All three major religions of the Western world, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, as well as virtually all of the world’s other systems of religious belief, include celestials in their cosmologies.
Their scriptures all contain references to angelic interventions. Angels, like people, belong to families or clans. Many names have been given to them, but in the opinion of a number of angel historians, the most familiar can be arranged in three categories, or spheres, starting at the top with those closest to God, and moving down to those who are connected to the physical world.
The word ‘angel’ itself is used both as a generic term to refer to all heavenly beings, and as a specific term to refer to the members of the third sphere, those closest to the physical. So, too, the word ‘archangel’ is often used as a generic term to refer to all the high orders of heavenly beings, although they are in fact but one of the higher orders.
While it looks like there is a higher and lower echelon, it’s more accurate to visualize all these orders in a great circle, with the “highest” and the “lowest” holding hands. For example, seraphim, who appear to be closest to the Creator, also serve the God in us.
In the New Testament celestial beings are grouped into seven ranks: angels, archangels, principalities, powers, virtues, dominions, and thrones.
Plus, the Old Testament adds cherubim and seraphim, which with the other seven ranks, comprise the nine choirs of angels in later Christian theology; although the number has generally been fixed at seven.
The Spiritual Hierarchy
The 9 orders of angelic beings (1 being the highest order)
The First Sphere — angels who serve as heavenly counselors
1 – SERAPHIM
2 – CHERUBIM
3 – THRONES
The Second Sphere — angels who work as heavenly governors
4 – DOMINIONS
5 – VIRTUES
6 – POWERS
The Third Sphere — angels who function as heavenly messengers
7 – PRINCIPALITIES
8 – ARCHANGELS
The Nine Orders Explained
The highest order of the highest hierarchy are the seraphim, the celestial beings said to surround the throne of God, singing the music of the spheres, and regulating the movement of the heavens as it emanates from God.
Beyond the thrones are the cherubim. They are the guardians of light, and of the stars. Remote from our plane of reality, still their light touches our lives, the divine light that they filter down from Heaven.
Lucifer (Satan/Devil) is known as the ‘angel of light, whom God’s light shown through’ – before his ‘sin against God’.
The first order in the third sphere is the thrones. They are the companion angels of the planets.
The dominions are the heavenly beings who govern the activities of all the angelic groups lower than they are. Divine bureaucrats, they also serve to integrate the spiritual and the material worlds. Although they take their orders from God, and rarely contact individuals, their work is connected to our reality.
Beyond the powers are another group of beings, the virtues. They are of particular importance to us now because they are able to beam out massive levels of divine energy.
The first order of the second sphere are those beings who have been known as powers. They are the bearers of the conscience of all of humanity, the keepers of our collective history. The angels of birth and death are in this category. They are able to draw down and hold the energy of the divine plan the same way trees draw down the energy of the Sun. In this way, the powers can send all of us a vision of a world spiritual network.
Beyond the group of archangels are the principalities. They are the guardian angels of all large groups, from cities and nations to recent human creations such as multi-national corporations. These might more accurately now be called integrating angels.
Beyond the angels are the beings we are used to calling the archangels,they tend the larger arenas of human endeavor. These beings are from a different family from the angels. There are many different kinds of archangels in this larger family. The four we are most familiar with are Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, and Uriel.
The angels that we are most familiar with are those in the last order. They are the ones who are closest to humanity, the ones most concerned with human affairs. Within the category of angels, there are many different kinds, with different functions. The ones that we know best are the guardian angels.
Because of shifts in their functions and our consciousness, it is useful to think of these celestial beings as companion angels. As we enter a time of increased light and love on the planet, they will not need to guard us, but rather will be our guides to greater and greater consciousness.
Description Of The Angels Best Known To Us
Michael is surely the best known of the archangels. Michael is acknowledged by all three Western sacred traditions. He is believed to appeared to Moses as the fire in the burning bush, and to have rescued Daniel and his friends from the lions’ den.
To Christians, he’s the angel who informed Mary of her approaching death.
Islamic lore tells us that his wings are the color of ‘green emerald and are covered with saffron hairs, each of them containing a million faces and mouths and as many tongues which, in a million dialects, implore the pardon of Allah.’
In the Dead Sea Scrolls Michael emerges as the ‘Prince of Light’ fighting a war against the Sons of Darkness in which he leads the angelic battle against the legion of the fallen angel, Belial.
Michael is the protector of the Christian Church, guardian angel of Israel, and commander-in-chief of God’s angel armies. He led them during a war in heaven in which Satan and his fallen angels were driven out of the clouds.
Even though he lives in the seventh heaven. Christian art and iconography shows Michael with a sword or with a scale weighing the souls of the dead.
Gabriel seems to be our most frequent visitor from the higher realms. He astonished Mary, and her cousin Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, with the pronouncements concerning the births of their respective sons.
To the followers of Islam, Gabriel is the Spirit of Truth who dictated the Koran to Mohammed.
In Jewish legend it was Gabriel who parted the waters of the Red Sea so that the Hebrews could escape from the Pharaoh’s soldiers.
According to court testimony of the time, it was Gabriel who came to Joan of Arc and inspired her to go to the aid of the dauphin (the eldest son of the king of France).
Gabriel’s apparent ongoing interest in this planet is most probably due to his function as heavenly awakener, the angel of vibratory transformation.
Gabriel in Hebrew means ‘man of God’, and is seen as God’s messenger.
Described as a human figure with long hair and multi-colored wings and often seen holding a scepter or lily.
Raphael is perhaps the most endearing of all the angels, and the one most frequently depicted in Western art. His image is featured on the canvases of such masters as Botticelli, Titian, and Rembrandt. He appears to be the high archangel charged with healing the Earth. Raphael is the travelers guide, guardian of youth. The ruler of the second heaven shows up in Christian paintings carrying a pilgrim’s stick, a wallet and a fish. The poet Milton has Raphael eating supper with Adam and Eve in Eden.
Raphael’s career seems to be peppered with medical missions. He healed the pain of circumcision for Abraham as the old man had not had the procedure done when he was young.
Raphael was then sent by God to cure poor Jacob’s thigh after he’d bee n roughed up by Samael. And it’s also claimed that Raphael gave Noah a much-prized ‘medical book’ after the flood. There’s a legend that when Solomon prayed to God for aid in building the great temple in Jerusalem, Raphael personally delivered the gift of a magic ring with the power to subdue all demons. It was with this ‘slave labor’ that the Hebrew king completed the construction. Raphael has also been called ‘a guide in hell,’ which after all is where healing is needed the most.
Uriel is ranked variously as a seraph, cherub, regent of the Sun, flame of God, presider over Hades and, in his best-known role, as the Archangel of Salvation.
Like Metatron, Uriel is said to be one of the angels of the Presence, a most high posting since only the highest voltage angels can sustain the presence of God. Uriel is thought to have been
“the spirit who stood at the gate of the lost Eden with the fiery sword.”
The Book of Enoch tells us that it was Uriel who was sent by God to warn Noah of the impending flood, and elsewhere it is written that he disclosed the mysteries of the heavenly arcana to Ezra, and that he also led Abraham out of Ur in the Chaldean region.
Some have claimed that the divine art of alchemy was brought down to Earth by Uriel, and that it was also this angel who gave the Kabbalah, the Hebrew mystic tradition, to humankind.
In the world of Jewish mystics, came to hold the rank of the highest of the angels despite his not being mentioned in the Scriptures. The meaning of his name has never been satisfactorily explained although one interpretation of it is “one who occupies the throne next to the Divine throne.
In a number of traditional sources, Metatron is said to have been the prophet Enoch, who was taken up to Heaven and transformed into an angel of fire, with thirty-six pairs of wings, to continue his days as a celestial scribe.
Metatron has also been identified as the Liberating Angel and the one who wrestled with Jacob; the one who stayed Abraham’s hand from sacrificing his son Isaac; and the one who led the Hebrews through the forty years in the wilderness.
In certain schools of mysticism, Metatron, said to be the tallest of all the heavenly beings, became known as Lesser YHWH. In Hebrew, the letters ‘LHWH’ stand for the most sacred and unpronounceable name of God.” “As God has many names, so, too, Metatron was thought to have many names, the use of which was believed to offer the user protection and access to this great angel’s powers. Yahoel, Yofiel, Surya, and Lad are just a few of his other names.”
MELCHIZEDEK: Lived and taught 2000 years before the Christ!
Melchizedek, the Sage of Salem, is another of the few known cases of a high angel taking a human, very male, body. He appeared fully formed, some two thousand years before Christ, announcing that he was a servant of El El yon, the Most High. He then set up a teaching center over which he personally presided for ninety-four years.
It was Melchizedek who delivered God’s Covenant to Abraham and introduced the revolutionary concept of salvation through pure faith to the thinking of the planet. He established an extraordinary wide-flung missionary program, centered in Salem, the ancient site of Jerusalem, sending out thousands of missionaries who literally circled the globe.
Melchizedek was believed to be the father of the seven Elohim (Angels of the divine presence).
In the third century a.d. a group of ‘heretics’, calling themselves Melchisedans, claimed to be in touch with ‘a great power named Melchizedek, who was greater than Christ’.
His sojourn here as the Sage of Salem was said to have been a concerted effort on behalf of the celestials to bring some much-needed light to a dark and chaotic time, and to set the seeds for the coming of the Christ.
Some confusion exists as to exactly whose side Ariel is on. He’s ranked as one of the seven princes who rule the waters and is also known as Earth’s Great Lord. To the poet John Milton, however, Ariel is a rebel angel who is overcome by the seraph Abdiel on the first day of the great war in Heaven.
Jewish mystics used Ariel as a poetic name for Jerusalem.
In Gnostic lore, Ariel is the angel who controls the demons. Ariel has also been associated with the order of angels called the thrones and is known to have assisted the archangel Raphael in the curing of disease.
Israfel, whose name in Arabic folklore means ‘The Burning One’, is both an angel of resurrection and of song. By these same accounts, Israfel paved the way for Gabriel by serving three years as a companion to Mohammed, whom he’d originally initiated into the work of being a prophet.
In an Islamic variant of the Genesis account of Adam’s creation, Allah sends Israfel, Gabriel, Michael, and Azrael (the Angel of Death) out on a mission to fetch the seven handfuls of dust needed to make humanity’s progenitor. According to legend, only Azrael returned unsuccessful.
Raziel is believed to be an ‘angel of the secret regions and Chief of the Supreme Mysteries’.
There is a legend that Raziel is the author of a great book, ‘wherein all celestial and Earthly knowledge is set down.’ When the angel gave his tome to Adam, some envious angels stole it away and threw it in the ocean. After it had been recovered by the primordial angel/demon of the deep, Rahab, the book passed first to Enoch, who apparently claimed it as his own, then to Noah, who learned how to make his ark from it. Solomon, too, was thought to have possessed the book, which allowed him his unusual knowledge of magic and control over the demons.
The Zohar, the major work of Jewish mysticism, claims that set in the middle of Raziel’s book there is secret writing ‘explaining the fifteen hundred keys (to the mystery of the world), which were not revealed even to the angels.’
Other Jewish mystics report that ‘each day the angel Raziel, standing on the mount of Horeb, proclaims the secrets of men to all mankind’.
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