It’s been a few weeks ago now, but one October Saturday we attended the Lehigh Valley Vegstock. Autumn is the season for harvest festivals and a surprising number of them are now catering to vegetarians, or even vegans. When I say that, it probably calls to mind a certain kind of individual—perhaps an aging hippie who’s probably into New Age and alternative spiritualities? If so, you’re not the only one whose thinking goes along those lines. Among the recycled, reused, and other earth-friendly tents was one that offered contemporary spirituality. A lot was going on behind my mask so I forgot to take the name of the actual vendor, but I did find the use of angels interesting.
No, I haven’t been living under a rock. Well, maybe I have. Even so, I know that angels are popular and have been for several years. Some people who find themselves uncertain about God are still down with angels. Back in college—who knows anything at that age?—I did an independent study on angels. The professor (who’s still at Grove City) didn’t provide much direction, and I soon found there wasn’t too much in our library about the subject. Like demons and other monsters, scholars tend to shy away from the topic. That, and I hadn’t yet learned how to use Religion Index One. Now, of course, there’s the internet. In any case, the idea of angels stayed with me through my teaching career. After all, studying ancient gods does bring you into close proximity with other spiritual beings. Even so, I was interested to see Archangel Metatron on the Vegstock vendor table.
Metatron isn’t biblical. He makes his first appearance in Jewish literature, including the Talmud and Kabbalah. Although my research interest was always toward the earlier era of the spectrum, it seems that much of our angelology was percolating during the period after the Hebrew Bible was written. Jewish scholars were working out the complex spiritual world and later Christian writers would attempt to systematize it. It is possible, and it appears in some traditions, that Metatron was actually Enoch, translated. Enoch, who is biblical, receives just a few words in Holy Writ, but he eventually grew in importance. Genesis indicates that he walked with God and was no more. What happened to him? Metatron was one possible answer. There are other Metatron origin stories, I’m sure. And one of them was right there in Tatamy in the midst of a harvest festival.