Angels are protectors, messengers, healers and destroyers. They figure most prominently in the world’s three major monotheistic religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam, though angels have been a part of many if not most religions throughout history. The ancient Greeks believed in unseen spirits known as daemons that often watched over mortals. The god Hermes was most similar to the modern interpretation of angels in that he was messenger to the gods, guided travelers on dangerous journeys and already had wings, albeit on his ankles. Devas, in Hinduism, are supernatural beings that represent the forces of character in addition as moral values and serve Brahman, the creator of the universe. Like the devas in Hinduism, the devas in Buddhism are supernatural beings, however they do not represent recondite concepts so much as possess superior abilities to mortals. They are more powerful, more enlightened and live longer than human beings. And like angels in the Judeo-Christian pantheon, the Buddhist devas are organized into a hierarchy.
There are three particular classes of devas, identifiable by the realms of the universe in which they exist. The devas of the rkpyadh’tu or formless vicinity indeed are formless and meditate on formless ideas. The devas of the Rkpadh’tu or form vicinity, while having physical forms do not have genders nor do they have passions or desires. The third vicinity is the Kmadhtu and the devas there are most like humans in that they have passions both sensual and intellectual. And like humans, they are sometimes conquer by these passions. Each vicinity is further divided into different worlds and heavens, similar to the Christianity hierarchy, as defined by Pseudo-Dionysius in the fifth century, has nine choirs of angels divided into three spheres, each sphere divided into three classes of angels.
The angels of the third sphere–the Principalities, Archangels and Angels–are the messengers and soldiers of heaven. The second sphere– Dominions, Virtues and Powers–are the governors. The first sphere–Seraphim, Cherubim and the Thrones– are closest to God and consequently are supposed to be perfect. However, in the Christian tradition, Lucifer is seen as a fallen seraph angel. His rebellion against God precipitated his fall from heaven and he became the ruler of the underworld. Angels of the third sphere have the most contact with humans, as they are stated to each human at birth to assist them throughout their mortal lives, but this closeness to humans makes them most prone to sin. In Islam, angels, or Malaaikah, are incapable of sin because they do not have free will. consequently Satan is regarded as a jinn, a spirit with free will, because he turns his back on Allah.
The archangels carry messages between God and humans. The number of archangels varies, though only four are specifically named in the Old Testament, Gabriel, Michael, Raphael and Uriel. Together they represent the cardinal directions-Gabriel is the North, Michael is the East, Raphael the West and Uriel the South. Along with the other archangels, they also govern the months, astrological signs, planets and days of the week: Figure 1.1* Angel Month Astrological Sign Gabriel January Aquarius Barchiel February Pisces Machidiel March Aries Asmodel April Taurus Ambriel May Gemini Muriel June Cancer Verchiel July Leo Hamaliel August Virgo Uriel September Libra Barbiel October Scorpio Adnachiel November Sagittarius Hanael December Capricorn Figure 1.2* Angel Planet Day Raphael Sun Sunday Gabriel Moon Monday Sammael Mars Tuesday Michael Mercury Wednesday Zidkiel (Aniel) Venus Thursday Hanael (Kafziel) Saturn Friday Kepharel (Zadkeil) Jupiter Saturday Angels are many things to many people, and have been throughout history. Whether sounding trumpets to bring down the walls of Jericho, accompanying Mohammed on his ascension to Heaven, or symbolizing the elements of the universe, angels are fascinating creatures that transcend religion and definition.