In artistic renderings of angels, three characteristics are frequently pictured. The first is of course that angels have wings. When we think of the earthly creatures that have wings, the birds, we realize that they inhabit a sphere above the earth, the airy regions. They live in a world of light and uplift not limited by earthly gravity. Picturing angels as having wings is an artistic way of saying that angels, too, are not bound to the earthly. They are limitless; they live in expanses. They live with the world of eternity at their backs.
Another characteristic is described in Ezekiel 10:12. It is a mighty description of great angelic beings covered in eyes. Therefore angels’ wings are sometimes artistically rendered as having eyes on them, often by portraying their wings covered in peacock feathers. Eyes convey consciousness. Angels take things in, into a awareness that is broader, brighter, clearer, purer and more transparent than human consciousness. Eyes also shine forth: the gaze of an angel radiates love and recognition.
A third artistic motif used in picturing angels is to depict them as musicians. A good piece of music opens up heaven for us. In music, spiritual creative forces permeate space. Music tunes and harmonizes souls; it helps ensoul and spiritualize a community. Music helps tune souls to one another. These three motifs, wings, eyes and music, can help us to understand the relationship between the human and the angelic realms.
The lowest of the nine angelic choirs, the angels, are the ones closest to the human realm. Angels are intimately connected with individual human beings. We each have an angel assigned to us, a guardian angel, who accompanies us along our paths through lifetimes. The following poem by Rose Auslander conveys something of the mood of our relationship to our angel:
The angel in you
Weeps over your darkness
Out of his wings whisper
Words of love
Poems, tender affection.
He watches over
Direct your step
Our angel’s ‘wings’ give it the overview that it is not possible for us earthbound human beings to have. The angel’s ‘eyes’, angelic consciousness, see, take in, and remember everything for us. Our angel can remember what we have been and who we want to be. Our angel is the carrier of our higher, future self. Angelic consciousness is, like that of a chess player, able to anticipate the results of our moves. Angels listen especially to our thoughts. To become aware of one’s angel is to feel oneself to be heard and watched, seen and recognized. Our angel’s eyes radiate toward us love and recognition of our true being. They encourage us, strengthen us, comfort us.
We could also call our guardian angel the musical director in our lives. Together with God and our angel, we have decided what our life, our piece of music shall be. Will it be a simple folk melody? Will it be a light-hearted piece? A tragic symphony? Our angel sees to it that the events and the people we are to meet – the instruments, so to speak, that we need to make our music – are presented at the proper time. Our angel helps orchestrate the events of our lives.
But our angel and the divine spiritual world have given all of us a particularly precious and important gift – our freedom. Nothing is determined. Opportunities are presented to us. Angels may gently suggest through inspirations, thoughts, atmospheres, will impulses. But whether we respond or not, and how we respond, is entirely up to us. How we play our life’s music is our choice.
To the guardian angels themselves, however, this connection with the human realm is not a matter of indifference; for the guardian angels have bound their destiny to ours. They have existentially connected themselves to us. They not only walk with us but they have connected themselves with our thoughts, our feelings, our will, at great danger and possibly great pain to themselves. They have devoted their being to ours. Our destiny is their destiny. Human truth, beauty and goodness, as well as human passion and darkness reach up into the spiritual world through our angel.
An Angel Speaks
O if you knew how your countenance
is changed, when in the midst
of that pure gaze which can unite you with me
Your hold upon yourself is lost
And you turn away.
Just as a landscape in clear light
May suddenly cloud over, do you close
Yourself against me, and I have to wait
And wait in silence, often long.
And if I were like you a human being
The pain of disdained love would kill me.
But since the Father has given me unending patience
I wait for you unshaken
and expectant, whenever it may be you come.
And even this gentle reproach
Take not as reproach—only as a pure message.
How can we strengthen our connection with our own angel? How can we work in concert with our own guardian?
Our angels are particularly interested in our thoughts—not just those will-o-the-wisps that flit unbidden through the halls of our minds but especially the thoughts we are able to generate voluntarily. Following the eight-fold path that Buddha laid out is one step toward working with our angel. It requires that we stop and think and that we generate a right thought, from the right view. It helps us think of the right words, perfom the right actions. It helps us choose a right livelihood, make the proper effort. It encourages the right sort of mindfulness and concentration. In short, this eightfold path requires that we exercise thought in our everyday lives. This path is an exercise in thinking, in walking through the day with our angel. It is a way of ‘directing our steps angelwards’. Behind these thoughts stands the following idea:
Through my earth-days, watchful angel,
Thankfully I feel your presence
Knower of my destiny.
When I listen, you are helping.
When I move, your strength is with me:
Birth and death alike you show
Mighty doorways for my spirit—
Never lost, never forgotten
Held before your holy vision
Faithful, patient, hopeful angel.
We can also connect more easily with our angel when the realm of feeling is tranquil. Every quieting of feelings of irritation or anger or envy creates space for our angel’s clarity of conscious and overview to enter our souls. Of help might be the following calming thought, recalled at bedtime:
I go to sleep.
Until I awaken my soul will be in the spiritual world.
There it will meet with the guiding power of my earthly life
That is there in the spiritual world
And which hovers round my head –
There my soul will meet my angel.
And when I awaken
I will have had the meeting with my angel;
My angel’s wings will have touched my soul.
Another way to connect with one’s angel is through prayer or meditation. Everything done in tranquil prayer or meditation, all religious practice, helps us to work with our angels. We can also broaden the effectiveness of our work with our angel in our prayers for others:
Spirit of his soul, effective Guardian,
May your wings convey
My soul’s petitioning love
To this human of earth
Entrusted to Thy care,
So that, united with Thy power,
My prayer may radiate helpfully
To the soul it seeks in love.
Or the following from Adam Bittleston:
Thou angel who keepest watch
Over the destiny of . . .
Through waking and sleeping
And the long ages of time:
May my thoughts, filled with hope,
Reach to him/her through thee.
May s/he be strengthened
From the founts of will
Which bear us towards freedom.
May s/he be illumined
From the founts of wisdom
Which warm the inmost heart.
May s/he feel peace
From the founts of love
Which bless men’s work.
Our angels are particularly connected to us in the sacraments. There is a heavenly altar and a heavenly cultus that is always ongoing. “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne… The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” Revelation 5:8 “….After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” Revelation 7:8-10 “….Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand.” Revelation 8:2-5
The Christ Lamb is continuously making His offering. From the being of Christ there issues forth a continuous and everlasting stream of love, devotion, and grace out into the world. This is His offering. Each of the nine angelic choirs, starting with the angels, continuously makes their own offering of love and devotion, which streams upward to join with those beings above them toward the Lamb. Multitudes of human beings in white robes also participate.
The earthly divine service is an image and imprint of the heavenly. The heavenly offering service plays out on the earth when human beings open themselves to it. This is what our angels are working toward – the weaving together of what streams forth from the Christ Lamb’s offering, weaving it into the future of humankind. The angelic world created the heavenly cultus. The Act of Consecration of Man is an image of it; it is a vessel that human beings can dip into and draw out spiritual substance that can flow into the earthly.
The guardian angels of individual destinies draw closer during the Act of Consecration of Man because they are particularly interested in these moments of quiet prayer, of thoughtful contemplation, especially within the divine service. The result is that during the Act of Consecration of Man, human beings are strengthened by the approach of their angel. Furthermore, the individual’s guardian angel itself becomes stronger, more radiant through what lives in the human being during the sacrament.
There are also angels who have grown into the larger task of being responsible not only for individuals but also for groups of people who come together, not out of national or family connections, but simply because they voluntarily want to. They are the angels of the communities.
These angels are a little higher, a little closer to the working of Christ. Christ holds the stars of the angels of the communities in his right hand. These radiant angels live in the Act of Consecration of Man and the sacraments and strengthen them. They lead hearts and thoughts to a higher unity, to something that can be more powerful than what any single individual can generate. The sum becomes greater than the parts. As individuals we can open not only to our own guardian angel but also to the angel of the community.
Our own guardian angel is our messenger from the heavenly realms. It brings us the message of unending love. It waits for us to open, to respond. They and all the angels hope that we will join in their offering song to the Christ Lamb.
* This article appears in the December 2012 – February 2013 issue of Perspectives, the Journal of The Christian Community. For information about Perspectives and to subscribe click here.
Angels, several lectures by Rudolf Steiner, (Steinerbooks)
Guardian Angel, (Steinerbooks), Rudolf Steiner
Angels in the Light of Spiritual Science, self-published by Richard Lewis.
Our Spiritual Companions, by Adam Bittleston, (Floris Books),
Mensch und Engel (Man and Angel), by Hans Werner Schroeder (Urachhaus, not yet translated into English).
Angels in my Hair, Lorna Byrne, Three Rivers Press
Stairways to Heaven, Lorna Byrne, Coronet
A Message of Hope From the Angels, Lorna Byrne
 From lowest to highest: Angels, Archangels, Archai, Revealers, World Powers, World Guides, Thrones, Cherubim, Seraphim.
 Christian Morgenstern, “An Angel Speaks”, translator unknown.
Adam Bittleston, “Angel” in A Window into Worlds
 Adam Bittleston, in Meditative Prayers for Today