THE ANGEL’S CALL: THE ANGEL AND THE INDIVIDUATION PROCESS by Scott Duncan Gilliam
This study of the Angel begins with Plato’s myth of Ur, where Socrates describes how souls are sent to this world, each with an Angel, and through the lens of depth psychology, examines how the Angel guides each human being through life and sometimes breaks through with a message that has the power to transform them deeply. The Angel is an archetype that is important to the individuation process and crucial to the life of the Psyche. Through the Angel one discovers the hidden word of one’s Calling which leads to the development of a personality through a process called by C. G. Jung individuation.
This study focuses on three specific dimensions of the Angel: the Daimon, the Genius, and the Guardian Angel. This hermeneutic voyage includes material from the magical tradition of the Hermetic Qabalah, Depth Psychology, the Greek and Roman philosophers, the Alexandrians, and the Poets throughout the centuries.
One of the underlying themes in this work is the similarity between the depth psychological and the magical view of the psyche and the universe. This work developed out of a desire to bring the language and practices of psychology and Qabalah together in a way that would nurture and deepen both systems of knowledge in a soulful way. This work on the Angel is intended to not only help reconcile the poles of human existence, but also the opposites of philosophy and science, and of the modern and the ancient worlds.
This study is relevant to depth psychology and individual soul making because the Angel, an archetype that belongs to the often neglected poetic world of psyche, is significant to the process of individuation. It is a useful companion in dialogue with the unconscious and the development of a personality. This study seeks to help others discover their own Angel, while helping to augment the practice of depth psychology and ceremonial magic. This is also a work for the sake of the Soul, and, in keeping with Pacifica Graduate Institute’s Motto: Colendae Gratia Animae Mundi (For the Sake of Tending World Soul).
This work is dedicated to the Great Work that is play. Furthermore, it is dedicated to all seekers, whether they be psychologists, magicians or laypersons. May this work help speed them to the revelation of their own Angel.
Come unto me, thou who dost rise from the four winds, joyous Good Daimon, for whom the heaven is thy reveling place!…Thou are the mighty serpent, the chief of all the gods, O thou who dost possess Egypt’s beginning, and the end of all the world! (Mead, 1992, p. 67)
Each of us human beings has an invisible friend and guide to accompany us on our journey through life and death. Whether it manifests as a still-small voice, an innate urge, vivid intuition or an actual entity, each one of us has a teleos, or purpose, particular to our own soul’s journey, negotiating the relationship between Self and ego according to our uniqueness. This friend, sometimes called “the Other” by Jungians, erupts into consciousness at times crucial to the equilibrium of psychological life and the path of individuation. This friend, called The Holy Guardian Angel by magicians, or practioners of the Hermetic Qabalah, is the Angel (the term I will use in this paper) that carries the call and is identified with the calling of our lives’ purpose and guides us on the way of becoming a person, a process that Jung called individuation. Through this mysterious process the Angel negotiates the tension of the opposites in service to the Self, and, as the guardian at the threshold between conscious and unconscious, acts as host of the invisibles: messenger of the gods.
This paper is a study of the mysterious friend called the Angel. The concept of the Angel, or Daimon, is an ancient concept whose origins reach into civilization’s antique cultural heritage. In Plato’s myth of Ur, Socrates describes how the souls are sent to this
world, each with an Angel or Daimon, “which the soul has chosen to be guardian of his life, and to fulfill that which he had chosen” (Shrine of Wisdom, 1984, p. 34). In The Republic Plato said,
When all the souls had chosen their lives, they went before Lachesis. And she sent with each, as the guardian of his life and the fulfiller of his choice, the Daimon that he had chosen, and this divinity led the soul first to Clotho, under her hand and her turning of the spindle to ratify the destiny of his lot and choice, and after contact with her, daimon again led the soul to the spinning of Atropos to make the web of its destiny irreversible, and then without a backward look it passed beneath the throne of Necessity. (quoted in Hillman, 1996, p. x)
Thus the Angel or Daimon is not only guardian over but also the guide through our human lives. It is linked to one’s individual calling, the path one’s individuation will take. In The Soul’s Code, James Hillman (1996) explained that the Daimon is the seed behind the calling that brings about one’s fate. His ‘acorn theory’ holds that “each person bears a uniqueness that asks to be lived and that is already present before it can be lived” (p. 6).
This guardian of life and messenger of the soul’s calling is an important figure in countless civilizations:
It is a teaching of Moses that every believer has an angel to guide him as a teacher and a Shepard” (St Basil); and Christ says of ‘the little ones’ that their angel’s in heaven always behold the face of the Father. In Zoroastrian belief, the soul after death meets a beautiful maiden who announces, “I am none other than thine own personal conscience. Thou has loved me in this form of sublimity, goodness, and beauty in which I now appear unto thee.” At the time of his ordination, a Taoist master is assigned a guardian spirit, called a pen-ming, which acts as a special liaison official to present the priest’s documents to the lords of the cosmos. Some authors (including Philo) believe that each soul possesses a good and a bad angel, who contend throughout life for its possession. (Wilson, 1994, p. 73)
Whether it manifests as a guardian spirit, ancestor, familiar or part of the soul, the Angel is a persistent archetype within many civilizations. Due to the limited scope of this paper, and in the interest of focus, current study is limited to the Western manifestations of the Angel: Daimon, Genius, and Guardian Angel.
This paper examines this multifaceted archetype. Through the lens of phenomenology the history and presence of this inner guide and guardian are examined, and through the lens of depth psychology its message is amplifies its numinous and awesome presence. In this way I am courting the Angel, so crucial to psychic life and the individuation process, and inviting its presence into this work and the life of whomever might read it. As presented here, the Angel is a guide, common to all, that negotiates the dialogue between the deep truth in one’s soul’s aspirations and one’s egoistic desires. Moreover the guide is a guardian over not just one’s physical life, but over one’s psychological life as well. This aspect of the Angel brings not only answers, but also a question:
The angel’s question is one we could reflect on endlessly. Where have we come from? Where are we going? The answers you and I give to these questions reveal our true values,…what we really believe is the purpose of life. (Finley, 1996, p. 15)
The Angel is an archetype with profound power, and tremendous import for the psyche. It is a messenger of the soul’s calling, and an archetype that guides the individuation process. This paper examines its origin and teleos as they occur through the ages and in modern everyday life. Its mysterious message is highlighted by pointing to an archetypal essence that indicates a personal message for each and every person.
As an archetype, the Angel belongs to the portion of the psyche Jung called the objective unconscious. Archetypes are psychoid factors (Storr, 1983, p. 26), meaning that they can manifest on the physical and mental levels, and can be experienced in synchronicities. The unconscious is the timeless place where the archetypes exists, uniting one, in the symbolic life, with the ancients.
As a symbol, especially one that unites the opposites, the Angel has life as well as a transforming power in one’s own life. Jung felt that symbols were living things, and that the purpose of them was to transform libido, or psychic energy, from one form to another (Eisendrath, 1997). Anthony Storr (1983) explained that Jung described the collective unconscious as consisting of mythological motifs, or primordial images to which he gave the name “archetypes” (pp. 16-27). These potentials present themselves as both ideas and images; their presence is felt as numinous, as having profound spiritual significance and can possess one, causing one to behave in typical ways. Archetypes are often described as phylogenetic in origin, more akin to instincts or typical behavioral patterns than to metaphysical principles, however this paper takes the more metaphysical approach, describing the Angel as an entity who is part of the psychic life of the Self. It is autonomous and in service of the Self which Jung called the ordering, whole-making principle of the psyche (Salman, 1999).
The Angel is a reconciling symbol that resolves inner tension in the service of the Self. As mediator between opposites, it serves as a messenger between the sometimes-opposing conscious and unconscious positions in life. The Angel manifests at crucial points in one’s life to mature one’s self on the path foreordained by the soul’s most intimate desires. These crucial points, called shipwreck by Robert Romanyshyn (1994b) are points where the ego is threatened with annihilation and its relationship to the Self is readjusted. Romanyshyn explained that the Angel brings an invitation at the shipwrecks in one’s life. This invitation is an opportunity that the Angel can hold, the transformative process known as the transcendent function. C. G. Jung (1916/1969) said that the transcendent function unites the opposites of conscious and unconscious in ways that affect a psychological shift in attitude.
The tendencies of the conscious and the unconscious are the two factors that together make up the transcendent function. It is called “transcendent” because it makes the transition from one attitude to another organically possible, without loss of the unconscious. (p. 279)
This shift in attitude may result in small changes in the personality, a new approach to life, or even a new identity.
Although the Angel is not identical to the transcendent function, the message it carries, and the experience it conveys, constitute an invitation to transcend. The Angel’s presence indicates an incursion from the transcendent realm of the Self, the objective psyche, and serves to unite one to it. James A. Hall (1983) further clarified this relationship between a reconciling symbol, or Angel, and the transcendent function that precedes it. “The ability of the objective psyche to form reconciling symbols is called the transcendent function because it can transcend the conscious tension of the opposites” (p. 13). The reconciling symbol of the Angel acts as a messenger and interface between the Self and the ego, and as such heralds a transformational opportunity.
A study of the Angel is important to depth psychology and individual soul making (the art of interiorizing life through reflection) for many reasons. First, as an Archetype of individuation and guardian of one’s particular true-nature or calling, the Angel is an important ally in the work of becoming a person, and can be invoked to aid in the work between therapist and client. Another reason work with the Angel is important is that it aids in the work of bringing the soul back into psychology and everyday life. When one invokes the Angel, one honors the land from whence it comes, the realm of the imagination, and by paying heed to the symbolic life one returns “to the middle realm of fiction, of myth [which] carries one into conversational familiarity with the cosmos one inhabits” (Hillman, 1991, p. 58). Finally, studying the Holy Guardian Angel is participating in the study of the ancient philosophers and mysteries that have been part of the re-ensoulment of psychology from Jung to present day post-Jungians like James Hillman. “The reintroduction of the imaginal into Western psychology has even been called the ‘next great event after Freud’s insights about dream interpretation’” (Dennis, 2001, p. 46). This work is therefore part of a great renaissance of soul and imagination in psychology.
I am interested in, even fascinated by, the many facets of the Angel. I become more possessed by the numinosity of its presence as I delve deeper into the Angel and begin to know what it means to hold conversation with this invisible guide. As I contemplate the Angel and write this paper I am pulled deeper and deeper into the world from which the Angel, like Mercury, carries his message: the imaginal world of the psyche. My own process with the Angel confirms my belief that it is a powerful presence that should be encountered. Through this process my life has become more infused with its numinous presence, as synchronicities and hidden messages appear everywhere. I am possessed and fascinated by how this guardian, and agent of the Self, sharpens my ear to its call as I pursue this work. Through artful exploration, and intellectual elucidation I hope to enable the reader to enter this realm and court his or her own Angel.
As an agent of the Self, the Angel can use any of one’s experiences to link him or her to the deep hidden world beneath all things: the unconscious or World Soul. This leads to my further interest: bringing soulfulness back into the world, by honoring the imagination, the inner life and the World Soul. I have found that this Angel is a psychopompos, serving to create meaning in humans’ lives and wholeness in their journey of our self-discovery. The Angel may or may not answer one’s questions directly, asking instead of answering, or pointing to a mystery that only experience can unfold. Sometimes the Angel appears through fierce revelation, at other times as a faint intuition. In this way the Angel is a gentle guardian or awesome presence that prompts one along the way to one’s inner destiny.
I was introduced to the Angel by the title, “The Genius,” when I joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Later I came upon the title “The Holy Guardian Angel” in the writings of Aleister Crowley (1973), an adept of this order. Both titles of the Angel ultimately come from the Western Mystery Tradition known as Hermetic Qabalah.
Hermetic Qabalah was birthed in the renaissance when Neo-Platonism, the Hebrew Kabbalah and Hermeticism came together with alchemy and theurgy. “The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a modern mystery school of the Hermetic Qabalah [was] formed in 1887 by Freemasons and Rosicrucians; it taught a psycho-spiritual technique leading to illumination, to enlightenment” (Regardie, 1997, p. 12). According to Regardie, one of aims of all of these practices is towards attainment of one’s Higher Genius, or Holy Guardian Angel.
Practioners of the Hermetic Qabalah are sometimes called magicians and the particular practice of Hermetic Qabalah that I am focusing on is termed theurgy, or magic. Aleister Crowley (1973), a Victorian Qabalist, gave this definition: “Magick is the Science and Art of causing change to occur in conformity with Will” (p. 131). He also stated that “Magick is the Science of understanding oneself and one’s conditions” (p. 131). Although there are many types of magic in all cultures, both primitive and modern, the form of magic that the Hermetic Qabalists practice is sometimes called the magic of light which denotes a system of theurgy designed to lead one to enlightenment, or the realization of one’s own true will and nature, through the knowledge and conversation of one’s Angel. For use in esoteric circles, I prefer Crowley’s spelling of Magick with a k, to align with this most sublime form of ceremonial art, although I prefer the definition given by Jacob Boehme (1620), a sixteenth century mystic, “Magia is that which pierces through the Imagination towards the Mysterium Magnum” (5:23). In this paper I use the spelling of magic, with a c, for clarity and consistency.
One of the underlying themes in this work is the similarity between the depth psychological and the Qabalistic view of the psyche and the universe. In doing this study, I invoke the Angel to not only help in the reconciliation of humans’ opposites, but also in reconciling the opposites of philosophy and science, and of the modern and the ancient worlds. This work delves into the deep magical layer of the unconscious where time and space meet and even the ancients come to meet us here in today’s world on common ground. Edward Whitmont (1961) wrote about the magical layer of unconscious useful to this research:
Magic…refers to certain phenomena, physical and psychological, which have been recognized in one form or another in every past culture. It postulates them, hypothetically, as expressions of a specific energy field–another dimension of experience–underlying tangible familiar reality…. Thus it refers to a particular and typical dimension of psychological functioning. Its expression takes the form of magical participation, synchronicity, magico-religious rites, and transformation phenomena. In short, we are investigating the objective fields of the archetypal dynamis. This is not merely primitive and regressively inferior; it can also, creatively, extend and widen consciousness. (p. 180)
The hermetic application and exploration of this layer is termed magic, or theurgy, which, like Alchemy, titles its teleos “the summum bonum” or “the great work” (Regardie, 1997) his work is achieved with the help of one’s Angel achieved through knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. Knowledge and conversation and the ultimate work of discovering and actualizing one’s true will and nature is achieved though a set of graded initiations, which guide the candidate in a quest not unlike individuation, which, “in Jung’s view, is a spiritual journey; and the person embarking upon it, although he might not subscribe to any recognized creed, was nonetheless pursuing a religious quest” (Storr, 1983, p. 229).
This work developed out of my desire to bring the language and practices of psychology and the practice of Hermetic Qabalah together in a way that would nurture and deepen both systems of knowledge in a soulful way. Years ago I was fed up with attempts to modernize Hellenistic and Neo-Platonic magic by introducing mechanistic language and, more recently, computer-type language such as programming. Although there are technical, mechanistic elements to any formalized system of thought, I believed there are also what I call the more, artful, imaginative or soulful aspects, which are not adequately described by technical language alone. I felt Qabalah, like psychology was losing its soul and this had to do with the need for a poetic language, perhaps a language of the unconscious which Jungian psychology, Qabalah and alchemy have in common.
I have found that many of the ideas behind depth psychology and the practice of Hermetic Qabalah are very similar in nature: both work with the unconscious and the imaginal in ways that can mobilize powerful forces in the service of transformation. Like Jung, I found a type of psychology and a way of imagining that was immediately at home with my psyche. Jung stated,
I had very soon seen that analytical psychology coincided in a most curious way with alchemy [and, the practice of the Hermetic Qabalah in my case]. The experiences of the alchemists were, in a sense my experiences, and their world was my world. This of course was a momentous discovery: I had stumbled upon the historical counterpart of my psychology of the unconscious. (quoted in Storr, 1983, p. 252)
After entering graduate school and discovering more similarities between the initiate’s journey, the alchemist’s work and Jungian Individuation I decided to work on the Archetype of the Holy Guardian Angel.
The teleos or aim of this work is the amplification of the archetype of the Angel; its intended result is a knowledge of and conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel. It is more than a study of an archetype of the Angel or the individuation process it guides. It is most importantly a study that will deepen the readers’ own experience of the Angel and the ordering process it initiates according to the dictates of the Self. By looking at the Angel, I wish to help others engage with their own Angel, the message it holds and the journey it tends. By engaging the Angel, I hope to stimulate a relationship that will help others find their own relationship with this inner guide. This is not just a query or questioning about the Angel, but is a deep questing after a its hidden message. This is a quest for the waters of life and death that recovers one’s memories of one’s true destiny, a destiny that lies between the dayworld of the ego and the midnight of the soul, in the liminal realm of the Angel.
This hermeneutic study participates in the great return to the wisdom of the ancients that depth psychology is making. Two specific examples are the works of Carl Jung and James Hillman: Carl Jung reconciles his work on the unconscious with the medieval alchemists, and James Hillman enriches his research with the philosophies of Iamblichus, Heraclitus and Plato. As previously mentioned, this work is intended to contribute to this renaissance in psychology, a rebirthing of soul in the study of human nature that is accomplished by retrieving ancient mythopoeic sensibilities and values. The work of Jung is important to this paper since his work with the unconscious, the images within, and his own Daimon convinced him of the autonomy of the psyche and led him to create a model of the unconscious and the individuation process that fits well into the world of Hermetic philosophers. The work of James Hillman reinforces this work, and my calling, in several ways: first, he calls one to the symbolic life by way of a soulful psychology that serves soul and imagination; secondly, in The Soul’s Code (1991), he too identifies the calling and the character of a person’s psyche with the Daimon, or Angel. Finally, Hillman provides a reminder that the image is the Angel: “Images are daimones offering indications of fate” (p. 50), and in fact, all messages from the psyche are angels, messengers of the Gods. “A particular image…is a necessary angel waiting for a response” (p. 51).
It is my hope that this work increases self-knowledge and aids in the soulful wakening of the world. The move towards self-knowledge is one of the most important aspects of one’s life and is ever more important today, given the materialism of modern science, philosophy and psychology. I agree with ancient philosophers like the Buddha and Plato:
Of all such calamities the ultimate cause is ignorance, “the neglect of ourselves,” as Plato calls it, the omission to find out the nature of the soul and the purpose of its life on earth. . . . There is with it moreover the Guardian Angel which itself has chosen and which waits with divine patience until the soul of its own free choice wills to begin in real earnest the work that it has come to do. (Shrine of Wisdom, 1984, p. 38)
Writing this work has helped me to converse with my own Angel, to find my own voice and respond to my calling. Although knowledge and conversation with the Angel may be a single discrete occurrence, the path to which it leads may represent an endless journey.
This work is for the sake of the world soul in its individual and collective form: for the sake of the individual seeking meaning, and the soul of the world parched by humans trying to conquer rather than court nature’s mysteries. This work is therefore in keeping with Pacifica Graduate Institute’s Motto: Animae Mundi Colendae Gratia (For the Sake of Tending World Soul).
Through an encounter with the Angel one’s life can become transformed in meaningful ways. An examination of the Angel is also an examination of the inner life, the nature of the soul and its contents, and this initiates a powerful process of becoming a whole person. It is hoped that this work contributes to a soulful psychology and perhaps a more soulful world. I believe that all of us as human beings need to heed the call of the Angel, that still small voice, and wake up to the inner-life of the psyche. It is time that we appreciate things more, starting with the nuances of life and the meaningful synchronicities that lie in wait for us to discover. This work has relevance to therapy as well since the Angel is a potent guide and host of the invisibles we court on the journey of self-knowledge. This has been proven in my own life and practice since the Angel has visited my clients and me in our individual lives and our work together on several occasions, creating greater depth and meaning, miraculously aiding their work while guiding me in the work of this paper.
As the story of the Angel’s call unfolds, readers will follow, joining the ancients in that antique, even timeless, land of the psyche and perhaps a miracle will occur for the reader: a psychic quickening, even knowledge of, and conversation with your Angel.
The following literature review examines the etymological and historical roots of the Angel in Western Culture, and explores the history of three persistent manifestations of the Angel, namely the Daimon, Genius, and Guardian Angel. The work of ancient and modern philosophers, poets, mystics and depth psychologists is presented and discussed in terms of how its presence manifested to humankind through the ages. Chapter III, “The Angel and the Individuation process,” reviews individuation as a spiritual journey, the Angel as its guardian and guide, and how encounters with the Angel may enrich our lives as actualizing individuals and practicing therapists.
The androgynous Angel guides us to the hidden mysteries she holds. The ambiguous and sometimes even ambivalent Angel may challenge us to die to our old attitudes and find new life in a revised understanding. Rather than concrete facts, the Angel provides mysterious clues about life’s meaning and one’s participation in it. When one explores, willing to be guided, the Angel willingly participates: “When an image is realized–fully imagined as a living being other than myself–then it becomes a Psychopompos, a guide with a soul having its own inherent limitation and necessity” (Hillman, 1991, p. 56).
CHAPTER II LITERATURE REVIEW
A Multi-faceted Archetype
The Angel, Genius or Daimon is an archetype of antique origin and tradition. It is found at the root of the western philosophy, esotericism, mysticism, poetry and psychology: philosophers, poets, mystics and psychologists have courted the Daimon since the beginning of civilization. In fact, guardian spirits have been found in the ancient world throughout several cultures; thus, the archetype of the Angel is a multifaceted one, indicated by the many names and symbols that the ancients attributed to this being:
For centuries we have searched for the right term for this “call.” The Romans names it your genius; the Greeks, your daimon; and the Christians your guardian angel. The Romantics, like Keats, said the call came from the heart, and Michelangelo’s intuitive eye saw an image in the heart of the person he was sculpting. The Neo-Platonists referred to an imaginal body, the ochema,…your personal bearer or support. For some it is Lady Luck or Fortuna; for others a genie or jinn, a bad seed or evil genius. In Egypt, it might have been the ka, or the ba with whom you could converse. Among the people we refer to as Eskimos and others who follow shamanistic practices, it is your spirit, your free-soul, your animal-soul, and your breath-soul. (Hillman, 1996, p. 9)
The ancients of Western Culture, spanning the Egyptian, Greek, Jewish and Christian traditions, all agreed that man had a destiny guided and guarded by a spirit of sorts. This spirit appeared as a serpent to some, and a winged bird to others, while others simply named it the call, a still small voice that informed humans of their soul’s deepest intuition. This paper addresses the archetype of the Angel through the lens of the western mystery traditions, specifically covering three of the Angel’s most commonly used titles: the Daimon, Genius, and Guardian Angel.
In the Dictionary of Mysticism and the Esoteric Traditions, Neville Drury (1992) also connects the ideas of the Genius, Daimon, and the Holy Guardian Angel as one concept explaining that the lifelong guardian, the Genius from Roman mythology, resembles the Greek Daimon, and that in occult philosophy a person of genius is one who is in touch with his or her true will and holds conversations with his or her Holy Guardian Angel.
The following pages spell out what the ancient forbearers of Western Civilization said about the Angel. This hermeneutic voyage spreads from Ancient Greece and Rome to Egypt, and then, before embarking upon a creative response, takes a stop at the presence of this image in some of the important stories, lives of famous personages, and religious work of our culture.
The Angel through the Ages
Roots of the Angel
The story of the Angel is ancient indeed. It has appeared in the religious scriptures such as the Bible as the voice or presence of the lord, and was known as the Ka and sometimes Ba to the Egyptians.
Probably the first recorded encounter with the Angel occurred at the time of Zoroaster, in about the fifth century B.C. An angel called the Good Mind, or Mana, came to the prophet as a messenger of God. Since this early account, the function of angels has been as a messenger. In fact, Robert Hauck (1994) said, “They basically have no essence, but they have a function. And the function is always inseparable from God” (p. 109).
“The term angel derives from a Greek translation of the original Hebrew Mal’akh which originally meant the ‘Shadow side of God,’ but later came to mean messenger” (Godwin, 1999, p. 7). The word angel was introduced through the Greek translation of the Torah known as the Septuagint:
In Sanskrit,…[the term for angel] is Angeres, a divine or celestial spirit that becomes the Persian angaros meaning “courier,” which appears in Greek as Angelos. It is through such routes that we finally arrive at the modern concept of an angel as being an intermediary or intercessionary between the Almighty and human mortals, between Eternity and our Universe of Time. (Godwin, 1999, p. 66)
The Greek Daimon
The Greek Daimon, like the Guardian Angel, is a specific type of messenger sent to carry out the particular mission of each individual soul. In Webster’s New World Dictionary (Guralnik, 1970), it says that daimon means a divine power, fate, or god, and came to be known as an evil spirit. In Greek Myth, it is any of the secondary divinities ranking between the gods and men. It is a guardian spirit; inspiring or inner spirit and is sometimes confused with Demon. Finally, a daimon possesses one with power and vision.
In Greek literature, Homer references the Guardian spirit, the Daimon, as Athena (Wisdom), in the ancient saga of the Odyssey. Athena acts as both agency of the gods and holder of destiny for Odysseus. In this saga, Athena calls Odysseus to make the voyage back home and bring order back to the world. Merlin Stone (1988) writes of the trial of Socrates that in his first excuse of the Apology he stated that his Daimon, the private warning inner voice, or guiding spirit he claimed to possess) has warned him against his involvement in politics.
In Greek philosophy, Plato discusses the Angel under the title, the Daimon. Some of the earliest references to the Daimon can be found in the writings of Plato, an ancient philosopher born in Athens (c. 427- 347 B.C.), who has possibly influenced Western thinking more than any other philosopher. Plato’s writings take the form of dialogues using symbolic and mythological language; he mentions the Daimon in The Republic, The Phaedo, and The Timaeus.
In The Timaeus Plato (Taylor, 1976) explains how the hierarchies of the universe and how the daemons are given charge over “the fabrication of nature, and the care of bodies” (p. 284) and explains how his teacher Socrates described, in the myth of Ur, how souls are sent each with an Angel or Daimon:
When therefore all the souls had chosen their lives according to their lots they went forward in order to Lachesis, and she sent with each the angel (daimon) which the soul had chosen to be guardian of his life and to fulfill that which he had chosen. And the angel first of all conducts the soul to Clotho to ratify beneath her hand and by the whirl of the vortex of her spindle the destiny it had chosen in its allotted turn; and having passed from her presence brings it back to the loom of Atropos for her to make its destiny irrevocable. (Shrine of Wisdom, 1984, p. 34)
Plato also describes the Daimon or the Angel as a psychopomp who guides us on a treacherous, serpentine path through the underworld:
Thus it is said: that the daimon of each person, which was allotted to him while living, undertakes to lead each to a certain place, where it is necessary that all of them being collected together, after they have been judged, should proceed to Hades, together with their leader, who is ordered to conduct them from hence thither . . .. The journey therefore, is not such as Telephus asserts it to be in Eschylus. For he says that a simple path leads to Hades: but it appears to me that the path is neither simple nor one. For there would be no occasion of leaders, nor could any one ever wander from the right road, if there was but one-way. But now it appears to have many divisions and dubious turnings: and this I conjecture from our holy and legal rites. (Plato, 1976, 149-150)
In The Human Soul in the Myths of Plato (1984), it is explained that, in the Timaeus and Phaedo, Plato suggests that the true philosopher, should cultivate a relationship with the Beautiful and that the way to do is, is through cultivating a relationship with the Angel. This relationship with the Daimon gives us the ability to exalt our souls to the comprehension of our own nature, and the nature of the Divine Mystery. Many commentators on Plato’s works also wrote about the Daimon, or Angel: Philo equates the Angel with reason and the logos of the Self (Mead, 1992, 161), and Xenocrates says that
Plato states expressly that the individual or personal soul is the leading guardian Daimon of every man, and that no Daimon had more power over us than our own. Thus, the Daimonian of Socrates is the god or Divine Entity, which inspired him all his life. (Blavatsky 1931, p. xx)
The Roman Genius
The Roman Genius derives from ancient worship of the generative forces of nature in the form of a family totem. The earliest concept of the Genius is apparent in the origins of the word from the Latin, gignere, and meaning ‘to engender’ and suggesting begetting children or offspring. According to Janice Nitzsche (1975) the Genius literally represented the sperm or seed of the patriarch of the family. The family, and eventually personal Genius derived from the idea of a genius loci which could be worshipped to make the land fertile, protect the home and family. Its symbols are the cornucopia, the serpent, and the genialis lectus or place of the Genius, (a term attributed to Cattullus c. 84-54 B.C. used through the thirteenth century) the nuptial bed relating to the sacred marriage wherein the word is made flesh (Nitzsche, 1975, pp.8-9).
Webster’s New World Dictionary (Guralnik, 1970) explains that the Genius, according to the ancient Romans, was believed to be a guardian spirit assigned to a person at birth and that it is sometimes dual in aspect, manifesting as either of two spirits, one good and one evil, both having an influence over one’s destiny. A person of genius is one endowed with special gifts, talents or knowledge beyond that of ordinary humans.
The earliest literary allusions to the Genius come from Plautus in the third century B.C. He said that each man had a Genius and that it represents his virility, and energy. In this day, men only, and not women, were considered to have a Genius. Nitzsche (1975) says that this concept was also related to the early idea of the animus of an individual. The Genius came to further represent the personal luck and temperament of an individual and eventually came to represent his or her individuality, personality, soul, and free will (Nietzsche, 1975, p. 41). Horace (65-68 B.C.) a Roman philosopher wrote, “The god Genius was born with each man, lived until his death, was celebrated upon his birthday, and controlled his personal fortune and destiny” (p. 39).
According to Nietzsche (1975, p. 14), the evolution of the Genius was furthered in the second century B.C. by the influx of Greek philosophy that assumed the importance of the individual and the foreign concepts of guardian spirits such as the old gods (see Figure 3 on page 83), Greek Daimon, the Persian fravashi, and the Egyptian ka. Calcidius (300 A.D.) in his commentary on The Timaeus describes these messengers who are called:
Daimones because they know all things. But then he discusses the angelus, intermediary between God and man, who interprets and reports to God our prayers, innermost wishes and needs, and who delivers divine help to us: it is a type of Daimon (angeli-tumquam Daimones dici, 132). Called angeli from Greek άγγελος, angelos, or announcer, messenger, they assiduously perform the duty of announcing and reporting (“officium nuntiandi,” 132). An even stronger connection between the genius (Daimon) and angelus is established by Martianus (423 A.D.): the genius, “this most faithful protector”…since he announces to the heavenly power the secrets of thoughts will even be able to be called angel (2.152-53). The Greeks, Martianus continues, call these spirits Daimones (medioximi in Latin) from “the sharing one” (δαιομένος), presumably because, as mediators or intermediaries, they share the secrets of heaven and earth. (Nietzsche, 1975, p. 39)
The Angel in Alexandria
Both facets of the Angel, the Greek Daimon, and Roman Genius, were influenced a multicultural phenomena occurring in Alexandria Egypt during the first through third centuries A.D. Here rich, syncretic systems of philosophy and practice developed from the Hebrews, Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians that shared this city. This gave birth to such systems such Neo-Platonic Theurgy, Gnosticism, and Hermetism, which are precursors to the Hermetic Qabalah today. The Greeks have a long tradition of attributing their esoteric lore to the ancient Egyptians. According to Herodotus and the later Alexandrians, the Greeks owe much of their esoteric knowledge, the hidden mysteries behind their mythology and religions, to the Egyptian sages.
Alexandria, established by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C., became the cultural, philosophical and mystical center of the world. Whether or not the true roots of Greek philosophy originated in Egypt (which was the assumption of many) the new culture that was birthed continued both ancient traditions in a new form. The Alexandrian climate of philosophical and mystical speculation continued throughout the Roman and early Christian empires.
The Egyptians may have equated the Guardian Angel with a part of the soul known as the ka (Sam Webster, 2004, personal communications), although some scholars such as Blavatsky (1931) equate it with the ba, or reincarnational element of the soul. The Alexandrians equated the facets of the Daimon and the Genius with these parts of the soul. They also equated the Angel with the psychopomp Mercury, the Egyptian Tehuti, soul. They also equated the Angel with the psychopomp Mercury, the Egyptian Tehuti, Anubis (see Figure 4 on p. 84), and the mysterious personage of Hermes Trismesgistus.
In His translation of the Hermetic Corpus, a theosophical work written in around 300 A.D blending ancient Gnostic, Hermetic and Egyptian ideas, G. R .S. Mead (1992), says that the Egyptologists equated the Angel, whom he calls Agathodaimon, with Hermes and Thoth of Hermopolis, and ultimately Hermes Trismesgistus: “Thoth is characterized as the Aeon of Aeons who changes himself into all forms in vision,…[The] Good Daimon, who has different names given him in the different hours, [and] is called ‘Wealth-giving Aeon’” (p. 280). He is also “the mighty serpent, the chief of all the gods…who dost possess Egypt’s beginning, and the end of all the world” (p. 67). Egypt is an ancient metaphor for the physical life, thus this mighty serpent carries the secrets of journey between the beginning and end of life: human destiny.
The Daimon of Iamblichus
The image of the Angel continued to evolve as the neo-Platonism of Iamblichus evolved out of Alexandria (see Figure 5 on page 85). “Porphyry, a disciple of Plotinus, in his Life of Plotinus, mentions him as a priest of Egypt who revealed his familiar, Daimon, or, in modern language, the Guardian Angel of the philosopher” (Blavatsky, 1931, p. xliii.). Iamblichus (250-330 A.D.), or the Teacher Abammon, authored the Theurgia, and De Magica. He was the founder of the Neoplatonist school of philosophy in Syria and transformed the earlier philosopher Plotinus’s Neo-Platonism into a system of theology and theurgy by merging Barbarian rites with Hellenistic philosophy. He encouraged a participation in the powers of the Universe, including the Gods and the daimons (Shaw, 1995).
In order to achieve the goal of these theurgic rites, “to reach the one, the soul had to be assimilated into the whole and this was accomplished only by honoring all the gods” (Shaw, 1995, p. 156). Not only were the gods invoked but also one’s Daimon since the Daimon represented an intermediary to the gods. Iamblichus believed that each of us had a personal Daimon, and that the Daimon existed between the realm of the Gods and men. They “were merely invisible to the senses, but … [not] to ‘rational knowledge’ and material intelligence” (p. 218) and could convey that which was previously unintelligible: namely, the knowledge of the Gods. “Iamblichus explicitly states that the soul has only one ruling Daimon and that he is good. To fulfill the charges of its guardian, however, the soul first had to recognize him and then develop a rapport” ( p. 218). In his De Mysteria (283, 19-284) Iamblichus said,
The invocation of these guardian Daimones is effected through their one ruler God who, from the beginning, distributed individual Daimones to every soul, and in the sacred rites, he reveals the individual Daimon to each soul according to his own will…. When the familiar Daimon appears to each soul, then he reveals his particular mode of worship as well as his name, and he teaches the particular manner of invoking him. (p. 219)
Gregory Shaw (1995) further explained the relationship of the Daimons, quoting the words of Iamblichus from De Mysteria:
Generally, the divine is leader and stands over the order of beings, but the daimonic nature is attendant and willingly receives whatever the Gods instruct them to do, and they work out manually the things, which the Gods conceive, wish, and command intellectually. Surely, this is why the Gods are free from the powers that verge into generation, but Daimones are not completely free of them. (p. 139)
Iamblichus engaged in theurgic action known as philia, a “demiurgic weaving of the opposites, and it should be remembered that theurgic rites were performances that initiated human souls into the activity of the gods” (p. 153). Not only were the gods invoked but one’s Daimon as well. Although Iamblichus distinguished between souls who incarnated voluntarily, to preserve the world and those involuntarily, to perfect themselves, he believed that both could participate in the creation of the world or the activities of the gods if they performed “material theurgies” (p. 157). In this way, one cultivated a life shaped by the Daimon. Ultimately, even one’s Daimon could be transcended: “The most marked transition in the progress of the soul was the rare moment that it received a god as a guardian to replace its personal Daimon” (p. 281).
The standard Platonic teaching is that one who constantly worships one’s Daimon could partake of immortality. Iamblichus taught that “the task of each soul was to align itself and its activities with its ruling god, and when this was achieved the Guardian Daimon gave way to a higher guide” (quoted in Shaw, 1995, p. 218). Iamblichus continued:
The Daimon oversees the composite life of the soul [and body] and the individual life of the soul, and all that we think, we conceive due to the principles he has implanted in us. We do the things that he suggests to our mind, and he continues to govern human beings until, by means of sacred theurgy, the time comes that we are entrusted with a God as guardian and leader of the soul. (p. 218)
The Judaeo-Christian Angel
In Jewish and Christian theology one of the types of angels that exist are the Guardian Angels. Since the Jewish and Christian Guardian Angel evolved alongside the Egyptian, Greek and Roman empires it is no wonder that it should share in common many of the functions of the Daimon and Genius (see Figure 6 on page 86). As mentioned previously, the word angel was borrowed from the Greek word angelos. The Guardian Angel, another type of messenger, is tied to another Greek word, Daimon, and the Roman Genius. However, the old Greek Daimon became watered down and split into the Daimon and the Demon. The early Christians, like their modern ancestors, had difficulty reconciling the opposites.
Guardian Angels are usually seen as under the domain of Michael, Raphael, Gabriel and Uriel, the four archangels. “The Talmud speaks of every Jew being assigned eleven thousand guardian angels at birth” (Godwin, 1999, p. 69). Many of the biblical stories involving angels are of people in trouble who are comforted or counseled by them. The story of the Angel who appeared and showed Hagar a well of water when she and her son Ishmael were dying of thirst in the wilderness is one example (Genesis 16).
In the Old Testament, every nation has its own angel. Langmuir (1999) stated that Michael is the protector of Israel (Daniel 12:1). Wilson wrote that
great prophets or saints may have great Archangels for their guardians, since their earthly missions involve the spiritual welfare of whole segments of mankind…. Thus Mohammed’s guardian is Gabriel, and Arjuna’s in a sense is Krishna…. Angels rather than human masters sometimes initiate great mystics. St Francis was protected by one of the Seraphim, who gave him the Stigmata. King Solomon and Padmasambhava (founder of Tibetan Buddhism) were both served by hordes of angels. (1994, p. 74)
Mitch Finely (1996) gave a concise history of the Guardian Angel in the Catholic Church:
St. Thomas Aquinas taught that God is our primary guardian, ‘acting without intermediary, and instilling into [us] grace and virtue.’ Aquinas believed, however, that each person does have a guardian angel: ‘Because our present life is a sort of road along which many dangers, internal and external, lie in wait, an angel guard is appointed each man [and woman] as long as he [or she] is a wayfarer’. (p. 22)
Finley (1996) reported that the official church calendar recognizes Guardian Angels on October 2. He stated that according to the Catholic Almanac, the feast day of the Guardian Angels commemorates “the angels who protect people from spiritual and physical dangers and assist them in doing good” (p. 22).
Many authorities believe that “This passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew is the first hint, in a scriptural text, of an angel in heaven permanently dedicated to every soul on earth:
‘…As this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven…Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven’. (Matthew 18:1-10). (Langmuir, 1999, p. 67)
Out of these sources, combined with the stories of the archangels and especially the tale of Tobias and Raphael (a book in the Apocrypha), was born the notion of the Guardian Angel (see Figures 7 and 8 on pages 87 -88). Many seventeenth and eighteenth century Roman Catholic altarpieces are dedicated to the Guardian Angel and resemble the devotional images of Raphael and Tobias.
Peter Wilson (1994) concludes that the guardian is also in a sense the Beloved. The Persian philosopher Avicenna,
Speaking of the angel, explains that “the soul must grasp the beauty of the object that it loves; the image of that beauty increases the ardour of love; this ardour makes the soul look upward…Thus the imagination of beauty causes ardor of love, love causes desire, and desire causes motion” on the level both of the spheres (which are drawn in love toward their Archangel Intellects) and of human souls (who are drawn in love towards their guardians). (pp. 74-75)
The Qabalistic Tradition and the Angel
The Qabalistic Tradition is a living mystery tradition, which reaches back through the ancient mysteries, uniting all of their images in the Angel of the present day. In the Qabalistic tradition, the history of the western odyssey of the Angel is united in what is known as The Great Work. Madame Helena Blavatsky (1931), the founder of the Theosophical Society in 1875, and author of an Occult classic, Isis Unveiled, said that men like Iamblichus and Plotinus, Pythagoreans, the Essenes, and the Apostles of Christ were “mediators, guided merely by their own personal spirit (Daimon), or divine soul” (p. 488). It was men like these, or at least stories about them, that helped evolve the concept of the Holy Guardian Angel and the esoteric or magical art used to attain its rewards. Perhaps Iamblichus was the first philosopher to formally ritualize the invocation of the Angel. By invoking and consuming (integrating and ingesting) the Angel, one could achieve the status of the Daimon, and beyond, finally achieving the knowledge of the Gods.
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was formed in 1887, by a small group of Freemasons and Rosicrucians. Its system of magic forms the basis of the modern pagan movement today. It bases its teachings upon the Hermetic Qabalah, which according to Adam Forrest (1998), was birthed in the renaissance when the Hebrew Kabbalah and Hermeticism came together with Alchemy. It claims to have ties with the most ancient mystery schools of Western Esoteric tradition, particularly those of Egypt and Greece. This “Order was predicated on the age-old process of bringing Light to the natural man. In other words, it taught a psycho-spiritual technique leading to illumination, and enlightenment” (Regardie, 1997, p. 12). The Summum Bonum or Great Work of the Golden Dawn, was to achieve the “knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, or sometimes called the Higher and Divine Genius” (Regardie, 1997, p 48). Gareth Knight (1993), a modern student of occultism explained that
the true experience of Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel is no astral vision but an awareness of the true destiny that each human being has to fulfill his evolutionary task. Usually this will manifest as an inner urge within a man, and such a one goes through physical life with a mission, he is a “man of destiny.” Occasionally this . . . may be conceived as a separate entity as in the case of Socrates and his “Daimon,” which was probably an aspect of his Holy Guardian Angel. (p. 202)
Knight also associated the Jungian archetype of the friend with the Holy Guardian Angel. and further explains that the Holy Guardian Angel may be the part of human beings that reveal their purpose to them in accordance with the divine plan: each Holy Guardian Angel is “an Oracle of the Gods… [and] a Child of the Voice, Word or Logos … [also known as] The Genius of Fate” (p. 207).
The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, S. L. Macgregor Mathers’s (1975) English translation of an occult manuscript found in the Library of the Arsenal, Paris, is purported to have been written in 1457, delivered by Abraham, the Jew, to Lamech, his Son. This book recounts Abraham’s travels and experiences in his search for magical knowledge:
At this period, it was almost universally believed that the Secret Knowledge was only really obtainable by those who were willing to quit their home and their country to undergo dangers and hardships in its quest. After years of wandering his search culminated in the meeting of Abramelin, an Egyptian Mage. It was from Abramelin that Abraham learned the Sacred Magic particular to the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. (p. xx)
In the seventh chapter of the manuscript, Abraham related the operation for preparing oneself to meet the Angel:
[It was] necessary for this operation, [to] lead a solitary life. . . . Finally, I resolved to follow the example of Abramelin, and I divided my house into two parts . . . and I began to accustom myself to solitary life.… Then first on the following day, in the Name and to the honour of God Almighty the Creator of Heaven and of Earth, I commenced this holy operation, and I continued it for Six Moons without omitting the slightest detail, as thou wilt understand later. And the period of the Six Moons being expired, the Lord granted unto me His Grace by His Mercy; according to the promise made unto our forefathers, since while I was making my prayer unto Him He deigned to grant unto me the vision and apparition of His holy angels, together with which I experienced so great joy, consolation and contentment of soul, that I could neither express it nor put it into writing. And during the three days, while I was enjoying this sweet and delightful presence with an indicible contentment, my holy angel whom God the Most Merciful had destined from my creation for my Guardian, spake unto me with the greatest goodness and affection; who not only manifested unto me the Veritable Magic, but even made easier for me the means of obtaining it. (pp. 24-26)
Apparently the mystical experience of Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel was prerequisite to the ability to master the powers of light and darkness. After the achievement of the operation of knowledge and conversation, Abraham became a sage able to perform many miracles and traveled many lands performing feats for nobles of many lands. Through converse with his Angel, he became able to bind, what he termed, demonic forces, to the service of the light. Upon closing the first book, Abramelin gave his final comments on the operation of the Angel, stating that the instructions were to be read for six months, during which “no sin against the Law or Commandments of God” could be made (Mathers, 1975, pp. 43-44). He advised his son that purity is was the defining factor for success or failure in this operation, for the more pure the soul, the greater the affinity to the Angel.
The Angel of the Depth Psychologists
In the deep reaches of the collective unconscious, timeless, where the Angel lies and the moderns meet the ancients, the Angel of today meets the Genius and Daimon of antiquity. Jung and the depth psychologists (psychologists who acknowledge the importance and autonomy of the unconscious) have a lot to say about the Angel and its importance to the psychic life. Like the occultists, the depth psychologists trace the history of the Angel in an unbroken lineage through the ancient mystery traditions. James Hillman and Carl Jung have been particularly responsible for bringing the wisdom of the ancient alchemists and occult philosophers into modern psychology.
Through Jung’s experience with his Angel, Philemon, he confirmed the autonomy of the soul. James Hillman states that Jung’s experience “connected again the realm of the daimons with that of soul. And ever since his move, soul and daimons imply, even require each other” (1993, p. 56). Hillman stated that the Angel comes from a deep layer in the psyche that is timeless, and characterized daimons as “guardian spirits, figures through which the transcendent becomes immanent” (p. 59). Depth psychologist Thomas Moore (1994) said, “The angel is known by his greeting” (p. 13).
In the article, “What is an Angel?”, Paco Mitchell (1994) made the important statement that
when an angel “appears” to a human being, we might say that a transcendent factor from the archetypal (heavenly) realm has manifested at the threshold of ego-consciousness. It is a liminal event (limen = threshold); it happens to the ego in a state of liminal or peripheral awareness (that state of mind so often courted by the creative artist). It is an agent of the Self (= agent of God, it does God’s bidding). Furthermore, it has a message for the ego…thus serving as a communicative link between ego and Self, man and God, temporal and eternal. (p. 65)
Mitchell further stated that “The appearance of an angel-in dreams . . . announces a healing possibility, a link to the Self that would ease the neurotic dysfunction” (p. 65) (see Figure 9 on page 89). The Angel can be seen as an expression of God’s need to individuate or incarnate through the contact with human consciousness. “It is part of the self-regulating tendency within the individuating psyche, a necessary communication among parts of a whole, a glimpse of the spirit of the whole” (p. 67).
Peter Wilson (1994) said that the Gnostics named the Angel “ ‘the Call’ [that] awakens the soul from the identification with the physical world her profitless slumber… and beckons her upwards to her true home” (p. 43) and that the Angel appears bearing a book or letter, or is the book or a letter. “The Angel is a ‘messenger’, moving between heaven and earth [and…] he is the Message, as the Message manifests itself to man” (p. 43).
Jung (1938/1983a) equated the Daimon with mana, God, and the unconscious, and called him the meridian of the Sun, who in the myth of Osiris is the Angel that holds the mysterious waters of life and death. He also represents this substance itself. The meridian is the channel or path of the sun, and can be portrayed as the illumination of initiation, and the circuit of individuation. He is “a true Hermes Psychopompos and initiator, who directs the spiritual transitus of the adept” (p. 80), (see Figure 1 on page 81).
“The angel, as a winged or spiritual being, represents, like Mercurius, the pnuema, the disembodied” (Jung, 1938/1983a, p.75) and in numerous alchemical texts is identified as the arcane substance. Jung further wrote that
from man and gnosis is born the tree, which is also called gnosis . . . [It is also] the angel, Baruch, named the “wood of life,” …the angel of revelation, just as the sun-and-moon tree in the Romance of Alexander foretells the future. (1943/1983, pp.338-339)
According to Jung (1938/1983b), the Angel is shown waking a sleeper, with a trumpet. He equated the unawakened state to unconsciousness and the wakened state to wholeness. Once again, he equated the angel with Mercurius, the Philosophical Tree, and the “lapis philosophorum, which represents the individuation process” (p. 195).
Jung tied together several names of the Angel under one reconciling symbol of the Self:
Christ as Logos is synonymous with the Naas, the serpent of the Nous among the Ophites. The Agathodaimon (good spirit) had the form of a snake, [see Figure 2 on page 82], and in Philo, the snake was considered the ‘most spiritual’ animal. (1943/1983, p. 333)
Poets and the Angel
Naturally the Poets have courted the Angel since it can be said to live in the imaginal realm from which poets, artists and visionaries alike draw their inspiration and apprehend the abstract. Robert Romanyshyn stated, “Rilke said that, ‘Every Angel because of its beauty is terrible’” (1994b).
Rilke invoked the Angel in his second Elegy with the following words:
An angel alone is misted in dread. Ye alas, I still invoke you, deadly birds of the soul, who know you well. Oh, where are those days of Tobias when one, most luminous, paused on a simple threshold, dressed for a journey, no longer appalling (a youth to the youth who peered from within). Let that archangel now that perilous one from beyond the stars step down: then upward beating, outbeat our own hearts. Who are you? (1957, pp. 7-10)
In The Angels, Rilke communicated what it must be like to contemplate this invisible messenger moving silently in the world:
All of them have weary mouths
and bright souls without seam.
And a yearning (as toward sin)
goes sometimes through their dream.
Almost they are all alike;
in God’s gardens they keep silent,
like many, many intervals
in his might and melody.
Only when they spread their wings
are they the wakers of a wind;
As though God went with his wide
sculptor-hands through the pages
in the dark book of first beginning. (1938, p. 45)
Finally, Rilke described Jacob wrestling with the angel in “The Man Watching”:
…What we choose to fight is so tiny!
What fights with us is so great!
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm.
we would become strong too, and not need names.
When we win it’s with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestler’s sinews
grew long like metal strings,
he felt them under his fingers
like chords of deep music.
Whoever is beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined the fight)
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand,
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated decisively
by constantly greater beings. (1981, p. 105-107).
The ancient theurgists, or magicians to whom the practitioners of Hermetic Qabalah are heir, invoked the Daimon with poetic praise. In fact the ancients’ instructive words, “enflame thyself with prayer” (unknown author) is repeated even to this day. Below is an ancient example from the Corpus Hermeticum, which uses mythopoeic imagery to make this invisible guardian tangible to the heart:
Come unto me, thou who dost rise from the four winds, joyouse Good Daimon, for whom the heaven is thy reveling place!…
Thou are the mighty serpent, the chief of all the gods,
O thou who dost possess Egypt’s beginning, and the end of all the world!
(Mead, 1992, p. 67)
The Presence of an Image
The many facets of the Angel can be seen its presence in the lives of individuals in the stories and artwork of humankind (see Figures 1-10 on pages 81 – 90). The image of the Angel represents more than just the form it takes. The image that reveals the message is an archetypal, or ideal form, that is numinous, or a numinosum. As a numinosum, the Daimon fascinates and totally overwhelms an individual: “As mysterious tremendum, it moves, compels, awes, overpowers, and constellates urgency” (Rank, 1952, p. 12). Hillman (1993, p. 50) says, “Images are daimons offering indications of gate.” The idea that angels are images and images, angels, is an old intuition; for example, the word for icon or image in Syriac means angel, and the Sufi notion of Khidr, a personal invisible angelic guide, is taken to be the image by which Allah shows itself. In his visionary work, Aurora, Jacob Boehme (1612) united angel and image, saying that both angels and men are created in the image of god, thus the Angel is the brother to men. Finally, Jacob, from the biblical story, calls the place he wrestled with the Angel “the image of God” (Genesis 32:22-30, Lamsa translation).
The examples below represent a selection from biblical tradition, classical literature, and the lives of some notable individuals. When one takes a look, it seems that the Angel is not so invisible after all, having manifested in so many forms. Peter Wilson (1994) wrote,
When man opens his heart, for even an instant, the figure he perceives is his Guardian Angel. When he hears the call to the spiritual life, when his psychic substance is protected from evil, when he meets certain mysterious figures in dreams, or even in waking day, who act out for him the drama of his own inner life–this is the Guardian Angel at work. (p. 73)
Tobias and Raphael
Many early Christian ideas about and images of the Holy Guardian Angel come from the story of Tobias and Raphael which is part of the canon of the Old Testament for Catholics and Orthodox Christians, The Apocrypha, the Book of Tobit. Peter Lastman (2003) said the story tells how Tobit, a pious but poor and blind Jew prayed to God for help. At the same time Sarah, the daughter of Raguel prays to god for death or relief from Asmodeus, a demon in love with her. He has killed seven potential bridegrooms. Sarah is blamed for these tragedies, contemplates hanging herself, and prays to God for either death or an end to this torment. God hears her prayer, and sends the angel Raphael to resolve both Sarah’s problem and that of Tobit.
Meanwhile, Tobit sends his son, Tobias, to Raguel, a kinsman in Media, to collect a debt. Because Tobias does not know the way, he hires a guide names Azarias, who turns out to be the angel Raphael in disguise.
Raphael guides Tobias on his journey, and on the way to Media, Tobias, on Raphael’s instructions, catches a fish, which they cook and eat after removing and keeping the heart, liver, and gall. Raphael suggests he marry Raguel’s daughter and tells him how to rid Sarah of her jealous demon-lover. Tobias visits Raguel and proposes marriage. He burns the fish heart and liver on incense coals, creating a foul-smelling smoke that repels the demon, Asmodeus, who then flees to the farthest parts of Egypt, where Raphael binds him.
Tobias and Sarah, after praying that they grow old together, now consummate their marriage. When Tobias finally comes home with Sarah, he uses the fish gall, as Raphael has instructed him, to restore his father Tobit’s sight.
Guardians of “The Presence”
Many times the Angel is seen as a dual figure. The old Greek Daimon may have contained the potential for darkness as well as light, but the Judaeo Christian guardian angel aspect usually portrays this as a duality. The Dead Sea Scrolls speak of two guardians, one of truth and another of unrighteousness, and early Christian “records suggest two are entrusted to guide each Christian: one for the right hand, which inspires him to good, and one on the left, which nudges him towards evil” (Godwin, 1999, p. 69).
This pair of angels can be seen in the description of the Ark of the Covenant given to Moses at Mount Sinai, at the culmination of their Exodus in the wilderness, when Yahweh establishes his covenant with Israel and gives instructions for worshipping him:
For the two ends of the throne of mercy, you are to make two golden cherubs; you are to make them of beaten god. Make the first cherub for one end and the second for the other, and fasten them to the two ends of the throne of mercy so that they make one piece with it. The cherubs are to have their wings spread upwards so that they overshadow the throne of mercy. They must face one another, their faces towards the throne of mercy. You must place the throne of mercy at the top of the ark. Inside the ark, you must place the Testimony that I shall give you. There I shall come to meet you; there, from between the two cherubs that are on the ark of Testimony, I shall give you all my commands for the sons of Israel. (Exodus 25:10-22)
In The Bible and the Psyche, Edward Edinger (1986, pp. 56) said, “The two cherubs, like guardian spirits of the threshold, express the psychological fact that the numinosum manifests between the opposites.” They face each other, wings touching, creating an empty space, and perhaps representing the potential dynamis. of the transcendent function, which accompanies an experience of the Self. Perhaps this pair represents a reconciling symbol, the power of the Angel holding the tension of the opposites which creates a pregnant emptiness, called by the Gnostic’s the Pleroma:
The Angel and the Virgin are always engaging in constant dialogue: the angel announcing some impossibility, the virgin taken aback, questioning, agreeing. In this particular event the soul-virginal, patient, expectant, prepared, receptive, modest-begins to carry new life and personality, a child, as the paintings often show, miraculously fully formed from conception (Moore, 1994, p. 12).
According to Willow Young (2003, personal communications), these two angels may be manifestations of the earlier pair of opposites: Isis and Nephthys, who figure in the mysteries of the death and rebirth of Osiris.
The appearance of an angel in dreams… announces a healing possibility, a link to the Self that would ease the neurotic dysfunction. Ironically the angelic figure is often the thing that is most feared (Mitchell, 1994, p. 66).
Jacob’s ladder is one of the biblical accounts of a vision involving angels uniting heaven and earth:
He had a dream: a ladder was there, standing on the ground with its top reaching to heaven; and there were angels of God going up it and coming down. And Yahweh was there, standing over him, saying, “I am Yahweh, the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac. I will give to you and your descendents the land on which you are lying. Your descendents shall be like the specks of dust on the ground; you shall spread to the west and the east, to the north and the south, and all the tribes of the earth shall bless themselves by you and your descendents. Be sure that I am with you; I will keep you safe wherever you go, and bring you back to this land, for I will not desert you before I have done all that I have promised you. (Genesis 28:10-22)
Jungian analyst Edward Edinger stated that
this is a classic image of the ego-Self axis. Characteristically, the great dream occurs at a particular moment in a sequence of events. Jacob’s heroic action to assert his destiny is followed by deadly danger and exile. At this low point of annihilation the ego is granted a vision of its connection to the Self. (1986, p. 38)
The Angel as an Adversary
Angels and images disrupt and destroy narrative, as in the case of Jacob when he got his new name while wrestling with an angel. (Miller, 2003, frtpc)
This story tells of Jacob’s plea for help for his people. He prays to God that he might deliver him from his Brother Esau. It seems that God bestows upon him the clever wit, his Genius to protect his people by telling them to say they and their animals are a gift from Jacob, and causes an angel to visit him with whom he struggles, when left all alone, across a threshold, signified by the brook. Here in the liminal state, he wrestles with his own conscience, the Daimon who becomes guardian and guide to him and his people.
And there was one that wrestled him until daybreak who seeing that he could not master him, struck him in the socket of his hip, and Jacob’s hip was dislocated as he wrestled with him. He said, “Let me go, for day is breaking.” But Jacob answered, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” He then asked, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he replied. He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have been strong against God, you shall prevail against men.” (Genesis 32:26-32)
Edinger (1986) pointed out four features of this story–encounter with a superior being, wounding, perseverance and divine revelation–that together form the “theme of the encounter with the Greater Personality” (p. 39).
The Winged Life
Apollonius of Tyana was the most famous philosopher of the Graeco-Roman world in the first century (Mead, 1901). It is said that although he studied the Platonic, Stoic, Peripatetic, and Epicurean schools of philosophy, these fell by the wayside when he found the lessons of the Pythagorean School. “He soared into the Pythagorean life, winged by some greater one; namely, the ‘memory’ within him, or his daimon [italics added] ” (p. 66).
Most of the recorded miracles of Apollonius are cases of prophecy or foreseeing; of seeing at a distance and seeing the past; of seeing or hearing in vision; of healing the sick or curing cases of obsession or possession. “He could read thoughts, and psychic impressions so well that it seemed ‘he knew not only the language of all men, but also of birds and beasts’” (Mead, 1901, pp 111-112). All of these powers were attributed not to him alone, but to the Daimon under whose wing he soared. Apollonius was not only guided by a Daimon, but in some way became a Daimon, a mediator between gods and men:
Apollonius was more than a philosopher; he was “a middle term,” as it were, between gods, and men…meaning thereby presumably one who has reached the grade of being superior to man, but not yet equal to the gods. This was called by the Greeks the “Daimonic” order. (Mead, 1901, p. 39)
The Daimonic Possession: R. G. Collingwood
James Hillman (1996) offered a story to illustrate how life circumstances prepare one for a destiny already nascent. He explained that when English philosopher R. G. Collingwood’s Daimon breaks into his life at 8 years old, something inside compelled him to pick up Kant’s Theory of Ethics from his father’s substantial library. Collingwood reported that suddenly he “was attacked by a strange succession of emotions” (quoted in Hillman, 1996, p. 15) including a sense of intense excitement, an urgency that he should learn all he could about this, and a feeling that it was personally important to himself to master this subject. Hillman reflected that Collingwood’s father “provided the books and access to them, but the Daimon chose that father, and its curiosity reached for that book” (p. 15).
Dante’s Divine Comedy
The Angel appears in Dante’s Divine Comedy as guide through a journey of hell, purgatory and heaven. This story begins at the nightfall of Good Friday in the year 1300 when the poet, Dante Alighieri finds himself in a Dark Wood (said by theologians to symbolize the wood of sin, and by psychologists, the unconscious), threatened by wild beasts. Virgil, the pagan poet, appears when Dante, in the midst of confusion and despair, knows not where to go. Virgil offers to direct his steps and guide him on the journey through the Inferno and Purgatory, telling Dante that he has come at the request of Beatrice. Dante agrees to accept Virgil’s guidance and begins his quest.
Virgil guides Dante through the nine rings of Hell, The Inferno, and Purgatory. They descend through hell, and then ascend to the summit of a mountain, in Purgatory. Here Virgil leaves Dante telling him that henceforth Beatrice will be his guide. Under the guidance of Beatrice he ascends the nine spheres of Paradise and achieves permission to dwell with the hosts of heaven:
Having reached the Primum mobile, the outermost limits of the cosmos, Dante pauses and gazes into the eyes of his beloved guide, Beatrice. He sees reflected in them a point of light: “of so intense a beam that needs must every eye it blazed on be closed before it poignancy extreme.” This point is in fact the divine light itself. Dante experiences Heaven in Beatrice. She is in effect Dante’s personal theophany, his Guardian Angel. (Wilson, 1994, p. 91)
In a Psychedelic State
In, Angels, an Endangered Species, Malcolm Godwin (1990), described John C. Lilly’s experience with of a pair of guardian angels. Lily is known for his research in interspecies communication with dolphins and altered states of consciousness through a variety of mediums including LSD. Godwin retold the following incident described by
Lily in his book, The Center of The Cyclone. During an LSD session, Lily
became a focused center of consciousness, traveled into other spaces, and met other beings, entities or consciousnesses in a golden light which seemed to permeate in all directions, he met, what appeared to be, two guardian angels who said that he was not usually in a state to perceive them and that he is in such a state when close to the death of the body. (p. 231)
Lily further stated that “in this state there is no time [and that] one is reminded of Christ’s description of Heaven, or the painter William Blake, on his deathbed, ‘gloriously’ singing of the sights of angels in heaven” (Godwin, 1990, p. 231).
Jung and Philemon
Carl Jung is another scientist, a psychologist, who encountered the Angel. It can be said that the Angel, in the form of Philemon, influenced Carl Gustav Jung’s lifework. In fact, it was Jung’s confrontation with the unconscious, in which he met figures such as Philemon that proved the autonomy of the unconscious and of the psychic figures, the archetypes, who dwelled there. Mitchell (1994) stated that Jung insisted on the autonomy and objectivity of thoughts, “which he learned from his own spiritual guide Philemon. In fact the whole story of Jung and Philemon may be taken as one example of an encounter with an angel” (p. 65).
After his break with Freud, in his autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung (1989) described in the chapter, “Confrontation of with the Unconscious,” how he sank into a deep and overwhelming relationship with the unconscious. He explained how he had to consciously submit to the impulses of the unconscious to discover his own lifework in his relationship to the unconscious. He had two dreams, one in which he had the vision of a scarab, which he took to represent death and rebirth, and another with Siegfried, which “showed that the attitude embodied by Siegfried, the hero” (p. 180) must die. After these experiences, Jung met a couple in a dream: Salome and Elijah, the anima and the wise man archetypes. Elijah transformed into Philemon who “was a pagan and brought with him an Egypto-Hellenistic atmosphere with a Gnostic coloration…. Psychologically, Philemon represented superior insight. . . and to me he was what the Indians call a guru” (p. 183).
Philemon was a lifetime companion and teacher to Jung, guiding him in his work, and in his own journey of becoming a whole person. Jung was guided by Philemon to compose a set of mystical poems with a Gnostic flavor: Septem Sermones ad Mortuos (The Seven Sermons to the Dead). Jung said of this work, “I was compelled from within, as it were, to formulate and express what might have been said by Philemon. This was how the Septem Sermones ad Mortuos with its peculiar language came into being” (1989, p. 190). Jung’s Angel, Philemon, was so important to his own work that he dedicated the Tower he built at Bollingen, described as a place of maturation where he could be “reborn in stone” (p. 225) to Philemon. He placed this inscription over the gate of the Tower: “Philemonis Sacrum–Fausti Poenitentia” (Shrine of Philemon–Repentance of Faust) (p. 235).
Jung himself recognized the importance and reality of his relationship with his Angel and the host of images: “Philemon and other figures of my fantasies brought home to me the crucial insight that there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life” (1989, pp. 182-183).
As this survey has shown, the archetype of the Angel, has a long and fascinating history. The Angel has appeared through the ages in many guises. It was called by many names. It has been lauded by poets, discussed by philosophers, courted by mystics and theorized upon by depth psychologists. In the next chapter this paper will deliver a creative response to this material, invoking the Angel in the quest for a deeper relationship with an important figure of ancient origin.
CHAPTER III THE ANGEL AND THE INDIVIDUATION PROCESS
The Holy Guardian Angel, more simply termed “the Angel,” is a multi-faceted archetype. Through my research and my own work with the angel, in ritual, in prayer, and in contemplation, I have discovered that the Angel calls one to awake to a life of increased depth and meaning, a life unique to one’s soul’s primary purpose for this incarnation. I have discovered that the intervention of the Angel is an invitation to one’s destiny, and although it can occur at any time, it usually happens at crucial points in a person’s life, such as a mid-life crisis, death of a family member or battle with an illness.
The Angel is an archetype with profound power, and tremendous import for the psyche, especially for the individuation process as explained by Carl G. Jung. In fact, I believe that Jung’s confrontation with the unconscious and his own inner Daimon, Philemon, form the foundation for his theories about the psyche: “Jung confirmed the autonomy of the soul. His own experience connected again the realm of the daimons with that of soul. And ever since his move, soul and daimons imply, even require each other” (Hillman, 1993, p. 56).
The Angel is an ancient symbol that occurs throughout the history of humankind. It has many names in many cultures, and although its function and purpose may differ slightly, it usually appears as an individual guardian and protector that can be linked to the preservation of one’s well being and the fulfillment of one’s destiny. Whether it is called the Angel, Daimon, or Genius it appears as a messenger, guardian and guide that connects the individual with the cosmos. In monotheistic religious terms, it connects the individual with God, and in Jungian terms, it connects the ego with the Self.
The Angel is a mysterious, paradoxical, and even ambiguous symbol. Although there are similarities in accounts of how the Angel appears to people, such as a winged creature, and as a guardian and guide, there are also many differences. The Angel may appear as a friend to one, as an adversary another, in midlife for one person and in childhood for still another. The Angel may appear as a vague intuition, as synchronicity, or as a full-blown psychic encounter. The Angel has been met via revelation, prayer and invocation and even in psychedelic experiences. The Angel may bless one with a sense of inner peace, or drive one to the brink of madness. Encounters with the Angel are awesome events that are both hoped for and feared. Waking visions and dreams with angels may announce healing possibilities, yet we one sometimes fears and even wrestles with them as Jacob did, and always one is transformed. All of these disparate types of experiences seem to have one thing in common: the Angel’s Call is an invitation to a new life perspective. Maria Rainer Rilke said that “Every Angel because of its beauty is terrible” (quoted by Romanyshyn, 1994b); terrible because the call to a new life perspective may mean death to the current Ego position.
This hermeneutic study of the Angel began in the previous chapter with the process of amplification: reviewing numerous accounts of the Angel in the history, mythology, and artwork of Western Civilization. In Greece, Plato wrote of the Angel, called the Daimon, as the guardian of the soul’s destiny on this earthly journey between life and death. In Rome, the ancient guardian of the family, the Genius evolved from protector of the family, to represent the seed of the male progenitor and finally represent the individual’s character and constitution. In Alexandria the concepts of Daimon, Genius, the Angel, the Egyptian Khu and perhaps countless others were tied together with the Egyptian Tehuti and the Hellenistic Hermes Trismesgistus. This birthed Hermeticism and the theurgy of Iamblichus, which together influenced the birth of Hermetic Qabalah in the renaissance. It is in Alexandria, and finally during the Renaissance, that the many forms of the Angel came together, along with the Hermetic Qabalah, which calls one of its principal aims, knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.
In my studies, I have found that the images and many stories of the three facets of this archetype–the Angel, Daimon and Genius–support my contention that this is an archetype important to the life of the psyche and the process of self-realization that Jung calls individuation. This means that the Angel is a guardian and guide of the soul’s most intimate desire, the mission and purpose human beings are called to accomplish on this earth, and has been assigned to us to hold that mission and guide us towards our purpose as we journey through this life. I have concluded that the Angel is an archetype that carries one’s own true vocation or calling and, as an agent of the self, guides one in the journey between life and death, manifesting from time to time to convey its message. The message that this Angel carries is the logos or spark of humanity’s own true nature: the word of creation with which we are invested.
The following questions will be considered in this chapter: How can the phenomenon which is found referenced all over the world be explained? Who or what is the Angel that it would speak to humans? What is its message? Why should one care about its guidance? Why do people not hear and trust it all of the time? Finally, how does knowledge and conversation relate to individuation and what might a realized person look like? Rather than offering definite answers to these questions, this work is an exploration of possible interpretations that help to bring focus rather than literalization to the mysterious image of the Angel. It is my belief that the ultimate answers about the Angel and an individual’s interaction with it can only come through personal experience and that in fact, each person’s Angel is unique to them.
The following pages explores aspects of this study’s hypothesis using the lens of depth psychology, which includes the theories of C.G. Jung and James Hillman, to examine these questions. In particular, this chapter explains how the Angel relates to the ideas of individuation, the archetypes and the transformative element known as the transcendent function. The first section demonstrates how the Angel is an archetype and explains in Jungian terms how it functions in the individuation process. This process is portrayed from the perspective of Qabalistic tradition by drawing an analogy between the process of initiation and the practice of Hermetic Qabalah and the spiritual journey of individuation. The next section explains how the Angel is the Call, how it manifests as agent of the Self, and how it may activate the transcendent function. Finally, the third section, “Wrestling the Angel,” explores the Angel’s relevance to therapy, how one may host the Angel as a bridge to the inner-world, how the Angel has manifested for myself and a couple of my clients, and how work with the Angel is important to the work of tending the World Soul.
The Angel as an Archetype
The pervasiveness of the Angel, and the similarity of its function throughout Western history, reinforces the thesis that the Angel is an archetype and as such is crucial to the life of the psyche. The Angel manifests in the art, mythologems and symbols of many cultures. Along with his own experience of inner images in confrontation of the unconscious (Jung, 1989, pp. 170-199), the appearance of historically persistent symbols in the dreams of his patients directed Jung to formulate his theory of the collective unconscious and to recognize the presence of an archetype. The ego connects to the Self through these archetypes. The language of the unconscious is the symbolic life. The archetypes are living symbols that Jung discovered were autonomous.
Perhaps the reason why the Angel appears in diverse cultures is due to the nature of what Jung terms the “collective unconscious” (quoted in Storr, 1983, p. 26). Anthony Storr reported that the primitive stage of the unconscious that underlies and unites all phenomena in the universe was termed by Jung called the Mundus Unus, or One World. This collective or racial unconscious can be equated with what the alchemists and the hermetic philosophers call the World Soul, the Anima Mundi, sometimes personalized as Sophia, an archetypal figure that represents the Anima Mundi. Robert Johnson explained that
the idea of archetypes is an ancient one. It is related to Plato’s concept of ideal forms–patterns already existing in the divine mind that determine in what form the material world will come into being. However, we owe to Jung the concept of the psychological archetypes–the characteristic patterns that pre-exist in the collective psyche of the human race, that repeat themselves eternally in the psyches of individual human beings and determine the basic ways that we perceive and function as psychological beings. (1986, p. 27)
The Angel is an archetype and as such emerge from the deep timeless portion of the psyche, the collective unconscious. The archetypes emerge synchronistically from this timeless realm, conveying deep unconscious forces. Archetypes, like the Angel, manifest in dreams and life-circumstances, in the mind, through the imagination and the physical world, through synchronicity. As an archetypal symbol, the Angel has a life of its own and a transforming power over humans’ lives. Existing on the threshold between conscious and unconscious, the Angel unites ego with the Self, the individual with the cosmos, and as an ancient messenger, the ancient wisdom with modern sensibility. As a gatekeeper and guide, the Angel not only initiates the individuation process but engenders discourse with the life of the psyche and the soul of the world.
The Angel archetype can manifest as a guide and friend who holds one’s life’s purpose and well being in its interest or, as demon, a threatening image that one must wrestle with at times in one’s life. The Angel teaches, informs and guides an individual through life, sometimes through a small inner voice, other times through a spiritual experience or in dreams. It is the messenger of one’s soul’s purpose, and according to Plato, was sent to help us humans because we forget our purpose and lose our way in the twisting journey of incarnation.
The archetype of the Angel is a special type of messenger that has as its message one’s own unique purpose or nature. The presence of the Angel is like no other archetype.
Anyone who has experienced that clear and steady passion that comes with a deep acceptance of the totality of one’s being, wherein one sees the “rightness” of things-in Jungian terms, perhaps a state of relatedness to the Self–could be said to be witnessing the presence of an angel. (Mitchell, 1994, p. 65)
The Angel is a reconciling symbol since it is capable of bridging the opposites as a mediator and messenger: it is a messenger of the whole. Jung (1943/1983), discussing the image of the Angel waking a sleeper, with a trumpet, equated the unawakened state to unconsciousness and the wakened state to wholeness. He also equates the Angel with Mercurius, the Philosophical Tree, and the “lapis philosophorum, which represents the individuation process” (p. 195). The Angel is a living thing capable of calling one to one’s true nature, in doing so transforming psychic energy from one level to another. Anthony Storr (1983) explained that Jung described the collective unconscious as consisting of mythological motifs, or primordial images to which he gave the name archetypes. These potentials present themselves as both ideas and images–their presence felt as numinous, or having profound spiritual significance. The Angel appears when something needs to be known, similarly, “an archetype appears to surface when something needs to be communicated. The Angel only seems to appear when it has a message to impart” (Godwin, 1990, p. 209) and most commonly it is an invitation, to a process and a journey.
Individuation: The Initiate’s Journey
Entry upon the path of individuation is an initiation, the beginning of a process akin to the hero’s quest portrayed in many mythological traditions. Jung explained that the development of the personality is not a popular endeavor. Historical figures that differ from the conventional are sometimes thought of as crazy, and possessed by a God or Daimon (Storr, 1983). “Individuation, in Jung’s view, is a spiritual journey; and the person embarking upon it, although he might not subscribe to any recognized creed, was nonetheless pursuing a religious quest” (p. 229). One of the terms that the Qabalists’ give this process is “the circumambulation of the sun” (Regardie, 1997, p. 28), the goal being the creation of a solar man or whole person. This “great work”, or “philosopher’s stone” is achieved through the “knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel” (p. 11). As in the individuation process, the goal of this work is to achieve conscious union with the Self through knowledge of the law of one’s being, of one’s place and participation in the cosmos. Through this process the hero’s quest of individuation is a circumambulation of the sun, “the I hidden in the shadows is reborn and reaffirmed” (Evola, 1995, p. 71). In alchemical initiation, the initiate was named “the meridian of the sun” (Jung, 1938/1983a, p. 72), an ancient title of the Angel who bears the secret, in the mysteries of Isis and Osiris, also representing the channel or path of the sun also called the “circuit of individuation” by Jung (1938/1983a, p. 72).
The Angel appears in one’s life to shake one up and to mature the relationship between the ego and the Self along the lines of one’s personal teleos or calling in life. Teleos is Jung’s term for the direction one’s life tends to take. The call of the unconscious, which may be an initial pull towards this purpose, was, according to Jung, primarily the prerogative of the mature in years; however, therapists have since discovered that this opportunity for change can occur at any time since “our lives continually pass through periods of crisis, stages of transition, in which the balance achieved up to then must be destroyed and another one created” (Carotenuto, 1989, p. 125). The appearance of this message from the self is an “invitation to destiny [and]… may also be interpreted as an invitation to death” (p. 122). It embodies “the relationship between man and God; it personifies that relationship and gives a face to one’s destiny” (Mitchell, 1994, p. 65).
The Angel functions much like the self-ego axis. As an archetype it connects the ego with the Self and can be imagined as lying along the Self-ego axis. According to Edward Edinger (1972), the Self-ego axis is necessary for psychic heath. Edinger states that maturation along the ego-self axis occurs at points in the life of an individual when the ego feels alienated from the self. During this dark night of the soul, where the ego is receptive, the Angel may be encountered. The psyche is like a bicycle wheel with many spokes. The Self is the wheel in its totality, yet it manifests to the ego as the center, or hub of one’s existence. The ego travels upon the rim of the wheel circumambulating around the center, thinking itself as separate until it realizes the whole wheel of which it is part. The spokes, which connect the center with the circumference, represent the Angel uniting the opposites of center and circumference, ego and Self. The spokes operate as a third factor which shifts awareness from the circumference, to center and finally to the complete wheel, the whole. Edinger refers to an alternating process of ego-Self separation and Self-ego union as a spiral-like psychological development throughout all life.
One might ask why humans need an angel to talk to the Self and guide them to their own truth. In the myths of Plato it was written that
the descent of the soul is not unnatural, for it is only by proceeding, in a mystical sense, from the ONE that she can become fully self-Gnostic and self-conscious, can come to know her relation to the One and the All, and take her true place in the fulfillment of the Great Purpose. (Shrine of Wisdom, 1984, p. 25)
He explained, however, that in this process one forgets one’s true nature and the soul loses its wings when one falls into one’s body. Ignorant of our true natures, we human beings need a guardian who gives us a message, a call, to a nobler life, where we find our birth from the stars and our place in the Cosmos. It is no wonder we should need a guide to lead us back from darkness to light, since the path back to our true destiny is described by psychologists, philosophers and Qabalist’s alike as a dangerous, serpentine path:
Thus, it is said: that the Daimon of each person, which was allotted to him while living, undertakes to lead each to a certain place…. The journey therefore, is not such as Telephus asserts it to be in Eschylus. For he says that a simple path leads to Hades: but it appears to me that the path is neither simple nor one. For there would be no occasion of leaders, nor could any one ever wander from the right road, if there was but one-way. But now it appears to have many divisions and dubious turnings: and this I conjecture from our holy and legal rites. (Plato, 1976, 149-150)
“Individuation is a process, not a realized goal” (Edinger, 1972, p. 96), therefore each new level of integration must submit to transformation. In the process the split between conscious and unconscious and between subject and object is healed: “the goal of the individuation process is to reach a conscious relation to the Self” (p. 261). Edinger stated that “the dichotomy between outer and inner reality is replaced by a sense of unitary reality,” which can be imagined to coincide with the World Soul. Through experiences with the Self, the individual comes to realize that “there is an inner autonomous inner directiveness, separate from the ego and often antagonistic to it” (p. 97). The ego, having forgotten its true home faces a confrontation with the self, and is invited to death, and perhaps a new life by the Call.
The Angel’s Call
The appearance of the Angel can be an awesome event, and the delivery of its message a life-changing occurrence. Its presence can set one on the road to individuation. Invitation by the Angel generally comes in the wilderness. It is a visitation from the deep truth in one’s psyche and carries the power to create and destroy, for according to the alchemists (Evola, 1995), the Angel carries the waters that kill in order to bring new life. The Angel manifests in two ways important to individuation: as the Call, and as agent of the Self. As the message, the Call, the Angel manifests as those strong impulses and persuasive synchronicities that may be called one’s calling. As the agent of the Self, the Angel carries a numinous message from the self to the ego. “The Angel as the archetypal image of the call initiates individuation” (Edinger, 1983, p. 25) and as an agent of the Self, it serves to transform the ego position, one’s conscious attitude and relationship to the Self, in ways that serve the Self.
An encounter with the Angel is traditionally defined as knowledge of one’s fate or destiny, one’s purpose in life. Aldo Carotenuto (1989) reported that in his work, The Castle, Franz Kafka portrayed the call of the unconscious as that which “obliges all of us to begin the road to individuation” (p. 110). The experience of the Angel as the Call, of being called, is usually described as happening in the wilderness, at a time of ego alienation, a time when the ego is willing to succumb to a wider perspective. “[It] always originates in a tenebrous situation, in one of inner blindness” (p. 110). Edward Edinger (1986) said, “The experience of being called is a crucial feature of individuation. It brings an irrefutable awareness of the transpersonal center of the psyche, the Self and its imperatives” (p. 26).
The message that one’s Angel, the inner voice, carries represents one’s true voice or vocation in life: this is one’s destiny or calling. The small voice within reminds one to be true to one’s Genius, and it manifests whenever a change of direction or some other transformation is necessary to accomplish that purpose. In The Soul’s Code, James Hillman (1996) explained that the Daimon is the acorn seed of destiny that an individual holds, that “each person bears a uniqueness that asked to be lived and that is already present before it can be lived” (p. 6).
The Call can be an ambiguous even dangerous proposition. “To honor the inner authority, the source of the Call, may require the denial of external or projected authority, thus exposing oneself to dangerous reprisal and tremendous inner conflict” (Edinger, 1986, p. 26). This is especially true in a society, such as in the United States, where conformity to an external norm is prized. Yet, there comes a time in everyone’s life when one must question if they are being true to their own nature which is expressed by the inner-voice. “The original meaning of to have a vocation is to be addressed by a voice” (Storr, 1983, p. 200). The call pulls one to integrate one’s inner and outer selves into a comprehensive whole. “The inner voice is the voice of a fuller life, of a wider, more comprehensive consciousness” (pp. 208-9). If one succumbs, one can assimilate the voice, uniting the highest and lowest aspects of one’s psyche.
The appearance of the Angel as Call demands one leave behind the country of one’s birth, one’s most prized beliefs and one’s most intimate relationships. This is reminiscent of Abraham’s journey to Egypt for the sacred magic of Abramelin the mage, and his voluntary isolation, which culminated in “the knowledge and conversation of his Holy Guardian Angel” (Mathers, 1975). It divides a person from friends and family and sends him or her to seek a new life. Because of its daemonic power Jung called the call or inner voice, “a Lucifer” (quoted in Edinger, 1983, p. 26). The Call is not only one’s mission in life, or true vocation, it is also one’s identity.
So the logos-angel appears often bearing a book, or somehow is a book or a letter. The Gnostics names him ‘the Call’, the summons from beyond the spheres which awakens the soul from her profitless slumber, her demonic dream, and beckons her upwards to her true home. (Wilson, 1994, p. 43)
Although the Call is in one’s best interests, the ego does not always experience it this way. As previously mentioned, although the Call serves the life of the Self, it may seem like and even be experienced like death to the Ego. The Angel serves the beauty of the Self, and psychic wholeness and not the imagined attractions of the ego, which may or may not fit into the Self’s wider picture. The Angel is thus experienced as both terrible and beautiful. Terrible to the ego and its own limited perspective which must die to a new one, and beautiful to the self, of whom it is an agent.
Agent of the Self
The Angel is an agent of the Self. The Angel’s Call is the external manifestation of the message it carries for a person until he or she is ready to receive it. As an agent of the self, its presence is transformative. The process of communicating its message alters the relationship between ego and the Self, which serves as the foundation of one’s very psychic structure. The concept of the Angel as agent of the self is supported by Edinger who said that “whenever man consciously encounters a divine agency, which assists commands or directs, we can understand it as an encounter of the ego with the Self” (1972, p. 70).
The Angel serves the wholeness of the Psyche and mobilizes the forces of the psyche, the archetypes, to serve the whole-making process of individuation. Through its intervention the Angel, or perhaps more accurately called the Daimon in this capacity, provides the ego with experiences that are required to produce a state of equilibrium between the Ego and the Self, integrating diverse elements into a state of wholeness. As an archetype its presence can be felt as numinous: “In 1937, Jung described the numinosum as ‘a dynamic agency’ [that] seizes and controls the human subject, who is always rather its victim than its creator” (Dennis, 2001, p. 49). The Angel may be behind humans’ addictions as well as their recoveries, demonic as well as salvific: the Angel possesses a person in order to serve the self and this possession may be moral or immoral based on the needs of the soul. The Angel may take the form any of obsession, good or bad. It may manifest as the voracious study of an art or philosophy, or as an addiction, such as alcoholism, that forces one to ‘surrender’ to a new life.
Like the Self-ego axis, the Angel is important to psychic health, in particular, in the ability for the parts to operate as a whole: “With no commerce between the human and the angelic, there can be no connection to the ground of one’s life” (Moore, 1994, p. 15). Furthermore, it has a message for the ego, thus serving as a communicating link between ego and Self [and Soul], man and God, temporal and eternal” (Mitchell, 1994, p. 65). This equates it with the Self-ego axis, which is important to psychic health and wholeness. “If the ego is able to experience its connection to the Self, a Self-ego axis is formed and the ego thereafter has a more abiding sense of its relation to the very core of the psyche” (Hall, 1983, p. 13).
The Angel is not only an agent of the Self, but also an Agent of change itself. It can be likened to the archetype of Mercury which is unites the opposites within itself and is messenger of the Gods, but is also a chemical substance that can be act as medicine or poison, and is equated with the production of the Philosopher’s stone. As a depth psychologist and Qabalist I equate this stone with the attainment of psychic equilibrium and wholeness, which occurs through self-knowledge and is attained by following a guide, the Angel. The nature of this living stone is the consciously lived life of an individuated person, who, thanks to the Angel, has achieved an awakened relationship to the Self.
As an agent of the Self, the Angel is a natural guide through the individuation process since it has knowledge of the pattern of wholeness, which manifests as the teleos, or purpose, behind one’s life. When this knowledge becomes related to a person, the process known as knowledge and conversation occurs and wisdom is birthed, the stone might be produced. The stone is the Angel’s food. The Angel helps us to carry this stone, the weight of one’s destiny and the prima materia from which the perfected work is forged.
Carl G. Jung connects his work with the Genius-Angel when he equates the development of the personality with the attainment of the “Fidelity of One’s being” (as quoted in Storr, 1983, p. 197). The truth of humans’ nature, the goal of the individuation process, is related to the ancient god Fides, one of the many ancient images of the Genius (p. 197). As a messenger, and agent of the gods, the Genius or Angel bridges the gap between conscious and unconscious, resting at the place of potential for change and revelation, the Self-ego axis. As agent of the Self, the Angel bridges one’s potential with one’s actual place in the world and beckons one to the threshold of self-knowledge and revelation: “From man and gnosis is born the tree, which they also call…the Angel” (Jung, 1943/1983, pp. 338-339).
The Angel’s Call is not only a message from the self, but the appearance of the Angel also brings an invitation into a process that can transform the conscious relationship with the subconscious thereby changing one’s life completely. Jungian theorists call this potentially transformative experience the transcendent function. The transcendent function arises from the union of conscious and unconscious attitudes and can occur through the presence of a reconciling symbol, such as the Angel. When the transcendent function manifests, a third thing is birthed, signified by a reconciling symbol, the Angel, This can create a psychological shift in attitude and cause profound transformation in a person’s life. A. Hall (1983) further clarifies the transcendent function, and its relationship to the Angel: “The ability of the objective psyche to form reconciling symbols is called the transcendent function because it can transcend the conscious tension of the opposites” (p. 13).
Robert Romanyshyn (1994b) mentions that the Angel brings the invitation at the shipwrecks in one’s life and that this invitation is an opportunity for transformation. This invitation occurs at times when the ego is willing to relinquish its grip on reality and unconscious contents can break through in the service of what Jung calls the Self, the psychic totality of one’s being. The transcendent function unites the conscious and unconscious in ways that affect a psychological shift in attitude:
The tendencies of the conscious and the unconscious are the two factors that together make up the transcendent function. It is called “transcendent” because it makes the transition from one attitude to another organically possible, without loss of the unconscious. (Jung, 1916/1969, p. 279)
The union of ego and self is affected by a change in the nature and relationship of the ego to the self. The reconciliation and transformation of the ego and self is also extended to the Self and the cosmos. Knowledge and conversation of the Angel can produce the transcendent function and thus is an invitation to union and integration of the message, the calling or logos that is carried by the Angel.
The Angel is a reconciling symbol, aiding the dialogue between conscious and unconscious, the dayworld of the ego and the nighttime of the soul. “When we unite with the Daimonic image we allow the image to transform, to thoroughly–alchemically–alter our sense of self” (Dennis, 2001, p. 13). As guide along the twisting journey, that the Qabalist’s call “the serpent’s path” (Gilliam, 2000, p. 7) the Angel is also the serpent of the Garden of Eden that tempts one, and the messiah who redeems one, alternately offering obstacles and removing them in the service to the Self. This is the path to self-knowledge, or wisdom through transformation and is kin to the Jungian concept of individuation.
Indications of the Angel can be seen as a reconciling symbol when it is represented as a pair such as the pair of cherubim guarding the mercy seat upon the Ark of the Covenant (Edinger, 1986). This represents the numinosum that exists between two opposites in balance, and which provides an opportunity for transformation to a new level of consciousness. In the Hermetic Corpus, it is written,
The names of the Light God and Dark God thus change, but what does not change is the name of the Arbiter or Mediator, “whose duty it was to prevent either God from gaining a decisive victory and from destroying one another.” This Balancer was Thoth, who had to keep the opposites in equilibrium. (Mead, 1992, p. 40)
Robert Romanyshyn (1994b) depicted the Angel as reconciling symbol saying, “The Angel is as deeply below us, as it is above.” He stated, “Angel and worm, they are all the same…. [and] the Serpent is the Messiah”. Elsewhere Romanyshyn (1994a) said that the Angel is “simultaneously, the being who validates our highest but dimmest aspirations and who reminds us of the distance between what we are and would become” (p. 31). These sentiments are reflected in the holy books of the Qabalistic, or magical tradition, particularly in Liber Tzaddi (Crowley, 1987) where the Angel is met as a “glittering Image in the place ever golden” (p. 97) and as “Blind Creature of the Slime” (p. 97), and is proclaimed to be “beyond Wisdom and Folly” (p. 97), calling us humans to unite ourselves with both angelic and daemonic aspects, thus “equilibrium (or wholeness) shall become perfect” (p. 98).
Whether it is called Agathodaimones, the Daimon, Genius, or simply the Angel, it is the call to a new life, and to death of an old, as agent of the self, a beautiful and a terrible presence, and finally, herald of the opportunity to transform ourselves into whole beings. This invitation however, is simply a beginning to a process with which many of us wrestle. The opportunity for a new life means leaving old habit patterns behind and joining the Angel in a process that I call “Wrestling the Angel”.
Wrestling the Angel
People wrestle with the Angel when they wrestle with the most crucial issues in life. The same things that lead people to therapy, lead them to seek the hidden message of the Angel. This is a response to the call and to one’s of which this paper spoke previously. In support of this Rilke (1981) said that when we wrestled with the angel, and ultimately is beaten it is as if one is “strengthened…from that harsh hand, that kneaded him as if to change his shape (p. 107). Not only does the Angel, with which we wrestle, bend us to fit our true shape, it also can be a powerful Ally and friend. As agent of the Self, the Angel, not only has the power to transform us powerfully but also to aid us in the work of transformation.
Relevance to Counseling Psychology
The Angel can be a powerful ally in the aim of self-knowledge, whether pursued alone or in the presence of a therapist. Since the Angel is a companion who carries the true word of one’s destiny and is also an agent of change, capable of transforming one’s life, it makes sense that it would be wise to work with it. James Hillman suggested that
we should go to itself to find out what it wants, independent of patient’s reporting, and the doctor’s diagnosing…. The tradition of speaking directly with the soul goes back even further: to the world-weary man in Egypt talking with his Ba, to Socrates with Diotima, and then later there is Boethius in prison, consoled by the voice of philosophy, Poliphilo, among others, in the Renaissance, who converses with his Polia, until finally in our own time the therapeutic method of active imagination. (1993, p. 86)
Talking to the Angel and acknowledging its presence opens one’s mind to the world of the invisibles, of the living symbols that reside in the psyche. The Angel can talk to one in dreams, in waking fantasies and through synchronicity. One can talk back, inviting its message, or communicating one’s own concerns as one negotiates what message it holds. By courting the Angel, whether through poetry, invocation, or artistic expression, one invites its transforming power and aid which can awaken the imagination, bringing depth and meaning to life, tending Soul. It also leads to a way of living life mythologically, which Hillman (1991) calls, “the middle realm … [which] carries one into conversational familiarity with the cosmos one inhabits” (p. 58).
For the Sake of Tending World Soul.
The Angel belongs to the world of the psyche, which is the world of the soul and the imagination. When we as therapists encounter and invite the Angel in our psychological work, individually or with clients, we are helping to tend the World Soul. The Word Soul points to the interior life that is met in imagination, dreams, and nightmares. The depth psychologists, like the ancients, understood the importance of the soul’s needs and unlike modern life found ways to feed and revere it. Thus, work with the Angel, who connects both worlds as herald and messenger, is part of regeneration of the soul in psychology and world.
In modern society, many people feel disconnected from their sense of myth and meaning. The Angel can be a guide to the symbolic life, which, although not obviously important to the dayworld of the ego, is crucial to psychological well being. “The symbolic life is a perquisite for psychic health” (Edinger, 1972, p. 117).
It is evident that a sense of mystery and the exploration of personal myth are important in life and that it is missing in modern life. The absence of myth and meaning in modern life results in gluttonous consumerism, alcoholism, and drug addiction and in booming New Age and Self Help businesses. People look outside themselves for something that will give them a sense of purpose. Ultimately it is confrontation with one’s own Angel that will fulfill this need for each individual. It is ultimately one’s own Genius, the Angel in one’s heart that will open the eyes of the soul and make the imagination soar in a way that honors one’s individual nature. Carl Jung explained the necessity for mystery and the unknown:
It is important to have a secret, a premonition of things unknown. It fills life with something impersonal, a numinosum. A man who has never experienced that has missed something important…. The unexpected and incredible belong in this world. Only then is life whole. (1989, p. 356)
Other depth psychologists agree along these lines. Paco Mitchell stated,
To carry an awareness of this level of psychic reality and to respond to it in some appropriate manner may well be a crucial task, not only for the fate of the individual but possibly at collective levels of human life as well. Blake calls it “winged life.” Our lives may well depend on its well-being. (quoted in Mitchell, 1994, p. 67)
The mythic imagination provides another mode of perception, giving life and depth to the images of the unconscious. Hillman said that “our life in soul is a life in imagination” (1993, p. 56).
In addition to awakening to tending the soul, the Angel can assist in the work of negotiating with the unconscious and its inhabitants. Through the Angel as the mediator to the unconscious world, one can meet the other archetypes and dialogue with them. This is beneficial because “in the work of individuation the key is to affect a conscious relationship with the psyche not to be simply at its mercy” (Young-Eisendrath, 1997, p. 94). The Angel is a reconciling symbol with whose coin one can buy passage into the inner realm. The Angel is a potent guide, manifesting in dayworld and night world, in dreams, visions and synchronicity.
The Angel and My Clients
The Angel may be courted in many ways, on many levels, ultimately guided by the Angel itself. The three following accounts show how the Angel has manifested in my life and practice as a counseling psychologist.
Suzanne, a 40-year-old homeless woman, was referred to me by the agency where I had my internship. She was diagnosed with double-depression and borderline personality disorder. After about 8 weeks into her therapy, to facilitate the bonding process I disclosed about my attendance at graduate school. As we discussed my work, Suzanne asked about my thesis. I mentioned that it was on The Angel and how it manifested in different ways through life. Suzanne was delighted, and more excited about the concept of the Angel than I would have imagined! Weeks later, I was even more surprised when Susan presented me with Angel Tunes, a CD of rock songs featuring the concept of the Angel (see Appendix A on pp. 79-80). I was amazed! Through the Angel, Suzanne gave herself and me a gift: she became possessed with a desire to produce a creative piece that helped pull her out of a deep depression and facilitated our work together. The process of sharing about the Angel and her response to the invitation that it represented (the CD) signified a healing connection with the Angel, lifting her depression and reinforcing a valuable self-object exchange between client and therapist.
Audrey–The Inner Voice.
Audrey, a middle-aged actress, came to me for help in leaving a relationship with an abusive boyfriend. She brought the Angel into my office several times before I even noticed. After a couple months of therapy, Audrey came to trust me enough to mention her inner voice whom she consulted for advice often. I encouraged her to dialogue with this voice and work with it in meditation every day since it seemed to be a gateway into her intuition. We continued to work for several months before I realized the identity of her “inner friend.” This occurred suddenly when she was relating an especially vivid dream to me. The Angel came in the appearance of a dolphin, a common psychopompos, and spoke with the authority of her inner voice. When she described the figure and the scene, almost without thinking I blurted out, “That is your Angel!” After Audrey agreed, she excitedly told me the story of her inner voice, and Angel who she learned about in Catholic School and used to open doors for.
My Experiences of The Angel
My Angel appeared to me through a series of synchronicities, at a crucial point in my life, and I can honestly say it changed the direction of my life, and still does to this day. When I was 18, I was kicked out of my parents’ house for lying to them and dropping out of college. Soon thereafter, I found myself homeless, involved with drugs and drug dealers, and facing a possible jail sentence. Fortunately, fate was to play a hand and my Angel came to save me from the road that I had chosen. Through the fateful intervention of a friend, my parents were called, and I was rescued from jail. As part of the condition for my release, I had to stay with a parent, and since my mom and stepfather were on their way to Europe, it was decided that I should stay with my biological father, who I hadn’t seen in 11 years. Through my reunion with my father I was introduced to a set of workshops that turned my worldview and self-image upside down. These workshops helped me examine my life, my beliefs, and my self-image, and achieve cathartic, life-changing breakthroughs. As a result of these experiences I had a spiritual experience and saw a white light surrounding each of the individuals in the workshop. I soon discovered that this experience was unique to me, and since have come to understand this as a gift from my Angel. Through this experience I was led to my first spiritual teacher, a psychic, who taught me to listen and feel the presence of my ethereal guide. Since then, my Angel has manifested to me in many different ways. Sometimes I feel that entities, whom I sometimes call spirit guides, are sent to me by my Angel, sometimes I feel a small tap on the shoulder, other times I even see colored lights.
Today I work with my Angel in many ways. In meditation and contemplation, and poetic invocation. The Angel has developed from an external guide to an aspect of my own true genius as a man. It has moved from an vague intuition, to my own voice through my work with this paper, as I attain my own Knowledge and Conversation. Every time I write about the Angel and explore its images, I am cultivating the daimonic in my life, becoming possessed by its presence. The more I work with the Angel the more clearly and deeply my life path and process unfolds.
When one contemplates the Angel, one invites its presence into one’s life, and apprehends the messages it conveys from the Self. The dynamic powers of the unconscious, which are the powers of regeneration, are then welcomed. By initiating work on this thesis, I began a new relationship to my own Angel and I invite my readers to do the same. Although I have explored many facets of the Angel, there are many dimensions undiscovered. Although I have pointed to possible reasons for the Angel’s presence and ways in which it may function, the ultimate answer as to what is the Angel and its message, how it might possess one and what it might demand of one, is a personal discovery.
This chapter explored the Angel as an archetype crucial to psychic life and the great work known as the journey of individuation. I have discovered that the Angel, as the Call, invites one on the road to self-discovery, and as the Call invites one to one’s destiny. Knowledge and conversation is the process of dialogue with the Angel, a process that is transformative. It is an archetypal, universal phenomenon that has unique implications for the collective and individual consciousness; it relates the message of one’s right relationship to the Self and the universe, initiating one into a creative relationship with a living cosmos.
Through my work with the Angel, I have found that both the great work of the Hermetic Qabalah and the great work of depth psychology, called individuation, are similar processes. The Angel is a potent guide no matter what this process is called. I have discovered that the Angel carries great depth and wisdom, not only individually, but also collectively, for psychology and the world as well. The Call of the Angel can be likened to an invitation to one’s destiny: the teleos, meaning or purpose behind existence. This initiation is the first step upon the journey of what Jung calls individuation and the ancients’ termed the circumambulation of the sun. The spiral journey of the Self, guided by the Angel, is the pursuit for the beautiful, the harmony of the wholeness of one’s own true will and nature.
I found that the Angel is a constant companion on this journey in life and can sometimes appear to challenge one. The appearance of the Angel comes at midlife, or at some other critical time, when one might say as the Biblical Job did, “My soul is weary of its troubles, I lament like a drunken man in my affliction” (Job 6:7,). This is the “Dark Wood” where Dante, in his Inferno, meets Virgil his guide sent by his Angel Beatrice. This invitation, like the transcendent function of Jungian theory, offers the potential of transformation. Encounters with the Angel naturally challenge one’s ideas about meaning and can prompt one in the endeavor of meaning-making as well as self-change. Individuation, said Edinger (1972), is a way of living out life. Accepting one’s self, one learns to accept the will of god, and become who one is most capable of being.
Knowledge and conversation of the Angel means accepting the invitation to dialogue with the message from the Self and embrace the opportunity of transformation. It represents a conscious relationship to the Angel, the cosmos and ourselves and transforms this into a conscious unity. Ingesting the Angel transforms one into a way of living, of being in the world called apocosmosis or union with the cosmos, which I experience as participating in a creating universe as an awake and aware part of it, like a star in a body of stars, each united, yet individual and unique, participating in an interconnected organic whole. This realization of the capacity to participate in creation brings wings back to the soul, power to the imagination, and depth to life. This experience was expressed poetically by Plato:
When therefore she is perfect and winged, she soars to the heights and governs the whole cosmos but when she loses her wings; she is borne downward until she is brought up against something solid, in which she dwells taking an earthly body. (Shrine of Wisdom, 1984, p. 52)
In the end, the important thing is how one responds to the invitation when it comes. Does one wrestle with it, or does one accept one’s own destiny? Is one prepared for the Angel and the change it heralds? Such questions are relevant to one’s own response to the still small voice that may manifest as the invitation.
CHAPTER IV CONCLUSION
Work with the Angel is important to us individually and collectively, as depth psychologists and lay persons alike. The Call of the Angel is more than just the call of our personal destinies: it is a call to a deeper sense of meaning and person, of identity and relationship to our innermost selves and the Cosmos in which we live. It is not only the personal calling of the individual but also the call of the world soul to remember the whole psyche, not just the part that modern technology and the rational mind can understand.
When the Angel appears it calls us to awake to a new vision and a new life. When our Gabriel, our angel of revelation, blows his horn, he reveals our infinite nature inscribed within the depths of our souls and we are blown away. If we accept this invitation to death we may be resurrected, and discover a way of being in the world that transcends old limited perspectives and embraces our full potential. The Angel as a mediator reconciles opposites and unites things. It not only unites us to our own calling, the ego to the self, but also the individual unconscious to the collective, personal soul to world soul. Furthermore, the Angel unites the world of the ancients and the imagination to our modern world of the intellect.
This work has also been my response to my own calling to realize my own Angel, discover my own voice as a writer, to unite the works of the Hermetic Qabalah and the alchemists with that of depth psychology, and to serve the Self by amplifying the symbol of the Holy Guardian Angel. This study of the Angel originated in my own experiences with the Hermetic Qabalah, and out of my realizations that the work of the Qabalists and the depth psychologists had many similarities worth studying. Hermetic Qabalah is worthy of study because, like depth psychology, it communicates with the unconscious through a symbolic language. Hermetic Qabalah uses the vehicles of ritual, metaphor, and myth to achieve knowledge and conversation of the Angel.
The origins of the Hermetic Qabalah, and of the Holy Guardian Angel, which combined many previous faces of this archetype, rest in the syncretism of Alexandria, Egypt, during the first – third centuries A.D. In current practice the candidate is guided through a graded set of initiations to create equilibrium in the psyche. In this sacred space the Angel is invoked through methods that are ultimately unique to each individual, although ritual invocation is often used as a starting point. All of these processes are designed to guide an initiate through a journey not unlike individuation where the ego is reborn into a state of conscious cooperation with the Self.
In my research, I discovered that that the Angel’s Call is consistent across civilizations and its message is similar to many different types of people. The Angel appears as a guardian spirit, who can also be a personal guide and inner voice. The Angel’s presence marks a time of transformation and it is experienced as both awesome and welcoming. Whether the Angel is engaged with a poet, magician, or psychologist, whether it is called Genius, Angel or Daimon, it awakens us to a journey into the heart of who we are, to our own true nature, and challenges us to meet our destiny.
The Angel’s Message
The Angel is a messenger and carries an important message that has crucial importance to our souls. It carries us to her purpose, the reason for being in life, which manifests as what Jung calls the teleos, a forward driving motion that moves to some hidden goal. The Angel also acts to draw us along this path that the soul has chosen and to initiate us into wakefulness at times along the way. In this way, I imagine the Angel manifests as the Call, performing its work as agent of the Self, offering the invitation to transformation called Knowledge and Conversation which leads to the possibilities of individuation, finding one’s place in the universe.
The Angel is a persistent image that manifests across many traditions in many forms because it is an archetype and as such, belongs to the collective unconscious, which unites all psychic life. The Angel as an archetype is a numinosum, and a reconciling symbol that carries the potential to further us along the path of becoming a person, a path that Jung calls individuation. The literature review, showed that the Angel is an ancient symbol relating to a numinous aspect of the Self that unites the ego with the Self or the individual with God. The research found that the Angel aids in the development of the personality, and that the ancients and Jung had similar ideas.
The individuation process that constitutes the development of the personality is similar to the ancients called the circumambulation of the Sun. It is a spiritual journey that is enabled through the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, culminating the manifestation of a particular individual’s destiny, the conscious participation in the continual creation of the universe. In the language of the Qabalah, it is called becoming a solar man, or sovereign (Regardie, 1997).
The Angel is an important guide on an arduous journey. The Angel, like the Kerux in the Greek mysteries at Eleusis, holds the lamp lit by the self’s hidden flame and guides us on our way. Qabalists, ancient philosophers, and depth psychologists alike describe the path to individuation as difficult and treacherous. They all agree that we need a guide through this journey through which we are challenged to reconcile the opposites and unite them in the service of self-knowledge through personal experience. Like Hermes, the Angel knows the way through the paradoxical nature of the psyche to the riddle of Self.
Whether it is a living spiritual being, or simply a metaphor for a function of the Self-ego axis, the Angel is real. All symbols, as Jung discovered, have life in the depths of the psyche and are autonomous and real. The Angel is a beautiful and terrible friend on the path to becoming a whole person, an intelligence that can guide and challenge us. Since the Angel connects the ego with the Self and carries our own souls’ purpose, it also connects us with our destinies, offering us the challenge of negotiating our personal egoistic concerns with the Self’s dictates.
I have found much support for my thesis that the Angel is an archetype important to the individuation process, and as a mediator between the ego and the Self, crucial to the life of the Psyche. Even so, I have found much more that cannot be explained in this small paper, and much more that may not be explained in words as all. The Angel is a mystery coming from a dimension that the depth psychologists call the soul, the inner world of the psyche that grows through reflection, interiorizing our life by imagination and dialoguing with the contents within. This soul is connected to the World Soul, and so the Angel also connects us all, soul to soul. This work is for the sake of bringing the soul back to psychology and in keeping with Pacifica’s motto, Colendae Gratia Animae Mundi (For the sake of tending World-Soul).
In meeting the Angel, we tend the soul because the Angel and our dialogue with it stimulate the imagination and awaken the psychic life within. Thomas Moore (1994) said to talk to the Angel, as in any soul work, we must “give up rationalization and do what the painters do ‘trace the scene’, amplify the setting and the dialogue, and participate poetically in annunciation” (p. 21). Robert Sardello (1994) suggested, “From a thinking of the heart, it is possible to say more concerning the presence of the guardian angel” (p. 247). The Qabalist’s and Hermeticists invoked the Angel often, enflamed themselves in beautiful praise, and finally, the poets courted its beauty, and became channels of its celestial realm.
When we encounter and invite the Angel in our psychological work we invite the imaginative, the trans-rational, even the irrational into the counseling room. We invite an extra dimension of the psyche into our work. The Angel points to this realm, comes from this realm, and can be a guide to it. The soul, together with the imagination, has the power to bring greater depth and meaning to the world. In our modern society many people feel disconnected from their sense of myth and meaning. Work with the Angel can help this process and through it help to tend the world soul.
It is my belief, along with that of James Hillman (1993), that we must cultivate soul in our lives and in the life our society and culture. In an era where the ego and intellect threaten to dominate as science applies its powers unreflectively, we may find ourselves faced with the threat of extinction. In the myths of The Phaedo and The Gorgias it is written, “He who neglects his soul is in terrible danger” (Shrine of Wisdom, 1984, p. 39). We need the Angel, for when we study such an archetype we serve the soul, connecting ourselves to the whole psyche, giving us the opportunity to regain our balance and let the whole world speak.
When we invite the Angel, we awaken the imagination, the eyes of the soul, and participate in what the Hermeticists call “The winged life.” We accept the psychopomp who may be revealed as Hermes Trismesgistus, offering deep wisdom that transcends modern sensibilities and personal experience. We might be led into a life moist with depth and meaning, participating in a universe filled with depth and meaning, if only we let the soul and the imagination take its place in our life.
The Angel in Counseling Psychology: A Powerful Ally
The Angel is a powerful ally for the field of depth psychology and the attainment of self-knowledge and transformation. The Angel is a guide and host to the hidden realm of invisibles who live in the life of the psyche, and carries the key to the mysteries of humans’ existence. As messenger of the Self it is a mediator to one’s true nature. As agent of that Self it carries a potential for transformation. As a reconciling symbol its presence represents the goal of analytic work, to initiate the process of individuation in which the transcendent function may make its presence known. In these, and countless other ways, the Angel is indeed a powerful ally in developing a personality, to create the perfected solar man. Certainly, courtship with this powerful guide is useful to the art of counseling psychology.
The Angel can be met in dreams, fantasy and ceremonial invocations. The Angel can be told that we know it is there, and that we are ready to listen. Our clients or simply those seeking self-knowledge might meet the Angel with a variety of techniques: active imagination, dreams analysis, ceremonial magic, guided visualizations and mediations. A personal relationship can be nurtured with this powerful ally and teacher that will help quicken the process of Individuation and creative exploration of our potential.
In many ways the Angel may represent a powerful agent of change and an ally in therapeutic work. In therapy, the Angel may manifest as the reconciling symbol between the patient’s conscious and unconscious as well as between the patient and therapist. The Angel can provide clarity and guide the process by providing a face to one’s destiny. It can provide a voice to the unknown depths of the subconscious that are explored in the analytical process. The Angel is also a messenger of the gods, and can help affect a dialogue with the invisible host that live in the psyche.
The Angel is a beneficial ally to therapy for another reason. As an herald from the ancient past, and inhabitant of the psyche, it is an initiator into the world of imagination, awakening the eyes of the soul into the winged life that leads to wholeness. The Angel helps us to keep our balance and avoid an egocentric psychology, which neglects the Self, or the weakness of cognitive behavioral techniques that lack imagination and ignore Soul. The Angel preserves a sense of depth and mystery that challenges us to be our wholes selves, not as centers of our own universe, as the ego would like, but as stars within the body of the World Soul, each a center complete only in its relationship to the whole and service to the soul.
Both Carl G. Jung (1989) and Joseph Campbell (1988) recognized that in order to become whole persons and a whole society we must recover a sense of personal meaning and purpose in life collectively and individually. Jung explained this necessity for mystery and the unknown:
It is important to have a secret, a premonition of things unknown. It fills life with something impersonal, a numinosum. A man who has never experienced that has missed something important…. The unexpected and incredible belong in this world. Only then is life whole. (1989, p. 356)
With all of the false certainty of modern science and the external illusions of the ego’s control over nature, we are ill at ease with the unknown and the unknowable; consequently, the world of myth and of magic and of the religious life is neglected. James Hillman (1993) stated that
to carry an awareness of this level of psychic reality and to respond to it in some appropriate manner may well be a crucial task, not only for the fate of the individual but possibly at collective levels of human life as well….[and that] our life in soul is a life in imagination. (p. 56)
Future Avenues of Research
This exploration of the Angel archetype is the first of several works planned to explore the Holy Guardian Angel of the Hermetic Qabalah, and the technology involved in meeting and holding conversation with the Angel. A more expansive cross-cultural study of the Angel is certainly warranted. Another work that I would enjoy engaging in would be a more detailed study of the ritual and process of knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, and how this operates to reorder consciousness along the lines of the transcendent function.
The work with the Angel is also a beginning towards a wider vision: talking about ancient mystery traditions in the language of depth psychology, making its transformative power more readily accessible to modern humankind while revering its creative and imaginative nature. The language of depth psychology, including the analytical psychology of Jung and the archetypal psychology of Hillman, is perfect for this purpose since it uses symbolic language to convey psychological facts. A work that I would like to perform one day would be titled, “The Hierogamos and the Transcendent Function” which would analyze ritual art and technology in psychological and cross-cultural terms. I hope that such works might help ensoul the world, just as psychologists and theoreticians such as Jung and Hillman have sought to do. It is my hope that works such as these might help to further the work of uniting these worlds and bring humanity to its full potential, which I believe must come from honoring both ancient and modern sensibilities.
To Conclude: A Living Mystery
The Angel is a living mystery that connects us to the mystery of our deepest innermost selves. It is a bridge to that unknown world within and the voice of the Self to the world without. It is the messenger and the message, agent of the Self, and alchemical agent. The symbol of the Angel is a mysterious one, and as such, it holds a paradox, and is ambiguous like the psyche from which it comes. Like all symbols, it points to something unknown, a phenomena that can never be completely revealed except within one’s own experience (see Figure 10 on page 90). “The angel also protects the mystery, [and] even as he reveals, he conceals” (Moore, 1994, p. 26). This thesis is a hermeneutic investigation into an ambiguous, mysterious figure. The ego needs interpretation to get a handle on an unknown quantity, a symbol like the Angel, or metaphor like Knowledge and Conversation, to help it grasp what is just beyond its reach.
I realize how much is left unsaid: the Angel is still a deep mystery with many more dimensions remaining unexplored. The Angel, after all, is a mystery that when communicated can perhaps only be partially revealed. This mystery, belonging to two worlds, that of the inner and the outer, may be united, and realized, in one’s own personal relationship to the Angel. In responding to the Angel, one chooses to heed a message from the Self, an imperative to begin a journey that honors the whole individual one is intended to be, including both strengths and weaknesses, that which the ego sees as perfect and flawed, and to go into the process that produces one’s individual Philosophers’ Stone, the Angel’s food, one’s own individuated nature. The Call of the Angel is a call to the truth, in one’s soul, of one’s true will and purpose, and an invitation to participate and help create that destiny.
As I close this work, I want to emphasize how passionately I believe it may serve the work of the Soul, and the great work of the ancient and modern psychologists. I see that this world is suffering, reacting to past abuses of religious authority by throwing out all imaginative speculation in the name of superstition, throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Modern humankind has lost its soul, preferring the rational mind and positivistic science to exclusion of the intuitive, allegorical world of the ancients. This work, like that of depth psychology, will not only to help heal this split in individuals, making them whole, but to also tend to the wholeness of the World Soul.
APPENDIX A ANGEL TUNES
4 page index of CD my client Suzanne made for me.
APPENDIX B SOME IMAGES OF THE ANGEL THROUGHOUT THE AGES
Figure 1 –Hermes Trismegistus and the creative fire that unite the polarities.
Figure 2 – Agathosdaimones from Egyptian Stele.
Figure 3 – Winged Artemis.
Figure 4 – The Weighing of the Heart.
Figure 5 – Phane’s birth of the world egg.
Figure 6 – Sirene bird of heaven.
Figure 7 – Tobias and the Archangel Raphael returning with the fish.
Figure 8 – Antique Austrian Holy Card
Figure 9 – Angels appearing to king in a dream.
Figure 10 – Soulcards.
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The Angel has led my life for the last 18 years, ever since it introduced itself to me, in the form of a vision. I reside in Culver City, Southern California where I practice Eastern Mystical systems as well as the Hermetic Qabalah in the quest for self-discovery, healing, and the re-enlivenment of both psychology and the Western Mystery Tradition.
My life has led me in many directions. In 1986, I learned to read tarot cards, developed my clairvoyance, and was ordained as a minister in The Aquarian Fellowship, a metaphysical non-denominational church; soon thereafter, I was introduced to the Hermetic Qabalah and the concept of “The Holy Guardian Angel,” which has become my central focus ever since.
I entered Pacifica Graduate Institute after finding myself at my own shipwreck in life. I was unhappy with my career as a computer technician, divorced, depressed, and on the verge of destroying myself with alcohol. I found that a split needed to be mended and I decided to go back to school to become a depth psychologist so that I could serve my true vocation.
These formative experiences, my growing interest in Western Esotericism and its parallels with the tradition of depth psychology led me to Pacifica Graduate Institute and this work. I intend to become a practicing therapist using my wide range of knowledge and talents as a Hermetic Qabalist, and psychologist to help others find meaning and purpose in their lives in a creative and soulful way.