Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Angelics

I was asked to participate in a pole the other day. Which would I rather date – a vampire, an angel or a fallen angel. It got me to thinking. Angels get a pretty raw deal in the world of man. So what are they?

Angel – from the Greek ἄγγελος (angelos) –  messenger/announcer. Messenger of what, sent by whom? Do we include the Town Crier and the UPS guy? Are all angels the same? That’s like asking if all radios are the same, or all TV’s. 

Archangel, fallen angel, guardian angel, just plain ole angel… can a person be an angel or do they have to be disembodied? Are they sent by God/gods/goddess/et al or freelancing? Where do they live, how do they interact with humans – if they can at all? And…if an angel is fallen, where did he/she fall from? What about gender, do they have one or are they androgynous?  

I’ve read tons of information, (mostly for work *sigh) much of it contradictive. The beauty of fiction, as opposed to my day job of having to argue points of reference to back up conclusions, is that we (the writer) can make up the rules and as long as we’re consistent, we get away with it – yay. But is it still important to have some basis in the familiar concepts our readers associate with angels? 

I think it helps. It makes me smile when you see a reviewer make the comment ‘requires you to suspend belief to follow the plotline’ – um, you’re reading about paranormal creatures, suspension of belief is a given on some level. At the same time, it’s a valid point. We can only push the boundaries of our world so much before we cross the line and ask too much of the reader by carving out such a complex system or world that it becomes the story, overwhelming the characters. 

I also find that when it comes to most paradudes people are happy to chalk up myths and folklore to overexcited morphemes and phonemes or an explosion of phosphene geometries in a well poked eye. But angels…for some reason they touch people on a deeper level. Maybe you’ve had an angelic experience yourself or know someone that has.
 
 Mind you, for fifty quid, I can attend a workshop down the road that will teach me to talk to angels directly, and for a hundred they’ll throw in a tour of one of the lower heaven realms and a certificate of authenticity to prove to everyone else I’ve been. That's okay, as long as I get to go with this guy <<<<<<< You don’t get that with vampires or werewolves – not in my part of the world anyway.

In my next post, I’ll have a look at some of the angels from religion, mythology and fiction but for now, I’d like to hear about yours. How do you like your angels? Sexy for sure, but are they winged, bodied, ethereal, naughty, pure, tricksters? And what do they do – or do you prefer finding that out to be part of the story?

One of my current WIP’s has an MC, Reeve, whose role it is to guide human souls through the death threshold and into the next world.  Is he an angelic? Some would say yes, but he isn’t a messenger and he doesn’t announce anything. In Gnosticism, he is paralemptor (Greek) – receiver of souls. Have a look at this excerpt – what label would you give Reeve? 

They say that just before you die your whole life flashes before you. To this, I can attest.  What they don’t tell you is how, and maybe, more importantly why.
Years... some have less than others, some only moments, yet in a split second every one of them presents in startling clarity, existent outside of time, hanging beyond space. Magnificent.
That’s my job. I throw the mental switch that allows it to happen at just the right moment. Too soon and you risk insanity, too late and the moment is lost forever.
A review is only powerful when seen through the mind’s eye of the personality that lived it. There have been experiments to try to understand this; to understand why we can’t begin after consciousness passes the generally recognised point of no return. When the ties of the body drop so does the impact of events. In other words, it no longer hurts like a bitch or brings those sweet tears of joy.
Of course, some do return. That’s my job too, allowing the return trip. Are there rules? Of course. Do I follow them? Absolutely… apart from when I don’t.

‘Reeve, what in the blazes are you doing?’
‘Sorry sir, I didn’t see you there.’
‘You’re not supposed to. How can I check up on you if you know I’m here?’
‘Uhm.’
‘For goodness sake don’t stare at me. Put the man out of his misery.’
‘Eh? Oh…’ I flick the yellow globe hanging in the space before me and see Marcus Denby Jr go limp. It’s a shame. I liked Marcus. His review was damned good entertainment. Damning for sure – the guy had truly lived. It was like scenes from an action movie the people watch.
‘I want you in my office at the end of your shift.’
‘Yes sir, sorry sir.’
Harim wafts from the room, shaking his head. He despairs of me I know, but what can I do? I have a soft spot for these little ones in pain, the remorse that bites into their souls when they witness the hurt they’ve inflicted, often without realising. Nobody tells them that at the end they will feel every emotion they’ve elicited in another through that person’s eyes. Marcus Denby Jr has inflicted a lot of pain, a lot of anguish and a lot of downright pleasure. If only he’d known at the time maybe…
Sod it. I’m letting him go back. I want to see what he’ll do with his new insight into humanity. I look at Marcus, the empty body slumped in the chair, wrists and ankles bloody from the ropes. The song of his soul sings to me from the holding pen around the dead flesh – he’s still hurting. His review has kicked into stage two. Some people call it the Bardo – a state in between where one chooses what comes next. I only have a few more seconds before he’s seen too much to return, maybe he already has.
Steadfast. Just do it.
I flick the red globe and the body of Marcus Denby Jr gasps, drawing deep, burning breaths into his broken body. This won’t do. I reach for the blue globe and squeeze just a little. His captors, already pressed back against the walls of the iron cell at the impossibility of the dead man breathing before them, bolt for the door as a gentle blue mist caresses and heals.
‘It’s time to live again Marcus,’ I whispered. ‘This time maybe you’ll do it wisely.’
My mouth falls open as he looks right at me, his head pressing against what should be an invisible hand – my invisible hand that’s holding his face.
‘Will I though, Reeve?’ he said, choking back his tears. ‘Do I know how?’
Casey K. Cox ~ The Review

Now I couldn’t help but include this little titbit of information direct from Wikipedia. 

In the US, a 2008 survey by Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion, published by TIME Magazine which polled 1,700 respondents, found that 55 percent of Americans, including one in five of those who say they are not religious, believe that they have been protected by a guardian angel during their life. An August 2007 Pew poll found that 68 percent of Americans believe that "angels and demons are active in the world" and according to four different polls conducted in 2009, a greater percentage of Americans believe in angels (55%) than those who believe in global warming (36%).
Wiki goes on to say ‘Teen Belief in the Supernatural poll in 1994, 76% of 508 teenagers (aged 13–17) believe in angels, a greater percentage than those who believe in astrology, ESP, ghosts, witchcraft, clairvoyance, Bigfoot, and vampires’. Those figures may well have changed since the latest vampire/shifter craze took off. Has the interest in the paranormal taken off across the board or just in these currently popular sub-genres? Maybe as writers, our job is to mix it up a bit and bring the whole host of supernatural and preternatural creatures to bear on an unsuspecting world. 

Oh, the power… rarrrr ;)

5 comments:

  1. Awesome! :) I would have been one of those teenagers in 1994...

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  2. Oh, very interesting take. I actually have a WIP that has Angels, from an old Anthology that I never entered. I researched Angels, since I didn't feel like I could create one that would be right. And I wrote down a list of ones that interested me. ^-^ Needless to say, I chose one that is very interesting. His name is Kakabel and he is the Angel of the Moon who is in charge of the stars and constellations.

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  3. It's interesting you say Angel of the Moon. In the Gnostic text Pistis Sophia reference is made to paralemptors of the sun and moon.

    I've also come across other references that suggest angels (or what we would usually associate as angelics) are fucntions of the universe i.e oversee stars etc. as you've mentioned. Bit like technicians that ensure a program or simulation is running smoothly or a mathmatical function that takes a bunch of numbers (and letters if you're into algebra) and expresses them as another.

    I would be counted in those numbers Lissa - not the teenage ones in '94, too old for that - but if they'd taken a poll ten yrs before... :)

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    1. Yes, it was very interesting to me, because I had never heard of Angels having certain functions they looked over. It was very interesting, and I took Kakabel's function and expanded it. And I find it interesting how most Angel's seem to be playing the scales on being Fallen or Holy. When I was researching them, a lot of the Angels seemed to be considered Fallen and Holy, depending on how they were referenced in different cultures.

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