Archangels 101

In their true form, Archangels are beings of unimaginably vast power and blinding, brilliant light. They are the pinnacles of the angelic hierarchy. When you include them in prayers or meditations when you carry their images with you or put them on your altar, you are aligning yourself with the principal forces of creation.

Like all angels, Archangels have always been pure energy, have never actually lived a life in physical bodies, but can project themselves into forms which allow them to interact with humankind. Unlike Guardian Angels, who are focused on individuals, or Landscape Angels and Devas, who care for the essential forms that are expressed in nature, Archangels primarily watch over and influence trends or events which will have global or universal impact.

Early spiritual, religious and magical traditions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam, in trying to define the meaning and powers of Archangels, usually depicted them as embodying and expressing the essential powers of the universe. Later, as the nature of God became more defined in formal religions, so did the roles, qualities and personalities assigned to Archangels, who became seen as God’s messengers and holy representatives.

Archangels and tarot
The 4 most commonly recognized Archangels are Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael even appear in the earliest surviving Tarot cards, which probably first appeared in the 1400s. In Islam, Uriel is replaced by Azrael, who is responsible for parting the soul from the body. The four primary Archangels have been aligned with seasons, the “building blocks of matter” (earth/body, air/mind, fire/spirit and water/emotions), and the four directions. In the Hebrew spiritual mysteries, 10 Archangels are expressed in the Kabbalah as stations along the paths of the Tree of Life.

However, modern Western spiritual traditions most often recognize 7 Archangels and align them with the “Seven Rays,” or 7 types of light-substance, an esoteric concept that has been around in both Western culture and India since at least the 6th century B.C.. From this body of spiritual wisdom, Archangels also became associated with the original 7 known planets, and with each of the 7 charkas.

Here are the most commonly recognized Archangels:

Michael (Protector): Probably the best known of the Archangels, Michael is usually depicted as a warrior, complete with sword and shield. He is associated with the sun and the element of fire, which symbolizes spiritual energy. Michael appears in the Tarot as the angel who is mixing a transformational brew in the temperance card, number XIV.

Gabriel (Messenger): Many people remember Gabriel as the angel who visited Mary to announce Jesus’ coming. He also revealed the Koran to Muhammed. He appears at the top of the Judgment card in the Tarot, number XX, on Judgment Day, resurrecting humankind with his trumpet, which blasts forth the energies of the 7 rays. He is associated with the moon.

Raphael (Healer): Associated with the element of air, or intellect, Raphael appears on the lovers card in the Tarot, number VI. He watches over the lovers in their original task, that of choosing a sacred or mundane life path. Raphael is associated with the planet Mercury and with the experience of joy, and it is he who is most often called upon for healing.

Uriel or Ariel (Change): His name means “Fire of God,” and he most often appears in order to intercede in crisis situations full of fear and strife. He can influence the process of change and upheaval so that it results in healing and transformation. He is associated with the planet Uranus, ruler of the Aquarian Age.

Metatron (Divine Intellect): Although associated with Earth, Metatron’s signature is that of penetrating intellect and vast knowledge. He is a great teacher, a kind of celestial high priest, and is credited with providing humanity with the 22 letters of the Hebrew sacred alphabet, and the Tree of Life (Kabbalah). The complex geometry of Metatron’s Cube is an apt symbol for him, and he is placed at the top of the Tree of Life.

Sandalphon (Wisdom): The other Earth-associated Archangel, Sandalphon is believed to have the most feminine energy of the Archangels. Often paired with Metatron, Sandalphon sits opposite him at the base of the Tree of Life, the point representing the place of wisdom achieved by bringing spiritual insight into physical form through life experience.

For all their power, Archangels are still as close and immediate as your innermost thoughts and dreams. Why not invite them to bless this holiday season for you, for your family and friends, and for your global family?

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