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The Celestial Hierarchy

Dionysius the Areopagite


To my fellow-presbyter Timothy, Dionysius the Presbyter

That every divine illumination, while going forth with love in various ways to the objects of its forethought, remains one.

Nor is this all: it also unifies the things illuminated.
'Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of Lights.'[James 1:17]

Why The Hierarchs Among Men are Called 'Angels'​


Those who earnestly study the holy Scriptures sometimes ask, 'If the lowest ranks do not possess to the full the powers of those above them, why is our Hierarch called in the holy Word the Angel of the Omnipotent Lord?' This, however, does not contradict what has been already defined. For we say that the lowest choirs do not possess the integral and pre-eminent power of the higher Orders, since they receive it partially, in the measure of their capacity, in accordance with the one harmonious and binding fellowship of all things.

For example, the choir of the holy Cherubim participates in higher wisdom and knowledge, whilst the Orders below them are themselves also partakers of wisdom and knowledge, but more partially, and in a lower degree proportioned to their capacity. For the universal participation in wisdom and knowledge is shared by all the Divine Intelligences, but the degree of participation, whether immediate and first, or second and inferior, is not common, but is determined for each by its own rank. This also may be rightly said


of all the Divine Intelligences, that even as the first possess in the highest degree the holy characteristics of the Orders below them, so the lowest possess the powers of the higher, not in equal measure, but in a subordinate degree. Therefore I do not think it unreasonable that the Scriptures should call our hierarchs Angels, since they participate according to their own power in the interpretative characteristic of the Angels, and uplift themselves, as far as is possible to man, into an assimilation to the Angels as revealers of truth.

You will find, moreover, that the Word of God not only calls these Celestial Beings above us Gods, but also gives this name to saintly men amongst us, and to those men who, in the highest degree, are lovers of God; although the First and Unmanifest God superessentially transcends all things, being enthroned above all, and therefore none of the beings or things which are can truly be said to be wholly like Him, save in so far as those intellectual and rational beings who are wholly turned towards union with Him, as far as is in their power, and who, uplifting themselves perpetually, as far as possible, to the Divine Radiance, in the imitation of God (if it be lawful so to speak) with all their powers, are thought worthy of the same divine name.


Why the prophet Isaiah is said to have been purified by the Seraphim?


Let us now deal to the best of our ability with the question why the Seraph is said to have been sent to one of the prophets. For someone may feel doubt or uncertainty as to why one of the beings of the highest rank is mentioned as cleansing the prophet, instead of one of the lower ranks of Angels. Some, indeed, say that according to the description already given of the inter-relation of all the Intelligences, the passage does not refer to one of the first of the Intelligences nearest to God, as having come to purify the hierarch, but that one of those Angels who are our guardians was called by the same name as the Seraphim because of his sacred function of purifying the prophet, for the reason that the remission of sins and the regeneration of him who was purified to obedience to God was accomplished through fire. And they say also that the passage simply says one of the Seraphim, not of those established around God, but of the purifying powers which preside over us.

But another suggested to me a solution of the problem by no means unlikely, for he said that the great Angel, whoever he may have been, who fashioned this vision for the purpose of instructing the prophet in divine matters, referred his own office of purification first to God, and after God to that first Hierarchy. And is not this statement true? 

For he who said this said that the Divine First Power goes forth visiting all things, and irresistibly penetrates all things, and yet is invisible to all, not only as superessentially transcending all things, but also because It transmits Its Providential Energies in a hidden way through all things. 

Moreover, It is revealed to all Intellectual Natures in due proportion, and bestows the radiance of Its Light upon the most exalted beings through whom, as leaders, It is imparted to the lower choirs in order according to their power of divine contemplation; or to speak in more simple terms, by way of illustration (for although natural things do not truly resemble God,    who transcends all, yet they are more easily seen by us), the light of the sun passes readily through the first matter, for this is more transparent, and by means of this it displays more brightly its own brilliance; but when it falls upon some denser material it is shed forth again less brightly because the material which is illuminated is not adapted for the transmission of light, and after this it is little by little diminished until it hardly passes through at all. 


Similarly, the heat of fire imparts itself more readily to that which is more adapted to receive it, being yielding and conductive to its likeness; but upon substances of opposite nature which are resistant to it, either no effect at all or only a slight trace of the action of the fire appears; and what is more, when fire is applied to materials of opposite nature through the use of other substances receptive to it the fire first heats the material which is easily made hot, and through it, heats proportionately the water or other substance which does not so easily become hot.

Thus, according to the same law of the material order, the Fount of all order, visible and invisible, supernaturally shows forth the glory of Its own radiance in all-blessed outpourings of first manifestation to the highest beings, and through them those below them participate in the Divine Ray. For since these have the highest knowledge of God, and desire pre-eminently the Divine Goodness, they are thought worthy to become first workers, as far as can be attained, of the imitation of the Divine Power and Energy, and beneficently uplift those below them, as far as is in their power, to the same imitation by shedding abundantly upon them the splendour which has come upon themselves; while these, in turn, impart their light to lower choirs. And thus, throughout the whole Hierarchy, the higher impart that which they receive to the lower, and through the Divine Providence all are granted participation in the Divine Light in the measure of their receptivity.       


There is, therefore, one Source of Light for everything which is illuminated, namely, God, who by His Nature, truly and rightly, is the Essence of Light, and Cause of being and of vision. But it is ordained that in imitation of God each of the higher ranks of beings is the source in turn for the one which follows it; since the Divine Rays are passed through it to the other. Therefore the beings of all the Angelic ranks naturally consider the highest Order of the Celestial Intelligences as the source, after God, of all holy knowledge and imitation of God, because through them the Light of the Supreme God is imparted to all and to us. On this account they refer all holy works, in imitation of God, to God as the Ultimate Cause, but to the first Divine Intelligences as the first regulators and transmitters of Divine Energies.

Therefore the first Order of the holy Angels possesses above all others the characteristic of fire, and the abundant participation of Divine Wisdom, and the possession of the highest knowledge of the Divine Illuminations, and the characteristic of Thrones which symbolizes openness to the reception of God. The lower Orders of the Celestial Beings participate also in these fiery, wise and God-receptive Powers, but in a lower degree, and as looking to those above them who, being thought worthy of the primary imitation of God, uplift them, as far as possible, into the likeness of God.

These holy characteristics in which the secondary natures are granted participation through the first, they ascribe to those very Intelligences, after God, as Hierarchs.

He who gave this explanation used to say that the vision was shown to the prophet by one of those holy and blessed Angels who preside over us, by whose enlightening guidance he was raised to that intellectual contemplation in which he beheld the most exalted Beings (to speak in symbols) established under God, with God and around God; and their super-princely Leader, ineffably uplifted above them all, established in the midst of the supremely exalted Powers.



The prophet, therefore, learned from these visions that, according to every superessential excellence, the divine One subsists in incomparable pre-eminence, excelling all visible and invisible powers, above and exempt from all; and that He bears no likeness even to those first-subsisting Beings; and moreover that He is the Principle and Cause of all being, and the Immutable Foundation of the abiding stability of things that are, from which the most exalted Powers have both their being and their well-being. Then he was instructed that the Divine Powers of the holy Scriptures, whose sacred name means 'The Fiery Ones', and of which we shall soon speak, as far as we can, led the upliftment of the fiery power towards the Divine Likeness. When the holy prophet saw in the sacred vision of the sixfold wings the most high and absolute upliftment to the Divine in first, middle and last Intelligences, and beheld their many feet and many faces, and perceived that their eyes and their feet were covered by their wings, and that the middle wings were in ceaseless movement, he was guided to the intelligible knowledge of that which was seen through the revelation to him of the far reaching and far-seeing power of the most exalted Intelligences, and of their holy awe which they have in a supermundane manner in the bold and persistent and unending search into higher and deeper Mysteries, and the perfect harmony of their ceaseless activity in imitation of God, and their perpetual upward soaring to the heights.


Moreover, he also learned that divine and most glorious song of praise; for the Angel who fashioned the vision gave, as far as possible, his own holy knowledge to the prophet. He also taught him that every participation in the Divine Light and Purity, as far as this may be attained, is a purification, even to the most pure. Having its source in the Most High God, it proceeds from the most exalted Causes in a superessential and hidden manner, traversing the whole of the Divine Intelligences, and yet it shows itself more clearly, and imparts itself more fully to the most exalted Powers around God. But as to the secondary or last intellectual powers, or our own powers, in proportion as each is further from the Divine Likeness, so the Divine Ray enfolds Its most brilliant light within Its own ineffable and hidden Unity. Moreover, It illuminates the second Orders severally through the first, and in short, It comes forth originally into manifestation from the Unmanifest through the first Powers.

The prophet was taught by the Angel who was leading him to light that the divine purification, and all the other divine activities shining forth through the First Beings, are imparted to all the others in the measure of the fitness of each for the divine participations.


Wherefore he reasonably assigned to the Seraphim, after God, the characteristic of imparting purification by fire. And there is nothing unreasonable in the representation of the Seraph as purifying the prophet; for just as God Himself, the cause of every purification, purifies all, or rather (to use a more familiar illustration), just as our hierarch, when purifying or enlightening through his priests or ministers, may himself be said to purify and illuminate, because

those orders which he has consecrated refer their sacred activities to him, so also the Angel who purifies the prophet refers his own purifying power and knowledge to God as its origin, but to the Seraph as the first- working Hierarch-as though saying with angelic reverence when instructing him who was being purified:

'There is an exempt Source and Essence and Creator and Cause of the purification effected in you by me, He who brings into being the First Beings, and holds them established round Himself, and preserves their changeless stability, and guides them towards the first participations in His own Providential Energies.' (For this, so he said who taught me, shows the mission of the Seraph.) 'But the Hierarch and Leader, after God, the first Order of the first Beings, by whom I was taught to perform the divine purifications, is that which purifies thee through me; and through it the Cause and Creator of all purification brought forth His Providential Energies to us from the hidden depths.'

Thus he taught me, and I in turn impart it to thee. It is for thy intellectual and discriminating skill either to accept one of the two reasons given as a solution of the difficulty, and prefer that to the other as probable and reasonable and perhaps true, or to find from thyself something more akin to the real truth, or learn from another (God indeed giving the word, and Angels directing it), and then to reveal to us who love the Angels a clearer, and to me more welcome view, if such should be possible.





This also is worthy, I think, of intellectual consideration, that the scriptural tradition respecting the Angels gives their number as thousands of thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand, multiplying and repeating the very highest numbers we have, thus clearly showing that the Orders of the Celestial Beings are innumerable for us; so many are the blessed Hosts of the Supermundane Intelligences, wholly surpassing the feeble and limited range of our material numbers. They are definitely known only by their own supermundane and celestial Intellect and the knowledge which is granted to them all bounteously by the All-knowing Mother-Wisdom of the Most High God, which is superessentially at once the substantiating Cause, the connecting Power, and the universal Consummation of all principles and things. CHAPTER XV What is the meaning of the formal semblances of the Angelic Powers? What of the fiery and the anthropomorphic? What is meant by their yes, nostrils, ears, mouths, touch, eyelids eyebrows their manhood, teeth, shoulders, arms, hands, heart, breasts, backs, feet and wings? What are the nakedness and the vesture, the shining raiment, the priestly insignia, the girdles? What are the rods, spears, battle-axes and measuring-lines? What are the winds and clouds? What is meant by their brass and electron? What are the choirs and the clapping of bands? What are the colours of the various jewels?        


What is the form of the lion, the ox, the eagle? What are the horses, and their various colours? What are the rivers, the chariots, the wheels? What is the so-called joy of the Angels? Let us, if you are so disposed, now relax our mental vision from the effort of the contemplation of the sublimity of the Angels, and descend to the particularized, all-various expanse of the manifold diversity of forms in angelic images; and then return analytically from them, as from symbols, ascending again to the simplicity of the Celestial Intelligences. But first let me point out clearly to you that the explanations of the sacred likenesses represent the same Orders of Celestial Beings sometimes as leading, and again being led, and the last leading and the first being led, and the same ones, as has been said, having first, middle and last powers. But there is nothing unreasonable in the account, according to the following method of unfoldment. If, indeed, we said that some are first governed by those above them, and afterwards govern those Orders, and that the highest, whilst leading the lowest ranks, are at the same time being led by those whom they are leading, the statement would be obviously absurd and wholly confused. But if we say that these holy Orders both lead and are led, but not the same ones, nor by the same ones, but that each is led by those above itself, and in turn leads those below it, we may reasonably say that the Scripture in its sacred symbolic presentation sometimes rightly and truly assigns the same powers to the first, middle and last ranks. Wherefore the eager upward tending to those above them, and the constancy of their revolution around them, being guardians of their own powers, and their participation in the providential power of proceeding forth to those below them through their own inter-relations, will truly befit all the Celestial Beings, although some pre-eminently and universally, others in a partial and lower degree.        


But we must begin to deal with the remaining part of our discourse, and must ask, in first explanation of the forms, why 

'the Word of God prefers the sacred symbol of fire almost above all others.' 

For you will find that it is used not only under the figure of fiery wheels, but also of living creatures of fire, and of men flashing like lightning who heap live coals of fire about the Heavenly Beings, and of irresistibly rushing rivers of flame. Also it says that the Thrones are of fire, and it shows from their name that the most exalted Seraphim themselves are burning with fire, assigning to them the qualities and forces of fire; and throughout, above and below, it gives the highest preference to the symbol of fire.

Therefore, I think that this image of fire signifies the perfect conformity to God of the Celestial Intelligences. For the holy prophets frequently liken that which is superessential and formless to fire which (if it may lawfully be said) possesses many resemblances as in visible things to the Divine Reality. For the sensible fire is in some manner in everything, and pervades all things without mingling with them, and is exempt from all things and, although wholly bright, yet lies essentially hidden and unknown when not in contact with any substance on which it can exert its own energy. It is irresistible and invisible, having absolute rule over all things, bringing under its own power all things in which it subsists. It has transforming power, and imparts itself in some measure to everything near it. It revives all things by its revivifying heat, and illuminates them all with its resplendent brightness. It is insuperable and pure, possessing separative power, but itself changeless, uplifting, penetrative, high, not held back by servile baseness, ever-moving, selfmoved, moving other things.


It comprehends, but is incomprehensible, unindigent, mysteriously increasing itself and showing forth its majesty according to the nature of the substance receiving it, powerful, mighty, invisibly present to all things. When not thought of, it seems not to exist, but suddenly kindles its light in the way proper to its nature by friction, as though seeking to do so, uncontrollably flying upwards without diminishing its all-blessed self- giving. Thus many properties of fire may be found which symbolize through sensible images the Divine activities. Knowing this, those wise in the things of God have portrayed the Celestial Beings under the figure of fire, thus proclaiming their likeness to the Divine, and their imitation of Him in the measure of their power.


But they also invest them with the likeness of men because of the human powers of intellect and aspiration, the straight and erect form, the inherent power of guiding and governing; and because man, although least in sense- perception in comparison with the powers of irrational creatures, yet rules over them all through the pre-eminence of his intellect, the lordship of his rational knowledge, and the intrinsic freedom of his unconquerable soul. Thus it is possible, I think, to find in the various parts of our bodies fitting symbols of the Celestial Powers by taking, for example, the power of sight as an image of their most transparent upliftment to the Divine Light, their single, free, unresisting reception of that Light, their responsiveness and pure receptivity without passion to the divine illuminations. The human power of distinguishing odours signifies the power to receive the inconceivable and most fragrant divine influences, as far as is attainable, and the definite recognition and utter rejection of others not of this kind.         


The power of the ears denotes participation in and conscious gnostic receptivity to divine inspiration. The power of taste represents an abundance of spiritual food and the reception of divine streams of nourishment. The power of touch symbolizes the power of distinguishing that which is of advantage from that which is harmful. The eyelids and eyebrows represent the guarding of intellectual conceptions in divine contemplations. The images of youth and vigour denote their perpetual bloom and vigour of life. The teeth symbolize the distribution of the sustaining perfection supplied to them; for each Intellectual Order, receiving a unitive conception from the Divine, with Providential Power divides and multiplies it for the proportionate upliftment of the one below. The shoulders, arms and hands signify the powers of activity and accomplishment. The heart is a symbol of that Divine Life which imparts its own life-giving power beneficently to those within its care. We may add that the chest, being placed over the heart, represents the indomitable power which guards its own life-giving dispensations. 

The back denotes that strength which holds together all the life-giving powers. The feet signify the power of motion, swiftness and skillfulness in the ever moving advance towards divine things. Wherefore the prophet described the feet of the Celestial Intelligences as being covered by their wings which symbolize a swift soaring to the heights, and the heavenly progression up the steep, and the exemption from everything earthly through the upward ascent. 

The lightness of the wings shows that they are altogether heavenly and unsullied and untrammeled in their upliftment on high. The naked and unshod feet symbolize their free, easy and unrestrained power, pure from all externality, and assimilated, as far as is attainable, to the Divine Simplicity.         


But since that single and manifold Wisdom both clothes the naked and assigns to them implements to carry, let us unfold, as far as we can, these sacred garments and instruments of the Celestial Intelligences. Their shining and fiery vestures symbolizes, I think, the Divine Likeness under the image of fire, and their own enlightening power, because they abide in Heaven, where Light is: and also it shows that they impart wholly intelligible Light, and are enlightened intellectually. Their priestly garment symbolizes their authority as leaders to the mystical and divine contemplations, and the consecration of their whole life. The girdles denote their guardianship of their own generative power, and their state of unification, for they are wholly drawn together towards their essential unity surrounding it in a perfect circle with changeless sameness. The rods are tokens of the authority of sovereignty and leadership and the true directing of all things. The spears and battle-axes represent the power of dividing incongruous things and the keen, vigorous and effectual power of discrimination. 

The measuring-lines and carpenters' tools are figures of the power of foundation and erection and perfection, and whatever else belongs to the providential guidance and upliftment of the lower orders. Sometimes, however, the implements assigned to the holy Angels symbolize the divine judgment upon ourselves; for some are figures of His corrective discipline of avenging justice, others of freedom from difficulties, or the perfection of disciplinary instruction, or the restoration to our first happiness, while others signify the addition of other gifts, great or small, sensible or intelligible; and no acute mind would have any difficulty at all in finding the correspondence between the visible symbols and the invisible realities.         


The name winds given to the Angels denotes their swift operations, and their almost immediate penetration of everything, and a transmitting power in all realms, reaching from the above to the below, and from the depths to the heights, and the power which uplifts the second natures to the height above them, and moves the first to a participative and providential upliftment of the lower. But perhaps it may be said that the name winds, applied to the aerial spirit, signifies the Divine Likeness in the Celestial Beings. For the figure is a true image and type of Divine Energy (as is shown more fully in the Symbolical Theology in our fourfold explanation) corresponding to the moving and generative forces of Nature, and a swift and irresistible advance, and the mystery, unknown and unseen by us, of the motive principles and ends. For He says: 'Thou knowest not whence it cometh nor whither it goeth.' The Scriptures also depict them as a cloud, showing by this that these holy Intelligences are filled in a supermundane manner with the hidden Light, receiving that first revelation without undue glorying, and transmitting it with abundant brightness to the lower Orders as a secondary, proportionate illumination; and further, that they, possess generating, life giving, increasing and perfecting powers by reason of their intelligible outpourings, as of showers quickening the receptive womb of earth by fertilizing rains for life-giving travail.         


The Scriptures also liken the Celestial Beings to brass and electron, and many coloured jewels. Now electron, [an alloy of silver and gold] resembling both gold and silver, is like gold in its resistance to corruption unspent and undiminished, and its undimmed brightness; and is like silver in its shining and heavenly lustre. But the symbolism of brass (in line with the explanations already given) must resemble that of fire or gold. Again, of the many coloured varieties of stones, the white represents that which is luminous, and the red corresponds to fire, yellow to gold, and green to youth and vigour. Thus corresponding to each figure you will find a mystical interpretation which relates these symbolical images to the things above.

But now, since this has been sufficiently explained, I think, according to our ability, let us pass on to the sacred unfoldment of the symbolism which depicts the Celestial Intelligences in the likeness of beasts.

The form of a lion must be regarded as typifying their power of sovereignty, strength and indomitableness, and the ardent striving upward with all their powers to that most hidden, ineffable, mysterious Divine Unity and the covering of the intellectual foot-prints, (7) and the mystically modest concealment of the way leading to divine union through the Divine Illumination.

The figure of the ox signifies strength and vigour and the opening of the intellectual furrows to the reception of fertilizing showers; and the horns signify the guarding and unconquerable power. The form of the eagle signifies royalty and high soaring and swiftness of flight and the eager seizing of that food which renews their strength, discretion, and ease of movement and skill, with strong intensity of vision which has the power to gaze unhindered, directly and unflinchingly upon the full and brilliant splendour of the brightness of the Divine Sun.         


The symbolism of horses represents obedience and tractability. The shining white horses denote clear truth and that which is perfectly assimilated to the Divine Light, the dark, that which is hidden and secret; the red, fiery might and energy; the dappled black and white, that power which traverses all and connects the extremes, providentially and with perfecting power uniting the highest to the lowest and the lowest to the highest.

If we had not to bear in mind the length of our discourse, we might well describe the symbolic relations of the particular characteristics of animals already given, and all their bodily forms, with the powers of the Celestial Intelligences according to dissimilar similitudes: for example, their fury of anger represents an intellectual power of resistance of which anger is the last and faintest echo; their desire symbolizes the Divine Love; and in short, we might find in all the irrational tendencies and many parts of irrational creatures, figures of the immaterial conceptions and single powers of the Celestial Beings. This, however, is enough for the prudent, for one mystical interpretation will sufficiently serve as an example for the explanation of others of a similar kind.


We must now consider the representations of the Celestial Beings in connection with rivers and wheels and chariots. The rivers of flame denote those Divine Channels which fill them with super-abundant and eternally out- pouring streams and nourish their life-giving prolificness. The chariots symbolize the conjoined fellowship of those of the same Order; the winged wheels, ever moving onward, never turning back or going aside, denote the power of their progressive energy on a straight and direct path in which all their intellectual revolutions are supermundanely guided upon that straight and unswerving course.

The figure of the spiritual wheels can also have another mystical meaning, for the prophet says that the name Gel, is given to them, which in the Hebrew tongue means revolutions and revelations. For the divine fiery wheels truly revolve, by reason of their ceaseless movement, around the highest Good Itself, and they are granted revelations because to them the holy hidden Mysteries are made clear, and the earthly are lifted up, and the high illuminations are brought down and imparted to the lowest orders.

The last thing for us to explain is the joy attributed to the Celestial Orders. They are utterly above and beyond our passionate pleasures. But they are said to rejoice with God over the finding of that which was lost, as well befits the Godlike mildness of their nature, and as befits their beneficent and boundless joy at the providential salvation of those who are turned to God, and that ineffable bliss in which holy men have often participated when the illuminations of God have divinely visited them.

Let this be a sufficient account of those sacred symbols which, although it falls far short of their full interpretation, will yet, I think, contribute to prevent us from lingering basely in the figures and forms themselves.


If you should point out that we have not mentioned in order all the Angelic powers, activities and images described in the scriptures, we should answer truly that we do not possess the supermundane knowledge of some, or rather that we have need of another to guide us to the light and instruct us; but others have been passed over for the sake of proportion, as being parallel to what has been given; and the hidden Mysteries which lie beyond our view we have honoured by silence.      NOTES (1) 'A chain likewise extends from on high, as far as to the last of things, secondary natures always expressing the powers of the natures prior to them, progression indeed diminishing the similitude, but all things at the same time, and even such as most obscurely participate of existence, bearing a similitude to the first causes, and being co-passive with each other and with their original causes.'-Proclus, Tbeology of Plato, VI.4 (2) 'For everything which is converted hastens to be conjoined with its cause and aspires after communion with it.'-Proposition XXXII. Proclus, Metaphysical Elements. 'The soul ought first to examine its own nature, to know whether it has the faculty of contemplating spiritual things, and whether it has indeed an eye wherewith to see them, and if it ought to embark on the quest. If the spiritual is foreign to it, what is the use of trying? But if there is a relationship between us and it, we both can and ought to find it.' Plotinus, Ennead, V. 1- 3 (3) 'The progressions of beings, however, are completed through similitude. But the terminations of the higher orders are united to the beginnings of second orders. And one series and indissoluble         


order extends from on high through the surpassing goodness of the First Cause and His unified Power. For because indeed He is One He is the supplier of union; but because He is the Good He constitutes things similar to Him prior to such as are dissimilar. And thus all things are in continuity with each other. For if this continuity were broken there would not be union.'-Proclus, Theology of Plato, VI.11. (4) 'Everything which proceeds in the divine orders is not naturally adapted to receive all the powers of its producing cause. Not in short, are secondary natures able to receive all the powers of the natures prior to themselves, but the latter have certain powers exempt from things in inferior order, and incomprehensible by the beings posterior to themselves.'-Proposition CL. Proclus, Metaphysical Elements. (5) 'There are nine Orders of Angels, figures of the nine Archetypes in God; and each one obtains a name corresponding to the property in God which it exhibits.' Further, the Cherubim are those 'who may be called loving Wisdoms, as those first may be called wise Loves. For there is in each both love and wisdom. But in the first, inasmuch as they are nearer to God, the very Sun of Truth, this exists in a far greater degree. ... Such then is the difference between these Orders: namely, that in the latter is knowledge proceeding from love; in the former is love proceeding from knowledge.' 'In the third rank are those who, from their unity, simplicity, constancy and firmness, are sometimes called Thrones, sometimes Seats; who' themselves also are wise and loving. But from their simplicity, they have the attributes of unity, power, strength, fortitude, steadfastness. Which very attributes the Cherubim and Seraphim also possess.... Steadfastness comes from simplicity, simplicity from purification.          


- For when each object is purified back to its own simple nature, then, being uncompounded, it remains indissoluble through its unity. Whence it is clear that purification is assigned to the Thrones. Moreover, when a thing is purified, it is illumined, and after it is illumined, it is perfected. This last office is given to the Seraphs, the other to the Cherubs. Among them all, in every threefold manner, there is a striving with all their might to imitate God; who is Purification Itself, the Parent of unities; who is the very Illumination of those unities; who is lastly the very Perfection of the illuminated. Power cleanses, clear truth makes serene, finished love makes perfect.' 'Thus does God beam forth with firmness, wisdom and love in the Thrones, Cherubs and Seraphs, which threefold system of the Divine Ray goes forth, and causes that in the Powers, Virtues and Dominions there should be reflected His divine and firm Power, His wise Virtue and the most loving Dominion; and that the Trinity of God, coequal in Itself, should shine with softened lustre, filling now the second place under that first one.' 'Among all the Angels, from the higher ones even down to us, there is a mutual and alternate announcement proceeding from above; as they receive and deliver in turn what they announce in a marvelous and most beautiful order. 

Since among the Angels themselves there is an order of all ordinances after the pattern of the Order of all.... But every announcement is a receiving, informing, purifying, enlightening, perfecting and representing of the Divine Truth; the Light of which as it goes forth in order and shines upon all, so distinguishes and marks each object in a wonderful manner, that everything shines forth in it in its own proper quality, and stands out and appears in its own nature, with its individual powers and office, exhibiting in its own degree some perfection in God, in whom all perfection is in its highest; nay, rather, who is Himself the proper Perfection of every one, perfecting all things, in whom there is nothing perfect but Himself.' John Colet, Works, J.H. Lupton, ed., (London: G. Bell, 1869).             

-202- (6)
-'For all things concur with each other through similitude, and communicate the powers which they possess. And first natures, indeed, impart by illumination the gift of themselves to secondary natures, in unenvying abundance. But effects are established in their causes. An indissoluble connection, likewise, and communion of wholes, and a collation of agents and patients, are surveyed in the world.'-Proclus, Tbeology of Plato, VI.4

(7) The lion was said by the ancients to erase his footprints with his tail.