What on earth is a Holy Guardian Angel and why would one want to know it and talk to it?

For around five months I've been performing a daily practice, the end goal of which is described as "Achieving the Knowledge and Conversation of [your] Holy Guardian Angel."  But that does suggest a few questions – like 'What is a Holy Guardian Angel?' 'What would achieving it's knowledge and conversation be like?' and 'Why bother?'

The best answer I can give for these questions is… I don't really know.

But that would be a bit of a short Blog post, so I guess I should try harder.

[Note: I'm going to use the word Angel quite a lot in this post.  It is highly likely – because I always do – that at some point I will start writing about my Holy Guardian Angle.  This is not deliberate.  Blame my minor dyslexia, the failings of the English Education System, or my lack of proof reading, as you wish]

I first became aware of the concept of the HGA many years ago, but basically ignored it for a long time – in essence because I considered it pretty ridiculous.  A Holy Guardian Angel?  Really?  Doesn't that sound a bit, well, Christiany… and naff?  Aren't angels for the Doreen Virtue crowd who I so enjoy looking down upon?

But with time something did pique my interest – it was that Mr Crowley again.  I read a page of 'Magick in Theory and Practice' in which he wrote:

He therefore said: "Let me declare this Work under this title: ‘The obtaining of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel’", because the theory implied in these words is so patently absurd that only simpletons would waste much time in analysing it. It would be accepted as a convention, and no one would incur the grave danger of building a philosophical system upon it.

The man had many faults, but he did on occasion write in such an entertaining way.

So – Crowley was saying, in essence, the good thing about talking about the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel is that it sounds ridiculous. It's such a ridiculous notion that no one would take it literally and everyone therefore has to think slightly deeper about what it actually means.

The problem is, of course, Crowley isn't exactly consistent, or clear, when he talks about what K&C means – sometimes he refers to it as a state of consciousness, sometimes as contact with an external entity, sometimes as contact with a part of yourself.  Perhaps he changed his mind with time, perhaps he was implying that the reality of it could not so easily be described.  Perhaps he was just trying to make things confusing… perhaps a mixture of all four.

Historically the term HGA probably first appeared thanks to the writings of Abraham of Würzburg, a French Cabalist who wrote the Book of Abramelin during the 15th century.  This book lays out, in some detail, an elaborate and complex set of rituals which will result in a magickian achieving the K&C of the HGA.  This tome came to prominence when it was translated by MacGregor Mathers of Golden Dawn fame, and the concept of the HGA was then adopted by Crowley, and became an important part of his magickal system.

However he may contradict himself, Crowley is very clear on one point – K&C of the HGA is a very big deal, and a very important task.  He, in essence, says that there are two key tasks – two key initiations – of the magickian and this is the first of them.  First you achieve the knowledge and conversation of your HGA and then it instructs you, essentially acts as your tutor, until you understand enough to attempt to cross the Abyss.  (Something I know even less about but may well have a stab at writing about later).

More recently I came across a different, more specific, description of what the HGA might be – it was described as 'your future magickal self'.  That is, it is the you that has passed through the initiations, gone through the trials, learned what there is to learn and, presumably having cast off such trifling matters as linear time, has agreed to come back and help you take the route it has taken (part of which involves crossing a barrier to higher consciousness we might call The Abyss).  Paradoxical goodness to be sure, but perhaps an easier concept for some of us to buy into than some kind of personal Angel.

Eventually I became intrigued by this idea.  Firstly, I like a challenge.  Secondly, I like the idea of attainment – it's good to know you've gone up a level and passed one of the 'tests' of your magickal career.  Thirdly, there was a less grown up part of me that just simply thought that it sounded cool.  Most writers imply that the experience of K&C is pretty overwhelming, and life changing.  A lot of magick is pretty subtle – a coincidence here, an odd dream there – things that may leave you, on a skeptical day, wondering if anything is happening at all.  But K&C is, by all accounts, not subtle at all.  I liked the sound of that.

But if I was to give this a try, there was a pretty important question – how?  What exactly does it take to achieve the Knowledge and Conversation of your Holy Guardian Angel?

Well, I'll get on to that next….

10 Responses to "What on earth is a Holy Guardian Angel and why would one want to know it and talk to it?"

  1. Kate says:

    I don't know if I've mentioned this before, so forgive me if I'm repeating myself, but to me, the most obvious explanation is that the HGA is simply your higher self. Thoughts?

    • warlock says:

      Well, as I say above… I don't *really* know. Further contact may completely surprise me and change my concept of it all.

      But I think that's as good a way of thinking about it as any – just that when you say 'obvious explanation' you are starting from the premise that obviously your higher self is a real thing. I'm not sure it's a commonly enough accepted idea to do that right off the bat.

      But yes, early on I certainly thought in terms of having a 'higher self' – the part of me that didn't incarnate, the part of myself that's outside of time and space, the part of me that still has a direct spiritual connection. That seems equivalent to how some people write about their HGA… but other magickians don't have that concept in their world view, and instead see the HGA as a separate 'spirit' which one contacts, or that the 'contacting' process is actually the process of *forming* an HGA (focussed Will creating a human-comprehensible part of the divine that can act as a 'go-between' or translator). Or, as I say above, that it's a state of consciousness.

      I don't work with the concept of Higher Self in quite the way I used to, (which was probably why I didn't mention it) but there are certainly strong parallels between that model and the HGA.

    • Paul says:

      HI….it depends, especially if that notion of higher self is based on concepts gathered intellectually from books and so forth….you know..ideas and such….or if it is inferred from the self one currently knows oneself as…which are more ideas………theres no good having a self that is a 'higher' version of the self one currently is….thats no fun…..the HGA is about something beyond your realisation……Gnosis/Magick is the only means that will reveal it…spiritual work that both uses and bypasses the self that wishes it was 'higher'….begins over time to reveal a possibility……….

    • Jose says:

      Hello kate, i don't remember well but im absolutely positively sure crowley says that the HGA is not your higher self he finds that idea ridicolous and rejects it. He cosiders the HGA along with a lot of other entities subjects, like another person.

  2. Kate says:

    "you are starting from the premise that obviously your higher self is a real thing"

    This is absolutely true! It's so central to my belief system that I find it hard to believe that everyone doesn't have the same opinion. A useful self-discovery.

  3. […] I said before, the original book on attaining the Knowledge and Conversation of your Holy Guardian Angle […]

  4. Rozee says:

    I would not have even given this subject a second glance…had i not experienced what is described spontaneously. knowledge and conversation of the HGA – which seemed to be initiated by the HGA, not me.

    I suspect i'm currently 'crossing the abyss' and have been doing so for a good 20 years! 🙂 It hurts! I can't see how any person would want to do this voluntarily!


  5. frater says:

    If you do attain the KNOWLEDGE AND CONVERSATION OF YOUR HOLY GUARDIAN ANGEL and He converses with you then you will surely not discuss it ,as it is most personal and each for himself only .
    frater e

  6. SJtR says:

    I stumbled across this website, thinking this would be another flash in the pan site, actually sparked my interest. This has got to be one of the best summaries I have ever read about K&C HGA ever. I am a Master Mason, 32 degree and Royal Arch and also affiliated with a few Rosicrucian orders. I will not give the Lodge #'s, Temples, Consistories etc though… for privacy reasons on line…

    However, if I may add, the Masonic Legend of the Temple "Hiram" is much like a ceremonial HGA prelude for the initiate, then later up to the initiate to carry on their personal work…

    If I may also add, although never mentioned in the G:.D:. or elsewhere, a good background in the study of the Sefer Yetzira is extremely helpful for being a solid cornerstone and foundation for when approaching this subject on the HGA.

    Although there are a few versions of the Sefer Yetzira, G:.D:. B.O.T.A. and Masonic "at least southern jurisdiction under the writings of Pike are all based on what is called the short version, and still at that, the short version with out the parts omitted by the Donash… Short doesnt mean it is shorter then the so called long version. Crowley towards the end dabbled with what is known as the Ari version, and then there is the Saadia version. However, mathematically I have found, ultimately, the Gra version to be the most authoritative of all, yet is one of the most over looked. Even the glyph of the tree of life is of the most simplistic of all the systems. But the mathematics backing everything up is undisputed.

    Anyway, excellent job on your article and keep up the good work!

    Fra:. M.M.

  7. […] and its non-effect on the performers—reminded me of Crowley’s justification for the term “Holy Guardian Angel” (id est, so that no one could possibly take it literally or seriously) and I realized that, […]

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