Hear us Lord, holy Lord,
almighty Father, eternal God,
and deign to send your holy Angel from heaven,
to guard, cherish, protect, visit and defend
all who are gathered together in this place.
(Liturgical prayer of the introductory service preceding the solemn Mass)
Everyone who drinks of this water
will thirst again, but whoever
drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst;
the water that I shall give him
will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
(John iv, 13-14) .  

By upbringing and intellectual training,
I belong to the “children of heaven”;
but by temperament, and by my professional studies,
I am a “child of the earth”.
Situated thus by life at the heart of two worlds
with whose theory, idiom and feelings
intimate experience has made me familiar,
I have not erected any watertight bulkhead inside myself.
On the contrary, I have allowed
two apparently conflicting influences full freedom to
react upon one another deep within me.
(Pierre Teilhard de Chardin) 


from the Tarot of Marseilles
Teilhard de Chardin
What is the message of the Angel with two wings, in the red and blue robe, holding two vases, one red and one blue, and making water gush in a mysterious way from one vase to the other? Does he not bear the good news that beyond the duality of “either-or” there is still that of “not only-but also” or “both-and”? Does not the totality of the Card, the Angel of the Card, suggest the problem of cooperating polarity, or integrated duality?
Saint Bernard by Juan Correa de Vivar

In preceding Letters there have  been  diverse connections, of a twofold polarity—that of “polemic” (war) and that of cooperation or “peace”. St. Bernard of Clairvaux, in his doctrine of the divine image and likeness of man, provides a thorough-going investigation of this twofold polarity.

“Man was made in the image and likeness of God: in image he possesses freedom of will, and in likeness he possesses virtues. The likeness has been destroyed; however, man conserves the image. The image can be burnt in hell, but not consumed. Wherever the soul is, there also will be the image. It is not so with the likeness. This remains in the soul which accomplishes the good; in the soul which sins it is wretchedly transformed. The soul which has sinned ranks with beasts devoid of intelligence.”
(St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermon on the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.)

The question arises is there something in human life which counterbalances man’s bad inclinations? The answer is the Guardian Angel who substitutes himself for functions destroyed through the Fall. As we said above God,
 “deigns to send your holy Angel from heaven,
to guard, cherish, protect, visit and defend
all who are gathered together in this place.”

The Guardian Angel is a “flaming star” who guards memory,  who takes care that there is a connection between the great “yesterday, today and tomorrow” of the human soul.  The guardian Angel cherishes the endeavour, quest and aspiration of the soul. He always leaves the soul free to choose, but he also protects the human being.

He visits the human and, as the clairvoyant, helps the non-clairvoyant with respect to psychic and physical temptations and dangers. He warns, informs and helps to appreciate. Nevertheless he never suppresses occasions of temptation. For, as St. Anthony the Great said, “without temptation there is no spiritual progress”.

With respect to the last of the five functions of the guardian Angel, namely his defence, it differs from the others in that it is turned above, towards heaven, and is no longer directed below or horizontally.

Just as Moses said to the LORD, when the children of Israel had sinned by preferring a god made of gold to the Living God, “ if thou wilt forgive their sin—and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written” (Exodus xxxii, 32), so do guardian Angels “cover” their protégés before the face of Divine Justice.

The guardian Angel covers his protégé from Divine justice with his wings, as a mother defends her child.

For this reason the Holy Virgin and Mother of God bears the liturgical title “Queen of the Angels”.
Dear Unknown Friend, think of your guardian Angel,  when you have problems, questions to resolve, tasks to accomplish, plans to formulate, cares and fears to appease! Think of him as a luminous cloud of maternal love above you, moved by the sole desire to serve you and to be useful to you.

The Guardian Angel is the friend of the bride at the spiritual marriage of the soul and God. He withdraws before the approach of One who is greater than he.

When a soul rises closer to God, his personal Guardian Angel is “freed” and an Archangel replaces him. Human beings whose guardian is an Archangel have not only new experiences of the Divine in their inner life, but also receive a new  vocation. They become representatives of a human group — a nation or community. From this time onwards their actions will no longer be purely personal, but will at the same time have value for the human community that they represent.

Archangel Gabriel
Daniel and Gabriel

It was so for Daniel, who in praying the following, was acting not only in his name but also in the name of the people of Israel:

…we have sinned  and rebelled, turning aside from thy commandments … Now, therefore, O our God, hearken to the prayer of thy servant and to his supplications, and for the love of the Lord, cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline thy ear and hear! Open thy eyes and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name…(Daniel ix, 5, 17-18)

And it was the Archangel Gabriel who “came to him in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice…he came to give him wisdom and understanding” (Daniel ix, 21-22).

A Seraphim can also replace a guardian angel. It was so for St. Francis of Assisi. The Seraphim who gave him the teaching of the Crucifixion whereby he gained the stigmata.

This is why St. Francis represents more than mankind. He represents  “divinised humanity”.  St. John of the Cross said this about St Francis’ stigmata.
While the soul is inflamed with the love of God…it will feel that a Seraphim is assailing it by means of an arrow afire with love. And the Seraphim pierces and cauterises this soul which is already enkindled. In this cauterisation the soul feels the wound with unsurpassable delight…

God sometimes permits an effect to extend to the bodily senses, as happened when the Seraphim wounded St. Francis.

When the soul is wounded with love by the five wounds, the effect extends to the body, just as the soul is wounded with love. God does not usually bestow a favour upon the body without bestowing it first and principally upon the soul. (St. John of the Cross, The Living flame of Love)
St Francis receives the stigmata from Gabriel

Just as one has arms because one has the will to touch, it is similar with wings. They are a will to extend not only horizontally but also vertically, not only to bear touch forward, but also to bear it above. Wings express the will for movement according to a cross, i.e. not only that of expansion on a plane but also that of elevation to another plane.

Just as the bird, whose body is solid and liquid, elevates itself by means of wings from the solid and liquid regions into that of the air, so does the Angel elevate itself by means of currents of vital and psychic energy—which correspond to wings—into the higher spiritual world.

Its “flying” is not a mechanical operation of “sculling in the air”, as is the case with a bird, but it is a magical operation of the establishing of contact with “celestial gravitation”, i.e. with divine attraction.

One could say the bird flies by beating its wings against the air, by resting on the air; the Angel “flies” by immobilising its wings after having touched God. The bird flies thanks to the air; the Angel “flies” thanks to God.

Winged Saint John the Baptist
The two Angelic wings are the Angel’s links with the eternal sabbath and the eternal creativity of God — or, in other words, with divine gnosis and divine magic. It is by means of the “gnostic” (or “left”) wing that the Angel is in contemplation of divine wisdom, and it is by means of the “magical” (or “right”) wing that he is active in his capacity as messenger or “Angel”.

From tradition we know that there are also human beings endowed with wings. Thus the right panel of a triptych forming the circle of a deesis, a Russian icon from the hand of Nicephorus Savine, shows St. John the Baptist as winged.  Similarly  the Hermit of the Bologna Tarot shows a winged patriarch, who walks laboriously, bent double on two crutches, having a pillar behind him. 

The Hermit

To become a pillar is the aim of the Hermit or Hermeticist; the means of raising oneself as a pillar are wings; and what becomes more and more difficult for one who becomes a pillar is horizontal movement.  He has become a “spiritual stylite” at the expense of movement in the horizontal.

Wings are organs of the subtle bodies—astral and vital. It is therefore a matter of the domain of the unconscious when it is a question of wings. Our task here is to turn  towards God in prayer and meditation.
The apostolic counsel “Pray constantly” (I Thessalonians v, 17) is the key. The astral and vital bodies can pray unceasingly—which is not possible for the conscious self. The Way of a Pilgrim by an anonymous Russian author describes how the pilgrim in waking up during the night, hears his heart beating distinctly the words of the prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ—Son of God—have mercy on me—a sinner” .

 Wings are formed only when the two currents—that of human endeavour and that of grace—meet and unite.

Pure humanism can create only the wings of Icarus. And the lot of Icarus is known: his wings of “wax” melted in the warmth of the sun, and the unfortunate Icarus fell to the earth, as seen in this painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Regarding demonism, it can develop only the wings of a bat, i.e. those of darkness which are organs by means of which one can plunge into the depths of darkness.

 A winged human being is  disposed towards the heroic and towards the miraculous.
Wings are the opposite of legs, because they are organs of contact with heaven, whilst legs are those of contact with the earth. If the law of wings is the love of God, that of arms is the love of neighbour. And the law of legs is the love of terrestrial Nature.

The Angel of the Card holds two vases united by a current of water. 
The problem of fluids is that of the dynamic functioning of the whole human being, i.e. corporeal, psychic and spiritual.  Just as there exists a system of physical circulation, so also there exists a system of vital and astral circulation, which in its turn is simply a reflection of the system of circulation comprising spirit, soul and body—the threefold body—as a living unity. The principle underlying this total system of circulation is the divine likeness. And as it is this which has undergone the disfiguring effect of original sin, it is the mission of the guardian Angel to see to it that the total system of circulation functions in as healthy a way as possible.

The angel Raphael appears among the animals in the garden of Eden to gaze upon Adam and Eve.
Aquatint by R. Pollard
This is why tradition has given the name Temperance to the fourteenth Arcanum of the Tarot. For it is a matter here of the measure in the fluidic relationship between the image and the likeness which is necessary for life and health.

This measure amounts to an always changing equilibrium between eternity and the moment, between the absolute and the relative, between contemplation and action, between the ideal and the phenomenal, between Mary and Martha. All of us live a healthy life only in as much as the two sisters in us are present and active as sisters.  “Pray and work” cannot be replaced by any other formula. 

Charles Martel defeating Umayyad invasion of Aquitaine at the Battle of Tours

Many criticise Saint Bernard for  encouraging the Crusade, but battle had commenced in the seventh century, when the Arabs invaded the eastern Christian countries. Charles Martel repulsed them at Poitiers in France, and through this victory (in 732) saved Christian civilisation and the West from Mohammedan conquest.

St. Bernard advanced not only active contemplation for the monks but also contemplative activity for the knights. This is what Krishna made Arjuna understand  “performing all actions, always depending on me, man obtains eternity” (Bhagavad-Gita)

Arjuna and Krishna

The contact between image and likeness is experienced as inner weeping. The expression: “I am moved to tears” is only a reflection of what happens when image and likeness touch. They then mingle their tears—and the inner current which results from this is the life of the human soul. 

Tears, sweat and blood are the three substances of the threefold mystery of man. 

To be touched from above is “tears”; the effort to conform to that which is above is “sweat”; and the consummated marriage of grace from above and effort from below is “blood”. 

Stabat mater

Here we have the inner reasons for the three principal heresies (for every serious heresy is a truth over-accentuated at the expense of the whole truth. Ronald Knox spent thirty years writing on this theme for his masterpiece Enthusiasm.).

For those who seek only tears are inclined to Quietism ; those who prefer sweat, i.e. effort of will, easily fall into the Pelagian heresy of denying grace; and those who seek the Mystery only in the blood often arrive at the Lutheran heresy where work, i.e. effort, counts for nothing.


There are three principal modes of authentic spiritual experience: vision, inspiration and intuition. Vision shows us spiritual things, inspiration infuses us with understanding, and intuition reveals their essence. Thus St. Paul had the vision of Christ on the way to Damascus, from whom he received inspiration that he obeyed and the carrying out of which constituted his apostolic work, his intuition. Through intuition one becomes another, through inspiration one apprehends new ways of thinking, feeling and acting, and through vision one’s domain of experience is enlarged

The symbol of the Rose Cross renders the essence of inspiration. It expresses the mystery of tears, i.e. that of inspiration, with force and clarity. It portrays the joy of sorrow and the sorrow of joy, which together comprise inspiration.

One cannot separate from one another the mortal sweat of the Crucifix, the inspirative tears of acceptance of the Cross (Rose Cross), and the blood transmuted through identification with the Cross. The mystery of sweat, tears and blood is one and indivisible.


It is the same with Christianity. It is one and indivisible. Esoteric Christianity is entirely within exoteric Christianity. Christian Hermeticism is only a special vocation within the universal Christian community — the vocation  of depth. The unity of the whole of mankind’s authentic spiritual life throughout its entire history always was, is, and always will be Christocentric. Hermeticism is the vocation to live the universal truth of the prologue to St. John’s Gospel:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…All things were made through him and nothing that has been made was made without him. In him was the life, and the life was the light of men…This was the true light that enlightens every man coming into the world. (John i, 1-4, 9)

Unity of the light in the past, present, future; unity in the East, West, North and South — this is the Hermetic vocation. Hermeticists think together.

In order to “think together” I have to bow before an intelligence surpassing mine. This means thinking on my knees, i.e. humbling myself before the other — diminishing myself so that he may increase.
The Hermeticist will not be inspired if he is not humble. But no more will he be inspired if he does not apprehend the art of forgetting himself. Whatever he may be—humble or presumptuous, innocent or sinful — he must be driven by hunger and thirst for the truth concerning God, the world and mankind.

Children know how to ask and dare to ask. Are they presumptuous? No, because each question that they pose is at the same time an avowal of their ignorance. Are they humble, therefore? They are in so far as they sense their ignorance, and they are not in so far as they are driven by hunger and thirst to know and understand to the point of forgetting themselves. In this the Hermeticist imitates the child. He wants to know “who”, “what”, “how” and “why”, concerning life and death, good and evil, creation and evolution, history and the human soul

People in the natural sciences whose hair is grey through study and research have abandoned these questions. “Childish questions”, they say. They resign themselves to a single question: that of the technical “how”.

The “why” and the “what”, not to speak of the “who”, are pre-scientific questions which they leave to theology and the belles-lettres.
The Hermeticist will not be inspired if he is not humble. But no more will he be inspired if he does not apprehend the art of forgetting himself. Whatever he may be—humble or presumptuous, innocent or sinful — he must be driven by hunger and thirst for the truth concerning God, the world and mankind.

Our chance, our hope…is inspiration. And it is precisely because we ask in the way that children do that we have the hope — no, the certainty — that our Father who is in heaven will give us the answer, that he will not give us a stone instead of bread, or a serpent in place of a fish. Inspiration—the two vases from whence flows the living water held by a winged Angel — is the hope and the chance for the survival of Hermeticism in the centuries to come!

Dear Unknown Friend, say to yourself that you know nothing, and at the same time say to yourself that you are able to know everything, and — armed with this healthy humility and this healthy presumption of children — immerse yourself in the pure and strengthening element of the “thinking together” of inspiration! May the winged Angel be present in this enterprise of yours, and may he hold the two vases from which inspiration will pour!