An Essential Introduction
I. Outer Perspective
Few topics in Western Occultism gained as much attention and dedication by practioners in recent decades as the Holy Guardian Angel. Since the teachings of the sage Abramelin - written down by Abraham of Worms - were published in 1725 for many attaining knowledge and conversation with one's personal guardian angel rose to become the epiphany of the magical Arte.
Over recent decades several personal accounts of the Abramelin ritual have been published that give further insight into the actual practice - such as William Bloom's 'The Sacred Magician' (originally published under the pseudonym George Chevalier) or Georg Dehn's introduction to his Book of Abramelin. Also new and adjusted versions have been developed and some of them made public such as Jason Newcomb's '21st Mage - Bringing Down the Divine'. And not to forget, Aleister Crowley - just as expected - developed his own approach to the matter in his Liber Samekh, considering the operation of utmost importance for any pracitioner of the Arte:
"It should never be forgotten for a single moment that the central and essential work of the Magician is the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. Once he has achieved this he must of course be left entirely in the hands of that Angel, who can be invariably and inevitably relied upon to lead him to the further great step—crossing of the Abyss and the attainment of the grade of Master of the Temple."
A.Crowley, Magic Without Tears
However, despite all this effort the actual nature and function of this purported spiritual entitiy have remained highly enigmatic along the way. While some scholars closed the book by considering the entire concept a relatively late invention of romantic pracitioners of the early 20th century, others meant to trace it back to older occult sourceworks - thus assuming a long historic and practical tradition amongst followers of the 'Yoga of the West'.
As always in magic and life - ultimately we will be able to find truth only by creating and pursuing our own subjective experience and insights. Again, Crowley summed this up in his liminal Book4 already:
"It is impossible to lay down precise rules by which a man may attain to the knowledge and conversation of His Holy Guardian Angel; for that is the particular secret of each one of us; a secret not to be told or even divined by any other, whatever his grade. It is the Holy of Holies, whereof each man is his own High Priest, and none knoweth the Name of his brother's God, or the Rite that invokes Him."
A.Crowley, Book 4, A Star in Sight
So while the actual road to attaining knowledge and conversation with our HGA can be paved by our own hearts, hands and minds only - it should be possible to get a better shared understanding of this concept from a purely historic perspective?
- Is there but one Holy Guardian Angel for each of us or two or even three?
- Is it indifferent in nature, evil or good?
- Is it actually split into two polar entities - like the devil and angels sitting on our shoulders?
- How does the concept relate to Socrates' idea of a personal daimon?
- And what about the Holy Genius and Evil Demon we know from the Divine Pymander?
Many more questions along these lines are out there - waiting for answers. Yet, any answer given might be irrelevant to or even contradicting our own magical experience. Under no circumstances should we try to justify our subjective spirit encounters through historic concepts. Clearly, the old marketing saying 'perception is reality' bears significant importance for anyone pursuing to gain knowledge and conversation with their HGA. However, it seems there are fragments out there, garbled among many cultures, times and traditions that all know of a personal spirit guardian. May these be similar in nature, a spiritual topoi or even completely unique to their times and tradition - that is something still to be researched by scholars.
Unfortunately, they haven't done their job yet. That is at least to my knowledge. Should there be books out there and I am just plainly missing them - please holer! However, after exploring this topic with several inner contacts as well as my own HGA I was pointed to simply give it a try.
I am not a scholar of classical or ancient studies in any fashion. My uncle happens to be a professor in this department. He and I exchanged some thoughts on this projects and he pointed me towards a lot of relevant literature. Yet, clearly from his angle my efforts to bring 'light' to this topic are just as professional as a kid toying with stones and shovels in an ancient archeological site... But then, something is always better than nothing. And if these following brief studies just achieve to upset real scholars on this field that's great. Maybe this can be the trigger to kick them into action?
II. Inner Perspective
And then, obviously, there is also an inner perspective on why I would spend a good chunk of my time researching this topic - knowing the chances to fail are just so high?
Back in 2009 I went through my own version of a ritual that allowed me to gain knowledge and conversation with my HGA. It was a four week long ordeal that was centered on the forces of Saturn and breaking down the false barriers of our Ego and limited subjective perspectives. Fellow German magicians might know a similar ritual under the term of 'Saturn Exerzitium' or 'Sat-Ex' in short. It gives access to an inner state and experience by use of repeated Saturn-focussed rituals while during the first week living in complete silence, during the second week with very little sleep, during the third week without food and during the fourth week with all three sacrifces combined. In the end the magician is left in a state of deep isolation, yet a sense of crystal clear focus and devotion that opens some interesting gnostic doorways. On the last day it culminates in a burial rite.
It was an adjusted version of this ritual that allowed me to find access to this wonderful spiritual being that had been around me all the time, patiently waiting for my filters to break down, for my limited personalty to falter and die - in order to be resurrected from within. Since then I have learned a lot about the way we communicate with spirits - about how little importance should be attributed to the magician and how much to the forces that work for and around him.
It is also based on this background of personal experiences that I am approaching these studies. While like many others I don't have to believe but know the reality I am confronted with when communicating with my HGA I also know it is still filtered through my own personality, my time, my culture, my social background and - last but not least - the limited treasurehouse of words and images stored in my mind.
It is especially the latter, this treasurehouse of words and images that needs constant feeding and expansion if I am to continue to grow as a magican and human being. And this is my main inner motivation for studying the concept of the Holy Guardian Angel among the cultures that have gone before us: It teaches me new words, new images, new thought patterns, new ideas, possibilities and realities - and continues to tear down the demonic illusion that my own reality has any significance beyond the borders of my skin.
Maybe this is what this study comes down to from an inner perspective: to foster exploration without judgement.
"Sometimes we spend a fortune on purchasing a book - just to read a single paragraph or line that changes everything for us at that particular point in time. We cannot lead our own searches, but follow them humbly."
(an anonymous fellow booklover)
May the serpent bite its tail.