Fragrant Heavens


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On Perfumed Angel's Wings-4

In an introduction to one edition of the Koran, N.J Dawood writes: 'For Muslims it is the infallabile word of God, a transcript of a tablet preserved in heaven, revealed to the prophet Mohammed by the Angel Gabriel.' Their first encounter took place as Mohammed either slept or was in trance, while in a cave on a mountain in spiritual retreat, and the Koran was transmitted over a period of time. So important was Gabriel to Islam, that the five pillars of belief include angels: 'But it is righteousness - To believe in God, And the last day, And the angels, And the Book, And the messengers.' (koran, Sura 2:177) 

One well-known prayer speaks of angels: 'May Michael be at my right hand and Gabriel at my left, before me Uriel and Raphael, and above my head the divine presence of God. 'Kabbalah, the mystical tradition of Judaism, teaches that angels are God's messengers and can turn themselves into different 'shapes' - forms and manifestations. Throughout the Bible, accounts of angels abound. In the Old Testament, Jacob has a dream in which he sees a ladder between earth and Heaven, with the angels of God ascending and descending on it'; and an angel even leads people into battle: 'Behold, I send an angel before thee into the place which I have prepared.'

In the New Testament, Joseph, on learning that his fiancee Mary was pregnant, and 'not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily'. The story continues: 'But while he thought on these things, behold the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her of the Holy Ghost,. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shall call his name Jesus... 'In St Luke, the angel Gabriel had told Mary the same thing. News of Jesus' birth was spread by the shepherds, who'd been told Jesus was 'a Saviour' by an angel.

There was a great sadness, however, when Jesus was crucified and put in the sepulchre. At dawn the next day, the two Marys went there:'... the angel of the Lord descended from Heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow.' And he said,'... go quickly, and tell his disciples he is risen from the dead...' In the Epistles of Paul the Apostle, we hear the following:

There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. (1 Corinthians 15:40) Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.(Hebrews 13:1-2)

The appearance of angels can be dramatic, with 'a great earthquake' as at the sepulchre, or as St Paul states above, we may be unaware of who they are. Angels weave in and out of human existence, their missions to perform in countless different ways. Any dictionary of angels has so many entries, with so many names and events, it seems there have been many human-angel interactions over the years.

Angels have been ascribed to nations, fire, water, earth, air, wind, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, lightning, comets, as well as to strength and beauty, to plants, herbs, fruits and animals. In many spiritual traditions, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam, angels have been more prevalent, particularly within the mystical traditions. Indeed, over the years angels have proliferated and caused major confusion amongst academics. 

Gustav Davidson, in the introduction to his A Dictionary of Angels: Including the fallen Angels, says he became overwhelmed by the sheer number of angels that appeared in the literature, which '... yielded a boundless profusion of angels (and demons), and I soon had more of the fluttering creatures than I knew what to do with'. No doubt some of the fallen angels, or 'dark angels'(those without light) as they are sometimes called, can be accounted for as excuses for things people did wrong;' the fallen angel made me do it' syndrome. But there is another dimension to this subject, which the Anglican priest and author, Dr Martin Israel, interpreted thus for the TV programme Network First:

I doubt whether anything defies the divine fiat. I think God created dark angels like the light angels. The dark angels are here to make us grow on through our own experience in life. We have to undergo darkness as well as light to grow as people.

There are two main sources of information about angels: books and people's experiences, and the two are often very similar. You could say that someone is influenced to believe something they read in a book, and have a 'vision' which materializes the thought. In other words, they imagined it. It's hard to believe this is the case with some of the many very down-to-earth people I've spoken to about angels.

Although angels are closely associated with Judaeo-Christian and Muslim traditions, they exist in other pats of the world too. In Southern Australia, the Great Spirit of Aboriginal myth goes by the name of Nepelle, and he has a messenger, Nurunderi. In Western Ireland, the late Irish poet, George W. Russell, described meeting beautiful 'Shining Beings' and 'Opalescent Beings'. He believed this latter group were what the pre-Christian Irish people called 'god':

... there was at first a dazzle of light... this came from the heart of a tall figure with a body apparently shaped out of half-transparent or opalescent air, and throughout the body ran a radiant electrical fire, to which the heart seemed the centre. Around the head...there appeared flaming wing-like aura. From the being itself light seemed to stream outward in every direction; and the effect left on me after the vision was one of extraordinary lightness, joyousness, or ecstasy.

The feeling when meeting angels is so 'out of this world', it is not confused with any other day-to-day mind-event, or dreaming experience. I asked Anne, who met her angel in the bar in Montreal 'Did you imagine it?' She said, 'Look, out of all the things that have ever happened to me in my life, that was the most real. What happened that day was very deep, and very wise - more wise than I could dream up!' This aspect of the experience, receiving knowledge, sometimes with no words being exchanged, is too extraordinary to attribute to the imagination.

There are only two alternatives: either there is an angel within, that emerges and floods us with visions, profound wisdom and infinite peace; or there are angels without. Or, maybe, there are both.


Reference: The Fragrant Heavens; Valerie Ann Worwood