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Dionysius the Areopagite - Celestial Hierarchy - Symbolic forms



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Dionysius – the Celestial Hierarchies

………..Theology, in its sacred utterances regarding the formless Intelligences, does indeed use poetic symbolism, having regard to our intelligence … But some may prefer to regard the Divine Orders as pure and ineffable in their own natures and beyond our power of vision and may consider that the imagery of the Celestial Intelligences in the scriptures does not really represent them and is like a crude dramatisation of the celestial names and he may say that the theologians in depicting wholly incorporeal natures under bodily forms should as far as possible make use of fitting and related images and represent them by the most exalted incorporeal and spiritual substances amongst ourselves and should not endow the celestial and Godlike with a multitude of low and earthly forms

For the one would contribute in a higher degree to our ascent by discounting incongruous images from the descriptions of Supermundane Natures, while the other impiously outrages the Divine Powers, and leads our minds into error when we dwell upon such unholy compositions. 

Now although such sacred forms are more venerable and seem in one sense to surpass the material presentation, even so, they fail to express truly the Divine Likeness which verily transcends all essence and life and which no light can fully represent ….

The source of the experience

Dionysius the Areopagite

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Symbol system

Activities and commonsteps



Contemplation and detachment