Saturday, October 3, 2009

City of Angels



"Jewish mysticism tells us that angels are guiding us all the time. If we are open to them, they will help us on our path and remind us of our destiny."

Do you believe in angels? I do. I often feel their presence. Sometimes I feel I am allowed to "see" them, in my mind's eye. They are so bright, in my imagination, that it hurts to gaze directly, but I do get the feeling they are white. From my "real" eyes I believe I'm catching a glimpse anytime I see feathery cloud formations like these, or when the first great cumulus clouds arrive in springtime. Clouds are the angelic wardrobe of choice.

Of course I'm not the first person to believe in angels nor am I likely to be the last. As you would expect, angels and their stories are featured in many classic religious texts. Angels show up all the time in the arts, too, in songs, poems, books, paintings, plays and movies. The picture that comes to mind right now is of that movie "Michael" starring John Travolta as the angel with a sweet tooth for all the pleasures of human experience. So cute!

The film Wings of Desire is one of my all time favorites. Bruno Ganz as an angel in a trenchcoat, with slicked back hair? All I can say is wow.



During the middle ages, Judaism, Christianity and Islam got pretty weird. It was a tough time for monotheism, whew! Though I've never read the Midrash or Talmud, I've gleened bits and pieces of what came into the minds of those rabbis, sitting around all night drinking red wine and arguing theology, while perhaps they were being persecuted, or the plague was running wild through their shtetls.

One thing medieval rabbis thought a lot about were angels. I've read various accounts, so I hope I'm not making up any part of the following. These ideas about angels really illuminate the theological mindset of that time period. Don't ask me to come to any conclusions about that moment in European history - all I know for sure is: it was weird.



Angels, according to the Talmud, are constantly being created as a result of God making proclamations. They can be as small as a pea or as large as 1/3 the side of the earth. Each comes with one job, a singular duty. Some last only a fraction of a second, if they complete their task quickly. Some stick around for hundreds of years. Also, the so called "impulse to evil" has no effect on angels, according to the Talmud. They are never tempted to go to the dark side, though they can make mistakes.

Medieval European Jewish angels were very complicated beings like characters in a play.

I don't believe in anything "supernatural." To me, angels are as miraculous - and normal - as snowflakes and rainbows. According to the cosmology of Reya, angels are part of the complex network of the natural world. They do project a very pure energy, like one tone played over and over - a beautiful tone, focused and clear.

The angel "wings" in these pics drifted over DC during the afternoon of this perfect autumn day. Thanks, brothers and sisters, for the visit today. It's always great to notice when you're around. Fly high brothers! See you soon!

28 comments:

Auntie, aka Coco's Mom said...

Hello Reya,
What an informative post about angels. Now I must do some research on the topic. You've got my curiosity up.
Good thing I'm not a cat.
Ha.
Thank you.

Linda Pendleton said...

Oh, yes, Reya, I believe in angels. Good article :-)

Meri said...

I didn't know there was such a wealth of angelic lore across religion. There's got to be something universal about the belief in angels. . . like flood stories and creation stories cross culturally. I often see guides or angels or what have you at the edge of my field of vision, as if there is someone there but when I turn my head, no one is visible. I've not thought to correlate that with the reception of information. Now I'm off on a "wonder."

Barbara Martin said...

Reya, I believe, have seen and spoken to angels on many occasions. The bright white light too hard on the eyes, and sometimes out of the corner of my eye, figured in white gossamer robes where inside some of the folds are pastel colours of pink and blue. These figures are often accompanied by an odour very similar to Johnson's Baby Powder. There have been the odd angels who appear to be 50 feet tall in dark blue robes, one in particular being in the hall of records.

I love these posts on spirituality.

The Bug said...

I haven't seen any angels myself, but a lady at my church said that during the Easter Vigil one year she looked up into the rafters after all the candles had been extinguished & the lights turned on - & she saw all these angels hovering near the ceiling. She said that even though she'd never seen such a thing it seemed perfectly natural & right. I wish I'd been there!

Val said...

Oh yes for sure - Angels; last night there was a light cloud layer drifting infront of the moon; scraps of clouds kept making faces on the moon as they went past - a smile, a frown etc it was captivating!

Tessa said...

So angels can be very small? Good. That means I've seen angels. (Wow, that statement sounds so....so..well, AMAZING really.) Can't quite remember how old I was, probably about 10 I think, when I woke up one night and there, at the bottom of my bed, was a glowing ring of miniature people dressed in flowing white with feathery wings dancing around and around. When they saw I had sat up, they sat down - still in a circle - and looked up at me, smiling. Then, all of a sudden one of them stood up again and flew out of the window. Gradually the others followed. I told my mother the next morning and she said, 'oh darling, what fun.' which annoyed me a bit because it sounded as though she didn't believe me.

A fascinating post, Reya, thank you. The photographs are absolutely wonderful, too.

Pauline said...

Anything is possible, even angels (especially when you're up till all hours of the night and have had a lot of red wine?)

steven said...

hi reya - when i was in high school i had mostly jewish friends. i contemplated conversion but then i thought - "why change one whole house of ideas for another when really i want to pick the bits off of all the big houses and build my own big house?!!" so i muddled through boinging and banging off this and that and gathering together bits of wood, brick, feathers, some ribbon here and some lace there until i had something like a big house that worked for me.
angels have always hovered (can i say that?!) on the fringe of my knowing. i know they are there but not so much how or why. the description you shared of their role feels deeply right to me. i know them as emerging from the unconditional love of all and everything with tasks (yes!) and this is how large scale and very small scale goodness takes place. how rightness is reintroduced to situations where it has been suppressed or simply flown away. so thanks for this reya. thankyou a lot!! beautiful day reya. steven

Reya Mellicker said...

i know them as emerging from the unconditional love of all and everything with tasks (yes!) and this is how large scale and very small scale goodness takes place. how rightness is reintroduced to situations where it has been suppressed or simply flown away.

Well said, Steven. This is my experience of them as well.

I don't "see" them with wings or feathers or gossamer robes, just super bright and super white.

But Barbara, YES I do associate the baby powder smell with them! Wow. I had never thought about that before. Never made the connection. Thank you!!

Rain said...

Great post Reya, I really liked it! Love the photography too!

Angela said...

I have always felt protected by my own guardian angel. I wish she/he would let me see her/him! In our family, there are many angel-encounter stories. An old neighbour lady saw one when my brother had fallen out of the window (at age 6) from our fourth storey. She rushed towards the supposedly dead child, but an angel stood next to him and said, "This boy will live." - And he only stayed in hospital for six weeks and is now 64.
Myself, I felt protected many times. I`m sure there are angels.

Mary said...

Such a beautiful post and wonderful thoughts to start the day. I have always believed in angels but never as having specific tasks involved - I like that. Thanks

Steve said...

Interesting! I didn't know that angels figured into Judaism at all -- I always thought of them as an exclusively Christian idea.

I don't believe in angels as individual entities with the power to make decisions (and hence mistakes). I do believe that there's a lot we can't see or easily perceive, like the energy of beings who were once alive. I think that energy continues to exist in a generalized way, but not as individually as an angel. Does that make sense?

Joanne said...

Beautiful wings, Reya. I love seeing sights like that and feeling calmed by them. I did write about my belief in angels; on my blog sidebar, the Cezanne's Carrot link brings you to the story, if you'd like to take a look.

Barry said...

The clouds are angelic and your insights into the properties of angels was very interesting. I had always thought of angels like God's servants, but with wings. You know, like Michael and Gabriel hanging around in Heaven waiting for a task to perform.

Rebecca Clayton said...

Wow--this is eye-opening for me! My mental pictures of angels are scary or ominous, like the angel with the flaming sword guarding Eden, or wrestling with Jacob. I picture flaming chariots in the sky, and the Last Judgment. Spending all that time with John Milton in college didn't exactly soften my Protestant mental images, either.

Small as a pea, like Tessa's little dancers? I've got to learn more about this. Thanks for the link, Reya. It seems like a great place to start.

the Inner 'I' said...

Hi Reya, I've been following your blog for a little while and love reading it. Today's cloud pix were amazing. I especially like that you sometimes include Jewish content (BTW, Happy New Year to you and wishes for a sweet and joyful and healthy year). Today's post was great - I did NOT know there was any room for angels in Judaism (I guess they didn't teach me that in Hebrew school?)
Regards, Ilene in Baltimore

Raising Raynor, FidosForFreedom's Puppy-ADIT said...

aarrff! worlf! hi! i really really like your blog! i believe in angels too! not too hard, 'cause angels are everywhere! i'm a six month old, Norwegian Buhund puppy, hearing assistance dog in training, living with my puppy raiser in Silver Spring, MD, and i have a blog too! www.raisingraynor4fidosforfreedom.blogspot.com

Linda Sue said...

I love that my eyes are not always dependable- I read "medieval rabbits" and it changed my perception throughout until I thought "wait a minute, that can't be right"...Ok so now I have read it correctly and know that I would LIKE to believe in angels, but one would have to sit on and give me a sandwich me for me to be convinced.

lakeviewer said...

Ah, I happen to love angels, big or little. I never go anywhere without my Guardian Angel.

Barbara Martin said...

Tiny, yes, and this I should have added earlier that I had an experience with the Archangel Michael helping to clean my chakras with a sword. He will assist anyone who asks.

Reya Mellicker said...

Medieval rabbits? That's GREAT!!!

Karen said...

I love love LOVE that film! I need to watch it again... especially because I've done so much spiritual work since the last time I watched it.

I also love the idea of Peter Falk playing himself--an angel who becomes the human actor Peter Falk. There are images from that film absolutely burned into my memory--like the guy who starts to panic when he's crashed his motorcycle, or the angels helping people study in the library, or the angel/human helping the trapeze artist...

Sometimes I tell my students that they need to go to the library if they're studying for an exam or writing a paper because that's where the angels hang out. :)

Washington Cube said...

My angels are my dead.

....And Bruno Ganz made even Hitler seem interesting. Bruno is...amazing.

Washington Cube said...

My angels are my dead.

....And Bruno Ganz made even Hitler seem interesting. Bruno is...amazing.

tam said...

Reya, as ever, you and I are sharing bandwidth. I have been reading a beautiful book called 'The Demon and the Angel - Searching for the Source of Artistic Inspiration' by Edward Hirsch. Spent all weekend on the angels chapters and your post overlays the same material beautifully. Have you read Rilke's Duino Elegies?

Reya Mellicker said...

Tam I haven't, but I'm going to!