Archangel Raphael

Each Sephira on the Tree of Life has several associations: colour, geometric shape, god or goddess energy, and a number, for example. Each Sephira is also associated with a group of angelic beings like the Seraphim, and with an archangel. I don’t usually mention these associations in the readings that I do on Instagram because it feels as though they are more intimate in the way they manifest, at least for me. They are how Divinity works through the Tree of Life, and they offer us a way to interact with each Sephira as it represents an unfolding aspect of God. It is a more personal relationship. But we can also find out a lot more about each Sephira and how they function in tarot by looking at the role and attributions of each archangel.

The archangel Raphael resides in Tiphareth. His colour is, appropriately, the gold of the Sun, and he is considered to be the protector of the entire Tree of Life. Tiphareth is right in the middle of the Tree of Life, and is the only Sephira that has a direct path to all the others, so he is in the best spot to keep an eye on everything.[1]

Raphael’s specific role is as a healer, of both body and mind. In his most famous appearance in the Bible, he restores a man’s sight[2] – literally in that case, but I think an inner sight is restored as well. Particularly when we consider that Raphael’s medicines always come from fish, an important symbol in Judaism:[3] ‘their eyes, like the eyes of God, never close, so they symbolize God’s protective gaze.’[4] Perhaps Raphael helps us see through the eyes of God.

The Thoth 6s

As a healer, Raphael is also associated with medicine in general and therefore Science. If you’re familiar with the Thoth Tarot, you know that the 6s reside in Tiphareth, and the 6 of Swords is called ‘Science’. In fact, Raphael is associated with the suit of Swords in tarot. I don’t think it’s an accident that Crowley called his 6 of Swords ‘Science’ – such a different name and energy to the RWS 6 of Swords.

‘Raphael’ in Hebrew

In Hebrew, Raphael is spelled Resh Peh Aleph Lamed. In the booklet that accompanies Mick Frankel’s Deck of the Hebrew Letters, we see that three of these – Resh, Aleph, and Lamed – are associated with the mind and thinking. Resh is associated with Mercury and active communication; Aleph with the element of Air; Lamed with the Air sign of Libra and therefore the elegance of language. Peh is associated with Venus, and the booklet tells us to ‘Be loving. Appreciate the good things in life’ which might not seem like something related to the mind at first, but then, appreciation is in fact all in the mind. We can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven, after all. More on this below.

You might be thinking by now that all of this sounds very much like Mercury, and you’d be on to something. Raphael is considered to rule Mercury, and on the Tree of Life, that brings us to Hod. I’m not sure we can get a lot out of relating these two Sephiroth, since Hod is ruled by the archangel Michael, with his own concerns. But it’s interesting to note that some people attribute both Michael and Raphael to Tiphareth, and this relationship is perhaps why.

The Tree of Life with Thoth Tarot and RWS placements

But it gets even more amazing. The letter Peh, ruled by Venus, brings us to Netzach. So on the left, ‘Raphael’ connects us to Hod through his connection with Mercury, and on the right we are connected to Netzach. I use the RWS placements on the Tree of Life, which means that the path ruled by Lamed touches Tiphareth directly (where the Adjustment card sits). Amazing.

Tiphareth, Netzach, and Hod form a tough triangle. The Major Arcana involved are Death and The Devil, and if we complete that triangle, we then include The Tower. What does this mean? This triangle has its top angle in Tiphareth so all is definitely not lost. Perhaps the idea is that all of these difficulties are focused on opening our eyes. What do you think?


One final thing. Tiphareth is where you have that moment when you’re suddenly aware of Divinity – when you think for the first time that you might be kind of divine yourself. Raphael helps you with that. He is the one who clears your eyes so you can see where you come from – the top of the Tree – and that God is always there. But it’s not all in your mind. You can rationally believe something, but it takes a little bit of something else to make it real.

And this is where the letter Peh in Raphael’s name comes in. Peh is ruled by Venus, who loves beautiful things, and Tiphareth means ‘beauty’. It’s beautiful, that moment when you see who you really are. It can heal all kinds of wounds to realise that there is more to you than the person you see in the mirror, or the person others reflect back to you (whether you recognize that person or not). It is that flash of insight, that opening of your eyes that doesn’t just show you something divine, but shows you a Divine Love.

[1] Except for Malkuth, of course. In Jewish Kabbalistic Trees of Life, Malkuth is shown dangling below the rest of the Tree of Life, without the paths that connect it to Netzach and Hod. Its only connection to the Tree is via Yesod.

[2] Tobit/Tobias 11:7-9

[3] Tobias is an Old Testament text. The fish as a symbol of Christ came later.

[4] There are many other associations with fish in Judaism, but I thought that one was quite meaningful.