"The winters are hard, but the Starks will endure. We always have."
You see this bitch? This is the fucking Audi A9 Concept vehicle.
It is the most beastly motherfucker to light up my Tumblr page.
The thing has engines in it’s wheels.
IN THE MOTHERFUCKING WHEELS.
See that futuristic design? Makes Acura designs look so 2010.
Oh? Where’s the windshield? It’s fully integrated into the roof using nano technology.
That means the bitch repairs itself.
Oh and that badass window and windshields?
It can change from solid like that to clear when you drive.
White isn’t a very sporty color? NO WORRIES. This beast can change it’s motherfucking color to whatever you fucking want.
THIS BITCH SHOULD GET IN MY GARAGE.
why don’t they hire tumblr bloggers to do the commercials i will never know
I hate driving but hot damn I would live in that car
did anyone ever tell the Backstreet Boys why
The concept of angels has always been a favorite of mine, and for good reason since my book series features them. Most of the information here is going to be from past research that sits in my brain. As far as them being supernatural beings, well, that’s the easiest way to make sense of them since a creature in the shape of a human with a massive wingspan is about as aerodynamically sound as a cardboard box from a real-world standpoint. However, I’ve seen angels also explained as being another kind of creature (aliens or something else entirely) that’s mistaken for our favorite winged humanoids by people who don’t know better. So really the interpretation of what they are is entirely up to you as an author.
Here are some things to get you started.
The term ‘angel’ means messenger. The study of angels is known as angelology. For our purposes, I’m going to hone in on the current popular depictions of angels based around Christian mythos, as I’m most familiar with those. Of course, Christianity isn’t the only place where angels exist and there is a lot of overlap and variation between sources.
- Abrahamic Religions – Christianity, Judaism, Islam and sometimes the Bahá’í Faith.
- Early Jewish Mysticism: Merkabah.
- Holy Texts: the Bible, the Torah and the Quran/Koran.
- Other texts: Testament of Solomon, the Book of Enoch and the Book of Jubilees.
- The work of St. Thomas Aquinas.
- Jewish Kabalah (tradition).
- Islamic Hadith (tradition).
- The work of Aleister Crowley (the Book of Law).
- The Enochian Language (supposed language of the angels) created by John Dee and Edward Kelley.
- Thomas Milton’s Paradise Lost.
- New Age/Contemporary Mysticism.
There are technically five levels in the hierarchy and angels only exist in the middle three, which are separated into the Spheres of Heaven. The distinctions of angels within the spheres are referred to as the Nine Choirs or Orders and their arrangement may vary depending on the source, but here’s how I know it. All choirs take orders from the ones above them and can direct the ones below, though some do more of that than others. Presented in ascending in order of importance and power:
The Mortal Plane – Where we are. This is the plane of man, flora and fauna.
The Third Sphere of Heaven – The soldiers and messengers of Heaven.
Angels – This is a general category for the lowest rank of angels. These are the closest to man, often looking like us, and are the most concerned with mortal affairs. They deliver God’s word to humankind and tend to watch over individuals.
Archangels – Most of us are familiar with this category and there are a lot of variations on what fits here, mostly due to the confusion that stems from whether the term ‘Archangel’ in the Bible references this choir or an individual title. These angels are the soldiers of Heaven. They also tend to be regarded as the chief or leading angels, bringing messages to mankind at crucial moments, and possibly laying an apocalyptic beat down. There are multiple beings that have been accepted by the faith as being classified as Archangels. There are seven named in the Book of Enoch: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Raguel, Remiel and Seraquel. It’s important to note that only Michael and Gabriel are mentioned in the Bible. Those two and Raphael are the only three explicitly named by the Catholic Church. The seven are said to be guardians of nations. Michael is the chief Archangel and is also sometimes classified as a Seraphim. Archangels are thought to be guardians over men of importance like Cardinals, Bishops and Rulers.
Principalities – Their purpose is to educate and guard the Mortal Plane, and are said to inspire art and science in the minds of men, as well as teach them to honor authority. They are also the guardians of religion and politics. As a ruling class of angels, they are often depicted with a crown and scepter.
The Second Sphere of Heaven – The governing powers.
Powers – These angels unconditionally obey God. They are warriors, responsible for defending the realms against the forces of evil and their plans. As such, they are adept at combating demons, often the first line of defense in Heaven. They can be thought of as elite guards, protecting the boundary between Heaven and Earth.
Virtues – Controlling heavenly bodies like the stars (including the sun), moon and planets is what these angels do. They also have dominion over the elements and nature. Blessed by God, they have the power to grant miracles as well as establish signs of His presence in the Mortal Plane.
Dominions – It’s a rarity that these angels appear to humans, but when they do, they are divinely beautiful. They regulate the duties of the angels below them as their primary function and are often shown having orbs of light on the pommel of their sword or on the heads of their scepters.
The First Sphere of Heaven – Counselors of Heaven. Those close to God. Angels in this sphere don’t generally present themselves to humans.
Thrones – Also called Ophanim, these angels are required for any of the choirs of the lower spheres to access God. They are beings of peace, submission and humility. They are depicted as a wheel within a wheel, their rims containing hundreds of eyes.
Cherubim – These angels have the knowledge of God, including His secrets, and the ability to understand their meaning. They are the voice of wisdom. In the Bible they were sent to Earth for great tasks, like the expulsion of man from the Garden of Eden and the Annunciation of Christ. They have been shown to either look like humans with multiple sets of wings or they possess four heads: one of a man, an ox, a lion and an eagle, four eye-covered conjoined wings and possibly other animal features. Cherubim are not pudgy babies with wings. That is a false depiction. Those are actually called putti or putto (singular).
Seraphim – The closest to God, they are said to emanate a light so bright that not even other angels may look at them. Thought to be engulfed in flame, they literally burn with God’s love, meant to enlighten and cleanse, as they know Him best. To emphasize, love is their primary characteristic, not knowledge, because love is greater than knowledge, as knowledge causes arrogance. Seraphims spread God’s love to the lower choirs. There are four Seraphim that surround God’s throne, acting as caretakers. Seraphim are often depicted with six wings, two wings covering their feet, two cover their face (s) and two for flying. Sometimes they look like man, and other times they have multiple heads.
God – The Almighty.
Angel Depictions and Characteristics
With the angelic choirs in mind it’s easy enough to see where some of the popular depictions of angels came from. Angels have been in Christian artwork since the third century, when the first dated image of one was found in the Catacomb of Priscillia in Rome. Angels were originally depicted in art without wings, and it wasn’t until the forth century when St. John Chrysostom explained the significance of wings that they suddenly became a prominently depicted feature.
When we think of angels the mental image of white wings, gorgeous physical features and flowing holy robes usually comes to mind:
(La Vierge Aux Anges by William Adolphe Bouguereau)
But you also have angels as warriors:
(The Archangel Michael by Guido Reni)
And Nightmare Fuel:
There are plenty of other ways to depict angels and what you decide to do with them is going to depend on your goals.
Angels traditionally don’t have free will. How free will is defined, however, will vary. A lot of the time I find, regarding angels, that lacking free will means you can’t disobey God. You can either interpret that strictly, meaning they’re complete servants or you can interpret it loosely, meaning they adhere to certain main tenants (which can either be from religious doctrine or whatever you have deemed for your higher power) and still make their own choices regarding other matters.
While Angels are beings of great power, and it’s certainly fun to think of the different abilities they may have, you can also use them to convey a message.
My Angels are Beautiful – Beauty has been long viewed as perfection, and you can use the beauty of angels to emphasize that they are better than man. Of course, that’s not all you can do. To paraphrase (and butcher) Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchet’s Good Omens, angels are beautiful in the same way that a forest fire is beautiful – they are to be admired from a distance but not up close. Angels can be dangerous, as can beauty. Most people would more easily trust a beautiful person than one who is ugly or creepy in some way. That trust can be misplaced, and it can be deadly.
Wing Colors – Angels often represent a force for good, and as such are generally depicted with white wings as a symbol of their purity and righteousness. Any angels that are corrupted, evil or fallen, tend to to have black or dark-colored wings, though they may have none at all. You don’t have to stick with this trope. You can use other colors to symbolize different things about your angels. You can also use color patterns of actual birds if you like, making angels seem more realistic than supernatural.
Humanoid Angels – Oftentimes, angels are shown to look like us. There a few different reasons for this. The obvious is the religious line of reasoning: God created all things and man was created in God’s image. While that’s great, the Bible doesn’t actually say that angels were also created in that image, but it doesn’t deny it either. So, there’s a possibility that angels and humans look fairly similar, angels being the first creations and humans being the next after some modifications. Whether or not that makes humans special is up to interpretation. A lot of our specialness when compared to the angels comes from the distinction that we have free will and they don’t. Another reason for humanoid angels is that humans tend to be a vain species as a whole. We like it when other things look like us. From the angels’ point of view, it’s much easier to blend into human society if they appear as we are. There’s also the argument that making a supernatural being more like humans makes them more relatable as a character. It’s much easier to visualize and understand a concept like the existence of angels if they are like us, even in a small way.
Monster Angels – Sometimes things are not what they seem. Angels may appear in another form to humans, but in reality are abominations akin to Eldritch Horrors. They have forms that may or may not be humanoid. They can be masses of wings, eyes or anything else your twisted little mind can come up with. The point of monster angels is to show that the beings we exalt may not be worth our attention, that they may be worse than what we could have ever imagined.
Arrogance on High – This is a common trope and storyline for an angel. Angels are often portrayed as arrogant, jealous beings. How dare God create another creature and love them more! The mission of these angels is to destroy humanity in some way in order to reaffirm their place as God’s favorites. There may be other angels who are against this and you end up with two factions of warring angels (see the film The Prophecy).
I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up – The fallen angel trope. This angel is the one who screwed up somewhere along the line and has fallen out of God’s good graces. He may have left Heaven himself or he may have been kicked out. Either way he’s looking for a way to redeem himself in the eyes of the Lord, or a way to get even. He will sometimes team up with a human willing to help him or he may even be protecting that person.
Nephilim – Depending on where you look the Nephilimare either giant-sized sons of God and daughters of men (ala Genesis 6:4), fallen angels or angel-human hybrids. According to scripture, angels aren’t supposed to be able to marry and a popular trope is having them fall in love with humans and sometimes a human woman will bear offspring. Because love is universal and almost everyone can relate, it often makes for a good story. Not to mention the idea of half-angels is just cool.
I Want to Be an Angel Too! – Don’t worry puny humans, if you’re a shining example of piety in your current life, you too can be an angel in the next! This story is often used when a character has done something terrible in their lives and is trying to redeem themselves in the next, working to earn their way to becoming an angel. Through this tale we are shown that angels really are better than humans and are something to aspire to. It also sheds light on the imperfections of man.
There are some angels that are more prominent than others, as well as those that people should know more about. This is by no means exhaustive. They are listed below with a bit about who they are and what role they play. Some are featured more prominently in Jewish mythology than in Christian and vise versa. Note that certain angels are depicted strictly as male while others are portrayed as either gender.
Michael – The angel of miracles, his name meaning “he who is like God”. He often interacts with humans in the Bible and inspires courage in mankind. He is the patron saint of chivalry, police officers, the military and paramedics.
Gabriel – Portrayed as male or female, his name means “man of God”. He is often the primary messenger of God and patron saint of those who work in communications, as well as postal workers.
Raphael – He is the angel of healing, giving many gifts to mankind including creativity, joy, and love.
Lucifer – His name means “the shining one”, “bringer of light” or “morning star” depending on the translation. He rebelled against God and was cast out of Heaven. There is an argument regarding the difference between Satan and Lucfier but based on my research, they’re the same being. Lucifer was his name before he was cast out and after that event, he was called Satan.
Azrael – The angel of death. Often depicted as the Grim Reaper.
Raziel – The angel of mysteries and knowledge. He inspires mankind to accept mystery as an aspect of life. His name means “God is my pleasure”.
Uriel – He is the angel of creativity, wisdom and the sun. His name means “God is my light”. In art he is often depicted carrying a book or a scroll, serving as the patron saint of the arts and sciences.
Sammael – Also spelled Samael, he is the angel of souls and has been regarded as both a good and evil angel. In Jewish lore, he is the angel of death.
Nathaniel – Meaning “gift of God”, he is the angel of fire, controlling both the physical element and empowering passion in the hearts of men.
Zachriel – He is the angel of surrender, allowing humans to recognize that our attachments to the physical world are only temporary. As such, he is also the angel of memory.
Metatron – The voice of God, angel of life and thought. His name means “the one who serves behind God’s throne” or “the one who guards”. He guards the Tree of Life and carries the Book of Life, recording the good deeds of man, as well as what happens in Heaven. He is depicted as having 36 pairs of wings or a wheel of wings and eyes.
Sahaquiel – The angel of the sky.
Sandalphon – As an angel prince, he is the angel of power, overseeing the Seraphim. Supposedly the twin brother of Metatron, both were human before their ascension.
Anael – The angel of romantic love, life and health. Also has dominion over the element of air.
Rashnu – The angel that stands on the bridge to Heaven and determines who may enter.
Abaddon/Apollyon – Mentioned in Revelations as the angel of the bottomless pit. Abaddon is Greek and Apollyon is Hebrew, both terms meaning “destroyer”. Sometimes this being is referred to as a demon.
Melchisedek – The angel of peace.
Rahab – The angel of the sea. Often depicted as demonic and sometimes associated with insolence and pride. Is a sea monster in Jewish folklore.
Amitiel – The angel of truth.
Leliel – The angel of night.
Materiel – The angel of rain and storms.
Urim – The angel of light.
Ramiel – The angel of thunder, considered both a heavenly and fallen angel. He is in charge of the souls that come for judgment on the last day.
Based on the names above, there are a few easy thing you can do to name your angel characters. You can either use an existing name if the meaning fits, or you can make your own. Here are a few things that might help:
- Angel names tend to have common endings. If they don’t end in -il, el, al, iel or ael, they will usually end with letters like h, n, m, k or r (though there are others).
- They’re usually 2-4 syllables.
- They can start with any letter.
- Angel name generators can be a great help when you’re stuck. Try these: (X) (X) (X)
You can pretty much do whatever you want in terms of power sets for angels. They are regarded as very powerful supernatural beings and would probably be on the high end of power sets in most cases.
- Power Primer 1: The Elements
- Power Primer 2: Mind Over Everything
- God Powers
- And for tips on balancing - Lets Talk About Magic!
Nothing about angels is definitive information. Since we have no proof that they exist, all information comes from the interpretation of religions texts and is speculative at best. However, the general idea of angels and most of the concepts regarding them are widely accepted by both religious institutions, and at this point, popular culture. As with most creative writing, it’s not the ideas you use but instead, it’s how you use them. Now go forth and write!
- Catacomb of Priscilla
- The Holy Angels
- On the Incomprehensible Nature of God (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 72) - St. John Chrysostom
- Angel Names
I could do it
Leo whispers to himself
I could just snatch it and run
the trinity of confused medical professionals
"I’m so glad I did."
Doctor Who - Amy and Melody Pond