Saturday, March 4, 2017

For the Angels - 3:01; Three's the Charm (annotated)


Angel of Death Victorious - bronze (distressed) - 1923, Herman Matzen.
Also known as the "Haserot Angel," this monument is located in Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio. Above is my B/W version of a photograph found here, credited to Steven Jupina.
(All images within this post can be clicked to enlarge)

"Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the hierarchies of angels?
Even if one of them pressed me suddenly against his heart,
I would be consumed in that overwhelming existence.
For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we are still just able to endure,
and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
Every angel is terrifying."

"Every angel is terrifying. And yet, alas, I invoke you,
almost deadly birds of the soul, knowing about you.
Where are the days of Tobias, when one of you, veiling his radiance,
stood at the front door, slightly disguised for the journey, no longer appalling;
(a young man like the one who curiously peeked through the window).
But if the archangel now, perilous, from behind the stars took even one step down toward us
our own hearts, beating higher and higher, would beat us to death.
Who are you?"

- First stanzas from the First and Second Elegies of the Duino Elegies (Duineser Elegien), by Rainer Maria Rilke, 1923. The full English translations by Stephen Mitchell of the first two Elegies can be found here. However, I can't hardily recommend any of the other translations found online. Ideally, it should be read the way Rilke wrote it: in its original German form. Incidentally, Rilke's question "where are the days of Tobias" refers to an enigmatic scripture of ancient origin which relates the story of the youth, Tobias. and the archangel Raphael (See the "A Brief History of Angels" section).


"I turned my sight back to the angel when, suddenly, I noticed his hands - particularly his right hand which was reaching out to me. In English, he said, “Come into my world.” I was wondering why he was speaking to me in English when, suddenly, I heard the translation: “Entre dans mon monde,” and even in German: “Komm in meinem Welt.”

Then, through the music and the angel, I entered into that other world, which exists inside the painting. The whole time, the figures had been calling me there.

The angel changed my appearance, and I became just like one of the little people in the painting. I received a long cape, and I was crowned with coral (just like the woman in profile with the elaborate headdress). It was like a ceremony, initiating me into paradise... I became an angel..."

- Excerpt from Un Autre Monde by Myrette St. Ange (possibly a fictional character) (?) "translated" by Visionary artist, L. Caruna. The painting referred to is an actual painting by Visionary artist Robert Venosa. (inset, above, is a detail from the painting.)


"For painter and philosopher Robert Venosa, art and spirituality were simultaneous. Venosa was a visionary in the most real sense of the word: much of his artistic expression was deeply connected to visions that he had of higher dimensional beings whom he perceived as angels, although a different sort of angel than you might see in popular religious art. At several crucial moments in Venosa's life he was visited by an entity that seemed transcendent of time and space, yet was partially visible in the third dimension. These experiences affected Robert deeply and he attempted for the rest of his life to paint them (example, inset left). Many of his well known works were inspired by these visions, including twin angels Castor and Pollux, and Seraphim."

"Spirit energy, like all universal energy, must manifest itself in form and texture at its own vibratory level. We, in our present stage of time-space evolution are unfortunately limited in our perception of these transcendent substances. But the visionary, in his creative expression, must overstep these limits if he is to resolve his task of bridging the gulf between accepted reality and spiritual postulation”."

- Two quoted paragraphs from Reality Sandwich's article on Robert Venosa {1936 - 2011}: Viva Venosa. The second quote is from the artist and was excerpted from his 1978 publication "Manas Manna." All three paintings posted here can be found on his website.

***

Sorry for the delay, comrades, but my mental engine decided to stall last week just at the crucial moment... possibly flooded by too much angelology! Then again, maybe I've just been wrestling with my own angels lately... or maybe I've been wrestling with yours; it's difficult to say. Understanding the Language of Angels is a little like understanding the Language of Birds - and maybe they're one and the same - but, one thing I've learned: it's impossible to pin down an angel. Moreover, angels are not always "nice."  But, whether you "believe" in them or not - and, very possibly, they couldn't care less -  it is always they who have the advantage. Like birds - up to an including Rilke's "deadly birds of the soul" - they can merely fly away. (Or, even worse, tamper with your mental engine!)

Of course, there are angels and then there are angels. For some people angels are guised as beneficent strangers; those enigmatic humans who seemingly come to us out of thin air (and just in the nick of time) to save the day. For an artist, the Muse is a kind of angel. For a child, a guardian angel is sensed as a protective force. And, as for mystics, well, they seem to be able to experience them firsthand.

As a matter of fact, it is often artists, mystics and children* who actually see angels. William Blake saw angels... especially as a child, and specifically in trees. The American artist Robert Venosa spent his lifetime attempting to represent the "higher dimensional entities" he saw (inset, right).** And, while the poet Rainer Maria Rilke devoted his Duino Elegies to angels, it is also said that his initial inspiration - and the first line of his poem - came from an angel whose voice was carried to him on the wind. The Swiss scientist (and mystic) Emanuel Swedenborg not only saw angels***, but wrote extensively about his conversations with them in a book entitled Heaven and Hell. He writes (found here):

"On the grounds of all my experience, which has lasted for several years now, I can say with full confidence that in their form, angels are completely human. They have faces, eyes, ears, chests, arms, hands, and feet. They see each other, hear each other, and talk to each other. In short, they lack nothing that belongs to humans except that they are not clothed with a material body."

As for the Christian mystics, Saint Francesca comes to mind. She even convinced Church authorities that her guardian angel was a true, substantial entity. In fact, she was formally declared the Patron Saint of Automobile Drivers, because her alleged angel was said to appear with a lantern to guide her whenever she travelled.

And, then there's the matter of Saint Therese and her "ecstasy," but that's so juicy, I'm saving it for later...