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Angels and Memories

Updated: Jan 22, 2019

Some people believe in angels … I’m one of them. I’m not too sure whether everyone has angels or whether, like fairies, they pick and choose their clients.

Do they only hang around believers, or does everyone have a guardian angel and, if so, do they get depressed when you don’t believe in them? Do guardian angels come only when they are summoned, in times of great need, and what do they do when they’re not being guardian angels? Is it only a part-time job and do they take turns, especially on behalf of demanding clients, or is your guardian angel allocated to you for eternity? Does he, or she, choose you, or perhaps do they get allocated a really difficult person as a sort of penance. Were they once human? Will they ever be human again?

Are guardian angels the sort of run-of-the-mill angel, and then the really big jobs are kept for the really important angels. These are named – according to the Book of Enoch in Jewish tradition, as Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Raguel, Ramiel and Sariel. The Roman Catholic church only recognises the names of the first three – the great archangels. However, they do acknowledge that seven angels stand before the throne of God. The Anglicans apparently have adopted Uriel, as well, but Raguel, Ramiel and Sariel are definitely out in the cold.

But take Raguel. Apparently it’s his job to keep an eye on famous people, or luminaries, and call them to account because he is in charge of justice, fairness and vengeance. Do you suppose that Hitler had a guardian angel? When called to account, would the guardian angel have pleaded the case for mercy for his terrible charge, against the wrath of Raguel? The Council of Rome in 745 warned against worshipping “other angels” and Raguel was names as one of the offending angels. I’m sure he called Pope Zachary, who delivered the edit, to account, when he finally eyeballed him.

Ramiel is the angel of hope … he guides human souls to heaven and he is in charge of divine visions. He also acts a bit like Postman Pat, conveying the divine messages to the other angels.

Sariel is known as the angel of death. Like Ramiel, he also, at one time, fell from grace because he “lusted after the daughters of Eve” but he, and the other fallen “Watchers” have been forgiven and received back into a state of grace. Sariel is also known as the angel with the trumpet – quite a character.

Another angel named in Judaic tradition is Metatron. It’s believed he is the angelic form of Noah’s great grandfather, Enoch. The late actor Alan Rickman immortalised him as the voice of God in the film Dogma.

All these angels are portrayed as male. Are there no female angels? Do the male guardian angels hang around when you’re on the loo? Do they look the other way? Do they come when called, and then slope off to accomplish more important things?

When Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce that she was pregnant with Jesus even though she hadn’t ever slept with Joseph, what was she doing? Hanging out the washing? Peeling onions? A frightening thing, to have a full grown male angel appear and say “Hail”.

I’ve heard that some scientists have worked out that if angels have a human form, their chest muscles would need to be enormous to support the massive wings we all imagine, from centuries of imagery.

Perhaps they just get beamed up and down, like Mr Spock, the Vulcan?

I once sent my daughter, Tanya, to a drama club dressed as a Vulcan for a Saturday morning performance. I had, in my costume chest, a pair of Spock-like pointy silver ears and I improvised with witches green fingertips and a cloak. “I’m supposed to fly in” she wailed. “You don’t need to fly, you just say “Beam me up” I said brusquely, as a Star Trekkie fan.

On the day, my husband studied the programme. “They’re doing Robin Hood,” he said tentatively as we perched on plastic chairs. “Do falcons have pointy ears?” “Falcons don’t have ears at all” I retorted. Tanya entered to the sound of a hunting horn. “Summon the King’s Falcon” shouted the page. She flapped mournfully up the aisle between the packed ranks of parents. “I told you, you wouldn’t listen” she said afterwards. I blamed it on her braces.

Times like that you pray for an angel, and that was only a small crisis.

I sometimes think that we all have a good angel on one shoulder and a slightly less preachy one on the other. An angel who knows that it’s also important to have a good time, which can sometimes entail being human, and being imperfect. Feel the naughtiness and do it anyway? Perhaps an angel who themself was once a human? A fallen Watcher.

I once wrote a song for a play called The Alleluia Gate, renamed The GateHouse by the publisher.

What is heaven like, I wonder?

Is there such a place where simple folk like me could simply be

At home? I wonder …

What is heaven like, I wonder?

Is it full of angels singing round a Throne?

Though it’s not my place to moan

I feel I ought to say that

I’ve never like parties

I’m really quite shy

I can’t play the harp or the lute

And I don’t think I could fly so …

What IS heaven like, I wonder?

Is there such a place where I could

See your face again

Take your hand again

And tell you that I miss you

Tell you that I miss you?

Tell you that I’m missing you, my dear old friend.

I think angels are there if we look for them. There was a stone angel who, I’m sure, smiled at me once, as I prayed in Buckfast Abbey, following the death of my husband. My youngest daughter, Sophie, was holding my hand and we were staring at a statue nearby of the Pieta … Mary holding her son, Jesus, in her arms as he was taken down from the cross. As we stood there, a beam of sunlight broke through one of the leaded windows and down the beam fluttered an enormous butterfly, a Red Admiral. “Look, Mummy, Daddy came to say hello,” she said. She was nine at the time. “Do you think Daddy is a butterfly now?” I said gently. “He’s an angel, and angels are like butterflies, aren’t they?” she said. The butterfly settled on the hand of Mary in the sunlight. Beyond, the stone angel seemed to smile. Sophie insisted we go and find my mother. When we got back with her, the sunlight was still streaming, and there was a sweet smell of incense but the butterfly had gone.

1,136 words SUZI CLARK copyright 2016


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