Do you believe in angels? If you do, you're in good company. So what is the truth about angelic beings? Much more than you might realize.
Angels often perform specific tasks. In fact, some say that the angel is the task, and when the task is done the angel vanishes, hopefully to be recreated when a new task arises.
Over the centuries, lore and dogma have assigned names, appearances, and roles of action to specific angels. For example, there are said to be seven archangels around the Heavenly Throne, but only two or three appear by name in the Bible, depending on which Bible you mean. The Koran refers to many angels by name.
In the Hindu faith there are beautiful celestial beings, apsaras, dakinis, and devas, who dance and distract wise men, assure that the gods stay supreme.
Buddhism has bodhisattvas, enlightened beings who have earned perfection but have vowed to stay among us less perfect people until everyone is enlightened.
In Japan there are tennyo, beautiful feminine beings with feather kimonos that let them fly between earth and heaven. A Korean tradition has the similar celestial sunnyo. Persian tradition speaks of angels with two, four, or six wings.
Wings allow angels to instantly turn blind corners and appear and disappear too fast for the human eye to see.
Christian, Judaic, and Islamic faiths have angels and archangels to bring us messages from God. In the Christmas story, the sky filled with angels who told the shepherds of the birth of Christ. If you celebrate Christmas, there may be a star or an angel on the top of your tree.
Western tradition gives us a variety of associations for the four archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel. We can relate them to the four cardinal directions, the four seasons of the year, and the four astrological elements.
For Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius, Michael is your archangel. The name means "who is like God." Michael is a warrior, a defender, the holy fighter. Doesn't that sound like passion personified? He brings heavenly kindness to the world, although sometimes all we see is the fiery sword in his hand. In some Western magical traditions, Michael guards the cardinal direction South.
For Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn, we have the archangel Uriel. His name means "the light of God" and in classical art he often holds a shining lantern. Uriel leads people to their destiny and encourages the refined arts, poetry, and all the things that keep us civilized and grounded. Uriel protects the cardinal direction North.
For Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius, there's the archangel Raphael. The name means "God heals." Raphael is generous with healing and recuperative energies of all kinds. This includes the creation and ongoing respect for traditions. He guards the cardinal direction East, where the Sun rises and all new things begin.
For Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces, there is the archangel Gabriel. The name means "the strength of God" and there is great strength in the messages Gabriel brings. If you pray the Hail Mary, you repeat the words that Gabriel spoke to her announcing the coming birth of Christ. In Islam it is said that the call to prayer is issued by Gabriel and the imam represents Michael. Gabriel brings the world justice, heavenly power, and reveals to us great mysteries. Gabriel protects the cardinal direction West.
Even if you're unaware of your own personal guardian angel (and many people insist that we all have at least one), consider this: the East Orthodox Church dedicates each Monday of the year to the angels.
Have a great holiday season and may you happily entertain your angels!