(or Traditional Facts about Heaven and the Angels)
The lore about Heaven and the angels is amazingly consistent across Judaism, Christianity, Islam. Names change and vary, but the same figures keep appearing in different forms. It makes you realise that those three great religious traditions all have the same base, all branches of the same tree!
At the same time, the variations are mind-blowingly complicated within each tradition. There’s no true or final version. An angel who serves God faithfully according to one source will be a devilish follower of Satan in another, for example. All you can do – all I’ve done – is opt for a version that comes up more often than other versions. The angelology I present here as standard has plenty of evidence behind it, but it’s still disputable in almost every detail. But for the sake of simplicity …
Mystical movements and offshoots of the main religious traditions are often the richest sources of angelological information
In Judaism, the semi-secret lore of the Kabbalah (Cabala) reveals countless facts about Heaven and its inhabitants.
Islamic angels are most fully described in Sufi mysticism.
In Christianity, the most detailed accounts occur in:
– the Apocrypha (the not-quite-reliable books which were dropped from the standard Bible)
– the Gnostic tradition (a long-running parallel version of Christianity)
– the Hermetic tradition, associated with Christian Neo-Platonism and alchemy. (Alchemists invoked both angels and demons in their attempts to know and control Nature).
There are many books on angelology nowadays, some very good, some easy popularizations. For myself, I still like the old-style scholarship of Gustav Davidson, A Dictionary of Angels: Including the Fallen Angels.
Here are a few facts of angelology you may not know:
Fact #1: Lucifer is not Satan
‘Lucifer’ means ‘the morning star’, i.e. Venus. Early interpreters thought that the name was being applied to Satan in the Bible, but they misunderstood the reference. It’s actually applied to Nebuchadnezzar. For more on Satan and Hell …
Fact #2: There’s Another Type of Fallen Angel
As well as the angels who followed Satan, there are also the angels who were sent down by God to instruct the children of Adam and Eve. They fell in love with mortal women, engaged in sex and produced offspring. In punishment, they were confined to a secondary Hell or Gehenna in the Northern regions of the Third Heaven. More on this in A Tale of Giants.
Fact #3: Satan Did Not Exist in the Old Testament.
In the Old Testament, there’s a ‘satan’ who serves God in the role of accusing angel. But ‘satan’ is not a name; the word means ‘adversary’, and this satan-angel is merely a kind of Counsel for the Prosecution.
Fact #4: The Number of Angels in Heaven
According to theological calculation, there are 266,613,336 angels in Heaven. Before the Fall of Satan, there were 399,920,004. For the nine Orders of angels …
Interested? Check out the pages below: