Starting on 29 September, Michaelmas Day, we can live into the reality of the four-week period of Michaelmas, a time to gather inner courage as we face the darkening days ahead.
In a time when many can feel that life has come to the edge of the abyss, that the full-on reality of life across the globe in these days of uncertainty and fear has pushed many beyond what only recently seemed unimaginable, Michael is there for us to turn to.
The Archangel Michael has an important role in the Great Religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Spiritual facets or aspects of Michael also appear in other religions: whenever a spiritual being is needed who stands for upright courage in the face of evil, then Michael (pronounced MIKA-el, who is like God) is present. He stands for the truly Universal in all human beings, against all forms of nationalism, racial bias, and any focus on the outer aspects of the human being that can seem or actually do divide. Instead, he stands in certainty of the Divine Spark, that which joins and never divides. Perhaps it is time to recommit to this Universal picture of the human being as a unity, a Oneness which is glorified through its diverse yet unique manifestations.
Michael is also a Being who moves through clear human thinking. We can never completely know one another through feelings: we can empathize with the feelings of another, warmly setting aside our own agenda to reach out in love to that person. But if we truly want to be in unity with another, then we need to use our greatest spiritual faculty, that of thinking. No other being on earth thinks—minerals of course do not think and neither do plants. Animals act out of an instinct that in some species can seem like thinking but they do not posses the ability to think creative and original thoughts. This is because as human beings we possess what the other Kingdoms do not have: we each have an ‘I’. This is the undying Universal spark of the Divine that rests in each of us. Through our thinking, our ‘I’ can reach out and think the thoughts of another. I can never live your pain—I can empathize and even take some of it on as a spiritual act of sacrifice—but it remains your pain. But you and I can think each other’s thoughts, step by step, united in the spiritual act of cognition.
Many people are familiar with the picture of Michael holding down the dragon. This is an important spiritual picture to contemplate: he does not destroy the dragon, but he courageously puts it into its place. Evil often shows its hand in that which is necessary but which is not in its right place. Technology such as computers are a good example of this: they are a necessary part of our life but they need to be kept in check, kept in balance, put in their place. Only with the courage and clear thinking that Michael can help us with can we identify and maintain the boundaries in, for instance, our home lives with technology such as computers.
Fear lives in turmoil and in foggy, unformed thinking. Our thinking needs to be filled with heart-warmth as an antidote to the cold dead thinking of the dragon, a kind of thinking that leaves us open to fear. We are surrounded by fear right now—fear of what is happening around us, fear of what happens next. If we can remember to connect with Michael—through prayer, through contemplation, through festivals, through meditation—we can learn to overcome fear. We can remember that our neighbor, no matter his politics, his skin color, his masked or unmasked face, is our brother/sister through Michael, through that spark of Divine Spirit that lives in us all. Fear divides us. Michael unites us.
May we find strength and sustenance through the help of Michael in the days and weeks and months to come.
Michaelmas verse by Evelyn Capel, Christian Community priest
Gathering up the true aims
Shielding the purposes of our hearts.
He watches over the conflicts
Of the dark time,
Sending down iron courage
From the shooting stars,
Lifting the heart to see ahead
The light that overcomes in darkness.