It’s been recently reported in, the “Huffington Post” on the 23rd of December 2011, for example, that nearly eight out of ten Americans believe in the reality of, the actual physical 3-D existence of Biblical angels (no doubt winged and all – the traditional image). Presumably that polling result would also apply to similar monotheistic countries like those in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and much of Europe (as well as other locations).
To be perfectly honest, in the here and now, there’s equal rational, based on images, texts and traditions, to believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and even “The (Curse of the) Mummy”. But I digress, so anyway, back to belief in angels.
Now belief doesn’t of necessity make it so, but it does require some logical explanation(s).
Well, the obvious visibility of angelic beings isn’t one of those logical explanations. They might exist in the here and now, but reported sightings recorded in the press or in police records, photographs and films, interviews with them on chat shows, add up to one big bugger all zilch.
You’d think that maybe the religious higher ups, those with real influence with the Big Man upstairs, could arrange for an actual angel to give a sermon or a guest lecture at a theological course. Well, maybe angels are just really shy.
A more likely explanation is their presumed reality; images of what was but no longer is, has been passed down from generation to generation, orally and in texts, from parents to children, lecturers to students, religious officials to their sheep, oops, sorry, their flocks or congregations
After a hundred generations of this angel reality regurgitation, everything is in a right royal muddle, but you believe because you put your trust in high authority who believes, just as those higher authorities who you trust, in turn trusted in the beliefs of the generation of high authority figures before them.
Maybe the traditional image of angels is wrong. Maybe they are here but it’s the image that’s all wrong and so even if you do see and maybe film one you’re none the wiser; you haven’t a clue.
If you see angels depicted by actors in the movies or on TV shows or in staged productions, in kiddie plays, as little girls (especially) dressing up as make-believe angels, in manger scenes, on Xmas cards, in religious artworks, images in books or on angel-themed calendars, well what do you see?
Well, angels are white – Caucasians only need apply for the part, and even though that’s not really politically correct anymore, we’ll let that observation slide. Also angels are male, though I gather they are really asexual, androgynous or transgender beings. But the really big giveaway is of course they have WINGS!
Now if someone tells you about their guardian angel that flutters over them with their large wings, you know they have been smoking (or drinking) the good stuff or adding magic mushrooms to their Irish stew, chicken pot pie, or pizza. Why? Because traditional Biblical angels do not have wings! Oops! And another one bites the dust!
On what authority you may ask do I rely on such that I can make such a blasphemous statement. Well, I cannot find any association between angels and wings in the Bible, at least the King James Version, presumably the authority on the matter of what traditional angels look like.
You have in the Bible flying (winged) serpents and flying eagles and flying creeping things and flying birds and flying fowl but no flying angels. That’s despite the thousands, indeed tens of thousands of images in Biblical illustrations, paintings, stained glass windows, Xmas cards, films – you name the visual; the angels will more than likely as not have wings. Wrong!
In the Bible we have angels ascending and descending; they come and they go; they carry things. But we do not have Biblical angels described with wings. My online search brought up 70 references to variations on the word “wing#” in the King James Version of the Bible. There were 283 hits on variations to “angel#”. There were zero, zip, zilch matches for angel# AND wing#. The holy angels in the Bible, where they appear, are always described as men (or transgender beings) without wings. Only cherubim have wings in the Bible, but cherubim are not called angels in the Bible. I’ll have more to say about cherubim later on.
So angels with wings are a human invention, which might have been a logical assumption 2000 years ago. Why? Because angels were messengers – postmen – between the Big Boss upstairs and the common folk downstairs – we humans that is. Angels are forever ascending and descending. How else do you go from upstairs to downstairs and upstairs again without a staircase or ladder? You have to fly of course and for that you must have wings, sort of like that father and son duo from Greek mythology, Daedalus and Icarus (the concept of Superman not being yet in vogue). It’s obvious since there is no ladder, no going up the down staircase or down the up staircase or even using that imaginary escalator to the sky (another concept unknown back then).
So how do angels get to and from Heaven, ascending, descending, through the atmosphere, often carrying things as well as messages, if not by flapping wings, an obvious logical assumption made by the ancients but totally unsupported or disproved by reading the texts of the Bible?
Okay, how would angels without wings go from upstairs to downstairs and back again today. Well, there’s always the “Beam me down, Scotty” approach – then again, perhaps not. The physics required by the standard Star Trek shortcut of getting from Point A to Point B in quick-smart fashion are a bit on the highly improbable side for all sorts of technical reasons not required viewing in this context. What about a vehicle; say a hotrod custom-made no expense spared version of the Space Shuttle or Star Trek shuttlecraft? That would work!
And so what if angels are really real, reaffirming the nearly eight out of ten of the public’s belief in that regard, but extraterrestrial? That too would work and no need of wings. Of course that would mean the Big Boss upstairs is also an ET, but then a flesh-and-blood ET is far more plausible to the more rational of the faithful than a supernatural deity. There’s no first principle extrapolation or chain of logic that generates supernatural transcending-the-physical-law deities, but not so when it comes to ET, who can’t transcend the laws, principles and relationships of universal cosmic physics. And by the way, as far as ET is concerned, if you stop to think about it, we, the common folk, human beings, are an ET to them. If that possibility does or just doesn’t sit well, well any similarity between what you might want to believe and what actually is might all be purely a matter of coincidence.
So if angels are ET that explains why they don’t mirror our racial diversity and why they appear as transvestite weirdoes, because from our point of view they are androgynous or asexual. That might ring a responsive chord – the modern day UFO ‘Grays’ also appear to be asexual in appearance.
Now we have to admit that angels are ‘sky beings’. They are associated with ‘up there’ somewhere or ‘out there’ somewhere. That’s where they live, work and presumably play and relax and maybe watch some terrestrial television. They probably love the antics and plot developments in the TV show “Supernatural” starting with Season Four onwards featuring one of their own, the fictional character, Angel Castiel.
One of the numerous aspects dealing with angels is that they have a hierarchy – not all angels are equal in rank and status.
From the First Sphere come the Seraphim. You have apparently someone called the Metatron, an angel who acts as the ‘voice of God’, a scribe, and is the tallest and greatest of the lot. ‘He’s’ sort of the chief cook and bottle washer in Heaven’s highest level.
From the Second Sphere you have the governor or watcher angels who, well, as your typically obedient angels just sort of watch over humanity in general. However, disguised as men, they associated with humans in an all too human manner. According to Enoch, and Genesis 6, those “sons of God” or “sons of Heaven” (angels) got a tad horny and mated with human females (the “daughters of men”) producing the Nephilim, those giants back on the Earth in those ancient days! Perhaps the watcher angels watched a tad more closely than they should have! Could an angel really be a ‘peeping Tom’?
Lastly, from the Third Sphere, those messenger and battle ready angels. The best known of the lot are the archangels who are very high-ranking angels indeed, starting with Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, but followed by Uriel, Simiel, Orifiel and Zachariel.
Then there are the ‘fallen angels’ who were court-martialed and stripped of their status and rank. They play no real role in this discussion and thus are of no further concern to us.
Now not all monotheistic religious denominations embrace or adopt all of the above hierarchy. Maybe there should be a theological equivalent of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle well known in quantum physics. Let’s call it by a rather unimaginative phrase the ‘Religious Uncertainty Principle’. That’s a truism in that no two monotheistic religious denominations agree on everything which alone makes supernatural theology a bit suspect considering the alleged importance of a supernatural deity.
In fact, you’d think the deity in question, and we all know who I’m referring to here (three letters starting with ‘G’), would take steps to clarify things. I mean if there are a dozen biographies written about you out there for sale on the market, and they all differ in key details about your life, wouldn’t you go ‘on the record’ and sort things out?
Anyway, the upshot is that angels have a hierarchy and ranks and various jobs and responsibilities which are the sorts of things you’d expect if angels were really crew on an ET vessel that came to Earth a few thousand years ago. The parallel with crewing any navy ship or those spaceships depicted in “Star Trek” are clear-cut.
Now what about the cherubim (mentioned above) that are depicted in the Bible; depicted with wings?
The cherubim (singular is cherub) are actually Assyrian in origin. They were depicted as enormous eagle-winged beings with the bodies of lions though usually with human heads (lammasu) or human heads and the bodies of bulls (shedu). Even though they were depicted as guardians, they don’t sound very Biblically angelic to me! However, it was these beasties, a composite of some things human and wings that morphed into the stereotyped image of an angel. However, cherubim are named as such in the Bible and the image is anything but traditionally angelic.
They seemed however to have shape-shifted from their Assyrian image just a bit and taken on a different persona in the Bible, especially prominent in the Old Testament.
The definitive book in the Bible on cherubim is the Book of Ezekiel, mainly the first and tenth chapter. The prophet Ezekiel describes cherubim as a tetrad of living creatures, each having four faces: of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. They are said to have the stature and hands of a man, feet of a calf, and four wings each. Two of the wings extended upward, while the other two stretched downward and covered the creatures themselves. In the Christian New Testament similar beings are mentioned in the fourth chapter of the Book of Revelation. Just to further distance cherubim from traditional angels, the cherubim’s wings are multi-eyed – no doubt that’s all the better to see you with I guess.
If you check out Chapter Six of 1 Kings (King James Version), you’ll find that cherubs have a wingspan of 10 cubits, and a height of 10 cubits, at least I gather that must be their real life size since Solomon manufactured two of them, I assume on a one-to-one scale. The whole story is repeated in the third chapter of 2 Chronicles by the way. Now a cubit is roughly 18 to 22 inches; say 20 inches on average. So our model cherub is 200 inches tall; ditto the wingspan. That’s a tad over 16 ½ feet! Well, the Assyrians did say their versions were enormous!
You’ll also find several references to someone hitching a ride on a flying cherub (2 Samuel 22:11 and Psalm 18:10). At over 16 feet, well that sounds plausible.
Somewhat related are the Seraphim, but instead of four wings they have six wings (Isaiah 6:2). That’s again rather un-angelic appearing. I’ve mentioned one already, Metatron; the other suspect is called Seraphiel, who apparently had the head of an eagle (akin perhaps to the Egyptian god Horus who had a falcon head placed on a human body or Seker with a hawk’s head or Thoth who had the head of an ibis). Apparently there are two more Seraphim as well, and all four keep God in good company 24/7. Nice work if you can get it!
I think we can agree that there is no similarity between your ingrained image of a Biblical angel (with or without wings) and the cherubim.
Relation between fairies and cherubim: In modern English the word cherub is sometimes used for what are strictly putti, baby or toddler angels, or winged children in fact, mainly shown in works of art. Sort of like our current images of Eros or Cupid but without the bow and arrows! So we have another shape-shift and another quite different persona from that in the Bible or Assyria. In this case the cherubs appear to have some sort of kinship with the fairy-folk. Check out images of fairies and they are, though not childlike, tend to be small and winged.
Then there are ‘guardian angels’. However, IMHO, the concept of a ‘guardian angel’ is seriously flawed. First off, if we each have a ‘guarding angel’ looking over us, and as the human population keeps doing it’s “be fruitful and multiply” bit, where do all the ever required additional ‘guardian angels’ come from? Do they just materialise out of thin air? And secondly, if they exist, then they are doing a lousy piss-weak job of being a true guardian. I mean you still have bad luck, misfortunes, failures, accidents, illnesses and you still ultimately end up kicking-the-bucket. If a child of two say dies of cancer (or for any other reason), do the parents really believe there was a so-called ‘guardian angel’ looking after their kid? Do you believe it?
Conclusions: The traditional images of your typical run-of-the-mill angel are as phoney as a three-dollar bill. That’s because despite the multi-thousands of depictions available on the market that you can consult, they do not agree with what should be the ultimate image source – the Bible. So, though the Bible is a mythological mountain, there’s still that damn really real molehill to be accounted for. So, we have wingless angels. If you don’t care for that molehill (and probably extraterrestrial) accounting, then be prepared to explain how angels can go up-the-down-staircase (and vice versa) without wings – well maybe they hitched rides on the cherubim! Then again, maybe not as that’s just too Monty Python for comfort. Aerial vehicles in a time when there aren’t (or shouldn’t be) aerial vehicles are a plausible (extraterrestrial) alternative.
Anything humanoid with wings (cherubim or fairies or related) is clearly a mythological mountain with more likely as not an extraterrestrial molehill hiding behind that mythological mountain. Supernatural just doesn’t cut the mustard.
And so-called ‘guardian angels’ are just wishful thinking. There’s no reference to them at all in the King James Version of the Bible. In fact, the word “guardian” doesn’t rate a mention. While some angels as depicted in the Bible allegedly look after selected individuals at selected times at the behest of God, that’s a far cry from the belief that God sends an angelic spirit to watch over every individual 24/7. In fact the concept of guardian angels isn’t consistently believed or upheld in Christian thought as an article of any sort of faith.
Finally we see some commonalities between the polytheistic religions of ancient Egypt (bird-headed humanoids), ancient Greece and Rome (cherubs like Cupid/Eros), the ancient Assyrians (cherubim) and the wee-folk (fairies) of the pagan Celtic religions, all with the monotheistic Bible. People who put their religious money on monotheism, based on say the Bible, obviously also believe that polytheism is pure mythology. Monotheism is factual reality; polytheism is pure fiction. Yet, those who profess the reality of monotheism based on the Bible, had better think twice about polytheism, as that very book confirms the factual reality of polytheism as well. As demonstrated here, if you believe one you have to accept the other. Of course all this monotheistic versus polytheistic bullshit can be unified by resorting to a terrestrial presence of a multiracial or more likely as not multi-species of extraterrestrials.