Angels Part II - Earth Angels & Fallen Angels - Photographs inspired by Klee, Corbin, Cheetham

The Angels Part II  
Earth Angels & Fallen Angels
Photographs Inspired by the Art of Paul Klee &
The Writings of Henry Corbin and Tom Cheetham

   Fig. 1 Earth Angel & Fallen Angels     

The photographs in this second part of The Angels project reflect a more direct relationship with the Earth and the human figure, compared to the photographs in Part I.  The symmetrical images below bring us face to face with our own being and archetypal origins; we look into angelic eyes and see ourselves . . . that is to say, according to many Sufi mystics, we see through God's eyes as he contemplates Himself.   

The Earth is an angel, says Corbin, and each Earthly thing and human soul has its heavenly counterpart, its Angelic Guide, Protector, Celestial Twin.  Tom Cheetham writes:  This limitless cosmos is full of Presences, full of Persons--full of angels.  We have to discard all our trivialized and anthropocentric conceptions of the nature of such beings.  They are personified metaphysical presences, the movers of the worlds, and they provide the connection between ourselves and divinity.   There is no question of anthropomorphism. The personality of these beings is not derived from ours; ours is only a dim reflection of theirs.    Tom Cheetham: The World Turned Inside Out  

Textual Preludes 
to the 

     For Corbin [the final stage of the Sufi's quest] marks the meeting with the Heavenly Guide, the perfectly individuated and individual Angel of Humanity and Angel of Knowledge that is the biblical Angel of the Face.  This is the Figure of whom Mohammad could say: "I have seen my Lord in the most beautiful of forms."  It announces the truth that beauty is the supreme theophany.  The Qur'anic source for the Person is Sutra XVIII.  The figure that came to be interpreted as Khidr in Islamic tradition appears here in an enigmatic episode . . .  Tom Cheetham:  Green Man, Earth Angel

     Khidr is the "Verdant One." He is the Green Man.  He is the Angel of the Face and the Angel of the Earth as hermeneut [interpreter of divine wisdom]: the Verus Propheta revealed to each soul in the form in which each is able to receive it. . .  
   In Islam Nature itself is the primordial Revelation.  Thus, as Corbin often repeats, God can say, "I was a Hidden Treasure and I longed to be known, so I created the world."  The world itself is the original manifestation of the Face of Beauty.  The Qur'an says, "Wherever you turn the face of God is everywhere."  
     In Corbin's vision, the soul and the world are not divisible, and hermeneutics is their simultaneous development.  Tom Cheetham:  Green Man, Earth Angel

     The Angel cannot be understood in anthropomorphic terms alone.  The Heavenly Twin is the personification of a process of perception and a way of feeling.  The cosmic function of angelophanies is to open our senses to the fullness of being beyond the confines of the material world of secular history.  
     Whenever we feel wonder at the beauty and mystery of the world, it is due to this aspect of the Angel.  The most creative scientists are awake to the world this way.  Many poets and artists live in the constant presence of the Angel. 
     Living in the tension between the human and the transcendent can be an agony.  This cosmic aspect of the Angelic presence is its transhuman Face.  Tom Cheetham:  After Prophesy

Fallen Angel
     The idea of the integration of the ego with its Self becomes the recital of an Event that, in the meditations of Gnosticism, is real to the highest degree.  To speak of the "Angels of which we are a part," or of their combat as of a combat that they wage for a part of themselves, is to refer to a fundamental aspect of the dramaturgy shared by all gnostics, by all who are strangers to this world.  The Self is neither a metaphor nor an ideogram.  It is, "in person" the heavenly counterpart of a pair or a syzygy made up of a fallen angel, or an angel appointed to govern a body, and of an angel retaining his abode in heaven.   Henry Corbin:  Avicenna and the Visionary Recital

The Earth as an Angel
Henry Corbin wrote a fascinating book entitled Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth in which he unfolds the archetypal idea that the Earth is an Angle.  He opens his first chapter with the following lines:  

     In a book entitled On the Question of the Soul, G. T. Fechner tells how on a spring morning, while a transfiguring light cast a halo over the face of the earth, he was struck not merely by the esthetic idea, but by the vision and concrete evidence that "the Earth is an Angel, such a gorgeously real Angel, so like a flower!"  But, he added with melancholy, nowadays an experience like this is dismissed as imaginary.   
     To come face to face with the Earth not as a conglomeration of physical facts but in the person of its Angel is an essentially psychic event which can "take place" neither in the world of impersonal abstract concepts nor on the plane of mere sensor data.  The Earth has to be perceived not by the senses, but through a primordial Image and, inasmuch as this Image carries the features of a personal figure, it will prove to "symbolize with" the very Image of itself which the soul carries in its innermost depths.  
     The perception of the Earth Angel will come about in an intermediate universe which is neither that of the Essences of philosophy nor that of the sensory data on which the work of positive science is based, but which is a universe of archetype-Images, experienced as so many personal presences.   Henry CorbinSpiritual Body and Celestial Earth

*         *          *

In the photographs that follow I have tried to give visual form to the primordial Image of "the person of the Earth's angel."  Some of the angels are terrifying, some are fallen; all, however, need our active participation, our willingness to imaginatively go deeply into the images in order to come face-to-face with them in the intermediate universe, Corbin's Imaginal World where we may experience the angels, in his words, "as so many personal presences."  

May you see these images below--and all the world--with "eyes of fire."
Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #1

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #2

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #3

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #4

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #5

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #6

*  *       Eyes of Fire     *  *

In an address delivered five month before his death Henry Corbin reminded us that in the Old Testament, the angels are recognized by their eyes of fire.  In almost the last public words that he spoke, his challenge to us was that we open our eyes of fire.  It is through their gaze that we perceive the angelic function of beings.  
     In one of the most vital passages in his great book on Ibn' Arabi [Alone With the Alone] Corbin wrote that the angelic function of beings is to prevent us from misunderstanding transcendence by separating it from the beauty of the world and of those we love.  For it is through these alone that transcendence is manifested.  
     Paul Evodokimov laments our misunderstanding of the nature of creation:  ". . . We have lost the flame of things and the secret content of simple reality."  [and as St. Mazimus says] "the unspeakable and prodigious fire hidden in the essence of things, as in the bush, is the fire of divine love and the dazzling brilliance of his beauty inside every thing."
     To recover the flame of things, to see the earth as an angel, and God in the face of the lover, we have to release ourselves from the passions and find the freedom that this confers.  Then we are the dark sky and the open ocean.  Then we are open to the light and to the images that are the language of the angels.  We perceive the world as an icon to the degree that we ourselves have become transparent.  Then we may see face to face.   Tom Cheetham:  After Prophesy 

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #7

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #9

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #10

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #11

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #12

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #13

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #14

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #15

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     The Green Man Angel     Image #16

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #17  (variation 2 on image #5)

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #18

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #19

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #20

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #21

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #22

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #23

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #24

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #25

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #26

Earth Angels& Fallen Angels     Image #28

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #29

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #30

Earth Angels & Fallen Angels     Image #31


This Part II of my Angels project was first posted ithe
 "Latest Addition" section of my Photography website's 
"Welcome Page" on September 18, 2014  

Welcome Page  to The Departing Landscape website which includes the complete hyperlinked listing of my online photography projects dating back to the 1960's, my resume, contact information, and more.