|Giovanni Piccirillo (a cura di), La chiesa dei Santi Michele e Gaetano, Becocci Editore, Firenze 2006.|
In early childhood, even before my pronunciation caught up with my runaway vocabulary, I would tell people about the symbolism of the fierce St. Michael statue that watched over me. "He wields the sword of truth and goodness," I would declare, but it came out like "truth and doodedness." Because I had gotten as far as the "do" sound but not as far as the "goo" sound.
A few years later, still a prepubescent child, but raised Irish-Catholic, I was told to pick a "Confirmation Name," i.e., the name of some saint who would be one of my patrons. I was torn between Archangel Michael and John the Baptist. John appealed to me because, after all, he had lost his head over a beautiful stripper (even then I knew I would), and he was, in the end, a "voice crying out in the wilderness (one of Kierkegaard's "stormy petrels"). But I decided on Archangel Michael, and so I became Richard Gerald Michael Power, III.
Throughout the long adventure of this life, the energy of Archangel Michael has moved through me and for me in many ways. Iconography depicting his war against evil has always found its way to me, seemingly "randomly." And on my Shamanic journey, in the most dangerous of places, in the most hopeless of places, it was often the Archangel Michael who would overshadow me from inside myself. I have always been able to draw on that power.
It has never failed me and never will. It is part of myself.
For me, in a very real way, Michael is synonymous with the Bodhisattva King Chenrezig. And indeed, when at my request a great shamaness (with no prior knowledge of my inner iconography) visited that desolate place in which some dismembered parts of my "soul" had been strewn long ago, she discovered that those lost parts and the trail that led to them had been guarded over all of this time by, yes, Michael and Chenrezig. They took shifts.
So when my beloved young friend said, "you're like an archangel," it resonated with me in a deep, pure quadrant of psyche. Of course, I almost hesitate to evoke the being of Archangel Michael. He has been so madly misappropriated by so many, as a foil for their fantasies. ("Astral real estate," Joe Miller used to call such phenomena.) So much nonsense has been offered up in his name. He is like the Pleiades in that respect, there are so many "messages" from both Michael and the Pleiades.
And so much of it is just phantasmagorical spam. Not all of it is false, of course. I will leave it to time to sort it all out, which is ironic, since so much of this phantasmagorical spam is supposedly telling us what will or should happen to us all.
My guess is that the Pleiades (all seven gorgeous sisters) visit Archangel Michael's "crib" frequently to watch the reality TV show that is the chain of human events. (Of course, the remote for his sky/wall-size HD TV is powerful, and gives them the capability to pause, mute, rewind and fast-forward in real time.) No doubt, one of their favorite sub-plots is that flow of phantasmagorical spam perpetrated in their names. (BTW, the Pleiades have also played an important role in my journey, but that is a different tale.)
Concerning the iconography of Archangel Michael (yes, even unto and prior to his Zoroastrian roots), I am particularly fond of this 17th century painting, Jacopo Vignali's San Michele Arcangelo Libera Le Anime Del Purgatorio, "Archangel Michael reaching to save souls in purgatory." No sword, no shield, no armor, no vanquished demon. Although I do not have a problem at all with the warrior image of Michael. He is like the Blue Tara, the vital wrathful aspect. The fierceness is a powerful element of his story, and a palpable expression of his presence in this twisted world.
Nor do I have an issue with Michael being depicted as vanquishing the evil one. The truth isn't that there is no evil here, the truth is that evil more often than not presents itself as the good and seeks to turn us against what is truly good. Jesus, the son of the Goddess knew this, and so the other John warned of it in Revelations, i.e., the "Antichrist" would come disguised as a prince of peace.
And so it is, so much of what is truly evil presents itself as "religion," particularly among the three Abrahamic religions (although not exclusively). But I enjoy this kinder, gentler, rarer image of Michael. It is as if an extension of Tara, the great green goddess emanation who is always depicted with one foot rising from her meditation pillowing. She is ceaselessly rising to respond to the cry of suffering sentience. Michael is an extension of her.
Michael and the other archangels come from before and beyond patriarchy, they and their legions are a heavenly multitude of Ardhanaris (with their inner male and female halves awakened and integrated), and yes, they serve the Madonna, the Great Goddess of Heaven and Earth (as did Jesus and the Madgalena and *some* of their immediate circle).
These are just some ruminations about the energy that is Archangel Michael and what it might actually mean to some of us on this plane at this time in human history, and I thank my young friend for inadvertently causing me to reflect upon it all.
-- Richard Power, Author, Speaker, Yoga Teacher (RYT500)
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