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In English, the word "angel" comes from the Greek word angelos meaning messenger. In Christian, Islam, and Jewish beliefs, angels are said to be supernatural beings above ordinary mankind, or citizens of inner space. As messengers from God, their function is to praise and to serve God and mankind, helping in many different ways those in harmony with them. Also known as Prets, Devas, Bhuts, and Devtas, angels are believed to be everywhere, although they have never been known to incarnate in human form. They remain mostly invisible, and are sexless by nature. Without apparent feelings, through their service they express love and compassion for humans in distress. In watching over virtually every aspect of human activity, there are also records of them being on hand in order to help the creative progress of activities that are serving a spiritual purpose. This especially applies to those on earth ready to become more conscious and responsible for their own spiritual development.
"Angel" is a generic name for a vast host of invisible beings said to populate the seven heavens. Some people express angels as thoughts of God. There is no one correct way of perceiving angels or beings of light. In so far as they reflect and amplify our own condition, they can appear in as many ways and in many colors. Most are said to be so dazzling that their forms look as if weaved out of fluid light beams. Although some of the Higher Beings have been seen to be as tall as the sky, angels are said to be in the same line of evolution as earth's nature spirits of the fairy kingdom. To define elusive angel forms could be said to be as difficult as defining electrons is for the quantum physicist. Better to experience them directly. In the first centuries of the Christian era, many known as heretics called on angels for help, just as pre-Christian "pagans" had been blamed for calling on the many gods of the old religion, paganism. In Latin religio paganorum means "peasants' religion." Thus, for centuries the Church forbade the "ignorant" faithful to give the angels names. From its religious rites it also banned anything that could evoke them, preserving only the names of the four main archangels familiar to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Although their names Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel are male, most commentators see all angels as having no specific human gender. And virtually all the world's systems of religious belief include celestial beings in their cosmologies, their scriptures containing references of angelic interventions.
Moving down from the Supreme Creator or God, angels are organized in a celestial hierarchy, by means of classifications generally accepted by commentators of many faiths including the Cabbalists and angel historians. Not all traditional institutions or academics have agreed on the order and content of these hierarchies and, indeed, the spelling in English of many angels often varies. However, Dionysius the Areopagite, a disciple of Saint Paul in the sixth century, described three categories or spheres of angels, with three orders in each. Using this model of nine orders of service, angels who serve as heavenly counselors are in the first sphere and contain the seraphim, cherubim and thrones, all of which contemplate God's goodness and reflect his glory. A brief description of the nine orders of angelic beings follows.
1. Seraphim: Singing the music of the spheres, these angels are among the most wise and dedicated in their love of God. Although remote from human experience, they are said to help regulate the movement of the heavens. The heavenly hosts might seem to work in graded ranks. However, it is more helpful to see them all working as one so that the seraphim, who seem furthest removed from us on earth, also work with the God in each human being. For example, Isaiah in his vision saw the six-winged seraphim above the throne of God, and one of them carried a burning coal to his mouth to purge his sin.
2. Cherubim: Contemplating God's Laws, cherubim are the guardians of light. No matter how remote they seem, their light, as from the stars, filters down from the heavens and touches our lives on earth. Some astrologers claim that there are 72 angels, in groups of 18. These control all four elements, each angel governing 5 degrees of the Zodiac. Overseeing the element of Fire, 18 angels control action, illumination, and transformation. Eighteen angels control the element of Water, expressed as emotion, love, desire, and passion. For the element of Air, another 18 angels oversee practical intelligence and communication. Helping human prosperity, security, and abundance, 18 angels oversee the element of Earth. As for birth, the single word cherub, portrayed as a winged baby with a chubby, rosy face, is mentioned in the Christian bible, Genesis 3:24.
3. Thrones: Thrones represent the first order in the third sphere. Think of these angels as celestial solicitors. They implement the laws mentioned above. In dark days, it is good to remember that, as well as being companion angels with each of the planets, the Earth angel, guardian of this world, can be especially solicitous to those in spiritual need.
4. Dominions: These heavenly beings govern the activities of all angelic groupings below them. They also integrate the spiritual and material worlds. Although they serve the laws and orders of God and thereby prescribe action, they rarely contact individual souls. Nonetheless, their service is very much in tune with the constraints of physical reality.
5. Virtues: From the Divine Source, essential energies come from good deeds. Thus, those who work with these beings can become infused with great spiritual energies necessary at this time for our present home planet, Earth. Virtues are beyond and before powers (see next category).
6. Powers: These beings are the keepers of collective consciousness and cosmic history, as well as bearers of the conscience of all humanity. The angels of birth and death are therefore included here. Like the leaves of a tree draw down the powers of sunlight into the soil, so these light beings draw down the energies of the divine plan. Multifaith in service, they work with and for all that exists, holistically, without fear or favor. Their intention is to help the spiritual evolution of this planet. Thus, they govern the operations engaged in by both the Thrones and the Dominions.
7. Principalities: In medieval angelology, these were known as guardian angels, not of human individuals, but of large groups such as nations and the welfare of their cities. Even today's multinationals, as in worldwide corporations, have such protection as appropriate to their consciousness and spiritual development.
8. Archangels: Many religions tell of spiritual beings that have never incarnated. Those most mentioned are the archangels. They oversee the actions of human leaders. The four main archangels familiar to Jews, Christians, and Muslims follow: