Angels Beings of Light
So, based on the preceding two posts on Angels we know that early in the history of Homo sapiens sapiens we humans developed a visual lexicon to communicate our perceptions of the world and the universe around us. One of the oldest conventions in this lexicon was the habit of ‘borrowing’ wings from the birds of the ancient world to depict a non-human being with extraordinary powers as in the image of the Owl Goddess Inanna of Sumer at left. To fly was to escape the bonds of earth and enter into a mysterious realm that seemed to be perpetually beyond our reach. Always there was this tantalising exception to most rules that governed the natural world, the ability of birds to become one with the air currents of the invisible world of our atmosphere. That indeed seemed magical to our ancestors as it still does today to those who prefer to fly without the encombrance of jet planes!
Angels Beings of Light
In an effort to participate in this larger reality, our ancestors came up with an ingenious solution: the creation of hybrids with the basic body shape of humans but with the wings of birds. At first they were animistic representations like bird goddesses in which the creature was revered for itself. Birds’ ability to lay eggs seemingly at will made them magical creatures, but human women also brought forth children seemingly at will so the connection was made between the creative power of animals whose young were hatched from eggs and women who gave birth after a long period of gestation. Life appeared to come from the female side and without females the human family would disappear and this contributed much to the conviction that whatever created us must also have been female. Hence, the prevalence all over India, the Ancient Near East, and pre-Islamic Arabian peninsula of likenesses of female deities of fertility, little goddesses whose image was thought to bring fertility to its owner thereby insuring that the family/clan would continue and grow stronger with each generation. Winged goddesses like the Greek Nike figure at right were especially loved as they combined the mystery of the heavens with the mystery of creation itself, an enormously powerful image in the human mind that reached its zenith in the pantheons of the polytheistic Greeks and Romans.
Trying to Erase History
The goddess religions arose all over the Ancient Near East spreading to Europe during the paleolithic and surviving well into the current era in Europe despite the rise of the monotheistic religions with a male deity that suddenly appeared in the Middle East between 3000 and 5000 years ago and sought to annihilate the remains of animism, shamanism, pantheons of both male and female dieties, and the Great Goddess herself exemplified in this statue of Cybele at left depicted as the Great Mother Goddess.
Goddess, God, and Everybody Else
Humans don’t generally take kindly to the imposition of new belief systems. The nature religions had evolved on their own as a result of human experience and observation of the order of the natural world.The campaign against the Great Goddess was long resisted, eventually going ‘underground’ both literally and figuratively. Eventually the surviving ‘wise women’ were relegated to the role of mid-wife, excluded from Medieval universities and forbidden to practice the profession of healer, one they had held from the earliest days of the gatherer/hunter societies. This usurpation of the traditional position of women in human society had a profound effect on every aspect of the life for both women and men.
The War Between Men And The Goddess
The Goddess was vilified and her temples destroyed but the bond that women, and some men, felt for the original planetary deity was not. Female winged creatures from Persia to Pompeii, like the image at right took the form of what we now think of as “Angels”. However, even this was unacceptable to the authors of the Judaic Old Testament who insisted that Angels were male because “God” was male. The few mentions of Angels in the books of the old testament are without exception male, a tradition adopted by the Catholic Church as well. Nevertheless, the far older tradition of Angels as females has never died out and despite the ‘official’ doctrines of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, female Angels appear in sacred art recalling the ancient assumption that Gabriel – and possibly Raphael – were originally female.
A Goddess By Any Other Name
The Great Goddess was never truly lost to humanity. Despite the Catholic Church rear-guard action against the worship of Mary, the hierarchy had backed themselves into a corner by insisting that Mary was ‘conceived without sin’, was impregnated by God Himself, became the mother of the Messiah, and on her death was ‘assumed’ bodily into “Heaven”. What is that if not a Goddess? The male hierarchy could only insist that she occupy an honoured but inferior position to both her son and his “heavenly father’. Mary was to be ‘revered but not worshipped’. Nevertheless, she would dominate the human imagination from Anatolia to Ireland and from France to the Urals as the Great Mother Goddess, Mary, to whom more Cathedrals and Churches were dedicated than those in honour of her son, the “Holy Trinity” and the “saints” combined.
From Bird to Goddess to Angel
So, that is the thumbnail history of the concept of Angels. But it is not the end of the story, far from it. Despite the insistence of monotheisitc religions on assigning a gender to god and the angels, as Beings of Light they are gender-free. What need would a Being of Light have for reproductive organs? The whole notion is absurd. Regardless of our emotional attachment to these archetypes, the points of consciousness that we think of as Angels are sentient energy forms whose existence we can only intuit from the accumulation of human experience with them such as the Near Death Experience. That is, until now. For there seems to be a relatively new phenomenon in the world which may turn out to be the handiwork of “Angels” taking form within the human context of the visible spectrum.
Next on Delia’s Blog: Angels, Mystery Art, And Our Planet
If you would like to explore the topics of these posts further, please, visit Delia’s “A List” Amazon store HERE.