The Spirit beings of the upper worlds are known to all cultures throughout time. In the West, they have been traditionally called Angels. However, in pre-Christian times in the western world, they were thought of as specific gods and goddesses. Traditions as diverse as Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism have given names to these great beings of light over thousands of years, and each has its own stories and legends about them. As Thomas Aquinas, the great medieval theologian, wrote, 

Angels transcend every religion, every philosophy, every creed. In fact angels have no religion as we know it...their existence precedes every religious system that has ever existed on earth.

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of popular interestin angels. A plethora of books are catering to a growing need forcomfort and a sense of divine protection in the increasingly uncertainworld we live in. While many of these books are well-intentionedand indeed may help people attune to the vibrational field at whichangels can be encountered, many of them paint a simplistic and oftensentimental view of the nature of these great beings, and so trivializetheir awesome power and almost inconceivable glory. Far from beingthe white-robed darlings so beloved of Victorian illustrators, theyare terrific entities whose nature is of supernal fire, beings oftranscendent wisdom and cosmic awareness.  They should be conceived as vast, swirling forms of pure light, color and sound; beings of almost unimaginable power. Their famous wings are not those of a bird, but radiant emanations of light that stream out from the heart-center of their energetic forms. Of course, birds have always been used as symbols of spirit beings who are not bound by earth, and who can soar to the heights or hover close to earth like a bird, so the symbolism is valid enough. The halo around their heads is a symbol of the divine light emanating from the mind of these, the greatest of the powers that inhabit the world of Spirit, who are nothing less than the primary creative forces of the Cosmos.

The Angelic Realms

Different traditions have their own systems of classifying angels, which can be quite confusing. It’s important to remember that all models of the angelic kingdom are just that – models that have been used over the ages to try to understand that which is almost beyond human understanding. As you might imagine, these differ from one another in many ways and should be regarded as only rough guides or maps, not dogmatic truths. They are helpful in pointing the way to the angelic kingdom, but it's important not to confuse the map with the landscape.

The word "angel" is derived from the Greek "angelos", which is a translation of the Hebrew word "mal'akh", a messenger. Angels are divine messengers in the sense that they transmit essences and energies from the celestial realms all the way down to the material world, operating as part of a vast hierarchy of beings. Through the angels, the One becomes the Many. The One Light is focused through the prism of the Archangelic kingdom and becomes a spectrum of glorious colors. Or, to put it another way, from the mind of the Divine Architect comes the first impulse, the Primordial Idea of creation. The Archangels, (“chief angels”) are cosmic forces that emanate from the Creative Intelligence of the Universe. They are the “Lords of Flame,” whose work is to mediate the Divine Impulse into the lower realms where it will reach manifestation.

Archangels and Angels abound throughout all of creation, both visible and invisible. We could compare them to engineers who work with the universal archetypes, templates of cosmic order, best imagined by us as patterns of number and harmonious proportion, or, better still, as great symphonies of music – it’s not for nothing we talk about “choirs of Angels.” These are then transmitted to the hosts of Angels below them. The Angels, like scores of creative artists, transform these archetypes down to the next level of creation as ideal forms and images of  everything that will eventually manifest in the world of  Nature. Below the angels are the nature spirits and elementals, the “building crew,” who work with the ideal forms on the etheric level,  the subtle realm of pre-matter. This is the etheric plane, which is composed of the “life-force,” “chi,” or “prana,” which animates the physical plane. The original creative impulse of the One is now able to flow into the myriad physical forms of the material world. The Angels have literally bridged Heaven and Earth. 

To give an example: Out of the Divine Mind that is the source of all existence comes forth the idea of “Rose.” The Archangels take this Idea and design the perfect template of a rose. Using the template, the hosts of Angels then create multitudinous images of all different species of roses; these astral forms are then passed on to the Devas and then the Elementals of earth, water, air and fire, and other Nature Spirits who animate them with the life force on the etheric plane, and finally, we enjoy the miracle of roses blooming in our gardens. And there is but one cause underlying the marvel of Creation: Love. As Geoffrey Hodson puts it: 

Love is the force which maintains the planets in their successive orbits, as they circle round the sun, their Lord of Love. Love binds into a whole the many systems of the universe. From the highest ruler of the rulers of universes, down to the lowest form of life on the densest plane in every system, there is a chain of love, unbroken and unbreakable. In the light of that supernal love, all differences and all diversities are seen but as the manifold expressions of that One infinite and eternal Power from Which all things sprang and to Which all things shall return.

The Company of Angels and Mortals

As creators of the cosmos, the Archangels and Angels are deeply concerned with the evolution of all its inhabitants so that the Divine Plan may be worked out and brought to fruition in every corner of creation. In this, they are powerful intermediaries between the Creative Intelligence, or God, and the human race; supreme teachers who offer us guidance, wisdom and protection as our race slowly and painfully evolves towards perfection. It might be said that angels stand above the human race in the same way that we stand above the animals. 

Legends from the morning of the world tell us that once Angels walked upon the earth, freely offering their gifts and closely assisting humanity in its evolution. Dion Fortune tells how this came about: 

The old tradition is that the choice was offered to the spirits whether they would remain on the inner planes, neither ascending nor descending, or descend to the depths of matter in order to rise higher than where they had started from; and one lot chose one line, led by Adam, or rather Eve,  and others  chose the other. So the angelic hosts are our kin and  if you go far  enough back you find a time  when angels and men were of  one company.

But although the relationship of Angels and mortals was sundered in due course, the truth is that we have never really been left without heavenly guides: Angels and Archangels still walk beside us – it is we who have closed our hearts and minds to them. If we are willing to believe in the reality of their presence and allow them to help us in our endeavors, they are willing and ready to be joyful co-creators with us. Geoffrey Hodson wrote:

The time will surely come when it may be said, as of old, "angels walked with men," for the blending of angelic and human life and consciousness is part of the plan for the coming age. The children of the new race will see and recognize their fairy and angel companions; will play and work with them instinctively. Let no one seek to dull their clearer vision by denial of the fairer world and its inhabitants which their young eyes can see. Rather let the elders train themselves to see and feel, with them, the beauties and the joys that lie outside the range of vision of the older race.

The recent growing awareness of angels may be because the inner plane Adepti are at last getting through to us the importance of conscious human cooperation with the angelic kingdom. It is taught that many angels are only awaiting recognition in order to be of greater service to our world. A new influx of cosmic energies has been steadily flowing into Earth in the last forty or so years, ushering in what many hope will be a time when humanity will be drawn into ever closer alignment with the creative sources of life. Prophesies from many different sources and regions of the world foretell that it may not be long before we awaken from our limited materialistic view of life to an expanded awareness that makes us fully conscious of the underlying spiritual nature of the physical world.  Working with the powers and presences of the angelic kingdom can enormously increase our spiritual evolution. And we become more effective in creating positive change when we invoke the aid of the Angels in our work, enhancing our own efforts with their matchless love, wisdom and strength. 

Excerpted from the Avalon Mystery School Course III
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