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Accurate Angels Based on Religion

What did Accurate angels really look like?  Well, flat out, they are terrifying.  There is an entire hierarchy of angels and all types of angels and their roles.

Accurate angels are meant to invoke a sense of awe and wonder at the celestial dimension.  These images were carefully thought out in order to stimulate the mind of the spiritual seeker.  Often when developing spiritually, we tend to cling too hard to the worldly dimension.  Angels in these new more “accurate” forms were meant to make palpable the unexplainable and incomprehensible realms beyond human understanding.  That is why they are so outrageous and other worldly.  

Where do we get accurate angels?

So there is a strange and ancient hierarchy of angels that was compiled by this age-old mystic named Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. Dionysius was more of an artist/shaman than a religious figure.  He claimed only to be performing a tradition, much like a medium or actor, and adopted the persona of an ancient figure.  This used to be a fairly well-known and long-established rhetorical device (called declamatio). Others in his circle of friends did the same thing (adopting fake names from the the New Testatment.)  In this sense, the works of Dionysius’, therefore, are much less fake in the modern sense than a way to simply transmit information.  That is in a kind of coded recognition.  This strategy makes any sacred resonance match to the biblical in that it gives its information as a way to textualize scripture and synchronize thoughts.   This type of theological teaching makes reception or instruction far more powerful.  and that this theological teaching, at least, is dialectically received from another. Dionysius represents his own teaching as coming from a certain Hierotheus and as being addressed to a certain Timotheus. He seems to conceive of himself, therefore, as an in-between figure, very like a Dionysius the Areopagite, in fact.

 

Indeed, few people have full historical insight into what angels really look like Dionysius.  However,  accurate angels are more aligned according to the Christian doctrine. Your typical portrayal of angels is as winged beings who help save a person in need. Maybe these angels will be cute or even perhaps a sweet, childlike Cherub as seen in paintings. However, these are not “accurate angels” per se.  The classical Christian hierarchy of angels portrays Angels as a much more diverse set of celestial beings.   Angels appear in the Bible more than 250 times (1), and although a specific ranking doesn’t appear directly in the Bible, Christian philosopher Pseudo-Dionysius used passages from the New Testament to outline a widely used angelic hierarchy.

Image of all the angels in the hierarchy of angels

3 Choirs of Angels in the Hierarchy of Angels: Types of Angels and their Roles

Pseudo-Dionysius determined that there were 3 choirs of angels in the hierarchy of angels.  The official hierarchy of angels is divided into three choirs ranked from the highest to the lowest orders.

 

Choir 1: The Highest Order of Angels

Seraphim

In the Hierarchy of Angels there is a class of angel called the Seriphim

The highest order of angels is the Seraphim, who work in immediate contact with God and are exuberantly devoted to His work. In fact, the verb sarap originally means to burn, whether it’s literally or with passion and love. (2)

Seraphim are mentioned directly in the Book of Isaiah 6:2-7 (KJV) stating:

2Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory…6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

This is one of two times the three-fold invocations of “holy, holy, holy” is mentioned in the Bible. The second time, in Revelations 4:8, also refers to the Seraphim singing their praise and devotion to God and his creations. (3)

One of the other distinguishing features of the Seraphim is their six wings. Two wings cover their feet, two cover their face, and two are used to fly. These wings are thought to symbolize humility before God and complete focus and devotion on fulfilling his will.  They encircle around the throne of God and they are so astoundingly bright that even lower angels have to shield their eyes from them.

Cherubim

 

 

Cherubim Angel
Art by Chompatee

The second-highest tier of angels in the hierarchy of angels is the Cherubim. They are mentioned in the New Testament as guardians of the apocalypse. (4) However, their debut in the Bible was in Genesis for their role guarding the Garden of Eden. They are also well-known for their divine wisdom and high level of knowledge.

Images of the Cherubim were the only images allowed in the ancient Jewish temples. (5) They were depicted on embroideries and carved figures within holy sites. They are still frequently seen on tabernacles and Eucharistic vessels today.

Unlike the Seraphim, the Cherubim have four faces and four wings. Their four faces include an ox, lion, man, and eagle, and they move quickly as if spun on a wheel. There are several interpretations of what the four creatures represent. Some believe they are four domains of God’s rule on Earth, and for others they are four distinct attributes of God.

Ezekiel 1:6-9 (KJV) goes into detail of their appearance:

In appearance, their form was human, 6  but each of them had four faces and four wings. 7  Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. 8  Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. All four of them had faces and wings, 9  and the wings of one touched the wings of another.

 

Their primary role was also to serve in close contact with God with the grace of immense wisdom. They also were present at the fall of man.  With the various types of angels and their roles, it is the Cherubim who was tasked with guarding the garden of Eden. But they do this in a really cool way.  The Cherubim are holding blazing swords and the swords have the power to obscure the entrance to the garden due to their awesome flames. 

 

 

Thrones

Thrones are the last tier in the highest order of angels. The lower ranks of angels have access to the higher tiers through the Thrones.

Thrones are mentioned in Colossians 1:16 (KJV):

16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

They are often depicted as wheels covered in eyes (sometimes with wings) that appear to roll interconnected throughout the heavens. This depiction is related to the Ophanim, which is derived from not the Christian, but the Jewish angel hierarchy. (7) According to Daniel’s vision in The Book of Daniel 7:9, God moves around the heavens on his throne of moving wheels, often equated with the Thrones.  (7) 

From this imagery, they are known for their peace and complete submission as the literal seat of exaltation for God. 

 

Choir 2: Middle-order angels and their roles

These angels are involved closer to the cosmological and earthly realms. 

Dominions

The Dominions are thought to be guardians of the cosmos and restorers of justice in the universe of creation. Their name is attributed to “ruling” and “lordship.” It is believed that the Dominions helped fulfill God’s will by destroying the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, but allowing the faithful and repentant time and guidance to leave beforehand. (6) In the Book of Enoch (still used by Ethiopian Orthodox Churches) Dominions could decide the victors of major wars and battles, and they were seen as angelic beings on red horses while fighting alongside soldiers. (8)

They are the angelic tier dedicated to delivering God’s justice and guiding the lower angelic realms, while also remaining loving and merciful. They are most often illustrated as beautiful human beings with lustrous wings. 

Virtues

By Guido Reni

The Virtues are sometimes called “strongholds” or “the shining ones,” and they are believed to help maintain the harmony of nature on earth and look after other celestial bodies. Virtues are closely linked to the phases of the moon, the seasons, and the sun, which are all under their power.  They also help those who are struggling with their faith to be filled with illumination, guidance, and strength. 

Pseudo-Dionysius describes them as (9):

The name of the holy Virtues signifies a certain powerful and unshakable virility welling forth into all their Godlike energies; … ascending unwaveringly to the superessential Virtue which is the Source of virtue: fashioning itself, as far as it may, in virtue; perfectly turned towards the Source of virtue, and flowing forth providentially to those below it, abundantly filling them with virtue.

Virtues may also renew faith and aid humanity by producing signs and miracles that occur on Earth. These may be through miraculous healings, amazing acts of protection, or divine visions. 

In Luke 6:19 (KJV) the word virtue refers to the healing power within Jesus:

“And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.”

 

Powers

The Powers are concerned with order and harmony in the material realms. They are often depicted as wearing armor, swords, or another battlefield regalia while fighting against evil spirits. Powers have strength over the devil and can assist those who are struggling with dark vices and entities.  It is thought that Powers can also be fallen angels of darkness as mentioned in Ephesians 2 6:12 (KJV): 

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

However, it is also mentioned that the strength of God, Jesus, and his believers can overcome these and many powerful forces. Ephesians 1 19-21 (KJV):

19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,…21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come.

Choir 3 : Accurate Angels of the Lowest order

These angels are not as high up on the ladder.  Though they are still extraordinarily powerful, they tend to not be depicted as such.  In understanding angels and their

Principalities

The highest of the final order of angels are the Principalities, who serve as protectors of groups, such as nations or institutions. They are tasked with fulfilling divine will in the physical realm. They maintain order and structure within the Church, rulers, or any governing actors on Earth. Principalities have direct authority to command orders from above and affect change on Earth. 

Pseudo-Dionysius characterizes them below (10):

The name of the Celestial Principalities signifies their Godlike princeliness and au­thoritativeness in an Order which is holy and most fitting to the princely Powers.

However, like the Powers, Principalities also have the ability to diverge from God’s will and affect nations and groups with evil. This allows gods providence to be felt through such concepts as the divine right of kings.  

The Book of Daniel 10:13 (KJV) illustrates this point:

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.

 

Archangels

The word Archangel derives from the Greek word archein, meaning first in rank, and the Greek word angelos, meaning messenger. According to the Book of Tobias 12:15 (DRC) there are seven archangels who serve God’s missions: 

“For I am the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord.”

The archangels are linked to the seven sacraments in Catholicism:

  • Archangel Michael. He spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai in the Bible, helped expel Lucifer from Heaven, and has been said to be the angel that inspired John to write the book of Revelations. 
  •  Archangel Gabriel is the archangel who told Mary of her conception and assisted Daniel in his mission in the Book of Daniel. He is considered to be an archangel, but is not specifically referenced with that term in the Bible.
  • Archangel Raphael is mentioned in the Book of Tobit (above), is only in the Canon for Catholic, Orthodox, and Angelican Churches. He is regarded to be an angel of healing and medicine.
  • Archangel Uriel in recognized by certain Orthodox and Angelican Churches in the Book of Ezra and the Book of Enoch, but isn’t mentioned in the Western Churches’ Bible.  

As a whole, archangels are associated with the protection of the Church and nations. They are portrayed as fighting demons and darkness in the world and being trusted messengers and actors in the favor of God’s will on Earth.  

 

Angels

Angels, also known as malakhim in Hebrew, are the most likely to be concerned and involved with the material world and people on Earth. They are seen to be readily available and act as messengers between people or between a person and God. 

 

Psalm 91:11 states:

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

 

Many Christians believe that each person gets at least one guardian angel to protect against evil and to assist when called on for their safety and well-being. Angels give a reminder of the sense of importance in each individual’s unique calling and mission on Earth since every person is assigned one, no matter their worldly status.  Saint Jermone famously stated, “The dignity of a soul is so great, that each has a guardian angel from its birth.” 

According to Catholic writer Brian Kelly, several saints also made it a daily practice to greet the guardian angels of everyone they met during their daily life, as well as the angels presiding over the cities and nations that they entered. They even called upon the angels of others to help them soften the hearts of others and complete their missionary work. (11)

Guardian Angels may sometimes appear as humans, without their popular depiction of wings, while assisting those who need help. They are known to be beside each person at all times, patiently waiting to be called upon to help serve their highest purpose or be protected from harm. St. John Vianney says, Our Guardian Angels are our most faithful friends, because they are with us day and night, always and everywhere. We ought often to invoke them.” 

 

Most people see angels as flying helpers with wings, but rarely is the full explanation of each choir explained. Angels range from more abstract contemplative beings to bold actors, or personal guardians. Each are diverse in their appearance, qualities, and roles, but all work in the perfect organization for fulfillment of God’s will. 

 

Sources (corresponding to the order mentioned in the above post):

  1. White, Lesli, and Lesli White. “What Are the 9 Orders of Angels?” Beliefnet, Beliefnet Beliefnet Is a Lifestyle Website Providing Feature Editorial Content around the Topics of Inspiration, Spirituality, Health, Wellness, Love and Family, News and Entertainment., 8 Sept. 2020, www.beliefnet.com/inspiration/angels/what-are-the-9-orders-of-angels.aspx. 
  2. Abarim Publications. “The Amazing Word Seraphim: Meaning and Etymology.” Abarim Publications, Abarim Publications, www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Seraphim.html. 
  3. Smyth, Dolores. “Who Are the Seraphim? The Seraphim in the Bible.” Christianity.com, Salem Web Network, 16 Apr. 2019, www.christianity.com/wiki/angels-and-demons/who-are-the-seraphim-in-the-bible.html
  4. White, Lesli, and Lesli White. “What Are the 9 Orders of Angels?” Beliefnet, Beliefnet Beliefnet Is a Lifestyle Website Providing Feature Editorial Content around the Topics of Inspiration, Spirituality, Health, Wellness, Love and Family, News and Entertainment., 8 Sept. 2020, www.beliefnet.com/inspiration/angels/what-are-the-9-orders-of-angels.aspx.
  5. “What Are the Nine Choirs of Angels?” Catholic Exchange, 30 Aug. 2019, catholicexchange.com/what-are-the-nine-choirs-of-angels. 
  6. “Dominions – What Is A Dominion?” Guardian Angel Guide, 19 Dec. 2016, guardianangelguide.com/dominions/. 
  7. “Thrones.” Angelology Wiki, angelology.fandom.com/wiki/Thrones. 
  8. “Dominions.” Occult World, occult-world.com/dominions/. 
  9. Pseudo-Dionysius. Dionysius the Areopagite: Celestial Hierarchy, esoteric.msu.edu/VolumeII/CelestialHierarchy.html. 
  10. “What Are the Nine Choirs of Angels?” Catholic Exchange, 30 Aug. 2019, catholicexchange.com/what-are-the-nine-choirs-of-angels. 
  11. 6, Jun, and Brian Kelly. “All Angels Were Not Created Equal.” Catholicism.org, 2 Oct. 2018, catholicism.org/angelic-choirs.html. 

 

Written by Rolo

The Grand Hierophant

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