St. Gabriel Light Setting Service – Communication, Fertility, Clairvoyance, Creativity

Have a glass-encased vigil light fixed, dressed, blessed, set on my Archangel Gabriel altar, and burned for you in a community altar work service.

Lights will be set the night of Wednesday, March 24th. There is some wiggle room and you can join up after the work starts as long as you see that there are still spots left and it doesn’t say “sold out.”

Usually, a saint’s feast day is the date of their death. Since angels aren’t human and don’t die (though they absolutely are saints), things are a little different with them. And you’ll find that these days, the official feast day of St. Gabriel the Archangel is September 29th – he shares it with the archangels Michael and Raphael.

But it wasn’t always so – feast days get moved around sometimes. And Gabriel’s used to be on March 24th, the day before the feast of the Annunciation, which was pretty much Gabriel’s starring scriptural role: he appeared to the Virgin Mary to tell her that she was going to be the Mother of God. (And *that* had to be a trip.)

So while all angels are messengers, in a sense, Gabriel is kind of the archetypal angelic messenger. It’s his main gig, and so he’s the patron saint of messengers, including postal workers, diplomats, ambassadors, and those in telecommunications.

Because so many of his messages had to do with the realm of pregnancy, childbirth, conception, fertility, he’s also called upon to intercede on behalf of infants and children, pregnant women, and women wishing to become pregnant. Fertility and conception can be understood figuratively here, as well, to do with inspiration, ideas, and the creative process.

And looking more broadly beyond his mentions in the canonical books of the Bible, he takes on varied roles. In Jewish tradition, Gabriel’s the angel of judgment, and in Islam he’s the mouthpiece of God during the dictation of the Koran. In many traditions of Western esotericism, he’s associated with the West, the Moon, and the element of Water.

Thus Gabriel rules ocean navigation and trade; motherhood, birth, children, and home/domestic concerns; intuition, psychic ability, prophecy, and clairvoyance. He can, of course, also be called upon more generally for blessings as one of the canonical archangels known by name from scripture.

Learn more or book your spot at SeraphinStation.com.

Angry Angels and Saints Who Smite

I’m posting this as a blog entry 1. because I can’t seem to comment on Mama Cat’s blog (maybe she turned off comments or my browser is jacked up), and 2. I don’t want to take over her blog with my rambling anyway. Anyway, this is in response to her blog post here. I just want to chime in on the “saints punishing you” thing (if you read this whole thing, you’ll see that I am not disagreeing with her – I’m just elaborating).

People tend to think of saints as benevolent entities, close to God, involved in helping the devoted. Actually, there is an extremely long tradition of punitive miracles even in quite orthodox Catholic practice. I go into this a bit in this blog post. If you read the Old Testament, it’s full of them; God smote the hell out of all kinds of people, and he’s God. Saints and angels smite too. That isn’t the part people usually think of, though. As Tony Burke points out in his academic blog here, the study of punitive miracles is pretty much neglected by scholars as well. But such power to harm is part and parcel of the workings of saints, deities, and spirits in many different cultures and religions – absolutely including Christianity. Burke notes,

“Though not as plentiful in the sources as beneficent miracles, punitive miracles are nevertheless found in literature throughout Mediterranean antiquity. Holy men wield power, and sometimes that power is not used with mercy. Thus, to the ancient mind, it is reasonable for Elisha to call upon bears to maul annoying children, for Apollonios to threaten repressive corn merchants, for r. Eliezer to kill r. Gamaliel, for Paul to blind a false prophet, for Jesus to whither a fig tree, and so on. Of course, the power behind these curses comes from the gods, and sometimes the gods even curse directly—the Hebrew Bible, for example, contains numerous punitive acts perpetrated by Yahweh himself.”

My PhD work focused on this stuff in medieval England (and to a lesser extent, elsewhere), so this is obviously a favorite topic of mine. I don’t claim to be an authority on all world religions or even every Christian saint, but I think my training and research makes me pretty much qualified to call myself an expert on these “economies” and systems of circulation of relics, saints, angels, human beings, and how they all tend to interact and have interacted historically. I have published peer-reviewed academic articles on angels, saints, religious literature, and angelology. So I cannot in good conscience say that the popular image of angels as smiling feathered beautiful beings in gowns helping children over bridges is terribly accurate, nor can I say that punishment, smiting, punitive measures, retribution, etc are not a very important component of what sainthood is and has been understood to be for a very, very long time. If you think saints and angels are all benign and smiling and all about dropping everything to tend to whatever your little human issue is, you are a fool.

george
Creative Commons License, Some Rights Reserved: Jim Forest

However, I do agree with Cat: for today’s typical practitioner of folk spirituality, such things are not very common. And even when they happen, saying a saint has “attacked” you is not very accurate; that’s not really how it works. And anyway, the saints are more likely to smite you or screw you up if you have a deep, genuine relationship with one in particular — an obligation — and really drop the ball in terms of keeping up your end of things. They are NOT likely to starting raining hell down on somebody who is new to working with them and is making a legit attempt, and frankly I’ve found that they have better things to do than go around smiting people for making an honest mistake or being oh-so-humanly a bit of an ass. (The saints are human too – well, most of them.)

Many punitive miracles in medieval hagiographies and lore are due to somebody being a dumbass and not getting the original message, not doing something they were already told in less punitive or frightening terms to do, failing to do something they were being warned they were obligated to do. For instance, in the lore of St. Michael, there’s this idiot named Garganus who made one of his men shoot a bull that St. Michael was trying to send as a sign of where he wanted a chapel built. Thick-headed Garganus didn’t get the message; the bull wandered off near this cave and Garganus threw a little fit and ordered the bull shot. The arrow meant for the bull blew back and hit the servant (who was just following orders, after all). Garganus went to the bishop, being troubled by these strange events, and apparently softened his heart a little. Then later St. Michael appeared to him and said, basically, “This guy is dead because it is my will. Now pay attention; build my church at that cave the bull was sent to show you.” (Here’s a photo of the grotto chapel of St. Michael at Mt. Gargano.)

Gerald of Wales, telling of Ireland, wrote of a priest that encountered two wolves on his way Ulster. One spoke to him. The shocked priest reported that the wolf said, “There are two of us, a man and a woman, natives of Ossory, who, through the curse of one Natalis, saint and abbot, are compelled every seven years to put off the human form, and depart from the dwellings of men. Quitting entirely the human form, we assume that of wolves.” The priest gave the sick wolf-wife the last rites. Before leaving them, he asked the wolf-man if the island’s inhabitants would continue to suffer under invaders. The wolf answered, “For the sins of our nation, and their enormous vice, the anger of the Lord, falling on an evil generation, hath given them into the hands of their enemies. Therefore, as long as this foreign race shall keep the commandments of the Lord, and walk in his ways, it will be secure and invincible; but if, as the downward path to illicit pleasures is easy, and nature is prone to follow vicious examples, this people shall chance, from living among us, to adopt our depraved habits, doubtless they will provoke the divine vengeance on themselves also.” [*] Moral of the story for Gerald anyway: while saints and abbots may curse sinners, when we talk about great misfortune, we usually bring this stuff on ourselves somehow through wrong action or neglect of right action. He then goes on to tell of ravens falling dead for feasting on the carcass of St. Vincent, and of an archer who died miserably after innocently trying to shoot one of St. Colman’s ducks for his evening supper.

That is NOT to say that traditions of saints raining down hell on somebody do not exist in conjure lore, in contemporary folk Catholic practice, or even in people’s living rooms today. They do, just as they exist in the holy books of many religions. (Though as scholars like Stanko Andric have noted, these shouldn’t be understood as God or a saint throwing a fit, being unjust, or being cruel – these punitive miracles and intercessions have a larger role within the whole dynamic or system, are part of God’s will which is not always discernible to us in its entirety from our limited perspectives, serve a legitimate role in a community, and also serve as lessons to the faithful. See for instance Andric’s The Miracles of St. John Capistan, in which he notes, while discussing ultiones, that sometimes saints know that you are about to screw up, might try to warn you even, but you may be punished or mess things up *not due to the saint’s failure but due to your — the sinner’s — actions or lack thereof.* As I note in my earlier blog post that I linked to above, intercession of saints does not technically, traditionally involve any saint granting your wish or prayer – it involves the saint interceding with God for you; you thank a saint, technically, not for direct action but for going to bat for you in approaching God on your behalf, since God is the source of all this activity, power, etc.)

And while it is actually not super-common, there are some people who will warn you that St. Expedite (pronounced “espedee” or “expedeet” in the Southeastern US, by the way – think of how a French person would say the word, not an American person), among other saints, has a “call” behind them; that means that if you ask their intercession and mess up, or sometimes if you ask their intercession at all depending on what you’re trying to do, they will take somebody with them (meaning somebody around your home or family will die). Again, these are not typical views, but neither are they unique to just one person. I personally do not caution people that if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain, you should expect death to strike your family — the reality of working with saints in folk traditions these days is usually a lot less dramatic than that of late antiquity and the Middle Ages — but I absolutely do caution folks to learn about what they are doing, to form relationships, and not to treat their doings with saints lightly. If you piss off St. Michael by asking him to smite one of his devotees, and your desire is unjustified according to St. Michael, will he strike you down instead? Probably not. But this is no long-tressed, smiling, harp-playing cherub you’re talking about, so don’t be a fool. At best he might ignore you. At worst he might teach you a lesson. God, after all, taught Job some very colorful lessons, and he liked Job. St. Expedite was a Roman soldier. St. Michael struck down Satan. St. George and St. Martha took out dragons. So I urge you to think carefully before you ask petty things of saints or angels, or presume that your bull is more important than their chapel, so to speak!

If you don’t like what I’m saying here, feel free to not work with saints. And you don’t have to be a Christian or Catholic to work with (most) saints, in my experience – but what you had better do if you have any sense is know what you’re getting into and doing. You cannot just strip away all the history, traditions, and roles of saints, pick out just the nice parts that you want and that make it “easy,” and pretend that things like sin, punitive miracles, obligation, traditional roles and temperaments, etc. do not exist. You cannot treat saints like they aren’t part of this economy and aren’t part of Christian lore and tradition. Doing that – rejecting the fabric and culture and religion of the very saint you are trying to work with — is what will get you a punitive miracle. (That goes for spirits, saints, and deities of any religion; if you strip away the culture and religion from which they came and give them makeovers in your own image, according to your own preferences, or act like you can pick and choose which aspects and components you want to incorporate and ignore the rest  — well, don’t go complaining that so-and-so saint didn’t work for you when your buffet-style approach gets you some divine smackdown. That was not on the saint – that was all on you.)

[*] Translation is by Thomas Forester, of Giraldus Cambrensis’ The Tophography of Ireland, In parentheses Publications, Cambridge 2000.

old-school juju – St Michael packets

Y'all.  I am always talking about "people who grew up with this stuff" and "people who take conjure seriously and live it and not treat it as just as another tool in their eclectic toolbox" etc etc.  (there is nothing wrong with eclectic and nothing wrong with you following your traditions of your origins rather than somebody else's, and nothing wrong with picking up conjure later or anything like that, in and of itself, in case you are just stumbling across this).

Well, one way you can know you have got an old-school, "been around a while" worker on your hands is when they make stuff like this: A serious old-school St. Michael mojo packet, made my Miss Bri at Milagro Roots.  I hardly EVER see these from folks who didn't grow up around the Mississippi river or train with somebody who did.  I first saw it New Orleans, and I actually rarely see it outside of southern Louisiana.  It tickles me pink to see this kind of work.

If you have been reading for a while, you might remember that I used to offer something similar – but i started with embellished and embroidered scapular-type holy cards because I could NOT make my sewn packets look good enough to offer to the public.  My flannel always puckered, or the card looked bent up, or the stitches were crooked, and I didn't want to glue them (even though the one I have that I got in New Orleans was glued) and I eventually gave up.  But these are *great* and they are totally hand-done and hand-sewn, and customized with the personal concerns of you and/or your family members.  It does not get any better than this for home protection work, y'all, for real.  And since I sort of specialize in protection work and consider St. Michael one of my very special personal saints, you can bet it's impressive if I'm impressed.  Go have a look at some serious old-school personalized protection mojo!

[below is a St. Michael mojo packet, but not Miss Bri's – I haven't asked her permission to post a pic of hers yet, so this is just for the sake of having a St. Mike pic for the moment]

An Old Irish Prayer to the Archangels by the days of the week

I regret that I have not been writing as many informative or instructional posts lately as I’d like.  If you’ve worked with me fairly closely over the years and/or been reading my blog for a while, you may know that I’m feverishly trying to finish my PhD dissertation and *get the heck out of graduate school* where I have been for far, far too long.  So instructional/informative posts are not likely to be copious over the next few months.

But as part of my research I am working with a lovely Old Irish poem that I thought I’d share for you readers who work with, think about, and enjoy angels – it should be especially interesting for readers into esoteric prayer, working with the Seven Rays of the Archangels or any of the Rosaries of the Seven Rays, or those with a Roman Catholic or folk Catholic background – or, I daresay, an Irish background!  (If you aren’t familiar with the Seven Rays material, see the tags on this post – they’ll take you to other posts for more info.)

This is a prayer to the archangels giving one for each day of the week. 

A Prayer to Seven Archangels

Gabriel lim i nDomhnaighibh | is cumhachta ríg neime.
Gabriél lim hi comnaidi, | nachamthí bét na bini.

Michél dia Luain labraimsea; | focheird mo menma airi.
ni re nech nosamlaimsea | acht ré hIosu mac Maire.

Mad Mairtt, Raphiél radimsea, co tí in crich, dom chobuir;
in sechtmadh fer alimsea, | céin uér ar tuár in domhuin.

Uriél lim i cCétáinib, | int abb co n-uaisli ardi,
ar guin ocus ar gábudh, ar threthan gaithi gairgi.

Sáriel Dardain labraimsea | ar thonnuibh mera in mara,
ar cech nolc thic re duine, | ar cech ngalar nodgobha.

Dia na haíne didíni | Rumiél–rath reill–rocharus.
ní abbair acht fírinne, | maith in cara rogabus.

Panchel i sSatharnaib lim, | céin beó arin mbith mbuide
. . . . . . . . .  [*]

In Trinoid dom anacul. | in Trinoid dom shnádud.
in Trinoitt dom shæradh. | ar chach nguin, ar gach ngabud.

————————————————————————————————-

* [second half of verse missing in manuscript]

Modern English:

May Gabriel be with me on Sundays, and the power of the King of Heaven.
May Gabriel be with me always that evil may not come to me nor injury.

Michael on Monday I speak of, my mind is set on him,
Not with anyone do I compare him but with Jesus, the son of Mary.

If it be Tuesday, Raphael I mention, until the end comes, for my help.
One of the seven whom I beseech, as long as I am on the field of the world.

May Uriel be with me on Wednesdays, the abbot with high nobility,
Against wound and against danger, against the sea of rough wind.

Sariel on Thursday I speak of, against the swift waves of the sea,
Against every evil that comes to a man, against every disease that seizes him.

On the day of the second fast, Rumiel–a clear blessing–I have loved,
I say only the truth, good the friend I have taken.

May Panchel be with me on Saturdays, as long as I am on the yellow world
. . . . . . . .

May the Trinity protect me! may the Trinity defend me!
May the Trinity save me from every hurt, from every danger!

———————————————————————————————–

[translation is by Thomas O’Nowlan / Tomas Ua Nuallain, “A Prayer to the Archangels for Each Day of the Week,” in Ériu vol. 2, pp 92-94, which you can also consult for manuscript info if you have an academic interest in this piece]

As you may notice, this is one of many extant traditions about the names of the “seven archangels” – the number varies too, of course!  But this is one Celtic tradition for the seven archangels to which we have early attestation (this poem dates from the 800s).  A different batch of archangels is listed in the Saltair na Rann lines 793-804:

Gabriel, Michél, maith an-greim, Raphiel, Panachel oebind, Babichél, Raguel roclos, Mirachel, Rumel rigdos. / Fafigial, Sumsagial slán, Sarmichiel, Sarachel saergd, Uriel, Hermichel maith mass, Sarachel, Barachel bladbras. / Lihigiel, Darachél cenchol, Segiel, laSariel sairdron, Lonachel, Arachél tan, Stichiel, Gallichiel gleglan.

I don’t read Irish, never mind Old or Middle Irish, [**] and don’t have time to learn it any time soon, and if these lines have been translated into modern English, I haven’t run across the translation yet.  But if anybody knows where I can find one so I can learn what the context of this list is, I’d appreciate the tip!

** [The manuscript of the Saltair na Rann is in Bodleian MS Rawl. B 502; its handwriting dates to the 12th century, so this is Middle Irish, I suppose, or maybe “early Middle Irish” more properly?] 

ETA: A reader dropped a link to a different prayer to the archangels by days of the week, to the website of a London chruch. That page is now long defunct, but here’s the prayer, and all the citation they gave was “9th century Irish,” so who knows where they got it or who translated it:

A Prayer to the archangels
for every day of the week

May Gabriel be with me on Sundays, and the power  of the King of Heaven
May Gabriel be with me always that evil may not come to me, nor injury.
Michael on Monday I speak of, my mind is set on him,
Not with anyone do I compare him but with Jesus, Mary’s son.
If it be Tuesday, Raphael I mention, until the end comes, for my help.
One of the seven whom I beseech, as long as I am on the field of the world.
May Uriel be with me on Wednesdays, the abbot with high nobility,
Against wound and against danger, against the sea of rough wind.
Sariel on Thursday I speak of, against the swift waves of the sea,
Against every evil that comes to a man, against every disease that seizes him.
On the day of the second fast, Rumiel – a clear blessing – I have loved,
I say only the truth, good the friend I have taken.
May Panchel be with me on Saturdays, as long as I am in the yellow-coloured world,
May sweet Mary, together with her friend, deliver me from strangers.
May the Trinity protect me! May the Trinity defend me!
May the Trinity save me from every hurt, from every danger.

C9th Irish

new art shrines and altar pieces

Click the lj cut to see more pics of Gabriel, St. Expedite, OL of Czestochowa, and a non-denominational Love shrine.
New items at ebay and at bonanza.


see more pictures

st. michael and st. george from hyatt

(St. Michael?)
Yeah, that’s correctly. Well, yeah, there’s a Saint Michael, see.
That’s a saint that is coming from something like heaven with two swords in his hands. See, there’s St. George, he’s coming with two swords on his horse. All right. St. Michael – you use a red candle to St. Michael. Do you get the idea about that? All right. And St. George, you uses a blue candle to St. George. Get the idea about it? And you use that blue candle for nine days – as one candle burn out, you light another one – for nine days, continue on nine days. And those candles do most anything that you want them to do.
(You just light the candles and make the wish to them?)
Make a evil wish to do that. Tell him what to do and mean it – with a
evil ‘vironment, and then after that, you cuss it. You get the idea about
that?

[New Orleans, LA; Informant # 840 – Dr. Caffrey; Cylinders A447:8-454:1 =
1263-1270.]

Oct 24, Feast of St. Raphael the Archangel

Again, a day late and a dollar short, or maybe a week late and totally bankrupt, we have the belated announcement of the Feast of St. Raphael the Archangel.  See the Book of Tobias for more about this angel, or Milton’s Paradise Lost if you’re feeling frisky (and ambitious).  One of the fun facts about Raphael as you learn in the footnotes of Paradise Lost is that in the apocryphal Book of Tobit (Tobias’ father), Raphael provides a recipe to drive away an incubus.  It seems that you can be incubus-free if you burn the heart and liver of a fish.  Worked on Asmodeus, anyway. 

Prayer to Raphael:

O God, Who didst give Blessed Raphael the Archangel to Thy servant Tobias, as a companion on his journey, grant to us, Thy servants, that we may always be protected by his care and strengthened by his help.

Vouchsafe, O Lord God, to send holy Raphael the Archangel to help us; and may he, whom we believe to be ever in attendance on Thy majesty, present our poor prayers to be blessed by Thee.