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Monday, April 13, 2015

Rings and Things

Each time I have read from the Greater Hekhalot the passages regarding Anaphiel are striking to me. He is not the highest angel in heaven, and he is given as distinct from the Prince of the Presence. He is one of several angels at the final gate leading into the Chamber of the Throne. There are several angels associated with this gate, as with the preceding six, but none are given the attention given to Anaphiel. Despite his recognition within the Hekhalot literature he has not continued to receive such distinction in later angelology and magic.

For those unfamiliar with him in Chapter 22 of the Greater Hekhalot it says:

“Anaphiel the Lord, a prince honored and beloved and fearful and terrifying and dear and splendid and strong and mighty and powerful and just and gallant, a prince whose name is mentioned on high before the throne of His glory three times each day from the day when the world was created and until now, for praise. Why? Because the ring of the seal of heaven and earth is given over to his hand. And whenever they see him all those on high kneel and fall down and prostrate themselves before him, a thing which is not done in the height [before any other prince]. If you say, 'They do not fall down before the Prince of the Presence‘ [This is true] for those who stand before the throne of His glory, who do not prostrate themselves before the Prince of the Presence, but before Anaphiel the Prince [even] so with the permission and according to the will of ‘ntrws rbyhg. Some say pwmyl smh brz‘, the Lord God of Israel.”

So he is given as the Prince who bears the ring with the seal of Heaven and Earth. He receives further distinctions elsewhere in the literature. In the Sefer Hekhalot he is the angel who brings Enoch into the Heavens on the journey which results in Enoch becoming the Metatron. As Enoch is not yet the Prince of the Presence, the Lesser YHVH, at this point Anaphiel is called Anaphiel YHVH indicating his likeness to the divine in his opportunity to function as the Prince of the Presence administering to Enoch.

Two elements of this story relate to how the first passage may become meaningful for us.

First Anaphiel functions as a Prince of the Presence and bears the fourfold name. Alternatively, when Metatron is not given as the Prince of the Presence the role most typically falls upon Michael, whose name is “He who is like God”. This similarity does not equate Anaphiel and Michael, as many angelic names are given in association with divine names throughout the course of the Hekhalot and Merkavah literature. The similar role does however put them within a group of angels of similar function in which they hold the highest positions in Heaven and appear before the most holy mortals as the manifest presence of the divine.

Additionally, Anaphiel performs this role in relation to Enoch rising to the Heavens. Enoch rising to the Heavens occurred prior to the Flood, as Enoch was brought to testify against mankind. According to the Sefer Hekhalot the Shekhinah was present on Earth as the divine presence, the wisdom which allowed for communication between pious men and the heavens. The Shekhinah in this context is not given the same anthropomorphizing as it is in later Kabbalistic works which treat her as God's bride, in this case the Shekhinah is treated much more like the Ruakh HaKodesh, as a divine energy, an expression of the divine presence manifest as the force of wisdom. When the angels expressed concern over the idolatry of mankind they convinced God to remove the Shekhinah from the Earth. It was at this same time that Enoch was removed. While Anaphiel is not named as one of the angels who removes the Shekhinah, it is a whole heavenly host who do so, Anaphiel is definitely named as an angel involved in the movements between Heaven and Earth at the time.
During this same literary period we find one of the earliest examples of a grimoire, or perhaps a proto-grimoire, and the earliest piece of literature in the tradition of Solomonic magic: The Testament of Solomon. The Testament of Solomon describes Solomon receiving a ring and divine grace by which he could command demons. This divine grace is of the same nature as the Shekhinah or the Ruakh HaKodesh. The ring is in part a symbol of its presence.

The Testament says:

“And it came about through my prayer that grace was given to me from the Lord Sabaoth by Michael his archangel. [He brought me] a little ring, having a seal consisting of an engraved stone, and said to me: "Take, O Solomon, king, son of David, the gift which the Lord God has sent thee, the highest Sabaoth. With it thou shalt lock up all demons of the earth, male and female; and with their help thou shalt build up Jerusalem. [But] thou [must] wear this seal of God. And this engraving of the seal of the ring sent thee is a Pentalpha." ”

So again, Michael, who functions as a Prince of the Presence delivers a ring. Anaphiel, who also bears the name of the Lord, and functions as a Prince of the Presence, also bears a ring bearing the heavenly seal. His ring is one by which all angels are brought to kneel. It would stand to reason that the ring bearing the seal of Heaven and Earth would be the ring given to Solomon. The nature of a ring given by a king is typically to bear the seal of the king and show the investiture of his authority in the one who has the ring, this is the seal described on the ring of Anaphiel. Solomon's ring commands the obedience of all spirits, just as would that of Anaphiel.

Anaphiel's description and function in the Hekhalot material give additional information which can inform our understanding of the magic ring.

The Greater Hekhalot says:

“And why was his name called Anaphiel? Because of the ramification anaph of the crowns [which were] placed upon his head, for he overcast and covered all of the chambers of the seventh heaven as did the Maker of Creation. Just as, concerning the Maker of Creation it is written [Hab. 3.3]: ―His glory covered the heavens,‖ so also [does the glory] Anaphiel the Prince as a servant who is called by his master‘s name.”

Anaphiel's name means “branch” referring to the branches of the crown. He is compared to the Creator whose glory covers the heavens. 2 Enoch in describing the Garden of Eden gives beautiful imagery which relates to this idea. It says:

“And in the midst of the trees that of life, in that place whereon the Lord rests, when he goes up into paradise; and this tree is of ineffable goodness and fragrance, and adorned more than every existing thing; and on all sides it is in form gold-looking and vermilion and fire-like and covers all, and it has produce from all fruits.” (2 Enoch 8:3)

Here it describes the Tree of Life amid the Garden of Eden as the resting place of God, in Sefer Hekhalot this is the place from which the Shekhinah is taken. In the description here the Tree is like a fiery all encompassing canopy which stretches over all of paradise, it is the adornment of the divine glory and divine harmony throughout the Garden.

The crown of branches described by Anaphiel's name is the same. Sefer Hekhalot in Chapter 18 is worded very similarly to the passage of the Greater Hekhalot. It further notes the other angels removing their crowns of glory when they lay prostrate before Anaphiel. Anaphiel is also sometimes noted as ministering to the Lord by placing and removing his crown of glory for him. His name and function is very much tied to the crown, him being the Branches in whom are the name of the Lord. He is the act of investiture of divine Glory.

This is consistent in his treatment. He brings Enoch to heaven that Enoch may be so invested in divine glory that he is consumed by fire and becomes the Metatron, the Lesser YHVH. He carries the ring of the seal of Heaven and Earth, which is the ring given to Solomon so that he might possess the Ruakh HaKodesh and its wisdom. His name reflects the crown of the divine and its overshadowing glory, which is the very nature of the Tree of Life and the presence of the Shekhinah on Earth. He is the only angel before whom the other angels prostrate themselves in praise.

One final quotation from the Greater Hekhalot will clarify the meaning of his nature:

“And why is he more lovely and beloved than all the [other] door-keepers of the palaces? Because he openeth the doors of the entrance of the seventh palace and closeth them before the throne of glory which is set high and standeth opposite the entrance of the seventh palace.”

He is the angel who gives access to the Chamber of the Throne and even brings the mystic into the Throne presenting him to the Merkavah and preventing the angels from destroying him. He facilitates what the Creator ultimately wants, for the mystic to achieve success and be brought into union with the Throne.

All of this explains the magic ring. We can get whatever ring we want, and wear it on whatever finger we want and dance around in circles and pretend to be magical, but doing all of that is really rather silly. The true magic ring is a sign of the presence of divine grace within the one who bears the ring. It is a sacrament, an outer sign of an inner state. The magician who possesses the true ring is in communion with the Prince of the Presence, the Angel in whom is the name of God, or, in our modern magical vernacular, the Holy Guardian Angel. The ring likewise bears the great name and sign of God, as does the soul of the magician who has the right to wield the ring. The process by which the magician receives the ring is the beginning of the process of moving through the Chambers to stand in the presence of the Throne, the process by which the magician gains Mastery and becomes like the Metatron, the Lesser YHVH.

When you have properly received the ring, and then in future works you put on the ring, consider this angel's nature. By putting on the ring you wear the fiery crown of branches that harmonizes creation within the divine glory. By putting on the ring you are united with the Shekhinah, the Ruakh HaKodesh, the divine presence on earth. You have the divine authority literally at your finger tips, because, you, like Enoch, are beloved of the Creator, and you're on the road to his Throne.