Archangel Michael and the Sword of Discrimination

By Mirabai Starr


Michael represents the Spiritual Warrior inside each of us who, with unconditional love in his heart, is willing to stand up for what he believes is right.

I am a committed pacifist. And I don’t believe in a personified devil or even an external force that might be called evil. So I was not immediately drawn to the Archangel Michael, famous for charging forth with sword uplifted to smite the Enemy in the name of God.

As I delved deeper into the Michael material, however, two things struck me and expanded my perspective on this important figure. First, Michael represents the Spiritual Warrior inside each of us, who, with unconditional love in his heart, is willing to stand up for what he believes is right. Second, the weapon Michael wields is what the Buddhists refer to as the Sword of Discrimination, which cuts through illusion and lays the truth bare. Who couldn’t use a dose of this medicine?

The spiritual warrior is committed to non-violence in all his relationships.

The conflict he engages in is the battle within. This is the struggle to discern his true calling from the endless stream of life’s distractions. It requires great courage and forbearance to step onto the inner battlefield and strike down whatever internal demons stand between our real self and our false self.

The spiritual warrior is the most peaceful person in the community. Because he has dedicated himself to truth at all costs, he is incapable of engaging in any behavior that creates misunderstanding or strife. He is the champion of those who suffer and the protector of those who long to be free. In ancient England, he is represented by Saint George, the legendary dragon slayer.

The spiritual warrior wields the sword of discrimination. With this weapon always at his side, he is ready to cut through illusion and liberate that which is real. He is never unkind, but he is not always gentle. He is perpetually honing his blade, and his powers of detection are sharp. When he perceives falsehood, he names it, and then he destroys it. He is not afraid. He has nothing to lose.

When we call upon the spirit of Michael, we are invoking the courage and strength to see the truth and live it, to hear the truth and share it, to know the truth and let it change us.

We fearlessly fling open the doors of our own conscience and examine what we find there. Where we see petty jealousy, we smite it. Where we see irritability toward people with whom we share our lives, we banish it. Where we see selfishness, indolence, and cynicism, we cut them out of our hearts. 

Have we engaged in activities we have elevated to such exalted status that they have replaced God in our lives? Are we worshipping money and the objects money can buy? Have we made substances our gods, and addiction our primary form of devotion? We can ask to borrow Michael’s sword and cut through the tentacles we have wrapped around our lives.

Have we resigned ourselves to allowing injustice to unfold in a situation over which we feel we have no control? If we ask Michael, he will show us that we not only have the power but the obligation to stand up for the rights of the oppressed.

Have we been reluctant to excavate our souls and psyches for fear of the darkness we might find there? If we call on him, Michael will infuse us with courage and strength to enter the interior wilderness and banish the demons that keep us on the periphery of authentic existence. Michael invites us to cultivate our curiosity and challenge ourselves to place the Divine at the center of everything we do and everything we are.

Michael is also the angel to whom the Holy One assigned the task of delivering the souls of the deceased to the heavenly realms. The Archangel fulfills his role with unutterable tenderness and respect. This has earned Michael the love of people of faith from diverse spiritual traditions throughout time.

Michael is the angel of protection. He is invoked in times of danger. Whenever we feel the spirit of evil playing around the edges of our world, we may call on the Archangel Michael to surround us with a shield of divine light to keep us safe from harm. Michael’s mission is more global than personal. Throughout the ages, the Archangel has appeared in support of those human beings who are taking on some vast task on behalf of humanity, such as Abraham, Sarah, Moses and Joan of Arc.

While Michael has historically limited his exalted appearance to celebrated servants of humanity during times of global crisis, people of all statures and spiritual orientations have reported a very personal sense of connection with the Archangel in the face of great danger. Michael medicine is powerful, and not to be taken casually. But when the need is strong, turning to Michael could be the perfect remedy.


A Prayer to Archangel Michael

O holy Archangel Michael,
be with me.
Protect me from my own false self,
which tempts me with comfortable ignorance
and threatens to lull me to sleep.
Call me to my God-self,
radiant and wise.
Call and call again.

Defend me, too, against
the forces of darkness in the world around me.
Help me to discern that which is truly negative
from that which merely threatens my complacency.
Shield me in the shadow of your vast wings,
so that I may take refuge and grow strong.
Then, let me be a beacon of light and justice
to a world struggling for true righteousness.

O chief of the tribe of angels,
place your sword of unconditional love
in my hand.
Give me the courage
to cut through illusion
and set the truth free.
Let me wield this divine weapon
with clarity and compassion.
Let me be fierce and humble.
Let me place the greatest good
of all who suffer
above my own comfort.

O Prince of Light,
when my time comes
to leave this world of form
and return to my divine source,
carry me
as you have carried my ancestors
since the creation of humankind
home to the Supreme Light
that gives birth to us all
and lovingly receives our souls
when our work is finished.


© 2007 by Mirabai Starr, excerpted from her book Saint Michael the Archangel, published by Sounds True as part of their series, Devotions, Prayers and Living Wisdom, (a review of the series appeared in Light of Consciousness, Summer 2008).Mirabai Starr is the author of highly acclaimed new translations of the writings of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.  She teaches philosophy and world religions at the University of New Mexico.

Published in Light of Consciousness Vol. 20#3, Autumn 2007