Michael (archangel)

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Margarita Woloschin: Archangel Michael
Michael as guardian of souls (altar of the Last Judgement in the Hôtel-Dieu in France)
The Archangel Michael weighing a soul (Palazzo Carrara, Padua, 1350)
Paolo Uccello: Saint George Fighting the Dragon (c. 1470 )
Michael, Raphael and Gabriel leading Tobias (Botticini 1470)
Archangel Michael (Michaelsbrunnen Mettingen)

Michael (Hebrewמיכאל; Arabic: ميكائيل/ميكا "Mika'il/Mikaal"; in English: "Who is like God?") is the fourth of the four leading Archangels and carries the flaming sword. He is the defeater of Satan and weighs the souls on the Day of Judgement. Fire is his element, his colour is red. According to the Catholic view, he stands in the East before the Throne of God. The solar sphere is Michael's spiritual home and to promote the Earth's development in the service of the Christ in such a way that the human I can unfold as richly as possible is his main task. In his capacity as dragon vanquisher, Saint George corresponds to him.

„The fourth, who contains within himself the powers of the others and adds his own power, radiates his light from the East in rose-coloured hue and golden radiance. It guides and directs the development of the earth and therefore works into the future. He is called by the name of Michael, a sublime, victorious figure who bears the qualities of the other three. Thus the four mighty archangels stand there and guide the processes of the world. Each of them is connected with one of the four members of man, for in each of the planetary states one of these members was developed in the disposition. The fourth directs the formation of the human I. It is most intimately connected with humanity and is the direct servant of the mighty Sun Spirit.“ (Lit.:GA 265, p. 337)

Michael as the Administrator of Cosmic Intelligence

According to Rudolf Steiner, Michael is the administrator of cosmic intelligence, the essential revelation of Divine Thinking:

„The ancient Hebrew word Michael should actually be translated by the word God-seer; God-proclaimer would mean quite the same as Gabriel; God-wisher would mean quite the same as Raphael. While we work in the physical world through our three soul forces, the beings of the higher hierarchies work through beings themselves. As we work through imagining, feeling, willing, a god works through Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. And this means the same for a god: I work through Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, - which means for our soul: I work through thinking, feeling and willing.“ (Lit.:GA 272, p. 203)

Rudolf Steiner very vividly described the nature and work of Michael in the Michael Imagination. According to this, Michael's flaming sword is forged from meteoric iron.

Michael Age

Main article: Michael Age

The Michael Age in which we stand today, which replaced the previous Gabriel Age (1510 - 1879 AD), began, according to Rudolf Steiner's spiritual research, in November 1879 after the overthrow of the spirits of darkness by the Archangel Michael. Michael thereby conquered the power by which human beings, if they follow him, can transform the materialistic intellectual power into spritual intellectual power. The paths, the "Michael paths", which lead to a contemporary spiritual knowledge, can be followed through anthroposophical spiritual science. The present Michael Age will end around 2300 AD.

Michael as the Face of Christ

„And there are many such spiritual beings who belong to the same rank. But this particular spiritual being, known esoterically as Michael, is as exalted above his fellows as the Sun is exalted above the planets, above Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, and so on.

He, Michael, is the most outstanding and the most important entity in the hierarchy of the archangels. The ancient Hebrews called Michael "The Face of God". As man reveals himself by his gestures and by the expression of his countenance, so in the mythology of the ancients Jehovah was understood through Michael. Jehovah made himself known to the initiate in such a way that the initiate was able to grasp something that he could never have grasped before with his ordinary capacity, namely, that Michael was the face of Jehovah. Thus the ancient Hebrews spoke of Jehovah-Michael: Jehovah, the Unapproachable One, to whom one could not attain, as one cannot attain to a man's thoughts, to his sufferings and sorrows, which lie behind his outward expression. Michael is the outward revelation of Yahweh or Jehovah, as one recognises in man the revelation of his I on his forehead and countenance.

And so we may say that Jehovah revealed Himself through Michael, one of the Archangels. The knowledge of Him whom we have described as Yahweh was not confined to the ancient Hebrews, it was much more widespread. And if we examine the last five centuries before the Christian era, we find that throughout that time there was a revelation through Michael. We can discover this revelation in another form in Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, in Greek philosophy, even in the ancient Greek tragedies during the five centuries before the event of Golgotha.

If, with the help of occult knowledge, we endeavour to illuminate that which actually took place, we can say that Christ-Jehovah is the entity which has accompanied man throughout his evolution. But during the epochs that follow each other, Christ-Jehovah always reveals Himself through different beings of the same rank as Michael. He always chooses, so to speak, a different face with which to turn to man. And depending on whether one or the other of the hierarchy of archangels is chosen to be the mediator between Christ-Jehovah and humanity, very different ideas and conceptions, impulses of feeling, impulses of willing, and so on, are revealed to men.“ (Lit.:GA 152, p. 36f)

„Michael, the spirit who lived in the Sun, who was the most important servant of the Christ-Spirit in the Sun, experienced the Mystery of Golgotha from the other side. Man on Earth experienced the Mystery of Golgotha in such a way that he saw the Christ arrive. Michael and his followers, who were still in the sun at that time, experienced it in such a way that they had to take leave of the Christ.

Now, my dear friends, one must allow the two poles of this all-surpassing cosmic event to have an effect on one's soul: the hosanna on Earth, the arrival of the Christ on Earth, and the farewell to the multitudes of Michael above on the Sun. This belongs together.

But Michael underwent a great metamorphosis just in our age. The beginning of his reign means a moving down to Earth of the Christ, and in the future it will mean a moving forward before the deeds of the Christ on Earth. One will again come to understand what it means: Michael goes before the Lord. As in the Old Testament - before Oriphiel there was also a time of Michael - the initiates of Asia over there spoke of Michael walking before Yahweh, as the face as the foremost part of a man walks before him, so they spoke of Michael as the face of Yahweh, and so we must learn to speak of Michael as the face of Christ.“ (Lit.:GA 346, p. 95f)

Michael's Relationship with Man (Michael's Gaze)

„Since the end of the last third of the 19th century, people have been able to encounter the spirit of Michael in a conscious way. But Michael is a strange being. Michael is a being who does not actually reveal anything unless one brings something to him out of active spiritual work from the Earth. Michael is a silent spirit. Michael is a closed spirit within himself. While others of the ruling Archangels are much-talking spirits - in the spiritual sense, of course - Michael is a thoroughly closed spirit, a little-talking spirit who gives at most sparse directives. For what one learns from Michael is actually not the word, but - if I may express myself in this way - the gaze, the power of the gaze. And this is based on the fact that Michael is actually most concerned with what people create out of the spiritual. He lives in the consequences of what people have created. The other spirits live more with the causes, Michael lives more with the consequences. The other spirits impulse in man that which man should do. Michael will be the real spiritual hero of freedom. He lets people do what they want to do, but then takes up what comes out of human deeds in order to carry it on in the cosmos, in order to carry on in the cosmos what people are not yet able to do with it. One has the feeling towards other beings from the Hierarchy of the Archangeloi: from them come the impulses to do this or that; to a greater or lesser degree the impulses come from them. But Michael is that spirit from whom impulses do not come at first, because his really representative period of rule is that which now comes when things come out of human freedom. But when man out of his freedom, stimulated by the reading of the astral light, consciously or unconsciously does this or that, Michael carries out into the cosmos what is human earthly deed, so that it becomes cosmic deed. He is concerned with the consequences, other spirits more with the causes. But Michael is not only a closed, silent spirit, Michael, by approaching man, approaches man with a clear rejection of much that man still lives in on Earth today. For example, all the knowledge that is formed in human or animal life or in plant life, which is based on inherited qualities, which is based on that which is perpetuated in physical nature, is such that it seems to us that Michael rejects it. He wants to show that such knowledge can be of no use to man in the spiritual world. Only what man finds in his inner nature, in animal life, in plant life, independently of what is purely hereditary, can be brought up before Michael. And there one does not get the so telling dismissive hand gesture, but one gets the approving look which tells one: This is justly thought of before the guidance of the cosmos. - For that is what one learns to strive for more and more: to think, as it were, in order to penetrate to the astral light, to see the secrets of existence and then to come before Michael and to receive the approving look which says to one: that is right, that is just before the guidance of the cosmos.“ (Lit.:GA 233a, p. 93f)

The triumphant Michael-force in Man

„This uplifting of oneself so that one can be grasped by thoughts of the spiritual in the same way as by anything physical in the world: that is Michael-power! To have confidence in the thoughts of the spiritual, if one has the disposition to receive them at all, so that one knows: You have this or that impulse from the spiritual. You give yourself to it, you make yourself the instrument of its execution. A first failure comes - it doesn't matter! A second failure comes - it doesn't matter! And if a hundred failures come - never mind! For no failure is ever decisive for the truth of a spiritual impulse whose effect is inwardly seen through and grasped. For only then does one have confidence, the right confidence, in a spiritual impulse which one takes at a certain point in time, when one says to oneself: A hundred times I have had failure, but that can at most prove to me that for me in this incarnation the conditions for the realisation of this impulse are not given. But that this impulse is right I see through its own character. And even if it will only be after the hundredth incarnation that the forces for its realisation will arise for me for this impulse - nothing can convince me of the penetrating power or non-penetrating power of a spiritual impulse but its own nature. - If you think of this in the mind of man as the great confidence formed for something spiritual, if you think of man as being able to hold rock-solidly to something which he has seen through as a spiritually victorious thing, to hold on to it in such a way that he does not let go of it even when the outer world is still so much in the way, If you imagine this, then you will have an idea of what the Michael force, the Michael being, actually wants from man, for only then will you have an idea of what the great trust in the spirit is. You can put any spiritual impulse on the side, even for the whole incarnation, but once you have grasped it, you must never waver in cherishing it in your inner being; then alone can you save it for the following incarnations. And when in this way confidence in the spiritual establishes such a state of soul that one comes into the position of feeling this spiritual as real as the ground under our feet, of which we know that if it were not there we could not tread with our feet, then we have a feeling in our mind of what actually Michael wants from us.“ (Lit.:GA 223, p. 117f)

The Rise of Michael to the Spirit of the Age

See also: Archangel regencies

The special significance of the present Michael Age lies in the fact that Michael is ascending from the Archangelic rank to the rank of a so-called "Zeitgeist" (Spirit of the Age) and can thereby stimulate a spiritual deepening of all humanity that transcends all peoples.

„When we speak of the hierarchy of the Archangeloi, we can say that they do indeed take turns as I have said. But the highest in rank, the supreme, as it were, is the one who begins to rule in our age, is Michael. He is one of the Archangeloi, but he is in a sense the most advanced. Now there is a development, and the development embraces all beings. All beings are in an increasing evolution, and we are living in the age when Michael, the highest of the Archangeloi nature, is passing into the Archai nature. He will gradually pass into a leading position, become a leading entity, become the spirit of the time, the leading entity for all humanity.

That is the important thing, the tremendously important thing of our age, that we understand that what was not there in all previous epochs, what was not there for the whole of humanity, can now be, must become a good for the whole of humanity. What has hitherto occurred among individual peoples - spiritual deepening - can now be something for the whole of humanity.“ (Lit.:GA 152, p. 60)



References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: verlag@steinerverlag.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.