неделя, 12 февруари 2012 г.

Angels-THRESHOLD GUARDIANS

A basic characteristic of religious consciousness is distinguishing
between sacred and secular space. Ceremonial sites such as temples
have traditionally been set aside as special places to approach the
gods, venerated spots where the business of everyday life is not
allowed to intrude. As part of the traditional pattern of constructing
sacred space, certain spirits or demigods are imagined as standing at
the threshold—at the doorway of the temple or at the gateway to the
ceremonial grounds—turning away unfriendly spirits and otherwise
protecting the place.
The ancient Assyrian cherubim are examples of such threshold
guardians. Assyrian art depicts the cherubim as spiritual beings having
large, winged bodies of sphinxes, eagles, or other animals, with faces of
lions or human beings. They were positioned at the entrances of temples
and palaces as threshold guardians. Relying upon the Assyrian
model, the Bible relates that God placed cherubim at the gates of
Eden to prevent Adam and Eve from returning:
He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden
he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned
every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. (Gen. 3:24)
In this passage and others (e.g., Exod. 25:18–22, in which the
cherubim are carved on the Ark of the Covenant), these angels are
clearly performing the guardian function they served in ancient Assyria.
In later Christian thinking, it was natural to conceive of angels as
the guardians of churches. A common motif was to carve a representa
tion of Michael, the warrior archangel most associated with soldiering,
into the doorway. In Gnostic thought, the archons of the various
levels of the cosmos served as threshold guardians. Part of the knowledge
imparted to Gnostic initiates was the passwords needed to pass
through each archonic threshold.

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