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Uriel is one of the four archangels, along with Michael, Gabriel and Rafael. Each has their particular realm in the human equation: Michael to the ego, Rafael to the emotions, Gabriel to reason. Uriel is somewhat deeper and more mysterious. As the keeper of spiritual fire, he represents the subconscious, and appears to manifest as an unseen and powerful force for change.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Tarot, where each archangel has his seperate card. The visible angels preside in traditional forms. Rafael blesses the Lovers, Gabriel calls the dead to Judgement. Michael calmly masters himself in Temperance, a gentler image than the more common one of spearing a dragon. Uriel alone is unseen; the Tower, with its lightning-struck downfall reveals him only in the rain of yod, a shower of flame from the heavens.
Yet downfall is necessary for new life. Uriel shatters, suddenly, the illusions and pretensions of majesty in order to clear a path for wisdom. Uriel makes sacrifice possible, and hope for change. Michael balances passions; Uriel breaks them. Rafael sanctifies emotion; Uriel transcends it. Gabriel judges; Uriel forgives utterly, and bids farewell.
Commissioned and premiered in San Francisco by Bay Brass in 2000
04 Oct 2000: Performed by Bay Brass - Bob Ward, Jon Ring, Bruce Roberts, Kimberly Wright (Wagnertubas) and Peter Wahrhaftig (bass tuba) at Old First Church, in San Francisco, California, USA