Picture Credit: Owen Humphreys, PA/Telegraph Online

Angel of the North I Salute You

Towering over Gateshead, the Angel of the North looks over the roads and train tracks that lead to the heart of Tyneside. Owen Humphrey’s amazing photograph of our steel guardian, taken today in a blizzard, got me thinking about the raw power inherent in Antony Gormley’s landmark sculpture and how at odds this is with the commercial portrayal of our favourite celestial beings (think blond, winged sylphs in chiffon looking meaningfully up at the midnight sky, framed diamante wings…  you know the kind of thing). Our Angel of the North, now nearly 20 years old, was commissioned as a symbol of hope to a region in transition between heavy industry and the information age. Built from steel in a factory that once built ships, the Angel is my kind of celestial. It’s probably because as long as I’ve been reading tarot cards, I’ve related to angels as powerful agents of change. Here’s why.

There are three principle angels in the major arcana, and all have a dynamic role in the cards’ interpretations. (This came up for me I was writing my Ultimate Guide to Tarot, while explains all the symbols on the major and minor arcana cards.) We have:

* Archangel Raphael on VI The Lovers, who presides over a couple faced with a decision; Raphael brings love and the strength to make a decision that will impact upon our future.

* Archangel Michael on card XIV Temperance, is the alchemist of time; Michael brings protection and courage to manage what we must deal with in the present moment.

* Archangel Gabriel on card XX Judgement heralds the Day of Atonement. Gabriel awakens us to the impact of our past actions.

See the cards’ numbers – VI, XIV, XX. Add them together: 6 + 14 + 20 = 40. Reduce to a single digit – 4 + 0 = 4. Four is the number of the angels.

What also connects these three cards, for me, is the concept of time. Time to make a decision, time to get the formula right, time to sharpen our awareness, to become fully conscious of our role here on earth.

It might also be time for that blizzard to let up, though…