The Great Work of the Holy Guardian Angel
“Angel” is a word that carries even more baggage than “soulmate” — baggage that goes back thousands of years to the beginnings of Judeo-Christian theology. While the most common definition of the word tends to be “messenger of God,” that raises the further question of “what is God?” and that’s a question I’m not going to touch with your ten-foot pole. It’s clear, however, that the Judeo-Christian majority in the Western world assumes that God and angels are known quantities, and that no one else should have any claim to them.
A long time acquaintance of mine has a relationship with a being many believe to be an archangel. His name is Azrael. My friend once told me, “Azrael says that angels are simply those who came before.” Meridjet appreciates the broad scope of that definition, and goes on to say that there is no explicit spiritual hierarchy as is often believed. There are no “higher” or “lower” beings, only less evolved and more evolved — further, if you like, but not higher. While the classification of higher and lower worlds and beings is useful, particularly in study of the Tree of Life, it’s important to remember that the map is not the territory. We should not fall into the trap of taking any symbol as literal truth, including the illusions of separation or hierarchy.
Most humans in the West, regardless of religion, tend to label worlds, planes, and beings of a subtler nature as “higher,” and worlds, planes, and beings of a less subtle, denser nature as “lower.” This labeling, while indeed useful for comprehension and aspiration, unfortunately grew into a judgment call. In time, any denser being was assumed to be evil, while any subtler being was assumed to be fundamentally good. While the hierarchical label itself isn’t a problem, the assumptions it invites are problematic because the nature of any being is not reliant upon its vibrational level any more than a television station on the “higher” digital band is essentially more divine than a television station on the “lower” analog band.
Angels, when reduced to the bare bones of the concept, are mediators between the divine and humankind, providing guidance, instruction, and service for the betterment of individuals and the whole of the species. This does not mean, however, that they are the light to a demon’s darkness in some cosmic polarity dividing the universe into “good” and “evil.” All beings have light and darkness within them, and all beings are capable of comforting as well as brutalizing us, if given sufficient cause. In the name of growth, most actions are acceptable. This is a very frightening thought.
In Thelema, my favored philosophy, there is the concept of the Holy Guardian Angel. This is not the usual “guardian angel” that hopeful individuals invoke in difficult or stressful situations, but something more akin to Socrates’ higher genius, what he called his daemon. Yet it is more than that. The function of the Holy Guardian Angel (HGA) is part higher self and part autonomous spirit guide, with a healthy dollop of animus (or anima, as the case may be), all wrapped up in mysterious, powerful attraction. It’s never firmly defined in any text, including this one, as it’s a concept that cannot be grasped without the experience to provide the Eureka!, the epiphany of understanding that accompanies all great truths.
The purpose of the HGA is generally described as “revealing your True Will,” “revealing your Great Work,” or “leading you to your life’s purpose.” These concepts, then, are often assumed to be synonymous. But as with the concept of hierarchy, these should not be taken merely at face value. I’ll attempt to explain them, and then circle back to illustrate my point. The “life’s purpose” is, of course, the reason you are here. It’s what you are meant to do. But how do you know what that purpose is? How do you discover it? Everyone judges the raison d´êtres of those who’ve passed on: When I was younger, people said that John Lennon had lived to promote peace and was killed when he’d learned all he needed to. Mother Teresa lived a life of sacrifice and love, caring for the poor; she was meant to set an example for the rest of us. Princess Diana’s life was meant to renew the inspiration of British royalty, while eschewing the status quo and traveling the world, revealing horrible conditions that even today we still seek to assuage. And so on. We speculate endlessly about the life purposes of now dead public figures because we find them easier to pigeonhole, to define according to our limited views of what’s important. Our own purposes elude us, and even as we seek them out, we may suffer doubt or fear that we’ve missed the signposts and are careening out of control, toward a death that will bring no easy epitaph.
Thelemites and magicians like to believe that they’ve got the inside scoop on what they’re meant to do with their lives. They talk about their HGAs and their True Wills, how “Love is the Law” and “compassion is the vice of Kings” as if they were members of a secret club giving out magic decoder rings to the worthy. Magical fraternities and orders perpetuate this belief by keeping certain teachings for the inner orders, available only by petition and initiation. “Would you like to learn why you’re here? Step right up and we’ll show you your life’s purpose!” This “life’s purpose” is the blind, or false information that sets the ignorant upon a pointless path, often found in magical texts and especially in the writings of Aleister Crowley. Or, if you’d rather, not really false information, in this case, so much as divergent information.
The Great Work is the term used by Thelemites to refer to the life’s purpose, which is revealed to the individual who receives Knowledge and Conversation with his or her Holy Guardian Angel (KCHGA). The blind exists in the novice’s assumption that one’s Great Work is mundane: to become something within the span of this lifetime that gains recognition, contributes something to the world, or in some way leads to the usual definition of “success.” When a magician claims to have KCHGA and in the next sentence refers to his Great Work as a mundane, finite goal, he reveals himself to be a fraud.
In actuality, the Great Work refers to the true (and infinite) goal of everyone, everywhere, regardless of race, creed, intelligence, or any other factor. This goal is simple: to evolve. To become something better today than we were yesterday. To grow as individuals. To put it in New Age terms, it’s the raising of the consciousness of humanity, ushering us into that New Age, or New Aeon, when restriction falls away and freedom equals harmony. It’s a pipe dream, when applied to the world as a whole; there is never going to be a recognizable dawning of a New Aeon, and certainly not in some great cosmic shift as so many like to believe. Dawn is incremental; by its very nature it is impossible to gauge except in retrospect: By the time the light of humanity (or day) shines brightly enough to be recognized, the dawn will have passed.
Furthermore, a single day’s worth of encounters with random humanity is enough to illustrate the vast number of people who have no interest in evolving unless it serves their most immediate needs. If they can’t see the payoff, they’re not going to bother. Case in point: Who believes that the wife-beater down the street who spends his entire welfare check on beer and weed has any desire to become more? But when you consider the individuals who do have an interest in that becoming, it’s at the very least food for thought. The world is made up of individuals, and someday maybe the majority will make that choice — to become more — one at a time, and will tip the scales in favor of that New Aeon. (In my opinion, this mundane universe is a compressed, self-contained learning system — a classroom — and eventually, everyone will move on to those “higher” vibrations and pass to a more enlightened universe. Whether this one ever really dawns into something more hopeful is very nearly immaterial.) And this brings us to the True Will.
The True Will is completely the property of the HGA. People, magicians, Thelemites can harp all day about making conscious choices and about how acting like a buffoon during an important meeting is their “true will,” but that won’t make it so. The True Will transcends conscious awareness, and it manipulates us in spite of ourselves. Make that choice, decide just one time that you’re going to seriously, truly dedicate yourself to your personal growth, and your True Will steps up to the plate and takes over. You may have never heard of the concept, but (unlike missionaries converting the savages to the love of Christ) it’s not necessary to know of it, because your conscious involvement is of little concern. The True Will is set into gear by your dedication, your choice, taking over like a spiritual autopilot, bringing you into line time and again. You may not get there — to “more” — via the most direct route, and you may not get there painlessly (in fact, the odds are against it), but you will get there, because once you’ve made the commitment, the Universe responds to every move you make with either momentum (supporting your conscious choices) or a slap upside the head. Have you ever felt battered by circumstances, asking yourself what you did to deserve this? Try looking around — what are you being shown? What is the Universe, and your HGA (KCHGA or not), trying to show you? Stop playing the victim, and take responsibility for the lesson. If you don’t, those slaps will just keep getting harder.
As the governor of True Will, your HGA will lead you in whatever way is necessary to accomplish your evolution. You’re now on the fast track, and look out, because (as a friend once said to me), your HGA will rip your arm off and smack you with it if he thinks that’s what will get the point across. I strongly advise listening before things get to the arm-ripping point.
Not your mother’s guardian angel, is it?
This article is excerpted from the upcoming book, Infinite Possibility.
Sheta Kaey is Editor in Chief of Rending the Veil and is working on her first book, Infinite Possibility. You can read her blog here.
©2009 by Sheta Kaey
Edited by Sarenth