Angel of Tears (P1)

Recently, at the 2019 Shadow Angels gathering, Archangel Cassiel took all the attendees on a tour of his angelic mansion. The timid, soft-spoken angel invited us into his world with open arms, revealing sections I hadn’t ever seen before, despite having visited his mansion many times in the past.

An angelic mansion is immeasurable. Literally. Each one is its own world, in its own universe, designed and built by a single archangel. According to Archangel Michael, the angelic mansion was one of the first exercises the Creator assigned to help the archangels flex their creative muscles. Michael also said it was the Creator’s way of assigning personal space to the archangels, thereby granting them a private place to decompress after having to deal with human drama day after day. And as I’ve come to know the archangels as close as family, I believe there is no one more deserving of a private get-away than the angel charged with sharing in the burden of humanity’s most harrowing challenges.

Archangel Cassiel is the Angel of Tears and Sorrow. His name means “speed of God,” and he is the patron of the downtrodden and unjustly persecuted. His power day is Saturday, his numerical vibration is zero (emptiness), his icons are the raven, the bat, and the howling wolf, to name a few. Cassiel is the regent of Saturn, thereby making him the angel of karma and retribution.

His original station was “angel of kings” up until his first human incarnation as the biblical Judas Iscariot. His brother and then-youngest archangel in Heaven, Immanuel, had personally asked Cassiel to play the role of the disciple. Immanuel would then incarnate as the biblical Jesus, and only well into the story would Judas’s role be revealed. No one, except Immanuel and the Creator, knew the Jesus story beforehand.

The surprise, shock, and weight of Judas’s betrayal nearly broke Cassiel, and upon returning home, the archangel resigned as a patron of royalty and instead took on the crusade for wounded souls. It was at this time that the archangels were given mansions, and the mansion we see today is the home that was built by Cassiel 2.0, in a manner of speaking. The original angel of kings had died with Judas, leaving the angel of tears and sorrow to build a surreal and deeply haunting world within the walls of what we humans yearningly call Heaven.

Upon entering Cassiel’s mansion, you’ll most likely manifest in a dark, misty churchyard. A gray and weathered one-room chapel stands against the backdrop of a shadowy forest. The soil is black, the air is cool, and regardless of the time you visit, there will always be autumn leaves scurrying about.

The scene reminds me of childhood visits to New England right on the cusp of fall and winter before the first snowfall – cold, dreary with muted hints of red and amber in a rolling countryside swath of blue-black.

The sun never rises here, but the night sky is resplendent with twinkling stars unless you make the mistake, as I have on occasion, of visiting during soft rainstorms, which Cassiel tends to prefer. Billowing gray clouds folding over and under dim streaks of pink, violet and silvery lightning, along with chilly autumnal showers, also make visiting the old chapel all the more alluring. Don’t be fooled, however, into thinking you’ll find warmth there. It’s a shelter from the rain, a roof and four walls, and not much more in the ways of creature comforts.

As Cassiel, our angelic tour guide, walked ahead of us, he spoke in velvet whispers that drew us close to him but was otherwise his usual jumbled paradox of ancient sublime presence, modern geeky awkwardness, and timeless ethereal beauty. He towered over us that night, at about six-foot-four. With a mop of blue-black hair, which seemed to stand upon his head in defiance of any comb or brush, his features were as pale and as soft as the moon. From behind spiky bangs, large gray eyes twinkled like wintry stars, always so full of sadness despite the soft, timid smile he held for us that evening.

As patron of introverts, Cassiel is highly reclusive and doesn’t entertain much at all, which made his tour even more endearing. With a slightly bowed head and darting side glances, it was obvious the angel wasn’t completely comfortable with us there, but he had invited us. He was trying. After all, he was an angel used to an eternity in the company of tortured, anguished souls on Earth. Having ten eager and smiling faces gazing up at him as if he were a rock star during this tour was not something he’s used to. Being the center of attention is more of Archangel Michael’s flavor.

“I cleaned up a bit, but I still like for the place to look aged, I guess. Like Time lives, dwells here,” he nervously stammered as he shoved open the large wooden doors. We all stepped into the chapel. The old wooden floorboards creaked under our weight, but to my surprise, they had been swept clean. Usually, the floor was dusty and covered with dried autumn leaves, but not tonight. He wasn’t kidding when he said he’d tidied the place. The cobwebs were gone and he had repaired the shattered pews that I had become accustomed to. In their place were eight wooden pews, four on each side, polished and glinting in the moonlight.

As we gathered in the center of the room, Cassiel directed our attention to the stained glass windows, which are one of the mansion’s main attractions. “The windows are under construction,” he pointed up at Archangel Michael’s image. “I’m replacing the glass with special crystals grown by our fae neighbors. I love how the crystals bend the light.” He then gestured to the floor, and the moonbeam through the crystals seemed to dance and twist in ways that almost made it seem alive. On the floor, the points of light twinkled, like tiny winged fairies. I couldn’t help but grin and wonder if Cassiel’s goth side was starting to soften after all these eons. I mean, there was no moon visible in the sky during any part of the tour. The celestial lights and weather in this mansion seem to occur at Cassiel’s whim, but regardless of whether there is a moon up above, there are always moonbeams piercing through the darkness of the old chapel, adding a sense of magic and whimsy to an otherwise gloomy setting.

“Uriel made the chandelier,” the angel pointed a pale, slender finger to the ceiling. Now this, among many other things, was new to me. For as large as the ornate wrought iron fixture was, I somehow never saw it in all my previous visits through my mind’s eye.

Measuring roughly nineteen inches high and twenty-four inches in diameter on its lowest tier, the three-tiered wedding cake chandelier swung precariously overhead. Each tier was an elegant wrought iron vine of black roses and thorns. Uriel, the Angel of Armageddon and Heaven’s chief archer, is known for his acerbic attitude, general disdain for humanity, and eagerness to rain fire and brimstone on human worlds. In every sense of the word, Uriel is a destroyer, which is why I found myself entranced by the chandelier. I’ve come to expect and appreciate the terrible and frightening beauty in how Uriel brings worlds to an end, and so I was completely caught off guard by this delicate sculpture. It was created by hands that, up til now, I always associated with chaos and righteous fury. To see Uriel’s artistry in something other than weaponry, war and death made me realize that there’s still so much to discover about the archangels.

“And up there behind you is the loft,” Cassiel swiveled and pointed above the entrance doors. “I have a small pallet up there where I sleep. A few books. Not much.” Speaking of discoveries, I knew Cassiel was an angel of dreams and dreamscapes, but I never knew he slept.

Despite what’s displayed in all those adorable cherub figurines your grandmother collected from the Hallmark store, angels don’t sleep. Sure, Archangel Michael has told me dozens of times that he and little Archangel Sandalphon fall asleep during Archangel Gabriel’s “boring” lectures, but I always thought that was Michael and Sandalphon’s way of annoying Gabriel. Angels prank each other all the time.

Sleep, however, isn’t something that I hear much about, not in reference to angels, at least. Noticing the obvious confusion on our faces, Cassiel smiled and shrugged, “Yes, I like to sleep.” He then muttered in afterthought, “Not enough of us do.”

As he tucked his hands in the pockets of his vintage leather biker jacket, he continued, “I like dreaming.” And after a beat of silence, barely a breath from us humans, the angel chuckled lightly in his own defense, “Hey, you humans are asleep and dreaming all the time.” His crystal gray eyes darted between us, his pale cheeks turned rosy. An angel of divine secrets, this patron of introverts looked as if he were starting to regret inviting us to his humble home. As he nervously cleared his throat and dug his index finger into his hair to scratch an uncomfortable itch, he stepped past the group and headed toward a door at the front of the chapel, the steel buckles on his jacket jingling.

“Watch yourselves, there’s a small step here,” he quickly disappeared outside to hold the door open for us. It creaked on its hinges. “Sorry. I gotta get some oil on that, I guess,” his soft voice flowed in through the door on an autumn breeze. By this point, I couldn’t help but to be completely enthralled by this enchanting real time display of God-becoming-man.

Here we were, a group of seekers, curious human souls, in the presence of an archangel – our Creator’s great and immeasurable power wrapped up in a bite-sized package for easier spiritual consumption. Through Cassiel we watch the Creator experience pain and sadness just as we do. In this way, each archangel is a facet of the Creator, a complex blend of human characteristics that allow us humans to draw nearer to the Source, the origin of our being, in order to facilitate greater learning and understanding of ourselves.

And in this very intimate moment, we are allowed to see vulnerability in a supreme and divine being. Cassiel, a high-ranking warrior angel, is the Creator’s way of showing us that it is willing to experience pain just as humans must, that it will not simply walk as an invisible, intangible observer beside us in our tribulations, but open itself up to every emotion we feel. From the way Cassiel averts his eyes and bows his head – dare I say, in an almost obsequious manner – shows us that the Creator isn’t coldly, callously dropping us into these harsh dreamworlds, illusions crafted for the folly of humans. No, quite the contrary.

God is, has been, and always will be right here in the trenches alongside the very human souls (s)he has drafted into existence. (To be continued…)