According to Biblical tradition, angels are invisible, created as angels, from nothing, before humankind began, pure spirit without bodies, but which take temporary form to do the work of their spiritual hierarch1. Seeking to visualise invisible beings, Angels were given white garments of light, haloes, the attribute of all holy persons such as Buddha and Christ, and are beautiful, young, androgenous, of immortal appearance.2 “Angel means “bringer of tidings” in Greek, and after the time of Constantine, first Christian Roman emperor, angels were given wings to depict messengers speedily bridging the gap between heaven and earth, according to pre-Christian predecessors, most probably the Goddess Nike/Victoria. In Egypt the goddess Nepthys, in Etruria (Tuscany), griffins – winged lions with human heads3, in Greece and Rome, Hermes/Mercury, the messenger of the gods with either a winged helmet or winged sandals, and Iris, his feminine counterpart has wings on her back – she took women’s souls to the afterlife. Other predecessors are Assyrian winged lions and bulls with human heads, and Viking winged valkyries.4

By the middle ages a multiplicity of angels became recognised, from the Seraphim, Cherubim, various archangels, and the vast heavenly host, each gaining a specific task, mission, a personality, and a focus to complete their task. Mystics extended this to the idea that everyone has an angelic counterpart, usually a “Guardian Angel” or an angel corresponding to all beings; their cult became popular in the 16th and 17th centuries AD.5

Much of pop culture’s obsession with angels revolves around “Guardian Angels’. Some modern students of the Ancient Wisdom believe some angels develop from the results of human actions, so the angel made by a good deed lives on and can return to affect people in a positive way. Angels intervened to save Daniel from the lion’s den, and St. Peter from prison, and King David wrote: “He will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all ways, bearing you up lest you dash your foot against a stone”.6 First World War allied veterans told of heavenly hosts appearing above the battlefield after the slaughter at Mons, France. The first guardian angels are said to be the four archangels, Uriel, Raphael, Gabriel and Michael who were the four ruling princes, spoken of in The Book of Enoch. St. Basil of Caesarea, one of the Church Doctors, said there were seventy national angels, but only those of the four nations are mentioned in Rabbinical writings, Dobiel for Persia, Samuel for Rome, (Edom), Rahab for Uzza, and Duma and or Semyaza, for Egypt, and Michael for Israel.7 The medieval mystic, Athanasius Kircher, even names guardian angels for each of the planets. According to the Talmud, every Jew is attended throughout life by 11,000 guardian angels, and every blade of grass has over it an angel saying “grow”; Jesus bade his disciples not to despise children and “speaks of angels in heaven”, suggesting that every child has its protecting spirit.8

Charles Lindbergh, the first aviator to cross the Atlantic from New York to Paris, met angels in their own realm, more or less. Sea fog crept across his field of vision, skimming the clouds in the moonless night. Needing to remain alert, he thought he saw translucent, weightless human forms with human voices, in the clouds, vanishing and appearing at will through the walls of the fuselage, advising him on the flight, his navigation, offering reassurance, and “messages of importance unattainable in ordinary life”.9 Joan of Arc also contacted angels “in their own realm”, when as a very pious child of thirteen she began to hear supernatural voices of Saints Michael, Margaret, and Catherine, so close at times they seemed to speak in her ear. The voices predicted to her a disastrous defeat of the French by the English, the whereabouts of an ancient sword, and many other predictions. These voices were accompanied by ringing bells, a pleasant smell, and a bright light always coming from the church to her right. Some people think that her hearing voices is indicative of suffering from schizophrenia, but Joan of Arc’s thoughts and personality were not disordered in the manner usually associated with mental illness.10

Do Guardian Angels exist? Many people around the world believe so, and myth confirms the experience of most young children who know instinctively they have an invisible companion caring for them. Ask any parent and they will tell you that their young kids can spend hours playing and talking with this unseen friend and nothing can convince them that there is nothing there! Maybe Guardian angels and Angels generally, are the spiritual hierarchy’s way of transmitting messages beyond our normal perception boundaries – in the Greater Light of the spiritual realms. Maybe young children are more keenly aware than are adults of the presence of their own invisible ‘Higher Self’ which constantly seeks to advise and guide us constructively along the pathways of life. Young children, being newly exiled from the spiritual worlds, are more keenly aware of spiritual realities than adults who have to contend with the veils of material considerations that accumulate over time. Angels are messengers, so are thoughts, both moving instantaneously from a place of inspiration, home of the greater intelligence running the universe. Maybe angels are the agents for seeing through the veil between our level of reality and their home in the spiritual worlds of Greater Light.

Endnotes

  1. Hebrews, 1:!4, The Editors of Beliefnet, The Big Book of Angels, Dingley, Hinkler Books, 2003., p.41, and Colossians 1:16.
  2. C. Erskine Clement, Legendary and Mythological Art, London, Bracken Books, 1994., p.13, and J. Hall, Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art, New York, Harper & Row, 1974., p.17, Beliefnet, op cit, p.7.
  3. Beliefnet, op cit, p.7.
  4. Ibid, p.7.
  5. Beliefnet, op.cit, pp. 24-26, Davidson, Gustav, The Dictionary of Angels, New York, The Free Press, and London, Collier-McMillan Limited, 1967, pp. 1,7, and 240.
  6. Psalm 91:11
  7. Davidson, G., op cit., p.128.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Beliefnet, op cit, pp. 324-328.
  10. JH Leavesley, The Common Touch, A Doctor’s Diverting Look at Fourteen Famous Patients, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Sydney, 2001, pp. 8-13.