Many of us in the Western hemisphere hold beliefs in angels, often thinking of them as some sort of winged or halo-adorned being that only visits during extreme cases of need. Could our ideas about angels need revamped and be seen through something other than the spectacles of our religious interpretation?
About Angels That Are Winged
The birth of the depiction of angels with wings really came into existence through artists who wished to share their interpretation about angelic beings. To them, these "messengers" were ethereal entities who visit mankind from a higher realm, namely "Heaven." The wings translate the idea quite well that spirits come from above, from the heavens. Winged entities found in fourth century Christian art gave us the depictions we hold fast to today about angels. (See, History of Angels.) Although it is not common, people do still claim to have dreams, visions and other types of visitations from angels with wings.
About Angels: Biblical Texts
The issue early artists encountered while attempting to illustrate angels is that angelic descriptions found in the Bible in both the Hebrew and Christian Greek texts differ. In some biblical passages, the messengers appear to be human. Other accounts, such as in the Second Book of Enoch, describe angels as having wings. For example, compare just these two verses:
"...two men in brilliant clothes suddenly appeared at their side." - Luke 24:4
"...Enoch had told his sons that the angels took him onto their wings and bore him up on to the first heaven..." - Second Book of Enoch 3:1
The Second Book of Enoch was eventually not included as part of the Christian Bible, but perhaps, its portrayal of angels with wings coupled with artist renderings stuck in the minds of early Christian believers who influenced our beliefs. (See, What Are Angels?)
Sighting Reports About Angels
According to the Supernatural Angel Report, a 25 year study of angel and entity sightings in the United Kingdom, there have been all sorts of angels, spirits, animal ghosts, and faeries reported to authorities. For example, people claimed seeing benign human entities 192 times. These are typically apparitions of people who do not appear to act one way or another to the witness. Friendly entities were experienced 127 times, helpful entities 99 times, visions of angels 104 times, and the sightings of saints occurring 41 times! This is intriguing when we dig further into this data. Taking into account that each entity is labeled by the witness according to their own interpretation (which is based upon their beliefs), it is interesting to note that most of these spirits mentioned are in human form. This is very much in line with biblical accounts of angels appearing as men. Even more interesting is that what some have described as angelic in the reports were still human in appearance in many cases. For example, one angel seen in Sutton Wood was said to take the form of a pious monk. To some this was an angel; to others this is a disembodied, glowing man in spirit. What I am getting at is that maybe we need to view people in spirit, especially those who are enlightened, as the angels talked about for centuries who are indeed with us. Perhaps, they are the spirit guides who communicate with us, watch over us, learn from us and sometimes intervene in our lives.
The findings, which were taken from police reports, revealed quite an array of stories about benevolent spirits. A hotel, for example, is said to be home to a nursemaid who still cares for guests who are in need of assistance or are ill. In another account, the voice of an unseen spirit calmly directed a woman driving her car to pull over. She did and avoided a collision with a speeding automobile that was traveling without lights. There were several reports of monks and saints that are reportedly a much more common sight in Wales than anyplace else in the United Kingdom.
Pat's Revelation About People in Spirit: Angels?
Pat Monahan of the band, Train, wrote the song, Drops of Jupiter, after having a dream while grieving the loss of his mother to cancer. During the dream, he wondered about people in spirit. The hit song's haunting line, "back in the atmosphere" came to Pat that night. In an MTV interview, Pat Monahan explained the concept that came to him as soon as he fell asleep:
"What if no one ever really leaves? What if you, just kinda'...you're here but different, you know. And the idea was, she's back, here, in the atmosphere."
Perhaps, we should re-evaluate our thinking about the heavens and about angels. Our idea of loss and separation from loved ones, true angels who are with us, likely causes us to remain unaware of their presence and interaction within our lives. Maybe, we just need to awaken to something more beyond our current beliefs...
About Angels: Other Interpretations
Each of us label the world around us, attempting to describe what it is that we see and experience. Our definitions of words will vary, for words carry with them meanings that are personally interpreted. For example, a person's definition for the word "bug" will vary based upon the individual experience. To one who has been stung by a yellow jacket, bees might be "bugs" - pests. To another, spiders may fall into their personal description of a bug, something that is "icky!" To entomologists, however, bugs are a certain order of insect that include cicadas, aphids and leafhoppers. Our world is definitely up for interpretation, I suppose. What I am getting at is that our ideas about angels can vary and still be viable. I think we can agree that human spirits have often been labeled as angels. Also relevant, the idea that angels are often used as metaphors to describe our connection and communication with a higher realm or power is intriguing. When I think about angels, I like to see them as a real part of the human experience, whether that be enlightened human spirits who are never separate from us or our own deeper, inner connection to something greater than the physical world. Both definitions seem plausible to me, especially when I consider that those who are in spirit are communicating with us at a much deeper level than what lies on the surface.