This Christmas we turn our attention to ANGELS who manifest in human form with wings and extraordinarily beautiful faces. The most famous biblical angel is Gabriel, famed among Christians as the messenger who appeared to Mother Mary to inform her she would be mother of the Messiah, and that she would give birth to Jesus Christ. There is also Michael the archangel, the warrior angel referred to in the Old Testament and of course the fallen angel who eventually becomes representative of the dark side.
The word “angel” comes from the Greek word aggelos, meaning “messenger.” There are many references to angels in the Bible. In fact angels are mentioned 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament. Over time, the idea of guardian angels grew and took hold, and in recent years, many regard angels as powerful spiritual entities that watch over us.
Sometimes angels are drawn as cherubins, tiny babies with little wings, but most times they are drawn as adults. Their “wings” stay invisible except when they are featured in medieval art, and over the centuries, angels have become incredibly popular subjects for artists of every genre. In recent years, angels have enjoyed a major revival and at Christmas, thoughts turn to angels who are believed to alight on top of Christmas trees bringing hope, happiness, blessings and protection that celebrate the birth of Christ over 2,000 years ago.
It is believed that angels appear to some people in the shape of humans of extraordinary beauty, although they are often not immediately recognized as angels. Some fly, some become invisible and some arise out of sacrificial fires. Angels are described as pure, bright and dazzling, usually encompassed by light. The earliest conception of angels assumed them to be superhuman.
In the Old Testament references to angels are rarely directly described but we find mention of them frequently enough. There are references to armies of angels surrounding a city. There are verses that describe angels performing a variety of tasks all directed to serving God. Their job was always to convey messages of love, prophecies, warnings and advice from God.
In the New Testament specifically in the gospel according to St. Matthew (28:3) and St. Luke (24.4), we see references to a dazzling angel of light who rolls back the stone from Christ’s tomb.
Are Angels Holy Beings?
From the Scriptures emerge the idea of angels as powerful holy beings endowed with wisdom and knowledge of all earthly events. Angels are a medium of God’s power; they execute God’s will. Angels reveal themselves to individuals and even to whole nations to announce events affecting humans. These events may be good or bad. In the Bible, angels foretold the birth of Jesus, Isaac, Samson and so forth. Angels also foretold the destruction of Sodom and an angel was sent to protect the Hebrews following their exodus from Egypt.
Today we most often refer to our guardian angels. The notion of personalized angels has gained tremendous popularity. The idea of having our very own spirit guides is fashioned after the angels of biblical lineage. So guardian angels are regarded as spiritual beings sent by God to watch over every single member of the human race, to protect us from danger, warn us against impending doom and steer us away from evil. Our guardian angels also become our dearest friends and do battle against wandering spirits that may wish to harm us.
The concept of guardian angels who are invisible but present in our lives exist in every culture. Sometimes they are kept secret and acknowledged only amongst a select few.
Since the beginning of time, guardian angels have delivered divine messages to mankind. Sometimes the messages are warnings of impending danger, sometimes instructions as to what to do in a particular situation, sometimes they are simply “there” as protection from enemy forces. Other times they bring joyful announcements.
The idea of guardian angels is of course simply an idea. There are those who believe strongly in them and others who forever remain skeptics. Why do we need guardian angels? The simple answer to that is: some do and some don’t.
If we believe in a greater protector being, a Protector God so to speak, then surely God can speak to us and watch over us in any way, either directly, through a burning bush, through dreams, through sudden visions or through our spirit guides or guardian angels.
Do Angels really exist?
It is impossible to “prove” that angels exist. Equally, no one can prove they do not exist. Since angels are invisible yet able to manifest physical forms, over the centuries and even as recent as the past ten years, there has been many reports of “angel sightings”, a few of which can be dismissed while most contain more than a grain of truth.
Of course, literally anything can be described as an angel and any experience can be an angel experience. The existence of angels cannot be disproved. The flip side of this is that angels cannot be proved to exist either. Everything that can be an angel can also be something else. Every experience that can be described as a divine experience can also be something else. So belief in angels, angel sightings and experiences is basically a matter of one’s own faith. It is really up to the individual.
Even if angels exist only in our imagination, belief in them can do wonders for us. Angels can make us feel less afraid, give us greater courage and inspire us to strive to be better individuals. Parents can use the concept of Guardian Angels to make their children sleep better. Convincing a child that an angel is always watching over him or her is powerful reassurance. Indeed the guardian angel is a comforting and versatile concept. When one grows up believing in guardian angels, they form the creative basis for many childhood myths and belief systems.
New Age Angels
In the west, there has developed over the past several decades a great many books, films and television programs based squarely on the concept of the guardian angel. Over time, the guardian angel has been transformed into some kind of super hero with superhuman powers.
Today everyone loves angels. Modern day mythmakers have made an industry of them. There are hundreds of books available that connect angels with everything from offering advice on day-to-day living to esoteric-type communication with loved ones who have passed on, to psychic healing and communication with one’s personal spirit guides. Sales of art, figurines and other kinds of angel paraphernalia are brisk.
But if the presence of a beautiful angel smiling warmly over us makes us feel more protected, why not? Whether biblical or not, angels can indeed be our imaginary guardian and best friend. As one lofty soul put it: “Gently guided by angels, we nurture and cherish the creative soul within that heals itself.”
The following article is taken from the "Feng Shui World (November/December 2006)". To subscribe, please click here.