fragile exterior and begin to explore the possibilities of mind and of simply becoming herself. It was a wake-up call.

They come in many forms, these moments of realisation. Some are relatively minor and mundane, others hold a deeper meaning, eliciting a choice made with heart, mind and soul. Some we respond to, others we choose to ignore. We always have a choice. To be… or not to be perhaps.

Over coffee and with several thousand miles between us, a friend and I were discussing this a while ago. She has a rare gift for finding the words to encapsulate wisdom. We were speaking of those wake up calls that come from the most profound levels of being; hers came forty years ago and she has served the Light with every atom of her being ever since, wearing a radiant mantle of joy born from that service that, I think, none can fail to see.

When that call comes there is still a choice. We can choose to accept, and in doing so be ready to release everything we have thought we are, the things by which we attempt to define ourselves… or we can turn away, retaining the security of our self-image.

“Well,” she wrote, “it will be according to the will of the human spirit. Until that human will has made the choice to join in fullness with the Will, the Divine extends the blessing and the curse of freedom.”

That expresses for me such beauty, that we have the gift of choice, the freedom to choose. Though when that call comes to a heart ready to hear, there may seem no other choice but to follow where it leads, no cost to consider, no question but to answer wordlessly. It is a moment of surrender to Love and in that moment, Silence is the perfectest herald of joy.

The Marsh King’s Daughter: Blossom…

 

barbrook III (14)

Hi-ho the Carrion Crow, bow and bend to me…

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…There usually is.

Perhaps one reason for the tale’s obscurity these days is its perceived, overtly, Christian message.

This takes the form of a priest who is captured and tortured by Helga’s Viking fosterers, provokes in her the first stirrings of love and compassion and affords the young girl opportunity to embrace the process which results in the fusing of her day/night time personalities and her achievement of wholeness in mind and form.

However, the culmination of this process is complicated somewhat by the priest’s death at the hands of robbers and his subsequent appearance in a dream vision and by the denouement of the tale which sees the Changeling Child whisked away to heaven by the priest only to return a short time later and find her original home now long lost to the ravishes of time.

The Rip Van Winkle like nature of the priest’s ‘heaven’ may give inkling  to the original story source for this episode, as might his appearance on horse-back wielding his cross much like a knight would wield his sword.

As an other-world component of the story the Christian priest is perhaps less dramatically successful than he might be as a ‘Fairy King’ or ‘Lord of Light’ but still gives us pause for thought and contemplation as to the precise mode of consciousness his figure represents.

That’s almost all, folks…

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 ‘What would the world be, once bereft

Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,

O let them be left, wildness and wet;

long live the weeds and the wildness yet.’

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All photographs – Sue Vincent.

All epithets – The Grateful Dead, ‘Mountains of the Moon’.

Epitaph -‘Inversnaid’, Gerard Manly Hopkins.