Archangel Raphael


“Archangel Raphael and Tobit and the dog” by David Ghirlandaio, circa 1484-1486. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

According to Jorge Luis Borges in his History of Angels (1926), “primitive angels were stars.” In the Book of Job (Borges continues), the Lord speaks out from the whirlwind about the genesis of creation: “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (KJV, Job 38:7). The “German speculative theologian” Richard Rothe (1799-1867) affirms that angels have the attributes of intellectual force and free will. They are also capable of “working wonders, but not miracles. They cannot create from nothing or raise the dead.”[1]

There are Black Angels, Warrior Angels and Healing Angels; there are Herald Angels who announce New Beginnings and also mighty Archangels. Michael the Archangel argued with the Devil over the body of Moses, fought with his angels against the Dragon in the Book of Revelation and cast out Satan and his rebellious angels from heaven (KJV, Jude 1:9 and Rev. 12:7-9). Gabriel, who announces with his trumpet a New dawn in the distant mountains, is the Archangel of Mary’s Annunciation (KJV, Luke 1:26-38). 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 martyrs with the clear stream of the waters of eternal life. He is one of the Seven Holy Ones who present the prayers of the saints to the Most High. Raphael goes in and out from the Glory of God and helps to bury the dead.

This is the Archangel who strove mightily with Abraham to change his God rather than sacrifice his son Isaac to a cruel deity; this is the Angel who accompanied Tobias in his journey, stood on the banks of the river and bid the son of Tobit grab the fish which restored his father’s eyesight; this is the same Archangel who chained the Devil in the far regions of Egypt, and cleansed the world from his influence.

(Note that he did not kill the Devil, but only bound him, since the Devil is also a part of all things.)

This is the Archangel of deep feeling, straight ways, pure heart and clarity of mind. He transforms wounded warriors into wounded healers. He offers the balm of repentance that heals after the violence of war and the vision that reconstitutes. He embodies the temperance that promises survival after the trial.

Raphael is the catalyst of individuation, a symbol of the transcendence produced by elemental harmony. Around his forehead glows the halo of a New Science, which brings awareness to the pain of existence. He is the alchemist at his furnace and the guardian of the phases that create alchemical gold.

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.


[1] Jorge Luis Borges, “History of Angels” in Selected Non-Fictions, ed. Eliot Weinberger, trans. Esther Allen, Suzanne Jill Levine and Eliot Weinberger (New York: Viking, 1999), 16-19.

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