Updated with Uriel, my Khaleesi.
There are a lot of things I love – green curry, mythology, a good book when it’s raining outside, next to a cup of tea, in a blanket burrito, tall tall trees – but nothing gets my heart singing like angels. I have always adored the idea of angels since I first learned about them as a preschooler and gravitated towards anything with angels on them – Hallmark cards, children’s bibles, classical artwork, stained glass windows in churches. Whenever I saw them it felt like I was wrapped in a warm blanket of energy, my hairs standing on end and skin buzzing with pure love like electricity. When I was old enough to have imaginary friends, I made mine an angel of lions, destruction, and fire that was a stand-in for the older brother I never had: my best friend, protector, and teacher.
I called him Star after the morning star which to my young eyes, was the brightest thing in the night sky, standing sentinel to the moon. I would sing to him at night and pray to him and tell him my deepest secrets – in dreams we’d play in heaven with other angels, fight demons, and I’d be carried on his back as we flew across the Milky Way. Star stayed with me until I was about twelve in dreams – I remember saying goodbye to him officially when I thought I was too old to write stories about imaginary friends anymore, that I should start believing in “real” gods – too bad I never read about Archangel Ariel – angel of lions, fire, and destruction – whose flip side, as the Demiurge lion-faced serpent, is Samael. Sorry but the Gnostics have been dead for a few thousand years not counting the Cathars. Also this was the nineties-early 2000’s and I was more concerned with playing Pokemon than researching the occult.
Star had an “evil” side like I swear all small children who like explosions make their OCs have. Normal Star had tan skin, with azure blue eyes and platinum hair – his evil side, which in my third grade mind was the embodiment of chaos in the universe I had created, was a spirit of dragons, poison and snakes with porcelain skin, red eyes, and black hair. Right when “Star” exited my dreams he was replaced by a character I named “Samael” that looked suspiciously like his evil side, yet still had the same snark as Star. Pale olive skin, red eyes, long black hair. I was still reeling from the fact a name I’d pulled out of my posterior was real (It’s happened twice, with my characters Samael and Ragnar) and that my computer was for some reason claiming a twelve year old had edited the Lucifer Wikipedia page. This was also the time I had my first vision of an angry ginger angel general who saved my life then thrust me back into my body, so alongside puberty and hair growing in weird places like my armpits, also middle school, life was getting increasingly weird.
After I found out Samael was “real” – as real as a mythological figure can be – I went into denial about angels. I was still a budding pagan, had been since the tender age of seven when I first got my hands on D’aulaires, so I decided that all Abrahamic religions sucked because the Messiah couldn’t be a woman, and hey, if I wasn’t good enough to be the Messiah, then I wasn’t good for anything. I also wanted to be the President at this point and was in my angry feminist phase so anything that stank of the patriarchy – read Bible – I abhored. Still, I devoured Madeliene L’engel’s Wrinkle of Time quartet and fell in love with the angels in those books, from the first to Many Waters, and I continued dreaming of angels and demons who I then wrote about in my stories. Samael took me on crazy adventures only a drunk would take a young teenager on in my dreams, and through them I met the archangels and archdemons.
To me the archdemons are like the drinking buddies you don’t want to be seen with in public – they’re good to party with, but too crazy for day-to-day interactions. The archangels are the opposite – kind, the essence of love and compassion, with hidden quirks and complexities, servants above all to humanity and God. They treat me like a younger sister and I often dream I am a young child playing with them, or that I am in the audience of their Heavenly Council or Michael’s prayer garden. This is a list of the ones I interact the most with, because I’m bored and still have an hour til my train:
Michael: The head honcho and first angel I “officially” met at the age of twelve, barring Auriel and Metatron. I’ve written about my vision of him here. To say he is terrifying is an understatement. Too tall, I see him as Islamic mystics describe him – saffron thread hair, emerald eyes. His wings are white and armor golden with a red sash, blue cloak and fashionable tunica and sandals. This guy reminds me of Thor in that he has muscles on his muscles and basically looks like Hercules. He’s a lot less huggable than Thor and much more a sad plant man who only ever smiles when he is gardening. His voice is like thunder, his faithfulness and steadfast love to God keep Heaven together, and he is the most fearsome being you will encounter on the battlefield whose strength is only matched by Samael’s. I often dream of them fighting or politicking Cold War style minus the whole ping-pong diplomacy portion. Michael is above all a defender – of the innocent, truth, the oppressed, everyone and anyone – your pet, your wife, your child, that sad dandelion that is dying of thirst in a crack in the sidewalk. He cares so deeply about everything that he often times grows weary, but he listens to every single prayer to himself and his Father – every single one. His laugh is rare but the most wonderful sound in the world. So is his smile. Some mystics say he hasn’t smiled since his brothers fell, but that just isn’t true. It’s fast: a small soft quirk of the lips, a crinkle of his ancient eyes, but it’s there. He listens to prayers, and answers every single one of mine in the most unexpected, but beautiful, of ways.
Gabriel: This is more Izzi’s territory, but Gabriel has always been a lighthearted presence in my life. He/she looks nothing like the actor on Supernatural minus the dark brown hair, but they got one thing right: GABRIEL’S MALE ASPECT IS A HUGE ASS TRICKSTER AND FLIRT. He has a smile more devilish than Samael and is one of the few that can make Michael laugh. He’s an angel of water, peace, souls, good cheer and jokes, and messages. Her female aspect to me appears with long blonde hair and is much more maternal, but is vicious on the battlefield – I mean she razes legions of demons with a flick of her saber, she’s that powerful. Gabriel shifts between genders easily and is a very go-with-the-flow guy/gal, at least in my dreams. They often speak in riddles or parables.
Ariel: I get Zadkiel mixed with Ariel and am not unconvinced they are one and the same. Anyways, he’s like my older brother and main defender besides Michael – for some reason he likes to play with hair – like he will literally braid mine and make me a flower crown and I’ll have to tell him to bugger off in dreams because I’m trying to have adventures. He loves children and nature, and is associated with all four elements – I see him mostly around ocean settings and bonfires. He sometimes carries a torch or shoots arrows. He usually wears white or purple robes and has long blond hair like Fabio. Lions are his signature animal and most people apparently see him as a woman, but not me. I get Blond Wonderboy. He’s also a major flirt and is very playful and creative, but don’t piss him off. Then he goes all destructo on your ass.
Uriel: The Khaleesi of my heart, queen of my fangirling, I have known Uriel since I was seven and she has almost always appeared as a woman to me: black and blonde dreadlocks, umber skin, freckles, and hazel eyes. As the Light of God, she is an absolute delight and ball of radiant energy, childish and talkative, but by god do not piss her off, as she is built and trains like an Amazon warrior. She usually favors cyan blue or seafoam robes or exercise gear, and loves beaches, starfish, shells, and anything tropical. To me, she looks Melanesian and her heavenly home reflects that – it is a tropical paradise. I’ve even seen her swimming in a bikini on one of her off days, then practicing on her beach with her most trusted spear. She is very much an earthy angel to me, the element she presides over, extremely grounded, kind, and kind of a pack mother like a wolf, the animal I associate with her. In her own words she is good for bringing friends together, settling disputes, and promoting peace and justice. She always has time to peck you on the cheek or ruffle your hair and will usually treat me like a beloved little sister. She and Ariel are a Hot Item and she is one of the only ones that can make him take things seriously. She is usually spotted in Michael’s company and they are very, very good friends, bringing out a softer side in him not many see. Her male form has golden eyes and looks a bit like Denzel Washington – there I go again with the weird celebrity references. He appears usually around Christmastime in a festive outfit of red and gold and delights in giving gifts to children and snow.
Raphael: I love him so much I’m writing a whole book about him. Raphael is like if sunshine were bottled into a person. Always optimistic, good-humored, loves children, wears bright yellow with a megawatt smile. For some reason to me he looks like Idris Elba. I don’t really know why. Maybe I just like Idris Elba too much and have projected it onto my favorite archangel. He’s the best cook in Heaven and often tells jokes to lighten the mood in angelic councils. I mostly dream I’m a child when I’m with him and he plays with me – we build sand castles, he pulls me in a wagon, we play tag. He will bring out your inner child for sure. Also the best angel to go to if, like me, your toenail falls off and you’re grossed out to the max and want a fast recovery, as he’s the physician of the angels.
Samael: About 50% of this blog is about Bonebutt so I’m not going to say anything except that he is a piece of work, lousy lazy archangel, stinking wino and obsessed with being “cool”
Azrael: In my dreams, the angels call Samael the “Red Reaper” and Azrael, his much kinder counterpart, the “Blue Reaper.” Azrael has two forms: a Grim Reaper form with glowing blue eyes like Discworld death, and this chill Middle Eastern Goth dude that is always reading a book with headphones on. He is soft-spoken, introverted, calm, peaceful, and endless like the depths of the ocean. For some reason he also likes baseball – as in he has taken me to baseball matches in dreams. I wonder if it’s an Angel of Death thing because Samael just has this thing for baseball too. Anyways, Azrael likes to stay out of the spotlight, in the shadow, and chill. He won’t directly come up to you at a party or whatever but is very witty if you talk to him. He’s a loner for sure, but one of the kindest angels ever.
Raguel: I’ve only seen him once in passing and got this overwhelming sense of peace and compassion. He had long chestnut hair and was dressed in a gold robe with Roman sandals, carrying a Very Important Book. I don’t know if it was the Book of Life or not, but he was in a hurry to get somewhere that was also probably Very Important.
Metatron: Best for last. The grandpa of the angels. I’ve known this dude since I was like seven. I called him the President of the angels because he ran Heaven and drank a lot of tea and was always doing paperwork. Ain’t nothing Metatron loves more than entertaining children’s precocious questions and tea. Black tea, specifically, with cream and sugar. He stirs it a lot when he’s doing Very Important Paperwork and sometimes accidentally spills it. He is easily distracted as he gets so absorbed in the topic at hand. He presides over angelic councils and I swear he’s the only one that can make Samael behave, or at least shut up for a period of five minutes max. Also for some reason to me he looks like Elrond. Like circlet, receding hairline, everything. I don’t know if that’s as weird as Raphael looking like Idris Elba but whatever. He’s very good-humored and very much the elderly British gentleman – obsessed with genteel good manners, likes gardening and formalities, and above all, order. He can get flustered easily but if he is serious about gaining control of situation, AIN’T NOTHING STANDING IN HIS WAY.
I’ve met lots of other angels in dreams but these are the archangels I know best. Heaven is like one big bureaucracy, whereas Hell is kinda like if society collapsed into this endless apocalyptic orgy. I still don’t know which place I like better.