ARCHANGELS: Raphael by Rosemary Ellen Guiley
From Encyclopedia of Angel
Raphael is one of the principal angels in Judeo-Christian angelologies, accorded the rank of archangel. Raphael’s name originates from the Hebrew, rapha, which means healer or doctor, thus Raphael is “the shining one who heals”; also, “the medicine of God.” Often he is connected with the symbol of healing, the serpent. He is entrusted with the physical well-being of the Earth and its human inhabitants, and is said to be the friendliest of the angels.
Raphael is not mentioned by name in the Protestant Bible, but he does play a prominent role in the book of Tobit, part of the Roman Catholic, but not part of the Hebrew, canon. There, Raphael teaches the arts both of healing and of exorcism. He acts as a guide and companion on a journey, thus making him the angel of travel and safety.
Raphael has numerous titles and duties. He is counted among the seven angels who stand before God mentioned in Revelation, and is part of four orders of angels: seraphim, cherubim, dominions, and powers. He is the angel of the evening winds, guardian of the Tree of Life, and the angel of prayer, peace, joy, light, and love.
In kabbalistic lore, Raphael is charged with healing the Earth. He is one of the ten sephiroth of the Tree of Life. He is believed to be one of the three angels who visit Abraham, though he is not named as such in Genesis. He is credited with healing Abraham of the pain of his circumcision, and Jacob of his wounded thigh due to the fight with the dark adversary.
According to several rabbinic sources, a pearl hung on Noah’s ark which indicated when day and night were at hand. Some say this light came from a sacred book Noah was given by the Archangel Raphael, bound in sapphires and containing all knowledge of the stars, the art of healing, and the mastery of demons. Noah bequeathed this to Shem, who passed it to Abraham. It went on through to Jacob, Levi, Moses, Joshua, and Solomon.
The presence of this book of wisdom in the early Babylonian myth of the flood strengthens the view, according to some scholars, that Enoch, whom the angels helped to write a book of wisdom, was really Noah, and references to Raphael perhaps really were references to Raziel, the angel who is keeper of the cosmic book of secrets.
The apocryphal Book of Enoch terms Raphael one of the “watchers,” and a guide to the underworld.
Roman Catholic devotional lore contains numerous stories about the deeds of Raphael. Saint Cyriaca (also called, Dominica), who was martyred under the emperor Maxmilian in the fourth century, was addressed by Raphael during her tortures. The angel, identifying himself by name, said that he had heard her prayers and congratulated her on her courage. Because of her suffering, she would glorify the Lord. Sister Mary Francis of the Third Order of St. Francis, who lived during the last eighteenth century, was frequently ill. She was told on one occasion by the angel that he would heal her – and he did. She and others were witnesses to a smell of sweet perfume, which she attributed to the presence of Raphael. The angel also is credited with healing others of various afflictions, including epilepsy, and of providing protection during journeys.
Raphael’s feast day is October 24.
Rudolph Steiner associated Raphael with the “Easter imagination.” Steiner’s spiritual practice blended the senses, imagination, inspiration, and intuition, and used imaging, poetry, and all the arts to express his teachings. He gave a series of lectures in October 1923 on the four seasons and the archangels that illustrates his method beautifully. The following details about Raphael are interwoven with the cosmic and natural processes indicated by the change of seasons.
Easter celebrates the death and resurrection of the Redeemer, and the figure of Raphael comes before us in dramatic guise as the Physician, Magician, and Hermes-like mediator who arouses in us the rightful approach, through reverence and worship, to what the Easter imagination is.
In spring Raphael is found up above with his deeply thoughtful gaze, with his staff of Mercury, which now in the airy heights has become something like a fiery serpent, a serpent of shining fire, no longer resting on the Earth, but as though held forth, using the forces of the air, mingling and combining fire, water, and Earth so as to transmute them into healing forces, working and weaving in the cosmos. In autumn Raphael brings to humans the healing forces which he has first kindled in the cosmos. Raphael, with deep wisdom in his gaze, leans on the staff of Mercury, supported by the inner forces of Earth.
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