Ode to Ariel (This an Old Story – the First I Ever Lived)

You, my first love, my heart’s golden river, winged with wonder.
They say angels watch humans with envy for lips they don’t have,
for mouths of pink and rose that sing, tell, pray and even dream –
your tongue is ever-quenched by the white of the Milky Way, you swim
through the outer boundaries of space’s luminaries, I aback my angel.

You taught me how to be kind to the desolate, to cherish the weak.
Oh Ariel, Hearth of God, Light of the Lord, you are too beautiful,
and you are the elder brother and protector of my virgin heart,
unsullied by the blood you spilled on my behalf, a rain of hope
always tangles your brassy hair, your starlight splendor, my love.

You are the blessed, you are the mighty, you are the poor, burning
glory, never a joke or laugh away from a kilowatt smile, funny bone
of Heaven, I remember catching fireflies, you braiding my long hair,
taking me on adventures through the multitudinous otherworlds, sword
unsheathed and gleaming, eyes the blue of a perfect summer highway.

My winged lion, my leonine animus, how you stretch to fill darkness
that creeps into my melancholy bones, lighting fires within marrow,
we are on beaches by bonfires, in the forest staring into the flames.
When I am lonely, I hear you whisper, my first anam cara, heart friend.
We dance, we fly, we merge, and angels know union with man’s heart.

Advertisements

Ariel

Dawn breaks over the sea strand, the Lion of God
is lord of the sun and the waters, elemental king.
Fire is also his domain, and as flames lick feet
his mane is bright bonfire, shift from beast to
man, man to beast, blond hair a windswept halo,
tanned as wood grain, eyes the blue of lost days.
We walk amidst the strand, froth kisses our ankles
hand in hand with my childhood idol, morning star
Ariel, Ariel, you were always there in my girlhood
I rode your wings through Milky Way fractal spills
you taught me to hold a sword too large for a child
to fight for my passions, to salvage the ruins of
war and find beauty, you were there in the torments
of playground battles and cruelties of childhood,
“Be strong,” you would say, “Be brave, I love you.”
I sang songs to you before I knew what worship was
just that you were my better half, master defender,
older brother cut from the same quick-kindle cloth
I was in such awe of you at seven, moreso at twelve,
for by then I knew you had your own monsters, and I
would hold back your hair as you cried into Hell,
comb girlish promises of spring into a soldier braid
you’re always the first on the battlefield, brash roar
of courage and recklessness, sometimes we would crash
and in the ruin of our blood and feathers, we laughed.

Sea Witch

Seaweed hair, nacreous crown of sea urchin needles –
a mermaid came to my cave, I stole her starling voice
now her soprano soaks my skin in youth, her vibratto
my perfumery, I suck that music dry as mackerel bones,
for I live off notes and rhythm, my voluptuous hips
are perfect for drowning men in my curves, shipwreck
siren I, fishnet trap for those full of wish-longing.

Fluid Genders and Angels

In my experience with angels, they all have masculine and feminine forms, but their true forms are transcendental and inherently genderless.  Mannerisms may change when they switch between genders – for example, fem!Gabriel is motherly and nurturing and like a valkyrie on the battlefield, while male!Gabriel is charming, witty, and a practical jokester that loves puns.  They may favor one gender over the other, like Michael, or shift easily between them, like Uriel or Gabriel.  An angel like Ariel that may appear as female to the majority of spirit workers may actually appear male to you.  I think it all depends on the lessons you need to learn from them.

Last night I dreamt of Michael’s female aspect, who is very regal and reminds me of Queen Elizabeth.  She has long flowing auburn hair that is usually in a chignon or braid and silvery eyes, usually dressed in white robes or dresses.  In this aspect she is very motherly with me and contemplative, asking me philosophical questions and attending to work in the Heavenly body with utmost diligence.  She is quieter and less forceful than her male aspect, which I mainly interact with, but no less fearsome.  She has an especial love for children and flowers.

Samael’s female aspect is like if Dita Von Teese and Ishtar had a baby.  Femme fatale, dominatrix, with a curvaceous figure, rather voluptuous assets, a tan Kim Kardashian would die for, and insatiable appetite for all things.  She is all fire, impulsive, sexual, energetic, crazy in her passion, literally crazy, does tons of drugs and alcohol, and an agent of destruction.  Long wavy black hair, she often goes naked or in a bustier and skirt and can usually be found vomiting in a bathroom.

Ariel’s male aspect, whereas he is usually female with most spirit workers, is who I dub Blonde Wonderboy.  Snarky, charming, flirty, obsessed with bonfires and the ocean and surfing, a total beach bum and rascal to boot.  He is fun as fun can be and loves going on adventures in the otherworlds and is very boyish in his charms and mannerisms.  An angel of the elements, he is all about nature, and probably an Eagle Scout to boot.  Many times he is part-lion and overlaps with Samael as the Demiurge inspired by the god Nergal.  They have a joint aspect I call Ariael that I interacted with a lot as a child, but now remain quite separate.

Unlike most occultists, I primarily see Uriel as a girl.  Umber skin, hazel eyes, beautiful blondish brown dreadlocks and a toned body like Rihanna.  She looks Melanesian and favors cyan or seafoam robes, summer dresses, or swimsuits.  Her heaven looks like a tropical paradise and she wouldn’t be caught dead without her trusty spear.  She is very motherly and older sisterly and loves taking people under her wing.  An earthy angel, she is extremely grounded and radiates peace.  Don’t be surprised if she is delighted to see you and gives you a peck on the cheek!  Her male aspect works more with children and appeared to me around Christmastime in festive robes, delivering presents.  He literally looked like Denzel Washington and I went, oh god, have mercy, he’s hot.

Finally good old Gabriel.  They are about as gender fluid as you can get, switching easily between male and female aspects.  It’s about 50/50 with people perceiving them as male or female, and I tend to like her female side better.  The male one jokes too much and likes novelty bars ;).

Obviously other angels – all of them – have male and female aspects, as angels are inherently genderless.  My guess is they appear in forms we are most comfortable with.  Raphael and Azrael I’ve never seen as gals, and I can only IMAGINE what Metatron would be like as a woman.  That would make my year.  Michael as a woman is funny enough.  Better start calling her Michelle…

My Experience with the Archangels (UPDATED)

Updated with Uriel, my Khaleesi.

There are a lot of things I love – green curry, mythology, a good book when it’s raining outside, next to a cup of tea, in a blanket burrito, tall tall trees – but nothing gets my heart singing like angels.  I have always adored the idea of angels since I first learned about them as a preschooler and gravitated towards anything with angels on them – Hallmark cards, children’s bibles, classical artwork, stained glass windows in churches.  Whenever I saw them it felt like I was wrapped in a warm blanket of energy, my hairs standing on end and skin buzzing with pure love like electricity.  When I was old enough to have imaginary friends, I made mine an angel of lions, destruction, and fire that was a stand-in for the older brother I never had: my best friend, protector, and teacher.

I called him Star after the morning star which to my young eyes, was the brightest thing in the night sky, standing sentinel to the moon.  I would sing to him at night and pray to him and tell him my deepest secrets – in dreams we’d play in heaven with other angels, fight demons, and I’d be carried on his back as we flew across the Milky Way.  Star stayed with me until I was about twelve in dreams – I remember saying goodbye to him officially when I thought I was too old to write stories about imaginary friends anymore, that I should start believing in “real” gods – too bad I never read about Archangel Ariel – angel of lions, fire, and destruction – whose flip side, as the Demiurge lion-faced serpent, is Samael.  Sorry but the Gnostics have been dead for a few thousand years not counting the Cathars.  Also this was the nineties-early 2000’s and I was more concerned with playing Pokemon than researching the occult.

Star had an “evil” side like I swear all small children who like explosions make their OCs have.  Normal Star had tan skin, with azure blue eyes and platinum hair – his evil side, which in my third grade mind was the embodiment of chaos in the universe I had created, was a spirit of dragons, poison and snakes with porcelain skin, red eyes, and black hair.  Right when “Star” exited my dreams he was replaced by a character I named “Samael” that looked suspiciously like his evil side, yet still had the same snark as Star.  Pale olive skin, red eyes, long black hair.  I was still reeling from the fact a name I’d pulled out of my posterior was real (It’s happened twice, with my characters Samael and Ragnar) and that my computer was for some reason claiming a twelve year old had edited the Lucifer Wikipedia page.  This was also the time I had my first vision of an angry ginger angel general who saved my life then thrust me back into my body, so alongside puberty and hair growing in weird places like my armpits, also middle school, life was getting increasingly weird.

After I found out Samael was “real” – as real as a mythological figure can be – I went into denial about angels.  I was still a budding pagan, had been since the tender age of seven when I first got my hands on D’aulaires, so I decided that all Abrahamic religions sucked because the Messiah couldn’t be a woman, and hey, if I wasn’t good enough to be the Messiah, then I wasn’t good for anything.  I also wanted to be the President at this point and was in my angry feminist phase so anything that stank of the patriarchy – read Bible – I abhored.  Still, I devoured Madeliene L’engel’s Wrinkle of Time quartet and fell in love with the angels in those books, from the first to Many Waters, and I continued dreaming of angels and demons who I then wrote about in my stories.  Samael took me on crazy adventures only a drunk would take a young teenager on in my dreams, and through them I met the archangels and archdemons.

To me the archdemons are like the drinking buddies you don’t want to be seen with in public – they’re good to party with, but too crazy for day-to-day interactions.  The archangels are the opposite – kind, the essence of love and compassion, with hidden quirks and complexities, servants above all to humanity and God.  They treat me like a younger sister and I often dream I am a young child playing with them, or that I am in the audience of their Heavenly Council or Michael’s prayer garden.  This is a list of the ones I interact the most with, because I’m bored and still have an hour til my train:

Michael: The head honcho and first angel I “officially” met at the age of twelve, barring Auriel and Metatron.  I’ve written about my vision of him here.  To say he is terrifying is an understatement.  Too tall, I see him as Islamic mystics describe him – saffron thread hair, emerald eyes.  His wings are white and armor golden with a red sash, blue cloak and fashionable tunica and sandals.  This guy reminds me of Thor in that he has muscles on his muscles and basically looks like Hercules.  He’s a lot less huggable than Thor and much more a sad plant man who only ever smiles when he is gardening.  His voice is like thunder, his faithfulness and steadfast love to God keep Heaven together, and he is the most fearsome being you will encounter on the battlefield whose strength is only matched by Samael’s.  I often dream of them fighting or politicking Cold War style minus the whole ping-pong diplomacy portion.  Michael is above all a defender – of the innocent, truth, the oppressed, everyone and anyone – your pet, your wife, your child, that sad dandelion that is dying of thirst in a crack in the sidewalk.  He cares so deeply about everything that he often times grows weary, but he listens to every single prayer to himself and his Father – every single one.  His laugh is rare but the most wonderful sound in the world.  So is his smile.  Some mystics say he hasn’t smiled since his brothers fell, but that just isn’t true.  It’s fast: a small soft quirk of the lips, a crinkle of his ancient eyes, but it’s there.  He listens to prayers, and answers every single one of mine in the most unexpected, but beautiful, of ways.

Gabriel: This is more Izzi’s territory, but Gabriel has always been a lighthearted presence in my life.  He/she looks nothing like the actor on Supernatural minus the dark brown hair, but they got one thing right: GABRIEL’S MALE ASPECT IS A HUGE ASS TRICKSTER AND FLIRT.  He has a smile more devilish than Samael and is one of the few that can make Michael laugh.  He’s an angel of water, peace, souls, good cheer and jokes, and messages.  Her female aspect to me appears with long blonde hair and is much more maternal, but is vicious on the battlefield – I mean she razes legions of demons with a flick of her saber, she’s that powerful.  Gabriel shifts between genders easily and is a very go-with-the-flow guy/gal, at least in my dreams.  They often speak in riddles or parables.

Ariel: I get Zadkiel mixed with Ariel and am not unconvinced they are one and the same.  Anyways, he’s like my older brother and main defender besides Michael – for some reason he likes to play with hair – like he will literally braid mine and make me a flower crown and I’ll have to tell him to bugger off in dreams because I’m trying to have adventures.  He loves children and nature, and is associated with all four elements – I see him mostly around ocean settings and bonfires.  He sometimes carries a torch or shoots arrows.  He usually wears white or purple robes and has long blond hair like Fabio.  Lions are his signature animal and most people apparently see him as a woman, but not me.  I get Blond Wonderboy.  He’s also a major flirt and is very playful and creative, but don’t piss him off.  Then he goes all destructo on your ass.

Uriel: The Khaleesi of my heart, queen of my fangirling, I have known Uriel since I was seven and she has almost always appeared as a woman to me: black and blonde dreadlocks, umber skin, freckles, and hazel eyes.  As the Light of God, she is an absolute delight and ball of radiant energy, childish and talkative, but by god do not piss her off, as she is built and trains like an Amazon warrior.  She usually favors cyan blue or seafoam robes or exercise gear, and loves beaches, starfish, shells, and anything tropical.  To me, she looks Melanesian and her heavenly home reflects that – it is a tropical paradise.  I’ve even seen her swimming in a bikini on one of her off days, then practicing on her beach with her most trusted spear.  She is very much an earthy angel to me, the element she presides over, extremely grounded, kind, and kind of a pack mother like a wolf, the animal I associate with her.  In her own words she is good for bringing friends together, settling disputes, and promoting peace and justice.  She always has time to peck you on the cheek or ruffle your hair and will usually treat me like a beloved little sister.  She and Ariel are a Hot Item and she is one of the only ones that can make him take things seriously.  She is usually spotted in Michael’s company and they are very, very good friends, bringing out a softer side in him not many see.  Her male form has golden eyes and looks a bit like Denzel Washington – there I go again with the weird celebrity references.  He appears usually around Christmastime in a festive outfit of red and gold and delights in giving gifts to children and snow.

Raphael: I love him so much I’m writing a whole book about him.  Raphael is like if sunshine were bottled into a person.  Always optimistic, good-humored, loves children, wears bright yellow with a megawatt smile.  For some reason to me he looks like Idris Elba.  I don’t really know why.  Maybe I just like Idris Elba too much and have projected it onto my favorite archangel.  He’s the best cook in Heaven and often tells jokes to lighten the mood in angelic councils.  I mostly dream I’m a child when I’m with him and he plays with me – we build sand castles, he pulls me in a wagon, we play tag.  He will bring out your inner child for sure.  Also the best angel to go to if, like me, your toenail falls off and you’re grossed out to the max and want a fast recovery, as he’s the physician of the angels.

Samael: About 50% of this blog is about Bonebutt so I’m not going to say anything except that he is a piece of work, lousy lazy archangel, stinking wino and obsessed with being “cool”

Azrael: In my dreams, the angels call Samael the “Red Reaper” and Azrael, his much kinder counterpart, the “Blue Reaper.”  Azrael has two forms: a Grim Reaper form with glowing blue eyes like Discworld death, and this chill Middle Eastern Goth dude that is always reading a book with headphones on.  He is soft-spoken, introverted, calm, peaceful, and endless like the depths of the ocean.  For some reason he also likes baseball – as in he has taken me to baseball matches in dreams.  I wonder if it’s an Angel of Death thing because Samael just has this thing for baseball too.  Anyways, Azrael likes to stay out of the spotlight, in the shadow, and chill.  He won’t directly come up to you at a party or whatever but is very witty if you talk to him.  He’s a loner for sure, but one of the kindest angels ever.

Raguel: I’ve only seen him once in passing and got this overwhelming sense of peace and compassion.  He had long chestnut hair and was dressed in a gold robe with Roman sandals, carrying a Very Important Book.  I don’t know if it was the Book of Life or not, but he was in a hurry to get somewhere that was also probably Very Important.

Metatron: Best for last.  The grandpa of the angels.  I’ve known this dude since I was like seven.  I called him the President of the angels because he ran Heaven and drank a lot of tea and was always doing paperwork.  Ain’t nothing Metatron loves more than entertaining children’s precocious questions and tea.  Black tea, specifically, with cream and sugar.  He stirs it a lot when he’s doing Very Important Paperwork and sometimes accidentally spills it.  He is easily distracted as he gets so absorbed in the topic at hand.  He presides over angelic councils and I swear he’s the only one that can make Samael behave, or at least shut up for a period of five minutes max.  Also for some reason to me he looks like Elrond.  Like circlet, receding hairline, everything.  I don’t know if that’s as weird as Raphael looking like Idris Elba but whatever.  He’s very good-humored and very much the elderly British gentleman – obsessed with genteel good manners, likes gardening and formalities, and above all, order.  He can get flustered easily but if he is serious about gaining control of situation, AIN’T NOTHING STANDING IN HIS WAY.

I’ve met lots of other angels in dreams but these are the archangels I know best.  Heaven is like one big bureaucracy, whereas Hell is kinda like if society collapsed into this endless apocalyptic orgy.  I still don’t know which place I like better.

Dream Diary: Lord Yama

We set sail for Naraka, amongst mountains and buttery flower-laden rolling valleys and crystal rivers that would make Tibet jealous.  I am there to deliver news from the heavens to the wrathful judge of the dead, Lord Yama.

There is a portal to the underworld stationed at a remote, forested foggy island, with a gaping great cavern.  We take the elevator down, down, past stainless steel fixtures melded with Oriental paper lanterns and so many wrathful statues of dragons and qilins.  My jaw drops as the bureaucracy of Naraka unveils itself to me through the glass windows of the elevator: levels of paper-pushing demons and punished souls meeting unfortunate fates, all meticulously arranged as if they were the cut creases of an unfolding origami swan.

I clutch the scroll the angels have sent me close to my breast and pause to breathe, nervous, as I have never liked closed spaces.  I am not the flower that thrives in the underworld, not asphodel by a long shot, and I miss the sun in this cavernous gaping underworld.

Me and the other dignitaries reach the lowest level – an intricate court splayed out before us, with earthly fires, blazing torches, all slate grey and onyx blacks, and great beasts like monkeys and tigers carved into the walls.

Lord Yama sits unflinching, unyielding, atop a great throne of bones.  His eyes are polished black stones, he looks almost sinister, but there is a calm peace in him, like the embrace of Death.  He is dressed in long flowing black robes like a Buddhist monk and armor like the buried Terracotta Warriors of China – I don’t have the cultural frame of reference to interpret all the trappings of his moon-pale court, the intricate courtiers and criers and ladies like lily flowers and moons.  There are great white tigers perched beside his throne, and he strokes them idly, almost bored.

He gazes at me like a knife through the heart.  “Well?”

I bite my lower lip.  “I have a message from another pantheon – regarding – regarding the flow of souls between realms.  I hope I did not come at the wrong time.”

A small crook of the lips.  “There is never a good time to come to the underworld.  As for the souls, I am Death – I will not surrender any of my precious inhabitants.  Each is like a shining jewel – my fires temper them.  And you came here – why you, hubris to face the lord of the grave – why do you think you can leave here alive?”

He laughs like rain on a quarry pool.  My heart drops to my feet, as does my yellowed scroll.

“You mean you won’t let me go?”  My stomach hardens.

“Welcome to the afterlife, overcurious girl.”  Lord Yama beckons.

I know help will arrive if I don’t meet the crew aboveground at our designated time.  I just fear it will be too late.

“Come, dinner is ready,” Lord Yama says, smile a sword.

I gulp down the stone in my throat.

Sake, oolong tea, roast stuffed doves and duck – it is a feast for gods.  I eat little at the deathly court, seated to the right of Yama, the rest of my dignitaries executed.

He lectures me on the punishments and rewards allotted to his souls, sloshing his plum wine.  His teeth are long and bone pale.  He is handsome, I will give him that, but in a martial way, like Genghis Khan.  All muscle and cunning wit and mercilessness.

He invites me to his room.  I choose a prison cell instead.

In the night, the angels come – Michael, Ariel, Samael – each one promising me come dawn we will stage a coup.  They hide themselves in strategic positions with their battalions throughout the various levels of Naraka.  They are silent night visitors and we whisper by candlelight.  We do not want to cause interpantheon war, but this is a matter of my  life or death.

I am to await my trial and execution, my reward for taking from Yama without giving.  He is a cold one, but fair in his own way, and I am always tempting Death in all his forms.

Lord Yama delivers the sentence come dawn – I am blindfolded and led to a gibbet on chains, electrical wire hanging from the fixtures.  My execution is to be broadcast through all levels of Naraka.  Iron clamps pierce my skin and red blood flows from my wounds onto the bottom of the cage.  I am like Ishtar punished by Ereshkigal, but this time it was a betrayal of lips and fleeing the embrace of a cold god.

The gibbet is raised higher, higher – I throw myself from side to side, and it begins to swing.  Lord Yama grows angry, and the spirits of Naraka cheer as I struggle like a mouse in a lion’s paws.  He orders the chain to be turned faster.

I am at the ceiling, and I notice two dangling electrical wires – red and blue.  The drafts make them sometimes touch, and change the broadcast screens with static.  I reach past the barbed bars of my gibbet, shredding flesh, and in my last chance at salvation cross the wires, causing an electrical storm.

The circuits short, and the screen flashes to the legions of angels stationed strategically through the different levels of Naraka.  The spirits of Lord Yama’s court prepare for arms, and I turn the wires on my cage’s chain, smelting the metal until it breaks and my gibbet crashes to the ground.  I wrench the bars open and free myself just in time, flying out on bloody wings, up the elevator shaft, away from him.

The angels are on the defensive, securing my flight, and we retreat, harming no one but taking blows.  Perhaps Lord Yama will heed our request for a fair exchange of souls between realms now we have displayed our military prowess.

Yama’s last look at me is almost amusement – yes, he has been bested, but he has more tricks up his sleeve.

I arrive with the angel’s battalions to the underworld’s entrance, and we retreat back to our realm.  I am bandaged and sent to the healers, and I remember the taste of plum wine on joined lips.

I was always one to give into a whim.