Earth & Spirit
By Jesse Wolf Hardin
Name a little girl or boy wouldn’t be comforted by the vision of a smiling apparition, gently descending on them like a blessing or a smile, like a soft Summer breeze or a silken see-through curtain! A kid’s budding spiritual identity is fashioned not by the fear of demons so much as the assurances of fairy-hearted, gossamer-winged angels. It’s easy to envision these mystical guardians watching over us in our sleep at the end of a long, long day . . . or preventing bad things from happening to us when our mother is called away.
No matter how else we might come to think of them, all angels are spirits — intentionally or unintentionally contributing to our soulful growth. They function as a resource to be tapped, as well as a sacred reality check. And it needs to be said that the most accessible of these speak not from some distant galaxy or other-worldly dimension, but from close at hand — through the spirits and beings of this magical planet, and the aperture of our deeply feeling hearts.
The word itself derives from the Latin “angelus,” meaning literally “messengers.” Angels thus function not as intermediaries between us and the experience of God or Spirit, but as communicative conduits, as connective tissue helping link us to the rest of the miraculous and informative whole. Even the most ethereal or metamorphic angels are integral extensions of, or relatives of this inspirited living Earth: “Gaia”. . . expressing the will and grace of a divine and purposeful universe.
Such angels aren’t necessarily here to make things easier. They are neither vacation directors, cosmic crosswalk guards, providers of convenient parking spaces, nor pillows waiting to catch us if we fall. As extensions of spirit and agents of truth, they’d be loathe to save us from the very mistakes that temper our strength and provide us with our necessary lessons. If they allow us to stumble it is not out of indifference or neglect, but out of deep noticing, unequaled empathy and caring.
No ally would deny us an opportunity to grow stronger in the face of struggle . . . or deprive us of the chance for significance, distinction and nobility that comes from our doing the right thing with no certainty of assistance or success. If dovish wings are spread it is not to shelter us, as that might block our access to the sky. Any wings would be intended to keep even the mellowest angels moving . . . and thus remind us that we, too, can fly.
The most beneficial angels encourage in us resolution more than relief. Relief is sweet in the short term but can easily result in a lulling of the senses, in decreased awareness of the dynamics and implications of the world unfolding around us. Resolution, on the other hand, is a perfect mix of clarity and action, completion and satisfaction. It is a level of contentment dependent less on accomplishment and success than on knowing we’ve done all we can . . . plus our gracious acceptance of any rewards.
These angels’ mission is not simply to comfort the angst or aggrieved, but to awaken and alert us to our divinity. Our responsibility. Our opportunities to give, to manifest, to excel. They manifest not as accomplices in our transcendence or escape, but as accessible resources and aides in a ritual, heroic reconnecting— with our authentic selves, the rest of the natural world, and our most meaningful purpose.
And there are embodied angels all around us as well, the many messengers of the many faces of God!: the infant who climbs onto our laps at work, insisting we stop to play. The cook who guarantees we notice and taste our food, by threatening to take our muffin away. The compassionate and kind — as well as the sparkling river, rescuing us from a loud and busied mind. And those who love us no matter what, as well as they who provoke us to stretch, to deepen, to change.
What makes them angels is not how brightly they glow, but the way they open up so that each person’s light can shine through. And sometimes the most important message they can impart to is to say: “Sister, or brother, it’s up to you!”
Angels are reminders more than guides, helping us recall (call back!) our missing parts, our unquenched desires and needs, our unfulfilled dreams. Reminding us of the importance of authenticity, mission and honor. Reminding us to fully live before we die! And the cottonwood tree shakes its leaves, to remind us to get out of our minds and back into present time. Their shared message is to “feel deeply, respond sincerely, give much, and accept all gifts.”
In whatever guise or incarnation, Gaia’s angels are committed
to reuniting us with our sacred, responsive Animus — our
creature beings and magical selves. Theirs is a sacred
covenant: to help rejoin us to the cycles of life and death,
to the God-filled universe and this living, giving Earth. And
to support us in seeking affirmation, direction and advice
first from our own flawless, angelic hearts.
Jesse Wolf Hardin is an ac-claimed teacher of
Earth-centered spirituality, living seven river crossings from
a road in an ancient place of power. He is the author of
Kindred Spirits: Sacred Earth Wisdom (SwanďRaven 2001) and
Gaia Eros: New Nature Spirituality (New Page 2004). Wolf and
Loba share the riverside sanctuary where he offers men’s
quests and intuitive counsel, and she hosts women for quests,
wild-foods gathering, and special resident internships. To
host them for festival or conference presentations, or for
more information on their many programs, please contact: The
Earthen Spirituality Project & Sweet Medicine Women’s Center,
Box 509, Reserve, NM 87830. Or see
(Excerpted from Wolf’s book in progress The Canyon Testaments: Earth Informed Insights & Remembered Wisdom)
Angels are the emissaries of Spirit, here to alert and inform us so that we might ourselves take the right action to remedy any imbalance or strife.
“Angel” means messenger. In this way an angel is any part or member of the sacred Whole, that communicates to us the reality and will of that Whole.
Angels inform us through pain as well as pleasure, through danger and discomfort as well as safety and ease.... but always their message is one of truth, unity and love.
A saint serves our spiritual selves, not by interceding between us and Spirit, but by setting an example of direct spiritual engagement, compassionate suffering, responsible action, and holy bliss.
The root of the word saint is the same as for sanctity. The role of a saint is to consecrate. To be saintly requires only that we act to continuously resanctify the miraculous world around us.
A saint is not one who accomplishes miracles, but rather, one who recognizes and honors the miraculous nature of reality.
The Earth is an embodiment— and avatar— of Spirit.
At our best we become as angels for each other.... and avatars of the Earth.
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