“And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!”
The four living creatures became symbols of the gospels. The lion is the symbol of Mark, the ox of Luke, the face of a man is Matthew and the eagle in flight is the gospel of John. They can be seen in the Tarot card, The World, and here they represent four primal energies that stand so to speak, at the four corners of creation. In the Western Esoteric Spiritual Tradition, they are known as the four elements, and they also correspond to the four bodies of the human being.
The face of the man corresponds to:
The physical body, the gospel of Matthew, the past, the Earth element ruled by Archangel Raphael and the feminine.
The Lion corresponds to:
The etheric body, the gospel of Mark, the present, the Fire element ruled by Archangel Uriel and the masculine.
The Ox corresponds to:
The astral body, the gospel of Luke, the future, the Water element ruled by Archangel Gabriel and the feminine.
The Eagle corresponds to:
Spirit, the gospel of John, eternity, the Air element, Archangel Michael and the masculine.
The living creatures are covered with eyes, in other words they are filled with consciousness. The six wings indicate that they raise us up in evolution.
Consciousness evolves in these four stages. In the distant past we were spiritual beings who descended to become part of the earth. This part of our evolution was under the guidance of the being of Earth, whom we know in the Western tradition as Archangel Raphael. Raphael is a feminine power. During this time, we saw the earth as our mother. We were nurtured and sustained by her. We were part of her.
In the second part of evolution, we come under the guidance of Archangel Uriel. This is the time of Fire. It is a masculine energy. We develop the use of fire, which gives amongst other things, the ability to create tools and dominate the earth, and the ability to create weapons and dominate the animal kingdom and one another.
We are now entering the third period. We are coming under the guidance of Archangel Gabriel. It is Gabriel who announces the coming birth of Christ in Mary. Gabriel is now announcing the birth of the I AM within our souls. It has taken 2000 years for Christ to penetrate the earth, and become established in our souls. The future belongs to Gabriel. It belongs to the feminine. For this reason there is a new entry of the feminine into human consciousness at present.
In the distant future we will become free of the body. Our spirits will fly like the eagle. We will become fully spiritual beings once again.
If we step back for a moment from this painting, then what begin to emerge and almost threaten to overwhelm us are the eyes. There are eyes everywhere, there is consciousness everywhere.
It has been said that no one can understand occult and esoteric teachings without appreciating the four elements. Our world is created by these elements. Not the physical world of atoms and molecules, protons, electrons and neutrons, bosons, hadrons, quarks and super strings - we shall leave this intricate fantasy to the physicists. It is our world, that is, our consciousness which is created by the interplay of fire, earth, air and water.
For today, let us notice each of these elements. See the element of earth when we have to think about our physical body or our possessions, our career and finances. Perceive the element of fire when we exert energy or use our imagination. The air element creates our thinking and communication. Water assembles our emotional responses, our hopes and fears and our capacity to empathise and forgive. Each time we consciously discover these elements at work we are adding eyes to our understanding. Eventually our elements of consciousness will become so aware that we too will join in the singing, the praise of the Christ within.
Revelation chapter 4 speaks of awakening. If you read it very literally, which you should do first before you metaphysicise it, then you will find that you are dealing with a very advanced person. Of this advanced person John says, ‘after this I looked and lo, in heaven a door opened’; that, of course, is the Pituitary Gland. Heaven is the Pituitary. The open door indicates that the Pituitary gland is working. So his glandular system has spiritualised and all the other spiritual glands are operating within him under his control. In lots of people the different glands are operating without control. This explains love/hate relationships because if your Heart is not under your control then today you love tomorrow you hate. If your Thyroid is not in your control then today you will tomorrow you won’t. There is no stability. If your Adrenals are not under your control then your emotions will be like the waves of the sea beating at you constantly.
Rev Mario Schoenmaker, The Book of Revelation, 1982 Lecture Series