Masticating Angels

In a chapter on images for representing angels, Pseudo-Dionysius makes the case that “each of the many parts of the human body can provide us with images which are quite appropriate to the powers of heaven.” One such bodily image is that of teeth, which he allegorizes as as “hav[ing] to do with the skill which produces divisions in the intake of nourishing perfection, for it is a fact that every intelligent being, having received from one which is more divine the gift of a unified conception, proceeds to divide it and to make provision for its diffusion in order that an inferior may be lifted up as far as possible” (The Celestial Hierarchy, ch. 15, trans. Luibheid). In other words, the higher angels “chew” up more difficult, unified knowledge (the “bread of angels”), making it more digestible for the lower. While it’s not technically an example of mastication, thanks to Pseudo-D, here’s my new mental image for one angel “instructing” another:

1 thought on “Masticating Angels

  1. It might be possible to going further, making an hierarchical distinction between birds and mammals (and their counterparts in the celestial hierarchy). Contrasting to birds that give their offspring chewed food, what mammals give their children is white, pure (without being soiled nor by blood neither by any dirt of the body) and fully nutrient, very digestible, The milk represents fully unified pure knowledge.

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