Angel

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Angels are the minor deities of the Abrahamic religions, capable of amazing feats, but not as powerful as the major deities like God and Jesus. One notable exception to this definition is the Jehovah's Witnesses, who believe that Jesus was the Archangel Michael before his birth and became Michael again after his death. .

The concept of angels evolved along with the understanding of the nature of God. At first Yahweh was a hands-on sort of fellow who walked in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, had to "go down" to see what the humans were up to at Babel, appeared to Abraham as a man, and even wrestled Jacob all night without pinning him for a three count. The Elohist source had a slightly more exalted view of God, every time he appeared to men it was through a non-anthropomorphic device like a burning bush which was called "The Angel of the LORD".

By the time the post-Exile Jewish priests began to piece together the Yahwist and Elohist documents with Deuteronomy and their own home-grown stuff, God had been elevated even higher into the ionosphere, such that he didn't even show up as weird manifestations. He remained far off in heaven, and now the Angel of the LORD was one of many independent, winged, humanoid creatures who shuttled messages from God to the Earth. They even had names such as Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael, Azrael, Punky Punkael, and the like.

(The only time in the New Testament when God really had to do his own dirty work was when he seems to have surreptitiously slipped a little something into the womb of an unsuspecting virgin Mary.)

Contents

[edit] Biblical depictions

Depiction of an angel from the 1500s

Angels as they appear in the Bible are a very curious bunch. Sometimes they look like people, as the ones who visited Lot did, and were presumably extremely good looking considering the entire town wanted to roger them senseless. [1] Sometimes, they look like winged monstrosities that kiss burning coals, like the ones Isaiah saw. Sometimes, they were wheels in the sky, like Ezekiel saw. There was a reason they stated "fear not" upon their arrival.

They also did bizarre things. Some of them merely imparted information, like the heralds of Jesus. Others, however, either killed people (including babies) or else wrestled people to the ground. In one case, an angel wrestled with Moses and was going to kill him, until Moses's wife threw a foreskin at it. [2]

It's also worth noting that they were apparently extremely terrifying to look at; they almost always preface anything they have to say with the remark "Do not fear", owing to the fact that they most often resemble something out of a work by H.P. Lovecraft. The depiction of them as winged pretty people is mostly due to Victorian artwork (which, of course, are the same people that brought us pretty little fairies that don't kidnap your babies and Fluffy Cloud Heaven[3]); a good comparison is the television show Supernatural; when the first angel to actually appear does so; his "voice" is a supersonic effect that shatters glass and causes bleeding, and when a medium forces him to show himself to her, the sight of him blinds her. The angel, named Castiel, brushes it off as saying that "(his) true form can be a little overwhelming for humans."

[edit] Bad angels

While most people think of angels as being of pure holiness and light (a Victorian-era image) it must be remembered that they are not all good. According to both Christianity and Islam, a substantial number of angels rose up against God and were punished by being sent down to either Earth or Hell. In Christianity, it was because they wanted the same power as God. According to traditional Islam (and Milton's Paradise Lost), it was because they refused to bow down before Adam, the first man. An odd splinter, called the Yezidi, claim that because they refused to bow before anyone other than God, these angels were in fact exalted. No matter which version you go with, Satan is the leader of these renegade angels.

There were also the grigori, or watchers, a class of angels with the job of keeping an eye on humanity. Some got a little too attached and started fornicatin' with their charges, fathering the nephilim, a race of half-human demigods (including Goliath). For this, they were thrown out of Heaven. At least one ended up in Wisconsin.

In Kabbalah there are angels of sacred prostitution, which are the first vampires.

[edit] Angelic names

Most angel names end in the suffix -el, which in Hebrew means "God." In the 1800s, many magicians would claim to summon the power of angels to help them perform strange feats. In order to be really impressive, they made up lots and lots of new angels by adding el to the end of nonsense, like Jor-el and Kal-el.

[edit] Angel worship

Most Christians and Muslims refuse to worship angels, claiming that only the supreme god is worthy. However, an increasing number of neopagans have begun worship and supplicating angels, either in place of or in addition to traditional gods. Traditional neopagans greatly frown on this practice, claiming that it makes claims to neopaganism meaningless, but at least one really popular neopagan writer (Silver Ravenwolf) has openly endorsed it, particularly as a way for young neopagans to hide their true faith.

[edit] Guardian angel

Your guardian angel is a special angel assigned to look after you personally during your life. Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Zoroastrianism include belief in guardian angels. A lady claims when she was upset and stressed out she had an apparition in the middle of the night. No it couldn't be a dream, hallucination, over active imagination or fiction dressed up as fact. It had to be her guardian angel. Anecdotal evidence like that abounds but somehow proof is lacking. [4]

[edit] Angel therapy

Angel therapy is the idea that our guardian angels can help us achieve better health and happiness. As is often the case, this idea tends to be pushed by people who've borrowed the words "God" and "angel" from the Bible, but then pretty much disregarded the rest of the book.[5] Among its most famous proponents is princess Märtha Louise of Norway, fourth in the line of successors to the Norwegian throne and avid proponent of all things woo and holistic. She even runs a rather popular "angel school", Astarte, where students are taught how to get in touch with the angels.[6] By contrast Doreen Virtue talks to angels on your behalf.

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

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