Monday, January 09, 2012

Sandalphon: Fiery Wheel, Cosmic Angel

Sandalphon: like Metatron (see the earlier entry), the name of this numinous servant of God is derived from Greek, rather than Hebrew, but there is no totally satisfactory explanation for the name.

[A sacred circle, appearing at www.sandiknelltamny.com/amulets.htm]

Sandalphon is a flaming princely angel (sar) and an ofan, or wheel-shaped angel that stretches from heaven to earth, a distance of "500 years" (Beit ha-Midrash 1:58-61). He is the wheel with eyes described by Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:15) that helps propel the divine chariot. Some regard his turning to be the source of heavenly thunder.

According to the Talmud, Sandalphon stands behind the Throne of Glory and continuously crowns God with a crown woven (the image is that of Caesar's laurel crown) from the prayers of Israel (Chag. 13a-b).

Some sources claim Sandalphon is the angelic name of Elijah, the prophet who ascended bodily into heaven. In this association he functions as psychopomp - the gatekeeper who conveys souls to their afterlife abode.

Other sources identify him as the angelic ruler of Asiyah, the material world of action (PR 20:4; Mid. Teh. 19:7). He is also sometimes invoked on amulets as a protector against eviel forces.

In all his iterations (a wheel, conveyor of prayers or souls, the connection between heaven and earth, the spirit of the material plane), he personifies the movement and transfer of forces between higher and lower realms. He is the cyclic, dynamic mandala of divine engagement with creation.

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Friday, January 06, 2012

Adiriron: Power-house Angel of the Merkavah

In my translation of Havdalah de Rabbi Akiva, there appears many divine and angelic names. One that intrigues me is a name I have seen mentioned multiple times that appears in Hechalot literature and

[Wheel of Life Angel by Elizabeth Frank, found at http://www.lanninggallery.com/]

on protective amulets. The name is frequently mentioned, yet I have not had a clear sense of its nature or function. At times, it is used as a divine name [2]. Some argue it is a substitute for the Tetragrammaton. Other times, Adiriron is treated as an angel. So I am trying to get a handle on this elusive entity. While the name is used in amulets and herem [spirit ban] texts, it is most often mentioned in association with some aspect of the merkavah, the divine chariot. Thus it appears in Hekhalot Rabbati 14:

When a person seeks to descend to the Chariot he will call upon Surya, the Prince of the Countenance, and make him swear one hundred and twelve times in the name of Tutrusyiyah [with many titles]...and Adiriron-YHWH, Lord of Israel...[3]

This could be a divine name or an angel, but either way it gives the adept access to highest levels of the celestial order. Perhaps we can split the difference; this indicates Adiriron is more than an angel, for he is a Malakh Adonai, a super-angelic entity with the "name" of God in it [4]. As such he is either akin to, or another name for, Akatriel-Yah [see T.B. Berachot 7a]. Can we get any more clarity?

In Sefer Hekhalot, he is listed as one of three high angels that personify a divine attribute. In the case of Adiriron, that attribute is God's koach, "power." [5] This association of Adiriron with "power" is repeated elsewhere - Michael receives some of his angelic power from Adiriron! He commands every Saraf angel. Later he is described as the rokeiv ("rider") upon the wheels [of the divine chariot], perhaps this means he is a cherub, but by any account Adiriron is a driving force in the divine superstructure. [6]

My best interpretation is that he is a personification of the "dynamos," the attribute of power within the Godhead, and the reason that the name/entity fades from use is that later Kabbalah would refer to this same divine phenomenon as Gevurah.

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[1] Meaning, in quasi-Hebrew, is "Mighty One." The odd -ron ending resembles the morphology of Metatron. Sometimes the name is divided into Adir Yiron.
[2] Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, p. 56, 363.
[3] Margoliot, Malachei-Elyon, p. 2 [translation is the author's]
[4]ha-Kamia ha-Yehudi presents it as a divine name, noting that it has the same gematria value as the 42-letter name (p. 3).
[5] Dan, Unique Cherub Circle, p. 113.
[6] Sefer Temunah 17b-18a.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Uriel: Angel of the Presence, the Light of God

[The angelic light of Zionism gives new hope to despairing Jewry, bookplate by E. M. Lilien]

Uriel: ( אוּרִיאֵל “God is my Light”). Uriel is one of the four princely angels (Sar ha-Panim) that surround [or form] the Throne of God (Numbers Rabbah 2:10; PdRE 4):

As the Holy One blessed be He created four winds and four banners, so also did He make four angels to surround His Throne — Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael. Michael is on its right, next to the tribe of Reuben; Uriel on its left, next to the tribe of Dan, which was in the north [1]; Gabriel in front, next to the tribe of Judah, also Moses and Aaron, who were in the east; and Raphael in the rare, next to the tribe of Epharim which was in the west....

He is first mentioned by name in 1st Enoch (chapters 9; 19-20), though he does not appear in a later angelic list in that same book. He is identified as the angel who revealed the secrets of the true, celestial calendar to Enoch, counteracting the impure lunar calendar given to humanity by the fallen angels (I En. 33; 80). In II Edras he brings God’s message of rebuke to Ezra (4:1). He appears regularly in medieval angelic lists (PR 46; Num. R. 2:10; Mid. Konen).

Uriel is regarded by some to the Sar ha-Torah, the Prince of the Torah:

....Why was he named Uriel? Because of the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings by means of which the Holy One, blessed by He, atones for sins and gives light to Israel (Num. Rabbah 2:10).

He is also the patron angel of Jerusalem (4 Ezra 10). He has control over earthquakes and thunder. In the medieval aggadah Gedulat Moshe he is described as being made entirely from hail. He could also take on the form of an eagle. Midrash Aggadah claims he was the avenging force God sent against Moses for failing to circumcise his son Gershom. He announced the birth of Samson.

In the Zohar he is identified with the lion – faced angel in Ezekiel’s chariot. In lion form, Uriel would descend and consume the sacrifices on the altar of the Temple (I: 6b).

Uriel is one of the four guardian angels invoked for protection while sleeping in the bedtime ritual of K’riat Sh’ma al ha-Mitah.

Zal g'mor - learn more by reading the Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism:

[1] In fact, there is no consensus within the tradition as to Uriel's exact position. Other sources claim he is the angel of the south. One text states he stands in front of the Throne of Glory, another text claims he is behind the Throne (Margoliot, Malachei Elyon).