- photo by Mitch Waxman
Oh yes, lords and ladies of Newtown, we have arrived once more at the apex of the autumnal season of spooky here in the Newtown Pentacle. Consequently, attention must once more turn to the cemetery belt, and the fossilized heart of our community known as Calvary Cemetery.
Cherubim, which are actually the most terrifying and thickly fundamentalist of all the angelic race, were representationally presented to your humble narrator at Calvary Cemetery (First Calvary of course) recently. Adorning a recent interment’s monument, this enigmatic statuary wore curious adornment.
The term cherubim is cognate with the Assyrian term karabu, Akkadian term kuribu, and Babylonian term karabu; the Assyrian term means ‘great, mighty’, but the Akkadian and Babylonian cognates mean ‘propitious, blessed’. In some regions the Assyro-Babylonian term came to refer in particular to spirits which served the gods, in particular to the shedu (human-headed winged bulls); the Assyrians sometimes referred to these as kirubu, a term grammatically related to karabu. They were originally a version of the shedu, protective deities sometimes found as pairs of colossal statues either side of objects to be protected, such as doorways. However, although the shedu were popular in Mesopotamia, archaeological remains from the Levant suggest that they were quite rare in the immediate vicinity of the Israelites. The related Lammasu (human-headed winged lions — to which the sphinx is similar in appearance), on the other hand, were the most popular winged-creature in Phoenician art, and so most scholars suspect that Cherubim were originally a form of Lammasu. In particular, in a scene reminiscent of Ezekiel’s dream, the Megiddo Ivories — ivory carvings found at Megiddo (which became a major Israelite city) — depict an unknown king being carried on his throne by hybrid winged-creatures.
- photo by Mitch Waxman
Spending as much time in graveyards as I do, puzzles often present themselves to me in the shape of ordinary things, but I’ve learned to be cautious as well as curious. “Too smart for my own good” a humble narrator must often remind himself that “a cigar is sometimes just a cigar” and not read significances into odd costume trinkets which fetter the necks of plastic angels.
Note: Brrr… Angels have always scared the shit out of me. Like Demons, they are automatons enforcing a status quo, unreasonable soldiers in a war which has nothing to do with me. They’re also not “cute”. What we refer to as Cherubs are actually “Putto“.
Angels of the First Sphere work as heavenly guardians of God’s throne.
- Seraphim (singular “Seraph”), mentioned in Isaiah 6:1-7 , serve as the caretakers of God’s throne and continuously shout praises: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. All the earth is filled with His Glory.” The name Seraphim means “the burning ones.
- “The Seraphim have six wings; two covering their faces, two covering their bodies (“feet”), and two with which they fly.
- Two of which are named Seraphiel and Metatron, according to some books. Seraphiel is said to have the head of an eagle. It is said that such a bright light emanates from them that nothing, not even other angelic beings, can look upon them. It is also said that there are four of them surrounding God’s throne, where they burn eternally from love and zeal for God.
- They have four faces: one of each a man, an ox, a lion, and an eagle. The ox-face is considered the “true face”, as later on in Ezekiel the ox’s face is called a cherub’s face (Chapter 10). They have four conjoined wings covered with eyes, and they have ox’s feet.
- Cherubim are considered the elect beings for the purpose of protection. Cherubim guard the way to the tree of life in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24) and the throne of God (Ezekiel 28:14-16).
- Modern English usage has blurred the distinction between Cherubim and Putti. Putto (pl. Putti) refers to the winged human baby/toddler-like beings traditionally used in figurative art.
- The Cherubim are mentioned in Genesis 3:24 ; Exodus 25:17-22; 2 Chronicles 3:7-14; Ezekiel 10:12–14 , 28:14-16; 1 Kings 6:23–28 ; and Revelation 4:6-8.
Thrones or Ophanim
- The Thrones (Gr. thronos) or Elders, also known as the Erelim or Ophanim, are a class of celestial beings mentioned by Paul of Tarsus in Colossians 1:16 (New Testament). They are living symbols of God’s justice and authority, and have as one of their symbols the throne. These high celestial beings appear to be mentioned again in Revelation 11:16.
- The Ophanim (Heb. ofanim: Wheels, also known as Thrones, from the vision of Daniel 7:9) are unusual looking even compared to the other celestial beings; They appear as a beryl-coloured wheel-within-a-wheel, their rims covered with hundreds of eyes.
- They are closely connected with the Cherubim: “When they moved, the others moved; when they stopped, the others stopped; and when they rose from the earth, the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures [Cherubim] was in the wheels.” Ezekiel 10:17 NRSV.