A combination of two things has lead me to this post. 1) Some of the silly things that people say to others who are grieving and 2) Conversations between my husband and I, brought on by — what else– the binge viewing of our latest series, Supernatural (yeah, I know, we’re a bit behind the times.)
Suffice it to say, I’ve had angels on the brain. What they are. The nature of angels. Especially the paradox of an angel, who presumably has not been given the gift of free will that humans enjoy, yet nonetheless is able to choose to defy or oppose God, and thus, fall. I don’t really have a full enough knowledge of the bible to be able to reconcile this. Perhaps the answers are there, perhaps not. But what really piqued my curiosity was something my husband said while we were watching our show.
Sometimes his wealth of knowledge still surprises me. Don’t tell him, because we don’t want to swell his head all up. But what he said was that one of the biblical descriptions of an angel alluded to a creature shaped like a wheel, and covered in eyes. Something about that just really intrigued me. My regular readers would probably be not at all surprised to learn I almost immediately thought of the Alex Grey art for the Tool albums.
Well, that, and in my mind’s eye, I also saw a more traditional “wheel”, the circumference of which was runged like a ladder and studded with stylized eyes. Something about the image was just so intriguing to me.
So I did what I always do in situations like these; I googled that shit. First and foremost, I wanted to check the accuracy of hubby’s memory– hey, he’s impressive, but his memory has been known to be, eh…selective…and I’m a natural skeptic. But in this case, he didn’t let me down, and I found some basic information on the angels to which hubby was referring. Wikipedia describes Ophanim as:
The ophanim or ofanim, refer to the wheels seen on Ezekiel’s vision of the chariot (Hebrew merkabah) in Ezekiel 1:15-21
“The Ophanim…are creatures that function as the actual chariots of God driven by the cherubs. They are characterized by peace and submission; God rests upon them. [They] reside in the area of the cosmos where material form begins to take shape. They mete out divine justice and maintain the cosmic harmony of all universal laws.
I love this image of angels– the mystery of it, the otherworldliness and distinctly non-anthropomorphic visioning of one of God’s creations. Something not based on a purely xenocentric imagining of some man, with a man’s motives.
Granted, this description was likely written by the same person or persons who initially transcribed the rest of the bible, but it is a far cry from the Renaissance era imaginings of angels.
Anyway, I’m not religious by any stretch of the imagination, but I do consider myself spiritual, and this image speaks to me in a way that makes me almost wish I did have a dogma that included creatures as awesome as the Ophanim.