• 01 SEP 14

    The Hierarchies: Nine Classes of Angelic Beings in Three Groups

    Man as the Tenth (becoming) Hierachy

    Rembrandt van Rijn (15 July 1606 – 4 October 1669)

    Rembrandt van Rijn (15 July 1606 – 4 October 1669)

    When Rembrandt van Rijn paints a man in armor it reflected his „hidden“ intention to portrait Christian Rosencreutz; or a homage to Archangel Michael.

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    Traditionally, all Archangels, like Raphael, Uriel, Gabriel, are painted as angelic beings, dressed by beautiful, loose hanging veils in light pastel colors. The only exception is Archangel Michael. He is presented by a human being (St. George) or angelic being, dressed for battle and with a fiery sword or spear (which stands for the human Ego, or spirit that reincarnates; also the Head of all Gods in Germanic mythology Wotan carries a spear when he wonders incognito over the globe).

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    In the Jewish tradition, Archangel Michael is mentioned three times in the Book of Daniel, once as a “great prince who stands up for the children of your people”. The idea that Michael was the advocate of the Jews became so prevalent that in spite of the rabbinical prohibition against appealing to angels as intermediaries between God and his people, Michael came to occupy a certain place in the Jewish liturgy.

    In the New Testament, Archangel Michael leads God’s armies against Satan’s forces in the Book of Revelation, where during the war in heaven he defeats Satan. In the Epistle of Jude Michael is specifically referred to as “the archangel Michael”.

    Christian sanctuaries to Michael appeared in the 4th century, when he was first seen as a healing angel, and then over time as a protector and the leader of the army of God against the forces of evil. By the 6th century, devotions to Archangel Michael were widespread both in the Eastern and Western Churches. Over time, teachings on Michael began to vary among Christian denominations.

    The psychostasia (Greek for ‘weighing of souls’), is a method of divine determination of fate, which persists from the Iliad throughout Christian theology.

    During the contest of Achilles and Hector in the Iliad, Zeus, wearying of the battle, hung up his golden scales and in them set twin Keres, “two fateful portions of death”; this, then, is known as the kerostasia. Plutarch reports that Aeschylus wrote a play with the title psychostasia, in which the combatants were Achilles and Memnon. This tradition was maintained among the vase painters. An early representation is found on a black-figure lekythos in the British Museum; she observes “The Keres or φυχαί are represented as miniature men; it is the lives rather than the fates that are weighed. So the notion shifts.”

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    In a psychostasia on an Athenian red-figure vase of about 460 BCE at the Louvre, the fates of Achilles and Memnon are in the balance held by Hermes. Among later Greek writers the psychostasia was the prerogative of Minos, judge of the newly deceased in Hades.

    In Egyptian mythology, where Duat is the Underworld, there would take place the Weighing of the Heart, in which the dead were judged by Anubis, using a feather, representing Ma’at, the goddess of truth and justice responsible for maintaining order in the universe. The heart was the seat of the life-spirit (ka). Hearts heavier or lighter than the feather of Ma’at were rejected and eaten by Ammit, the Devourer of Souls.

    For Christians, among the terrors that wait at the Day of the Last Judgment is the weighing of souls. Sin is heavy, and sinful souls are to be consigned forever to Hell. The courtly angelic knight in the central panel of Hans Memling’s The Last Judgment, ca 1470 (National Museum Gdańsk), is the Archangel Michael, who separates the “Just” from the “Damned” in his steelyard balance. Memling has treated a medieval genre of fresco, called in English examples a “Doom” which kept the future terrors before the eyes of the faithful.

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