The Archangels are the Spirits of the People who protect and give the national spirit to the various peoples of the Earth. They were the humanity of the Ancient Sun. In the Indo-Tibetan nomenclature adopted by theosophy they are known as Dhyani-Chohan. They are also called Fiery Spirits because they express themselves in the element of air penetrated by heat.
The lower body of these beings is the astral body, so that their occult constitution is:
- Life Spirit
- Spiritual Self
- Astral body
The astral body is their last identified body, while their etheric body is located in space. It is even possible to graphically visualize their etheric bodies. In fact, by observing a map where the linguistic distribution of the human populations has been located, we can see the extent of the etheric bodies of the respective People’s Spirits. Such archangelic etheric bodies contact the People’s Soul, i.e. the union of the human astral bodies composed from all members of a single people. Furthermore, the etheric bodies of the various archangels also make contact with the forces of the soil of each nation, generating the etheric atmosphere in which the Genius Loci, the Spirit of the Place, lives. It is important to note that the etheric archangelic bodies do not necessarily coincide with political boundaries, but with linguistic and therefore cultural boundaries: the Archangels are the inspirers of all world’s languages. The discrepancy among politics, society and language is at the root of many actions of rebellion that the Spirit of the People sends to the Soul of the People so that men who are part of the common Soul may gain their independence.
However, after the Mystery of Golgotha, the most evolved of them, the Seven Archangels, are untied from the people they have helped in the past by periodically committing themselves as Spirits of the Ages or Genes of the seven sacred planets. They thus anticipate their evolution towards the Principalities (Archai or Spirits of Time), the heavenly choir superior to them. When the archangels act as Spirits of the Epochs, they preside cyclically over periods of time of about 300-350 years.
As Archangels of the Epochs
These three centuries are spiritual portals through which the Seven Archangels send their planetary impulses in turn within a given epoch of culture so that the evolution of that epoch may be fully accomplished. Our present era is the fifth post-Atlantian era and is currently characterized by Michael’s regency.
The division of the periods of regency is as follows:
- Oriphiel – Saturn: 200 BC – 150 AD
- Anael – Venus: 150 – 500 AD
- Zachariel – Jupiter: 500 – 850 AD
- Raphael – Mercury: 850 – 1190 AD
- Samael – Mars: 1190 – 1510 A.D.
- Gabriel – Moon: 1510 – 1879 A.D.
- Michael – Sun: 1879 – 2233 A.D.
Let’s see them in order:
- Gabriel of the Moon is an archangel with distinct feminine qualities. He brought the annunciation to Mary and therefore presides over the births. The Epoch of Gabriel acts mainly on the physical body and therefore prepares the way to materialism, thus to the maximum possible descent that corresponds to the next ascent;
- Michael of the Sun: he is the archangel who carries the face of Christ and inspires spiritual thoughts that enable us to overcome materialism. The power of life of the Second Logos, the Son, passes through this entity. He is the most evolved of the Archangels and is associated with the splendor of solar flares. He carries a universal impulse which makes possible to overcome the division of people according to blood, sex and religion. He collaborates with another very high spiritual entity, the Divine Sophia, the Soul of the World, who presides over the wisdom present in Nature. He is the portent of cosmopolitanism. The realization of a “United Europe”, as a brotherhood of the Spirit of the European People, depends precisely on the action of this Archangel. However, his impulses have been captured by decayed beings, the Ahrimanic spirits, in a way that only an economic and not a spiritual union has been achieved. During the Epoch of Michael, the action is mainly directed to the etheric body and in particular to the thinking, to the mind. Man, by a free act of choice, must raise his thinking to an understanding of the cosmic thoughts that Michael brings. When man carries cosmic thoughts within himself, he unties the thinking from the physical brain to the living thinking of the etheric brain;
- Oriphiel of Saturn: After Michael’s present regency, we will return to the more severe Oriphiel era, connected to the human will. He separates what is different and crystallizes its forms. During the Epoch of Oriphiel the action is primarily directed to the astral body, to harden the will by resisting the opposite impulses of pleasure and sorrow. Oriphiel concretizes our astral images so that they are fought down to the depths of the bone system: all the evil done by man in the previous epoch accumulates on the astral plane. Oriphiel releases it so that man can connect his actions with their consequences;
- Anael of Venus shows the beauty of every day and inspires love for even the smallest events in life. The power of the consciousness of the Primo Logos, the Father, passes through this sublime being. During the Epoch of Anael, the action is primarily directed toward the sentient soul and the perception of the beauty of the Cosmos. Anael inspires the I to consciously recognize oneself in the world, ultimately leading to devotion to the Father who created the world.
- Zachariel of Jupiter makes people aware of events and inspires peace and prosperity among people by encouraging the formation of communities. The action of the Epoch of Zachariel is primarily directed to the rational soul, so that every single man can recognize himself in his neighbor. The wisdom that guides the single person is perceived as the bond that unites different men in the Brotherhood of the Spirit;
- Raphael of Mercury: he is the archangel who unites what is divided, restores the balance between all opposites and prepares for the next changes. The Epoch of Raphael acts primarily on the conscious soul;
- Samael of Mars is the archangel of conflict and inspires opposition to overcome it. The power of the form of the Third Logos, the Holy Spirit, passes through this being, whose task is to channel life into living forms on the material plane. The Epoch of Samael is primarily directed towards the fortification of the I through conflict.
The Archangels, as spirits, act as the I of the single people within the soul of the people. They give them their native language, the peculiar character of the people and the mission of the people in the world, i.e. their destiny.
For example, in Europe, the German-speaking people are carriers of the conscious soul (which lives in the true and the false), in relation to the element of fire, while the English people are in relation to the earth. The French people carry the rational soul (right and wrong) in relation to water. The Portuguese, Spanish and Italian people bring the sentient soul (beautiful and ugly) in relation to the air. The Greek people carry in themselves an ancient reminiscence of the etheric body. The Turkish people of the astral body.
The Four Seasons
Among these seven there are four that have been allocated to regulate the time of year on Earth. The succession of the regency of these particular archangels on Earth originates the rhythm in four times of the year, the four seasons:
- Michael – Fire – Autumn
- Gabriel – Water – Winter
- Raphael – Air – Spring
- Uriel – Earth – Summer
Rudolf Steiner discusses it in depth in the series of lectures called The Experience of the Course of the Year in Four Cosmic Imaginations.
Michael (“He who is like God”) is the archangel of the Sun, he is also called Lord of Cosmic Intelligence and Face of Christ. He carries the spear, as a symbol of the consciousness that from cosmic to human, passing vertically through the spine, from the head to the feet, reaching the center of the Earth. He also carries the sword which represents the individual strong-willed force that allows us to face the personal dragon, the trials of life, with courage; as well as the balance between karmic necessity acting in the past and free will acting in the future. He was the archangel of the Jewish people and in 1879 he ascended to the rank of Spirit of Time, Principality or Arché, presiding over the development of European civilization towards the Sixth Epoch of Culture. He presided over the Autumn and governed the Fire element.
Gabriel (“Hero of God”), is the archangel of the Moon and winter and presides over the element Water, is the most benevolent archangel and inspires the beauty of art. He carries the Cup of the Moon, or the Chalice, which is also identified as the Holy Grail that holds within itself the light of the Sun, the etherized blood of the Spirit of the Sun Christ. He is the archangel who brings the proclamation to Mary of her virgin conception in Luke’s Gospel, thus becoming the archangel of Revelation, the one who is the mediator of the evolution of consciousness, who from divine to human, from universal to individual, from karma to freedom.
Gabriel is the cosmic being, in the heights, with the sweet and loving gaze, with the gesture of blessing, weaving in the winter clouds.
Raphael (“Healing Power of God”) of Mercury presides over the spring and governs the element Air, he is the medical sage of humanity and dispenses healings. Like Mercury he is the psychopomp that leads the human soul from winter darkness to spring rebirth. He carries the Caduceus of Mercury, which simultaneously represents healing on both the physical and spiritual plane, as well as the process of cosmic evolution from the Ancient Saturn to the Future Volcano. The Caduceus contains the secrets of the balance between high and low, right and left, inside and outside in both microcosm and macrocosm. For this reason Raphael is the Cosmic Healer who presents to man the Mystery of the Resurrection of Easter, with Christ as Healer between Lucifer and Ahriman.
When we arrive at the spring, Raphael is in the heights, with a deeply reflective gaze, with the sign of Mercury that now, in the kingdom of the air, has become a fiery serpent, like a serpent shining in the fire; no longer leaning on the Earth, but as hovering, using the forces of the air, and with all the fire, water and earth that are in the cosmos; in a certain way mixing and merging them, to transform them into healing, working and weaving forces in the cosmos.
Uriel (“God’s Sun”, takes the place of Oriphiel of Saturn), presides over the summer and governs the element Earth, is the most severe archangel who admonishes man for his actions. He wears a mirror shield with which he is able to show man his true inner nature, as well as a crystal or stone, which represents the quintessence of the spirit that man will have to achieve through moral rigor in his thoughts. It is associated with a silvery-white splendor, and is the most mysterious of the four Archangels of the seasons. By the power of thought, Uriel governs the crystallization of minerals, and thus the structure of the Earth, as well as the planetary and zodiacal motion, having in itself represented the entire model of Cosmos. Uriel’s stern gaze reminds man of the need to assume karmic responsibility for himself, for Earth and for Cosmos. Uriel is the one who reveals to man the historical consciousness of cosmic evolution.
Now for John’s tide there appears an extraordinarily severe face, a severe face which emerges warmly and resplendent from the radiant universal intelligence. Thus, we can say: in summer, Uriel appears in shining intelligence.
In order to fully understand the action of these spiritual beings it is necessary to immerse oneself in the occult forces. These four archangels correspond to the cosmic cross of the Four Elements, marked by the zodiacal signs Leo-Fire, Torus-Earth, Aquarius-Air (Man-Angel) and Scorpio-Water (Eagle). In Steiner’s words:
Just as Gabriel gives to Raphael the nourishing forces so that he may transform them into healing forces, that is, he gives him his golden bucket, just as Raphael gives his golden bucket to Uriel so that he may transform the healing forces into forces of thought, so Michael receives from Uriel the forces of thought, and with the force of the cosmic iron with which his sword is forged transforms the force of involuntary thought into forces of movement.
They are mentioned in the Sibylline Oracles as “Servants of the Eternal God”, as well as in the Ethiopian text Epistola Apostolorum, in which it is the risen Christ himself who makes them witnesses of his ascension into the spiritual world.
The four seasons are placed under the influence of four archangels: Raphael presides over spring, Uriel over summer, Michael over autumn and Gabriel over winter. As the spring equinox approaches, all spirits and forces of nature work under Raphael’s guidance to revitalize life everywhere in the universe. This renewal in nature is for human beings synonymous with regeneration, therefore also healing. On the Tree of Life, Raphael is the archangel of Sephirah Hod, the region where the Kabbalists placed the planet Mercury. Now, the god Mercury (Hermes, in Greek mythology) has as an attribute the Caduceus, which is still today the emblem of medicine; and the name Raphael means “God has healed”. For Christians, Easter is the great feast of spring: all nature celebrates the resurrection of Christ, who is also the resurrection of all creatures. That is why when spring comes, there is a great work to be done for every creature: it is time to get rid of all that is inwardly old and transient. Turn to the archangel Raphael and ask him to make you receptive to the hidden virtues of trees, flowers and herbs, in order to enter into communion with that great current that comes from the heart of the universe and brings new life.
– Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov
They follow one another after solstices and equinoxes, assuming the role of Cosmic Spirit at that particular time of the year. From the astral world they descend their impulse into the entire atmosphere of the Earth, thus governing the macrocosm. However, when the opposite season comes, they exchange their role with their opposite one to enter into the human sphere, into the microcosm.
Thus we have this correspondence of spiritual activity:
The changes of season correspond to many festivities that take place during the year and whose spiritual significance is to be found in the activity of these spiritual beings. These same spiritual imaginations are powerful meditative exercises capable of awakening clairvoyant faculties in the disciple of occultism:
- Summer (Feast of St. John): Uriel reigns over Nature at the height of her vitality. With his severe gaze he presides over the formation of the multiplicity of forms of Nature. Gabriel permeates humanity with the formative forces of nutrition.
- Autumn (St. Michael’s Day): Michael from the heights purifies the astral forces of the Earth by wielding his sword and prepares the atmosphere for the Holy Nights (December 25 to January 6). Michael fights with the Dragon thus saving the Virgin in danger: the Virgin is the Divine Sophia, the true living soul of the Earth and her emanation in the soul forces of every human being, threatened by the spirits of materialism and avarice that reside in man. Raphael from below, permeates humanity with his breath and heals it.
- Winter (Christmas): Gabriel radiates the earth’s atmosphere from the heights with love, cradling nature in its winter sleep. Uriel permeates human thought.
- Spring (Easter): Raphael radiates from the heights with the healing forces of the cosmos. From below, Michael permeates the human will and movement towards the future.
The Four Forces within man
In the cycle of the seasons, Nature renews itself, as well as the interiority of the human being:
- Gabriel: forces of nutrition;
- Raphael: forces of healing;
- Uriel: forces of thought;
- Michael: forces of movement.
The forces of nutrition in metabolism alchemically transmute into forces of healing in breathing. The forces of healing are transmuted into forces of thought in the head and these into forces of movement in the limbs.
Gabriel brings the “forces of nutrition” from the cosmos into the human interior during the middle of summer. These same forces are then passed on to Raphael during the autumn as he penetrates the human breath so that they alchemically combine with the breathing process to become “healing forces”. This combination of vibrant forces of nutrition with our breathing process is one of the great secrets of spiritual traditions and is connected to the Great Alchemical Work: it is through breath that the Philosopher’s Stone is made.
The “forces of healing” then passed to Uriel during the Winter, as it penetrates deeply inside humanity. The forces of healing ascend to the head of man, where they become forces of thought and sensory perception. Michael finally receives these forces from Uriel, through the cosmic iron of the late summer meteor swarms. This iron dynamizes the astral atmosphere of the Earth, forming Michael’s Sword, driving the spirits of matter back into the center of the Earth and so the forces of thought become forces of movement in the hands and legs.
This passage of forces from one Archangel to another is imaginatively represented by a golden chalice, the Graal. Within it the cosmic forces instilled into human interiority alchemically transmute into one another unceasingly as the Graal is passed from the hands of one Archangel to another.