Today is the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels, an Episcopal saints’ day that has resonated with me since I was a teenager. For reasons I don’t understand, of course, except of course that there were the Deryni novels of Katherine Kurtz (and Jason Miller, these might be the occult novel recommendations you’re looking for, though they were really more teen oriented than master magician today). Some of my devotion to and interest in Saint Michael came from a visit to the abbey of Mont-St.-Michel in France on the Brittany-Normandy border in 1983 or 1984, as part of a school trip; and I remember on that trip finding myself fascinated by the interplay of myth and legend and prayer and structure, as evidenced by the interactions of the Deryni lore of Katherine Kurtz, and this genuinely real place. There was also another book about Mt-St.Michel I read as a child, about a group of children who find a tunnel between the abbey and another rocky island in the bay, which is probably this one.
In any case, I felt like I should write a poem in Saint Michael’s honor today. Magically, of course, the Archangel Michael is super-important. He’s associated with the Sun in Christian angelology, as well as being the warrior of heaven and the archangel of fire. Some people pronounce his name Mi-chel, while others make his name three syllables: Mi-Ka-El, meaning “Who is like God?”. The Angels around Michael are equally critical; ceremonial magicians tend to care a great deal about Raphael, Uriel or Auriel, and Gabriel, but there are other angels, as well; and I haven’t even touched on the Holy Guardian Angel at all. Seriously important, as I said.
Hail to you, Michael, heaven’s sword and shield,
defender of the light, and God’s right arm:
you turn against darkness, and never yield;
no demon stops you; no devil can charm
you to yielding. You are the brigadier,
commander supreme of heaven’s bright hosts
and you tread the dragon beneath your feet.
Your flashing sword makes the path of light clear,
and the foes of the Lord become pale ghosts
when you throw down the devil in defeat.
Around you in their armored ranks of wings,
march the host angelic: by squad and corps
they hold discipline; and each angel sings
a song that crashes on Creation’s shore,
which all sorrow flees! Every blade of grass,
and every sparrow, has its wingéd guide,
or pillar of flame, or ring of bright eyes!
Guardians blowing their trumpets of brass
call us to follow this cavalry’s ride —
to grow more holy, more skilled and more wise.
Michael, archangel, with all your forces —
angels, archangels, dominions and thrones!
Protect us! Defend us! Guide our courses,
so that dark powers, with sighs and with groans
shall see us well-protected by the Light,
and shrink back. By the name of the Most High,
whom you obey, and to whom we give praise,
Come and assist me! Arise and take flight,
for you know my trouble and you hear my cry—
beneath your wings shield me, for all my days.
I would very much like to know if you use this poem as part of your devotional practice today or any other day, and may it prove useful to you in in your own work and practice. Feel free to leave a comment, and let me know how you found it, too.