Monday, December 5, 2011

Angels?

Although I've made no secret of my Buddhist orientation at this point in my life, I was raised Catholic. I've always been fascinated by Angels. In my own way. I love the films with Christopher Walken, "The Prophesy". Angels as bad asses. Powerful, scary, but righteous in being dedicated to what is right, or what they think God wants. The Christian mythology is fun. Vampires who are afraid of a Crucifix, where Holy Water affects them and protects the poor Mortals.

I'm writing a novel where there is a character that has a relationship with an Angel. So I had to do some research. There is a thriving industry of commerce, in the world, on the internet. People claiming to speak for the Angels, selling online and in books and video, aspects of myth and information filling that void some people have in their lives for some connection to their Supreme Being, their God. Some even worship the Angels, but why you would want to worship anything other than the top dog, sorry, Top God, is beyond me.


Demons and Angels even come from the same beginning. The words for Demon and Angel have similar origins, and one can assume many of the demons mentioned were originally Angels Fallen Angels. And that is a consideration fascinating enough in itself and has been the focus of many interesting tales. What is an Angel's morality? Are they above it? Aside from it?

Here is what I found. There are many ways to interpret the literature, and so, this is my interpretation of what I found.
"ASSUMPTION of the VIRGIN" by Francesco Botticini showing the choirs of angels in the three Spheres.

There are three levels of Angels. The Top Choir, is the highest rank of Angels. They attend to God directly. They are his Holy Servants. Ezekial talks about Cherubin carrying God and his chariot. They were the defenders of God. Cherubin stand outside the Garden of Eden so Adam and Eve can't get back in. A Cherub is not a cute baby with wings, that thought came up in the Renaissance, they are not somebody to meet on a dark lane, as they could turn rather nasty. Don't screw with a Cherubin. This top tier includes the Seraphim, Cherubin, and Thrones.

Saraphim are always depicted in red, symbolizing Devine Love; Cherubin are always depicted in blue, representing Wisdom. According to Christy Kenneally, host of the Smithsonian Channel show, "Decoding Christianity": "Cherubs as cute babies are a Baroque and Renaissance fabrication. Angels didn't have wings in the beginning, because of possible confusion with the ancient Gods, like Mercury who also had wings. Artists had gotten thing pretty close to correct up till then, when they kind of went off the deep end.

Once Humans started to become "enlightened" they lost their inner eye for that of science and began to lose their connection for that of speculation. There are no such thing as baby Angels. Cherubs were then reduced to the lowest level of the Angelic ladder. But they are one of the three most powerful and fearsome of all Angels."

The Second Choir are those in charge of the Universe. The Overseers of Nature and Fate and are: The Dominions, the Powers, and the Virtues.

The Third Choir are the Human intermediaries who deal with us mere mortals. They are our first and initial connection to God, going first through them, then through the rest of the hierarchy. These include: The Principalities, the Archangels, and the Angels.

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote a book on Angels because there were so many questions during his lifetime about them. Do they eat, do they procreate, do they wear clothing? Do they have gender?


Rafael will blow the trumpet that heralds judgement day and of the end of the World to Muslims. To Jews and Christians he is the Angel of Healing.


Gabriel is God's Messenger. To Jews he destroyed the city of Sodom. In Islam he brings the Koran to Mohammad.


Michael, is the most powerful Angel of all. To Jews he is the guardian Angel of Israel. In Islam he brought thunder and lightning to earth. In Christianity he flung Satan and his army of rebel Angels into Hell.

Angels appear to a person as their greatest embodiment of their expectations, therefore, in the past they were always male angels, but now people are not so entrenched in a patriarchal society and angels can appear as male or female, but always as the greatest beauty in expectation of that individual's beliefs.

Michael's name means "he who is most like God". When Lucifer said, "I am like unto God." Michael merely responds with his own name, saying: "Michael (Who is like God?)." And at that moment, the war between the Angels begins. It is a spiritual warfare, a spiritual struggle.

Lucifer is then cast into Hell and named Satan. He is depicted as the Dragon, the beast. But Satan has a history that comes to us from preChristian origins. He gets his horns, his cloven hooves and some of his character from Pan. Pan the bisexual. For Christians Satan represents the evil of paganism. In defeating a Pan like Satan, Michael can also be seen as defeating the old Gods.

Michael, had a pagan ancestor too, the Roman God, Mercury. Monuments and churches dedicated to the Archangel Michael were almost always built on high places, and almost always on the ruins of the of temples dedicated to the God Mercury. Like Mercury, Michael always watched over commerce, communication and has healing powers.

In the 6th century there was a plague. Pope Gregory prayed for help and there was a vision of Michael at what is now, Castle St. Angelo, on a site that was once a temple to Mercury. It was then that they began to call him "Saint Michael", or "Sant Angelo" ("Sainted Angel"). It seems to me an odd concept to Saint an Angel.

It was in the 5th Century, that St. Jerome expressed the concept of each and every person alive having their own "Guardian Angel" when he said: "how great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it." (Comm. in Matt., xviii, lib. II).

I personally see that as somewhat limiting in an Angel's scope and power, but hey, it makes people feel better. The concept of intermediaries between we poor mortals and the Supreme Being, kind of makes sense. But one has to consider whether these are separate entities or simply minor manifestations of that Supreme Being.


When you consider according to Christian doctrine that God split himself in two, or three, being that also of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, or Holy Ghost, why couldn't this "Supreme" Being split up in millions of ways? Even unto condensing elements into individual mortals such as we are?

It's an interesting consideration. Not only this, but all of the Angel concept. And it makes for great storytelling. Which I will soon be adding to, once I have completed this new novel. I can only hope that the fun in reading it will come through from the fun I'm having in writing it.

3 comments:

  1. Satan, originally pronounced Sa-tan, was a messengers and a tester, of men. A totally separate entity from Lucifer. Why Lucifer was given so many other names over the years is the fault of the creators of Christian mythology, the novel writers, and or story tellers of their time. Converts to the new religion of Christianity wanted answers to their questions and a history like all the other religions had, so they supplied it. Most all of it was borrowed from the many others of the time, primarily from the Mithra religion, the rest simply fabricated to fill in any gaps. Rome was full of religions, from every corner of their world. Every time the Roman army conquered a new land they brought the local religion back to Rome, built new temples for it, and every Emperor that was declared a God had to form a new religion, so he could be worshiped. Borrowing from the others was by far the easiest way.

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  2. Yes, I knew that about Rome. But had not heard that about Lucifer and Satan. My understanding, obviously as I found, backed up by the literature, as you pointed out, was that Lucifer fell and was then called Satan. I'll have to check that out. Thanks.

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