A Flea Market Angel: The Archangel Gabriel, As I Once Understood Him

July 15, 2020

I have been seeing angels everywhere - in rock, and paint and plastic - and last weekend I saw such an angel in jumble of holiday decorations on a flea market table, holding a tin horn and looking like he didn't belong.  

"It's Gabriel," I said as if I had run into an old friend unexpectedly and I suppose that the truth is, I had.

Only a few minutes before, I had told my family that I was looking for an angel, for my online shop or for myself.  That Gabriel would be that angel was a happy surprise.  I knew he was a keeper.

Gabriel was the first angel who caught my interest. The messenger who came to the Blessed Mother and to Zacharias. The warrior of Daniel.

Among my books, I have an orthodox Jewish prayer book. Toward the end of the bedtime prayer, the text asks God to protect and guard our souls through His holy watchers, the angels, who walk through the night. It goes on to call "Michael to my right side, Gabriel to my left, Uriel before me, and Raphael to my back."

Of these four, it is Gabriel who appears most often in the Hebrew bible and biblical commentary. He is first mentioned by name in the Book of Daniel.  After Daniel experiences a vision, Gabriel comes to him and tells him what it means (8:16).

A year later, Gabriel appears again  telling Daniel that He has "been at war, and going to fight those who remain" (9:27). No further details of this war are given and Gabriel's name is not mentioned again in the Hebrew bible.  But he is referenced repeatedly in the rabbinical literature as a warrior and a holy protector.

In the Book of Enoch, Gabriel is an avenging angel, sent to provoke sinners to war. In the Talmud, God sends him to smite the Assyrians, and Gabriel answers God by saying that him sword "has been sharpened since the six days of Creation." Which is to say that he was born to fight.

Consistent with this declaration, most traditional Jewish sources describe Gabriel as the emissary of God's power. And the Hebrew name Gavriel, or Gavar El, means "God's might." He is represented by the element of fire in some Talmudic references and in others by water. In all instances, he is among the strongest of the seven archangels and a force to be reckoned with.

Be that as it may, it important to remember that when we first meet Gabriel in the book of Daniel he appears as a messenger and a translator of visions.  And this is fitting.  Communication being the divine purpose of angels.

When I first met Gabriel in Scripture, he served in this capacity.  I was lonely and discouraged and the idea that angels existed filled me with hope.  And, in some ways, that feeling has never entirely left me. 

Even so, I've been feeling lonely these last few weeks and in the midst of this sense of separation from others, I am seeing angels of almost every description.  Some are innocent children and others are beautiful women but few resembled the angels of Scripture.

This weekend's flea market angel was different. His wings were battered and his garments were faded but his face was beautiful and strong and really, surprisingly, just as I imagined it.  I count his unexpected appearance a message and a reminder: Angels are emissaries and we are never really alone.

Please note, while Catholic tradition tells us that there are seven guardian, Uriel is not mentioned in Scripture and therefore not mentioned in Catholic sources.


  1. Great post!

    You start off by writing, “I have been seeing angels everywhere—in rock, and paint and plastic—and this weekend I saw such an angel in a jumble of holiday decorations on a flea market table, holding a tin horn and looking like she didn't belong.”

    I have learned, through Doreen Virtue’s Archangel Oracle Cards, that “repetitive patterns”—be they thoughts, images, dreams, visions, etc., are important, and we should mind them. The Archangel Chamuel oracle card titled “Career Transition” says, in part: “Pay close attention to your repetitive ideas, dreams, and visions, as these are Divinely inspired roadmaps pointing the way along your desired path…” Well, it sounds like you were being led to Archangel Gabriel, doesn’t it? I’m happy for you, that you found this beautiful Angel at a flea market, and that you’ll be keeping her. The image is beautiful.

    You go on to write, “Among my books, I have an orthodox Jewish prayer book and I read the bedtime Shema off and on before I go to sleep. Toward the end of the prayer, the text asks God to protect and guard our souls through His holy watchers, the angels, who walk through the night. It goes on to call ‘Michael to my right side, Gabriel to my left, Uriel before me, and Raphael to my back.’" I think this is beautiful, and I wanted to share with you that I’ve encountered a similar form of prayer from other sources. I find it very interesting that many religious traditions resemble each other in that they recognize the importance of the Angels and their love for us, and the protection that they provide to us. Here are two examples of similar prayer to the Angels that I’ve stumbled across:

    The first time that I heard it was in the early days of the TV Show Paranormal State. The group of spirit investigators would protect themselves prior to, and just after an investigation, by forming a circle, holding hands, and asking the angels for protection. They’d assign directions to them—North, South, East, and West. Example: We call on Michael to the North, Gabriel to the South, and so on. I felt that it was a powerful invocation.

    The second time that I encountered this form of prayer was on the reverse side of an Archangel Michael prayer card that was given to me as a gift. It reads as follows:

    Lord Michael before! Lord Michael behind!
    Lord Michael to the right! Lord Michael to the left!
    Lord Michael above! Lord Michael below!
    Lord Michael, Lord Michael, wherever I go!

    I AM his love protecting here!
    I AM his love protecting here!
    I AM his love protecting here!

    This Michael prayer is very powerful, and whenever I’ve been very frightened or worried, I say it. Archangel Michael has never failed me.

    Anyway, thank you for your post concerning Gabriel. I loved it! You’ve got a great blog and I follow it. I hope it’s OK with you, but I went ahead and blogged this post to my blog.

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful comments, Sylvie! And thank you for bringing up the significance of repetition. You're comments couldn't have couldn't have come at a better time.

    I'm trying some new things (radio and manuscript) and definitely lacking in confidence. Now I'm wondering if this beautiful messenger angel is trying to tell me something about my own ability to communicate? Something I will definitely be thinking about. Thank you for leading me to that.

    It is interesting to me too that angels are mentioned in so many different traditions, liturgies and prayers. That kind of internal consistency (really just another form of repetition) means something to me. Even if I had no personal experience of angels, I would find it compelling.

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful prayers. I didn't mention this in the article but whenever I am afraid I envision these four archangels surrounding me right and left and front and back. Like you, I find the presence of angels very powerful.

    I love Doreen Virtue and have at least five of her decks. I will be adding the archangel one to my collection as well :)

    Thank you for mentioning my posts in your blog. It's a lovely blog and I appreciate the mention!

  3. It's my pleasure to reference your blog... as I've said, it's absolutely wonderful. Do not doubt yourself. I know it's easy to do so; I do it all the time. You're a wonderful writer and you have the wonderful gift of being able to express yourself so that others can "get" what you're sharing. So, I think Gabriel, and other Angels, will be on your path with you.

    I love your vision of the four archangels around you whenever you're afraid. Beautiful!

  4. Thank you for your encouragement Sylvie! It means so much <3


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