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By Sarah A. Odishoo


The Montréal Review, December 2012


Archangel Gabriel Sounding Trumpet, Wall Relief, Italian Renaissance original located in Church of San Michelle, Florence. 1359 A.D.


Biostratus--a spiritual genetic super helix...used to coordinate the double helix grids of creative similitude with the divine image grid for biological programming.

--J.J. Hurtak, The Book of Knowledge: The Keys of Enoch


So if we are born with a spiritual genetic helix--a God gene--and if we evolved to become conscious that we had a choice--to choose to reflect the image of God or to choose not to reflect--and we chose to break the mirror of that reflection--then what? Say that mirror of who we are intended to be--created in the image of God--got broken, cracked, shattered--separated us from that intention--wouldn't we then need help to remember to choose that image?

Angels--biological spiritual programming.


Angels probably appeared to me first in my thoughts. They are not visible, per se, and they probably aren't gendered either. Angels, then, may be forces from dimensions we cannot sense with our sensory perceptions. We perhaps sense them through our intuitive functions, finally, to apprehend them. But that is difficult because their dwelling place is on those borders we "normally" don't cross. "The Unthinkable," some have called it; "The Unimaginable," others might name it. Many have called that dwelling "Heaven" or "Hell." But the idea is that angels may "live" outside of our "clearing," our consciousness. That is, they might live in the "wilds" outside our civilized clearings; to find these angels, we would probably have to move beyond the known into the Unknown, into the Dark, the Forbidden, the Repressed. What in early religion and myth was defined as "The Void"--that may be where these angels dwell.

"The abyss of essence" is what Heidegger called poetry; the bridge, perhaps, to a kind of "Heaven"; the kind of thinking that allows us to perceive the angels--to think them, to hear them perhaps? I find that as soon as I start to speak of angels, I have to move to metaphor. So I bought some property, and I try to cross that bridge to get there whenever I can, but the trip is always and ever treacherous.


I was nine when my younger brother Chuckie, who was in second grade, had to go to a funeral. His friend Leslie's mother had died suddenly. And his class, the teacher decided, would accept the family's invitation to attend the funeral parlor. He had to dress in his blue wool suit, the one he only wore to church on Sunday, and his blue tie.

None of us had ever been to a funeral, and so he was excited that he was the first and that his whole class was being driven to the funeral. He took his baseball cards to show his friends; he couldn't take them to school, but he could take them, he figured, to a funeral home.

When he came back late that afternoon, he had a lily in his hand, waving it like a wand and talking quickly, as if he had to get the message out before he would have to leave.

"I got this at the casket; they gave it to me-know what a casket is-I do-I saw Leslie's mom-sleeping in the casket. Well, she wasn't sleeping-but she looked like she was sleeping. She was dead-but her face-her face was painted white-I never saw her like that-and, boy, did we crack up-but Leslie-I never saw him cry before-but he did-I didn't mean to laugh, honest, I didn't mean to-"

He started sobbing and he couldn't stop-the more he tried to stop, the more he shook-trying-I threw my arms around his shoulders and held him. He was shaking so hard-

"Don't, Chuckie, don't-you didn't do anything wrong-and you don't know what happened to her-nobody knows-that's her body-but Leslie's mom-she hasn't left him-she just went back to God-"


When I said that to him I didn't know what I was saying--the words tumbled from another place into the space between us. I'm still not quite sure what those words mean.


What Chuck saw in his friend's dead mother was his own mortality as he mourned for her-his own painted, motionless face-the terror of stillness, the hush of eternity, and the false face-immobilized. So this is "dead, forever dead," he must have thought .

But Chuck, now, reminds me that when I said those words, it broke through his terror. He said, "Those words you used were angel voices, you know. It was as if an angel spoke to me when I couldn't make sense of the moment I was in."

My words may have struck a resonance in his mirror of angel voices. He may have been nourished by resonant meanings. Later, much later, in the hospital where doctors discovered his colon cancer, he said, "You are the angel. I saw in you my healing."


Angels may be sparked connectors to the divine image grid, in which divine knowledge can speak through us so that we can see in every finite mirror the infinite-angel signs.


Is it out there in the wild, angels need us to discover them?

Perhaps they call us to discover those aspects of ourselves that are dark, fearsome, shameful, dismal, and despairing. Unthinkable! That part of us we know the least. Like spinning leaves in a whirlpool, we may think we will be caught in the pull of what draws us downward, into ourselves from outside...the Sirens...called to our own destruction...our own essence--the abyss.

But we may not. We may find our souls--seemingly doomed to perfection--but perhaps, more importantly, we may awaken to the mystery of our being--charged to renew the creation of our thoughts with new ones-creative similitude: the kind of creativity that imitates God's. Angel wiring.


The Chicago Northwestern train tracks ran on a viaduct overhead, a block from our house. The three of us--Bryan, Chuckie, and me--would climb the grassy banks of it until we reached the rails that ran north and south. We would tightrope walk the rails for as long as we could until, at some point, Bryan and Chuck would kneel down, place their ears on the rail, and listen. They could hear the the rumble far down the tracks and know if the train was coming. And sometimes, when Larry Zini was with us, he had pennies, and he would place them on the rails after they were done listening.

After hearing the rumble, we would walk the rails a few seconds more, and then we would jump off on the viaduct side and wait for it to speed by. But Bryan didn't like getting off the rails until the moment he saw the train, and sometimes he waited even longer to see just how long he could stay on the rail and not be tempted off.

The last time we climbed the rails, he waited. We all saw the train coming, and Chuck and I jumped off. He was between the two pairs of rails, walking the outside rail. He kept walking as the train neared, and by the time the train roared by, we didn't see him jump. Bryan disappeared behind the cars as the train crashed between us on the rails.

After the train passed, neither of us spoke--we just stared--first down the rail passages, then across to the other side where the western embankment sloped out of sight.

"Scared you two, didn't I?" he yelled as he jumped out of the sloping bank.

We didn't go back to the railway tracks after that.


Bryan said later, "I didn't know I was going to stay on the rail that long--all I knew was that I felt invincible and that an angel was before me and behind me."


Bryan's bodily nature knew the virtues of a hero--so did his spirit--as he tested his ability to endure his fears. His angels knew his predispositions, as did he. He would escape death again years later when he was in the Army. He had known before and had been practicing. When he was burned so badly by a "dud" bomb that went off in his face, my mother stayed in the barracks of the Army hospital and remained with him for weeks until he had passed the emergency stage. Whenever he asked for a mirror to see his face, my mother, who had been making him food for which he had an appetite, would say, "No, no, no...there's time enough after you eat."


So angels stand outside our clearings, at the borders, and call. I see them now more as martyrs and we as lions. Why lions? We are so crude, so primitive in our knowing about essence, that we become the devourers.

Chuck said later, "There are powers and intelligences beyond our apprehension, but those powers are in Bryan, calling him-he has a heroic nature, but it's all in his body. The events are not. His angels call him into his heroic nature while he follows his body into trivial pursuits. But he doesn't know it yet. He believes that his body is more important than the event, so he keeps exercising his body. He keeps testing his body and not learning that it's what events he chooses that determines his heroism."

May I also say that when Chuck said that about Bryan, his insight came from angel thinking. I think angels have to do with love.


My mother could read fortunes etched in the demitasse cups she served with Turkish coffee. From as long as I can remember, Momma would make Turkish coffee in a brass pot she brought back from Persia. Boiling the water first, she would pour heaping tablespoons in the pot until it frothed the grounds and turned the water to mud as she stirred.

She would then give each guest a demitasse cup, with oriental flower chains circling the tiny china cups resting in their contemplative saucers. She held each cup by its handle above the saucer, then ceremoniously poured the steaming pitch-brown semi-liquid into the cup to its brim. With the spoon, she would skim off the foam from the pot and plop it onto the steaming coffee's surface.

Her instructions were simple:

Ask a question that is important before you drink the coffee.

Don't tell any one what the question is.

Sip the coffee to the dregs.

Then make a wish.

Finally, and most importantly, turn the cup this way and that to pattern the inside of the cup with the grounds, and then turn it upside down in the saucer and wait until it dries a bit.

She would end with, "Then I will tell you your heart's desire."

Everyone who was to share in the coffee ceremony was especially invited by Momma to drink. Only those Momma invited shared in the fortune reading. All who took part were amazed at her coffee--it was dark, bitter, hot, and energizing, they said. But there was something else--beginning the ritual and drinking the coffee, the "sippers" said made them feel "uneasy," "anxious," "unsettled"--the apprehension that one has on "a first date."

At the end of the ritual, she would have answered the question and told them their heart's desire. They were converts.

The one that she read that stopped her fortune readings was particularly accurate, or so it seemed.

Vincent and Susan had been married for five years; they had a three-year-old son. They were friends of friends, and they had stopped on their way to the East Coast to see their parents.

My mother made Turkish coffee and went through the ritual--bringing out cups and saucers, filling the cups, and giving the instructions. Susan went first and hers was the "married with children" fortune telling--the wife and mother who would have another child, a girl, Momma said--oh, and they would be moving to the East Coast soon--a new job.

When it came time for Vincent's cup, Momma spent a long time staring at the inside of the cup. She finally turned to me and, in Assyrian, her native Aramaic language, she asked, "How long have they been married?" I shook my head as if to say "I don't know."

"What did she say?" Vincent asked.

"Nothing important."

My mother turned to him, her attention riveted on his eyes.

"You, Vincent, are a big fish, yes?"

"Yes, I think--what do you think, Susan? Am I a 'Big Fish'?"

"I don't think you are a big fish, Vincent. Maybe a small pond."

"You are a teacher, yes? And you love to teach, yes?"

"Yes, very much."

"You spend much time teaching and have much attention from your students?"

"Yes, I do." He sat up straighter.

"Especially one student, yes?"

At this question, he was taken aback, startled. "What do you mean?"

"You see her in class, but you also see her outside?"

"Well, help her with her assignments, yes, but I..."

Susan turned toward Vincent and asked, "What student, Vincent?"

"Kim Yang--you know, the one who needs all this help on the painting exhibit she's working on--you know, Susan--"

"But I thought she finished that project last year."

"Yes, she did, but she got another."

"You mean, you've been seeing her since then? Why didn't you tell me?"

"It's nothing, Susan, really."

Momma turned to Vincent. "You are a charming man, Vincent, you need to be careful how you spend your charm--you could end up broke."

"It's time for dessert...come."


Vincent did get a job teaching in the East, and he and Susan did have a daughter the year they moved. They divorced two years later, and he married a former student and bought a house two blocks away from Susan. Susan sent Momma Christmas cards every year after the visit.


One day I saw Momma on a ladder, putting the demitasse cups up on the top shelf of the kitchen cabinets. I asked her why.

"You know, I don't read anything in those cups. I pray when I look in those cups and I listen. Then a voice, not my own, talks to me and tells me what I see. It's not 'seeing,' exactly--it's like a dream, and I just repeat what's in my mind's eye. It's not me.

"But lately I think people don't need to know the future, they need to know their own hearts. And if you know your own heart, you don't need me. And if you don't know your own heart, you don't need me. All I know is what God shows me. That's all they need to know.

"The cups are useless."


Momma knew something about angels and love. She sensed that force so strongly, she could sense a parallel universe where meanings and symbols held a multitude of this world's harmonies--revealing some of the depths of the laws of love that govern this world. She saw a stream of personal memories join the current of spiritual memories, and her awareness, unlike her personal memories, came from a shared source. In that state she knew she was connected in essence to all essences.

She became aware after that reading that she was not separate. And when she read what was in their future, she read what was in their hearts, and she broke--broken-hearted at her own complicity. She had misread her angels with her own desires. But those desires led her to understand better the ways she had to know to then feel responsible and compassionate.

The cups weren't useless; they could be provocative, purposeful, and perilous, depending on her own widening awareness of the whole. The divine image grid.

Truth undeveloped can be viewed as false or in error.


Back to martyrs and lions. If we answer the call and go beyond our borders, we can get the angel. Hunters that we are, we will make them "food for thought." They become our nourishment--feeding our deepest spiritual hungers. What is in them gives us what we are lacking. The angels have taken the visible to another dimension of reality--one that is invisible to us. Our intuition senses it but because we still believe and love the senses, we find the angels awful--the beginning of terror.

So if we can't see them, how can they enter us. We must eat them! How? Whatever way we can. We, the ovens and hearts (hearths) of the alchemists, take them in, digest them, heat them up with our bodies so we are them, they are burning up inside of us in every cell, in every atom. But what we take in of these electrifying creatures is an insatiable desire to know what the gods know--knowledge that will "poison" conventional thinking, truths that may be fatal, a love that is wholly indifferent and immoral or amoral, according to our own limited thinking/feeling.

To know in this sense is to love so completely, without judgment, without condition of any sort, without expectation or possession, to love that which is created and uncreated so profoundly that its becoming and its way of becoming conscious could kill us, help us destroy ourselves. And if we don't die from its overwhelming beauty and justice, we find we can live no other way, and that living without that sense of connectedness would make life intolerable.

When we do eat them, we will know it. Like lions to their prey, we will mutilate and shred them, stuffing their faces and entrails into our mouths unthinkingly. Think of your first love, the last one. What angel did you eat? How many mouthfuls before you knew you were eating each other alive--one or the other screaming in joyful terror or muted in pain, loving both the pain and the passion that accompanied it. Communion? Destruction? Death? That's the other problem. Angels come in human form--our hearts. Angels are our necessary love equipment--a spiritual genetic super helix whose purpose it is to evolve to an awareness of its divine source and to remain lovingly vulnerable in its search.


I can compare it best to when my oldest child was learning to walk; in that mode I can say with some authority that no one could teach her to walk. She responded to her heart's own rhythms--calls, if you will. But there were times, especially at the beginning, when she would rise to her feet, see the surrounding terrain in a new and altered state of consciousness--and in delight. She would move, again with delight, but suddenly, slipping and falling, she would fall backward and bang her head on the floor. If you have ever seen a child who is just learning to walk fall, then you know the look of outrage, one in which she is certain that she has been punished and unjustly. Learning to walk means falling, it means misunderstanding, it means it has its own punishments and its own rewards.

Loving is the beginning of learning to walk vulnerably--angels, our call to get up, search. Go. All we can know is that we must connect to the All-one that has been seemingly withdrawing, abandoning, unnameable, inaccessible, except as we learn to take it in. "EAT ME," the holy says. And just as Alice, at the threshold of Wonderland, we might get too big to enter or become so small we will float in through the keyhole. We simply don't know enough until we follow what we love, in no matter what form or message it comes. Biological programming.

Angels may be the divine hiding in the ordinary vastness within and outside our being, and we don't know what we are eating, nourished as we are by the extraordinary.

Food for thought.


Sarah A. Odishoo is a poet and writer. Her work appeared in North Dakota Quarterly, Sierra Nevada Review, The Pedestal, Folly Magazine and others. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee.


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