The Ophanim (Heb: 'wheels') are one of the hierarchies of angels historically mentioned in kabbalistic literature, but one of the main Ophanim references comes from the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel.
Here is a translation of Chapter One of the Book of Ezekiel...
Ezekiel I1:1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth [month], in the fifth [day] of the month, as I [was] among the captives by the river of Chebar, [that] the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.
1:2 In the fifth [day] of the month, which [was] the fifth year of king Jehoiachin's captivity,
1:3 The word of the LORD came expressly unto the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.
1:4 And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness [was] about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.
1:5 Also out of the midst thereof [came] the likeness of four living creatures. And this [was] their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.
1:6 And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.
1:7 And their feet [were] straight feet; and the sole of their feet [was] like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass.
1:8 And [they had] the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings.
1:9 Their wings [were] joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.
1:10 As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.
1:11 Thus [were] their faces: and their wings [were] stretched upward; two [wings] of every one [were] joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.
1:12 And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; [and] they turned not when they went.
1:13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance [was] like burning coals of fire, [and] like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.
1:14 And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.
1:15 Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces.
1:16 The appearance of the wheels (AVPNYM : Ophanim) and their work [was] like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work [was] as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.
1:17 When they went, they went upon their four sides: [and] they turned not when they went.
1:18 As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings [were] full of eyes round about them four. [Alt: The four wheels had rims and they had spokes; and their rims were full of eyes round about.]
1:19 And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up.
1:20 Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither [was their] spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature [was] in the wheels.
1:21 When those went, [these] went; and when those stood, [these] stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature [was] in the wheels.
1:22 And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature [was] as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above.
1:23 And under the firmament [were] their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.
1:24 And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings.
1:25 And there was a voice from the firmament that [was] over their heads, when they stood, [and] had let down their wings.
1:26 And above the firmament that [was] over their heads [was] the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne [was] the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.
1:27 And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.
1:28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so [was] the appearance of the brightness round about. This [was] the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw [it], I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.
Note: Ezekiel was active from 593 to 571 BCE. He was a man of wide learning, a “Renaissance man” from before the cultures the Renaissance sought to revive. According to the modern scholar, theologian, and Egyptologist Manfred Görg: "Ezekiel was a priest and member of Jerusalem’s upper class and so participated in the learning that the clergy and the scholarly elite were able to acquire. The texts of the Book of Ezekiel are a treasure trove for the study of the knowledge available in his time, much of which derived from the Egyptian inspiration of Judah during the Nubian and Saite dynasties.” As a priest, Ezekiel would have been particularly aware of what was then known about the heavens and their sciences. [From: Cherubwheels, by H. Peter Aleff.]
The Ophanim are described in Ezekiel (and elsewhere) as the wheels of the Creator's (YHVH) chariot, and this is perhaps a symbolic way of identifying them with the cycles of Creation.
The Jacob's Wheel mandala very obviously conforms to the description given by Ezekiel in verse 1:16 as "a wheel in the middle of a wheel", and because Jacob's Wheel is essentially a geometrical arrangement of the 22 Hebrew letters it provides us with a convenient template for determining the names of the Ophanim angels.
The geometric structure of Jacob's Wheel suggests that there is a hierarchy of seniority within the Order of Ophan angels. This hierarchy consists of four levels of angels, as follows...
TOTAL = 7 + 21 + 147 + 441 = 616 angels.
Gematria Note: Malachi was the prophet who wrote the last book of the Tanach (i.e. the Old Testament). His name translates as 'my messenger', or 'my angel'. I mention this because a particular verse of Malachi contains gematria emphasising the number 616.
Malachi 2:7. For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
(התורה) 'The Law' = 616
(מלאך יהוה צבאות) 'Messenger (or Angel) of the Lord of Hosts' = 616
Thus there are a total of 616 Ophanim angels in the Jacob's Wheel system.
The number 616 is derived from the mathematical formula: 7 x 3 x 7 x 3.
TOTAL = 7 + 21 + 147 + 441 = 616 angels.
The fact that there are two opposing currents of energy flowing through Jacob's Wheel means that there are two basic divisions of Ophanim with 616 angels in each division. The involutionary current flows from the outside to the inside of Jacob's Wheel in the anti-clockwise direction and the angels who are associated with it (called 'Lunar' angels) work with the Form principle of existence.
The evolutionary current moves from the inside to the outside of Jacob's Wheel in the clockwise direction and the 616 angels who are associated with this spiral (called 'Solar' angels) concern themselves with the Consciousness principle. The ordering of the letters of the names of all these angels is fundamentally determined by the direction in which they are moving–either towards the centre, or towards the circumference of Jacob's Wheel.
"There are many types of life to be contacted on the four etheric levels, but we can only concern ourselves at present with the deva [i.e. angelic] life, remembering that the deva evolution is of equal importance to that of the human. These devas are many in number, are of involutionary and evolutionary nature, and of all grades and types. Ruling over them on the physical plane is the great deva Kshiti. He is a deva of rank and power equal to a Chohan of a Ray; He presides over everything outside the human kingdom upon the physical plane, and He has for His council the four subordinate deva lords of the four etheric levels [the four living creatures - i.e. Cherubim?]. He, with these subordinate devas, presides over a subsidiary council of seven devas [the seven Flames, or Seraphim?] who handle all that concerns the deva evolution, and the work of the greater and the lesser builders.
The deva Ruler [Cherub] of the fourth, or lowest ether [corresponding with the Earth element], has delegated a member of His council to meet with certain of the Masters at this time for two specific purposes, first, to see whether the approximation of the two lines of evolution, human and deva, might be now tentatively permitted, and, secondly, to reveal some of the methods of healing and the causes of physical disability which are inherent in the etheric double.
Devas of all kinds and colors are found on the physical etheric levels, but the prevailing hue is violet, hence the term so often employed, the "devas of the shadows." With the coming in of the ceremonial ray of violet, we have the amplification therefore of the violet vibration, always inherent on these levels, and the great opportunity therefore for contact between the two kingdoms [i.e. Human and Angelic]. It is in the development of etheric vision (which is a capacity of the physical human eye) and not in clairvoyance that this mutual apprehension will become possible. With the coming in likewise of this ray will arrive those who belong thereon, with a natural gift of seeing etherically. Children will frequently be born who will see etherically as easily as the average human being sees physically; as conditions of harmony gradually evolve out of the present world chaos, devas and human beings will meet as friends."
[A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, by Alice
Bailey. Pp. 911-912]
"The nature of the angel (in Hebrew, "malach", which also means "messenger") is to be, to a degree, as its name in Hebrew signifies, an envoy, constituting a permanent contact between worlds. An angel's missions transpire in two directions: it may serve as an emissary of G-d toward the earthly, to other angels and to worlds and creatures below the world of Yetzira, and/or it may also serve as the one who carries heavenwards from below, from our world to the higher worlds."
[From: The Thirteen Petalled Rose, by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.]
I. The seven 'Flames' (Aish) are connected with the seven spokes of the key-mandala–located at the very centre of Jacob's Wheel. Thus, they rule over the seven fundamental processes that are occurring within the seven major spokes of the wheel. These seven names each have four letters (not including the suffix YH (יה) or AL (אל)). The first (or last) letter of each name is the Hebrew letter Shin (ש)–the letter that occupies the centre of the key-mandala and thus, the centre of the entire Jacob's Wheel construct. The letter Shin is the last letter of the names of the seven involutionary Aish, and the first letter of the names of the seven evolutionary Aish. That is because the influence of the 'Ophanim of Form' (i.e. involutionary, lunar) is from the circumference to the centre (Shin), while that of the Ophanim of Consciousness (evolutionary, solar) is from the centre (Shin) to the circumference.
a) The name of the first lunar Aish is Nivashiah. The primary Hebrew letters that constitute this name are: N-Y-V-Sh (nun-yod-vav-shin, ניוש) and the suffix is YH (indicating the involutionary current). You can see these four Hebrew letters running down the 7th spoke (coloured violet-purple) of the key-mandala (pictured above).
b) The name of the first solar Aish is Shithokqiel. The primary Hebrew letters that constitute this name are: Sh-Th-K-Q (shin-tav-kaf-qof, שתכק) and the suffix is AL (indicating the evolutionary current). These four Hebrew letters run along the 1st spoke (coloured red) towards the circumference of the key-mandala (pictured above).
You will notice that three of the letters in each of these names are also located in the centres of the three mandalas on their corresponding major spoke of Jacob's Wheel. These special letters (called 'key-glyphs') exist only in potential within each minor mandala. Ezekiel hints at this concept when he says "...for the spirit of the living creature [was] in the wheels" [Ezekiel 1:20-21]. In other words, it could be said that the 'spirit' (Ruach), or 'fire' (Aish) is a potent influence that is invisibly present within each wheel–in the same way as each key-glyph is a powerful, yet invisible influence in each minor mandala.
NOTE: The Hebrew letter Shin represents the Fire (ASh : alef-shin, אש) that Ezekiel mentions in verses 1:4-5 "And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire (ASh) infolding itself, and a brightness [was] about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire (ASh). Also out of the midst thereof [came] the likeness of four living creatures..." The 'four living creatures' (Cherubim) possibly represent the four elements that are associated with the four 'wheels' within Jacob's Wheel–i.e. the three rings and the key-mandala at the centre. This idea is supported in Ezekiel's vision by the fact that each Cherub has its own wheel ascribed to it. They correspond to the four letters of the Name YHVH, and also to A-M-Sh-Th (i.e. the four elemental letters).
II. The 21 'Wheels' (Galgalim) are subordinate to the seven 'Flames' (Aish)–whose 'spiritual fire' they contain (i.e. in the key-glyphs). They are each attributed to one of the 21 minor mandalas that constitute the 'body' of Jacob's Wheel. Ezekiel uses this word (i.e. 'galgalim') as an alternative to the word 'ophanim', for instance when he writes: "And he spake unto the man clothed with linen, and said, Go in between the wheels (galgalim), even under the cherub, and fill thine hand with coals of fire from between the cherubim, and scatter them over the city." [Ezekiel 10:2]
Each of the 21 Galgalim rules over the process (i.e. the cycle) that occurs within its associated mandala. The name of each Galgal has three letters (not including the suffix) and is derived by beginning the name with the letter at the centre of the angel's mandala. The other two letters of the name come from the centre of the other two mandalas on the same spoke of Jacob's Wheel. The order of the letters is determined by the directional flow of the energy (involutionary or evolutionary) of each angel.
a) The name of the lunar Galgal who governs the Lamed (Libra, ♎) mandala is Lahpiah. The primary Hebrew letters that constitute this name are: L-A-P (lamed-alef-peh, לאפ) and the suffix is YH (indicating the involutionary current). You can see these three Hebrew letters in the centres of the three minor mandalas on the 2nd spoke of Jacob's Wheel (coloured orange, pictured above). You will notice that the Hebrew letters are read starting from Lamed then moving left towards the centre of Jacob's Wheel to Alef and then jumping over to Peh on the circumference (far right) thus completing the involutionary loop.
b) The name of the solar Galgal who governs the Peh (Venus, ♀) mandala is Fahliel. The primary Hebrew letters that constitute this name are: P-A-L (peh-alef-lamed, פאל) and the suffix is AL (indicating the evolutionary current). Notice that the soft form of Peh (i.e. Feh) is used in the pronunciation of this name–even though this goes against the Hebrew convention of never beginning a word with the soft form. The direction we read in order to determine the solar angel names is always from the centre towards the circumference so we begin with Peh (which is on the circumference) and then proceed to Alef (far left) and then to Lamed (positioned to the right of Alef). This completes an evolutionary loop–i.e. one that basically moves from the centre to the circumference around the 2nd spoke (pictured above).
III. The 147 'Spokes' (Yadoth) are subordinate to the
Galgal (wheel) angels who rule the 21 mandalas. There are seven
Yadoth (spokes) angels associated with each minor mandala. Their
names have four letters and are derived in the same way as are the
names of the seven Aish (see above). The term 'Yadoth' derives from
a proposed reconstruction of the corrupted original text of
Ezekiel. It is suggested that verse 1:18 should read..."[The
wheels] had rims and they had spokes; and their rims were full of
eyes round about".
[For more information see: http://www.bible.org/netbible/index.htm?eze1.htm. Note #36.]
a) The name of the lunar Yad who governs the 3rd spoke of the Teth (Leo, ♌) mandala is Gahlatiah. The primary Hebrew letters that constitute this name are: G-A-L-T (gimel-alef-lamed-teth, גאלט) and the suffix is YH (indicating the involutionary current). These four Hebrew letters are located on the 3rd spoke (coloured yellow) of the Tith mandala (coloured blue, pictured above). The Hebrew letters are read starting from Gimel then moving along the spoke towards the centre of the mandala to its key-glyph Teth (ט).
b) The name of the solar Yad who governs the 3rd spoke of the Teth (Leo) mandala is Tilahjiel. The primary Hebrew letters that constitute this name are: T-L-A-G (teth-lamed-alef-gimel, טלאג) and the suffix is AL (indicating the evolutionary current). These four Hebrew letters are located on the 3rd spoke (coloured yellow) of the Tith mandala (coloured blue, pictured above). The Hebrew letters are read starting from Teth in the centre of the mandala and then moving along the spoke towards Gimel on the circumference. Note that the soft form of Gimel–i.e. Jimel–is used in the pronunciation of this name.
IV. The 441 'Eyes' (Oyinim) are subordinate to the Yad angel on whose spoke they are located. There are three 'eyes' (i.e. Hebrew letters) on each of the 147 spokes of Jacob's Wheel (and thus, 147 x 3 = 441 Oyinim). The Oyinim each rule over one of the 21 phases in a Galgal cycle. Their names are derived from the three Hebrew letters on each spoke of a minor mandala, but each name begins with the letter associated with its particular phase. The direction in which the name is read is, of course, determined by the particular current (involutionary or evolutionary) to which the Oyin angel belongs.
a) The name of the lunar Oyin who governs the Nun (Scorpio, ♏) phase of the Tav (Moon, ☽) mandala is Nogoiah. The primary Hebrew letters that constitute this name are: N-G-O (nun-gimel-ayin) and the suffix is YH (indicating the involutionary current). These three Hebrew letters are located on the 3rd spoke (coloured yellow) of the Tav mandala (coloured red, pictured above). The Hebrew letters are read starting from Nun then moving along the spoke towards the centre of the mandala to Gimel and then back over to Ayin on the circumference.
b) The name of the solar Oyin who governs the Ayin (Capricorn, ♑) phase of the Tav (Moon, ☽) mandala is Onogiah. The primary Hebrew letters that constitute this name are: O-N-G (ayin-nun-gimel) and the suffix is YH (indicating the involutionary current). These three Hebrew letters are located on the 3rd spoke (coloured yellow) of the Tav mandala (coloured red, pictured above). The Hebrew letters are read starting from Ayin on the circumference of the mandala and then moving along the spoke (towards the centre) to Nun and then to Gimel. Note that the hard form of Gimel is used in the pronunciation of both these names. These two words ONG and GNO are famously mentioned in verse II:4 of the Sefer Yetzirah...
Sepher Yetzirah, II:4
He placed them in a wheel (GLGL, גלגל)
like a wall with 231 Gates.
The wheel revolves backwards and forwards.
A sign for this is:
There is nothing in good higher than Delight (ONG, ענג)
There is nothing in evil lower than Plague (NGO, נגע).
[My preferred translation.]
Thus, there are four levels within the hierarchy of Ophanim, and these are associated with the four letters of the Tetragrammaton: YHVH–the name of the Creator who rides upon the Chariot of His Creation.
It is the last division, the Oyinim, who are closest to us during our experience of the Jacob's Wheel cycles, therefore it is the Oyinim who should be called upon when we require assistance in overcoming our personal challenges. So, after invoking the three higher angels associated with a particular cycle the focus should then shift to, and remain with, the Oyin who governs the current phase.
The name of the solar Oyin who governs the Kaf phase of the Vav (Taurus, ♉) mandala is Kasajiel (kaf-sameck-gimel, כסג). In order to invoke (or evoke) his assistance we need to firstly invoke the three higher angels who are above him in the Ophanim hierarchy. The Vav cycle occurs on the 7th spoke of Jacob's Wheel so we must first invoke the Aish Shiviniel (shin-vav-yod-nun, שוינ) who governs that spoke. Then we must call upon the Galgal Vayoniel (vav-yod-nun, וינ) who rules the Vav cycle, and finally the Yad Vaksajiel (vav-kaf-sameck-gimel, וכסג) who governs the 5th spoke process of the Vav cycle. Now our meditative focus can shift to Kasajiel and we can call upon him for any assistance that we might need.
The 616 Ophanim of Form ('Lunar') are associated with the Pillar of Severity, the Moon, and Jacob's twin brother Essau. They represent a feminine type of energy. The 616 Ophanim of Consciousness ('Solar') are associated with the Pillar of Mercy, the Sun, and Jacob. They express a masculine type of energy.
The lunar Ophanim have YH (yod-ha, יה) as their suffix and are pronounced using the hard form of the double letters. The solar Ophanim have AL (alef-lamed, אל) as their suffix and are pronounced using the soft form of the double letters.
Sefer Yetzirah, 4:1
Bet, Gimel, Dalet,
Kaf, Peh, Resh, Tav.
They direct themselves with two tongues
Bet-Bhet, Gimel-Ghimel, Dalet-Dhalet,
Kaf-Khaf, Peh-Pheh, Resh-Rhesh, Tav-Thav,
A structure of soft and hard,
strong and weak.
Aryeh Kaplan writes...
"The Tikkuney Zohar also states
that the hard and soft sounds are related to the "Chayot running
and returning" (Ezekiel 1:14). It says, "they run with the hard
sound, and return with the soft."
[Sefer Yetzirah, by Aryeh Kaplan. Pg 161.]
...which is why this usage is associated with the movement of the opposing currents of Jacob's Wheel.
I have listed some example pronunciations of the names of the Ophanim, but what is most important when intoning the angelic names is not precise or particular pronunciation, but rather to know exactly what Hebrew letters are contained within the name being intoned. Each name consists of three or four Hebrew letters plus the suffix YH or AL. The suffixes identify which of the two currents an Ophan angel belongs to (involutionary or evolutionary) while the three or four primary letters describe the archetypal (astrological) process that the angel oversees.
The name of the solar Oyin who governs the Nun (Scorpio ♏) phase of the Kaf (Sun, ☉) mandala is Nojihiel. The primary Hebrew letters that constitute his name are: N-G-H (nun-gimel-ha, נגה) and the suffix is AL (indicating the evolutionary current). So we can see that this Nun (Scorpio, ♏) phase is part of a wider '3rd spoke' process that also involves Gimel (Jupiter, ♃) and Ha (Aries, ♈). Interestingly, the Hebrew word NGH means 'to shine, to enlighten' and also 'brightness', so it is fitting that it should appear on one of the spokes of the Sun mandala.
The nun-gimel-ha (Scorpio-Jupiter-Aries) process can involve (in the mundane world for example) the planning and initiation of business-related projects, and Nojihiel is the angel that oversees (within the context of the Kaf/Sun cycle) the development of this evolutionary process in our lives. There are all kinds of challenges associated with such a process and Nojihiel can be called upon for assistance in this area.
I would recommend that sigils be created for the 441 Oyinim angels by using the central 'key mandala' as a template. The 441 Oyinim angels form the 'body' of Jacob's Wheel and they surround the key mandala which represents the 'soul' (or 'spirit') aspect of the Wheel, so it is appropriate that the key mandala should be used for this purpose. No two Oyin angels will have the same sigil because each of names of the 441 Oyinim consists of a different sequence of three Hebrew letters.
Let's use the name of the Oyin angel Nojihiel for our example of sigil creation. The first image (below left) shows the key mandala with the three primary Hebrew letters of the name Nojihiel (i.e. nun-gimel-ha, נגה) highlighted in red, and the two Hebrew letters of the suffix AL (i.e. alef-lamed, אל) highlighted in blue. The second image (below centre) connects these five Hebrew letters in the appropriate sequence (i.e. nun-gimel-ha-alef-lamed, נגהאל) thus forming the sigil of Nojihiel. The third image (below right) shows the completed sigil of Nojihiel.
Sigil of Nojihiel
As another example let's create the sigil of the Oyin angel Onogiah (ayin-nun-gimel-yod-ha, ענגיה). Onogiah is a lunar Oyin angel and therefore has YH as her suffix.
Sigil of Onogiah
An angelic sigil can be traced in the air during ritual invocations of the Oyinim, or they can used during personal meditations, pathworkings, etc.
This page will be updated and revised as research into the Jacob's Wheel Ophanim continues.