Thursday, May 27, 2010

God, Gods, Angels, Spirits, and ... Us

Kenaz wrote an interesting post about the nature of humanity and deity that got me thinking. The Pagan sphere of occultists face a lot of weird issues that I, as a Hermetic-Christian magician do not have to wrestle with. Plato, Plotinus, Iamblichus, and Dionysius the Areopagite laid out the framework of a celestial hierarchy that I use in my regular practices. Between this framework and a couple thousand years of theological debate on the role of Man and God within the Christian realms, I don't have to struggle much with whether I'm a God or co-creator or whatever.

But for those who might be struggling with where things all fit, I'll lay out my understanding of the roles, and maybe that will help you figure out where you're at in the grand scheme of the cosmos.

At the top of the food chain is the Source of all things, the guy I refer to as "God the First Father." I know there's no gender, but I'm more comfortable with the masculine pronouns. It's easier than being politically correct, and if you want to call it a her, go for it, I don't think she cares since it's as wrong to call it a her as it is to call it a him, or even an it.

Below God is the LOGOS, who is also God. In the beginning was the LOGOS, and the LOGOS was with God, and the LOGOS was God. Being the first emanation of God, it's still slightly lower than the First Father.

Below the LOGOS are the gods. In Hermetics, these are the 7 Planetary Governors. It's no coincidence that the names of the planets are the names of the gods. Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Helios/Apollo, Venus, Mercury, and the Moon. Many pagans had different goddesses for each phase of the moon, but still. In a recent article on JWMT, Nick Farrell postulates that the 7 Olympic Spirits of the Arbatel are the gods. The Gods. Interesting take on things indeed. I personally Work with the Planetary Governors in the forms of the Archangels or Intelligences of the Planetary Spheres, but Hermetically, this is where the gods fall in the hierarchy. All the brothers and sisters of the gods who don't get planets would also fall into this level, since they're kin.

Below the gods are their servants. Iamblichus refers to these as the Angels, or messengers of the gods. In the grimoires we see each spirit having legions at their command, and each of the gods in the classical pantheons had daimon-servants who worked for them.

Next in the general hierarchy comes the Elemental spirits, the Genii Loci, and the various nature spirits we run into in our magical travels. Some of these spirits fall under specific gods, others are more like us, free to do what they will within their sphere of influence without really answering to anyone.

Human beings are on a different track. We're made in the image of the First Father, and because of this, all the other spirits love us and work with us. We were created, I believe, to appreciate the Works of the First Father, and to continue these Works, functioning as his hands and feet within the material realm. There's nothing in any Hermetic texts to make me think this is true, but I still believe it. It just seems right.

We spend most of our lives unaware of our Divine Race. We forgot that we were created in God's image, and that we have the authority and power to create the world, and we spend most of our time in a stupor, pushed here and there by the winds of fate. The goal of the Great Work is to remember and reclaim our eternal nature, and to behave as if we were God's Image on Earth. It ain't easy.

Iamblichus teaches that there are Gods, Angels, Heroes, and Men. The Heroes are usually those like Heracles who were born of the union of a god and a mortal, but they are also the humans who, through theurgical magic, reclaim their divine nature and become half-divine, half-mortal within a lifetime.

In the Corpus Hermeticum, we also learn that humans can become "Powers," leaving behind the mean nature and becoming like an angel or even a god after they die.

Each class of being is an emanation of God the First Father. We're all related, all in the same family, and the ties that bind us together into a cohesive whole are stronger than anything we can begin to imagine in the flesh. In one sense, "Thou art God" is totally and awesomely true, while in another sense it's hubris to think such things. While we are all aspects of God, we are not all gods or goddesses, any more than we are all angels. We are lower manifestations of a higher power, and I believe we need to be respectful of our brothers and sisters and cousins in the divine family when we work together with them in creating and maintaining the world.


  1. Interesting that a lot of your inspirations are pagans. :) Is your First God the same as ho En of Plotinus, and if so, how do you reconcile the personal nature of the Christian God with the very impersonal nature of ho En? Also, where is the Nous in your cosmology? I'm a big fan of the Nous.

  2. I recently listened to a lecture for my upcoming pleasure cruise elective unit at uni into ancient myth about Ptah being the heart(mind) and tongue operating through Atum the creator diety which was rather similar, or at least comparable, to the genisis account of creation with its emphasis on the word. This begining and completion of creation variation of Egyptian creation myth was presented in contrast to the more constantly reoccurring, cyclic and continous view of creation usually held by the ancient Egyptians.

    With regards to the hierarchy of the spirits, Iamblichus is very practicaly friendly with incites on spiritual interaction for those who intend to work with magic.

    Interestingly I came from the opposite angle of bigoted pagan who could not see the validity of Christians working magically with their arch angels as I worked with my gods/godesses until it was pointed out for me by a Christian mage.

    In practice I have found the experiences different (with the exception of Micheal whom seems more distant) as I find the arch angels usually come down to me where as I, in a fashion, go up to the gods. The validity still remains as I have benifitted significantly from my relationships with the arch angels, particularly Zadkiel, and the Pauline Arts angels.

    Moral to the story is in magic you must eventially reach a point where you see the connection between practices (and many other things) and can benifit from all, regardless of dogma.

    Hope you are doing well Josh!
    Love Kathy

  3. you just put your finger on it..why didn't I see it before...the stupor is lifting! catch you on the astral

  4. @Patrick:

    I don't have a well-developed understanding of the nous. Right now I lump him with the Logos because in the Pymander, the Logos consubstantiated with the Workman.


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