Trickster Angels

"The Three Archangels and Tobias" (tempera on panel) by Francesco Botticini, 1470.

“The Three Archangels and Tobias” (tempera on panel) by Francesco Botticini, 1470.

There are Black Angels, Warrior Angels, Healing Angels; Angels who announce a New Beginning and Archangels. The Trickster Angel of Temperance, who is the Archangel Raphael, stands between the deep waters of the self and the shores of our persona.

In his chalice he mixes the blood of the martyrs and the clear streams of eternal life. He announces a New Dawn in the distant mountains. This is the Trickster who made Abraham change his God rather than sacrifice his son; this is the Angel who stood on the banks of the river and caught the fish that returned Tobit’s eyesight. This is the same Angel who drove the Devil to the far regions of Egypt, and cleansed the world from his influence.

Mark that he did not kill the Devil, for the Devil too is part of all things, but only bound him in chains in a mountain.

This is the Archangel of deep feeling, straight ways, pure heart and clear mind. He gives the vision that heals after the war, the temperance that allows for survival after the trial. He does not cure the wounds of the tree from which the soldier hung upside down. He is rather a catalyst of individuation, a symbol of the sacred transcendence that produces clarity of vision and harmony of the elements.

This is the Angel that transforms a wounded corpse into a wounded healer.

On his chest he carries the golden medallion of the Triangle of the Holy Spirt, the pyramid—obelisque of the gods—which is a symbol of aspiration. Around his forehead shines the halo of a New Science (the wisdom of the hanged man is that of the Archangel). He corrects eyesight, and brings consciousness upon the pain of existence. Not his are the horns and the lily of Gabriel, or the sword and armor of warrior Michael. Raphael is the Archangel of the alchemist at his furnace, and of the phases that create alchemical gold.

There are three landscapes in the universe: Olympus, where the gods reside; the forest, which is the realm of demigods and faerie spirits; and the valley of Arcadia—containing the City of Dead Metaphors—inhabited by human beings. This Archangel dwells in all three.

Raphael speaks:

When you prayed, I delivered your prayers. When you buried your dead I was with you, and did not forget. Now the Lord has sent me to you. Write this is in a book.


"Tobias Meets the Archangel Rafael" (oil on canvas) by Andrea Vaccaro, circa 1640.

“Tobias Meets the Archangel Rafael” (oil on canvas) by Andrea Vaccaro, circa 1640.


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