Inviting Trouble: Drawing Down Angels
A reader writes responding to an older blog entry on Uriel:
doing research on my own spontaneous experiences with the sar ha panim. your work is wonderful. Is it common for these things to just occur without prayer or meditation?
Thanks for the compliment. A general rule of thumb is that prophecy is usually characterized by the divine seeking out the person, while mysticism requires the person to seek out God. Though some may be graciously granted an angelic visitation unsolicited (Hagar, Joshua, Menoah's wife), and we ordinary folk may have moments of encounter we regard to be angelic visitation (I've had two such memorable experiences), Jewish indigenous tradition assumes that if you want to meet angels, you have to make it happen. This is the premise, for example, of the Sar ha-Torah texts in the Hechalot literature, in which the rituals of power needed to interact with an angel are [partially] specified. All the texts consider this practice to be fraught with danger.
I have a pending article entitled "Water as a Medium for Altered States of Consciousness in Early Jewish Mysticism" that will appear in the Spring 2008 issue of the Journal of the Anthropology of Consciousness that catalogues some of these practices.