September 29 is observed as St. Michaelmas Day. Tracing the origin back to the Middle Ages it was great feast day where the favorite meal was goose.
Roasted goose harkened back to early times when villagers would gather and celebrate a good harvest. Eating the flesh of the goose would ensure some type of protection until spring came and drove winter away.
The day is named for the Archangel Michael ( Hebrew מִיכָאֵל ). Michael is directly mentioned five times in the Christian Bible—three times in Daniel, once in Jude and once in Revelation. According to tradition Michael is the angel unnamed who is mentioned in the Old Testament as the angel of the Lord who has interacted with humans since the Garden of Eden.
His battles with the Prince of Persia, Satan ( Hebrew הַשָׂטָן ha-Satan ) and the Dragon represent the same being that was called Lucifer ( Latin for light bearer ) originally. According to ancient tradition Michael and Lucifer were best friends engaging in a number of adventures throughout the cosmos before humans appeared on the scene. It would seem that earth was assigned to Michael after the creation of man and woman by the Elohim ( Hebrew אֱלהִים ).
What caused Lucifer’s dissatisfaction with the status quo in heaven has been commented on over the centuries. It must have been difficult for Michael to fight his best friend. The tears of heaven must have been like fiery darts as the two forces were separated by the great barrier erected between them.
I wonder if both Michael and Lucifer stood and gazed across that inseparable barrier at each other and remembered their days of frolic among the suns of a thousand worlds. Sadly, they both realized what had been lost, lost forever. There would be no breeching of the gulf of separation. However, their destinies would not go in separate directions because they would meet on earth again and again until the final conflict, the final chapter in the cosmic war which had begun eons ago in a different time and a happier place.
Perhaps, these stories of the war in heaven are merely shadows of the great cosmic conflict long ago which was communicated to the first humans to set foot on earth millennia ago. For out there lie mysteries of things unseen and unknown.
Writers, poets, mystics, prophets have written about the human story since the dawn of the first scribes on the cave walls where some humans sought shelter from the harsh elements. The innate ability to express one’s thoughts in pictorial form seems intrinsic in the human genome. The pictorial representations came from oral traditions handed down from generation to generation.
As they sat around their fires and pondered on the flickering shadows about them the shadows on the cave walls reminded them of something that was so real yet so far from their mortal grasp. The ancient stories reminded them of their pristine origins in a garden paradise.
We too watch the dancing shadows on our walls. We sense their urgency to make us recall those memories when the morning stars sang and the nursery of life exploded across the universe.
For life in all of its variety and diversity on this planet traversing the cosmos is a faint representation of life out there. We long to be reconnected to the cosmic ocean from which we were parted so long ago.
The gulf between life and death is perhaps a bridge to the past. For on that bridge is the collected history of our race from sunrise to sunset. It is a unique story written in the stars and which we are beginning to grasp based on the ancient storytellers and their tales of a beautiful world separated from the cosmos.
G. D. Williams © 2011
St. Michael the Archangel
Michael and All Angels
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Golden Legend
Melchizedek, Michael, and War in Heaven
Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice