Search Results for Fallen Angels
In the popular sense of the term, the idea of the fallen angel denotes something gone wrong with a person or with a purely spiritual being who freely chooses to reject and, therefore, oppose God’s will.
Myths, stories and artistic representations about fallen angels abound. John Milton (1608 – 1674) in Paradise Lost imagines legions of Satanic angels who rebel against God. Massive wars break out, and St. Michael leads the Lord’s Angels, who must overcome ingenious contraptions built by Satan and his fallen army. While St. Michael is prominent in the battle, the final victory is reserved for Christ. So St. Michael stands aside as Jesus defeats the evil army.
Traditionally, we find the notion of the fallen angel in Jewish and Christian lore, and some argue that a very similar idea is found in Hinduism. For in Hinduism the asuras are described as benevolent spiritual beings in the Vedas that devolve in subsequent Hindu scripture to become demons.
In Islam the personification of evil is Shaytan. In the Koran God commands Iblis to bow down before Adam and serve mankind but through his pride Iblis refuses. God allows Iblis to tempt mankind until Judgement Day, at which time he will be cast into hell. In Islamic thought Iblis is often seen as the master jinn, the head of demons allowed to torment humanity. But there is no concept of the “fallen angel” in the Islamic tradition.
To this coolguymuslim adds:
There is no such thing as a fallen angel in Islam. No doubt, in Islam, Iblis a.k.a. Satan is a jinn and he is most evil. However at the same time, he never is nor was an angel. Angels in Islam do not have free will and they cannot disobey God. In terms of Iblis, he used to be a rightous slave of God so much so that he was elevated to the level of angels before he refused to bow down, however, he was never an angel. Jinn, on the other hand, do possess free will and there are good and evil jinn just as there are good and evil humans.¹
Some believe that the powerful “Sons of Man” mentioned in the Old Testament are Fallen Angels. And some contemporary writers believe that aliens are really fallen angels (while others say they are not).
In the fictional Star Wars films, fallen Jedi - like Darth Vader – could be taken as a rough parallel to the idea of fallen angels, mostly because both good and “dark side” Jedi possess paranormal powers and psychic abilities.
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Angels (Greek angelos or aggelos = messenger).The Old and New Testaments of the Bible make considerable reference to angels, which are regarded as divine messengers.
Around the sixth-century CE Dionysus the Areopagite’s The Celestial Hierarchy outlined three groups of hierarchically arranged angels.
Angels are mentioned in the Jewish Kabbala as inhabiting seven heavenly halls.
Both the Jewish and Christian (especially Catholic and Baptist) view differentiates angels from gods–angels are never worshipped in themselves.
This difference is sometimes questioned because some gods, for example in the Zoroastrian Avesta or the Hindu pantheon, are worshipped as deities subservient to or representing a single God.
Even so, one may rightly ask if the character and function of angels and gods are identical.
Mystically inclined Christians tend to believe that angels are slightly more dignified than human beings, as outlined in the Old Testament:
What is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:6-8 NIV).
Gnostics on the other hand generally regard human beings as more honorable than angels. For Gnostics, angels serve God by serving humanity.
Jewish apocalyptic literature tells the story of the fall of Satan – the author of all lies and master of evil – and his dark angels in terms of their unwillingness to humble themselves before mankind.
Jesus sees Satan fall in the New Testament:
I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning” (Luke 10:18).
Contemporary views of angels, however, take a different tone. Some suggest that the warm, loving presence of angelic beings can be felt in every part of the body, almost like a romantic, sensual relationship.
This idea is found in the 19th century novel Ardath: The Story of a Dead Self by Marie Corelli (1889):
And by and by, as each mellifluous stanza sounded softly on his ears, a strangely solemn tranquility swept over him,–a most soothing halcyon calm, as though some passing angel’s hand had touched his brow in benediction…Ah! ’tis a glittering pathway in the skies whereon men and the angels meet and know each other! …she stretched out her hands toward him: “Speak to me, dearest one!” she murmured wistfully–”Tell me,–am I welcome?” “O exquisite humility!–O beautiful maiden-timid hesitation! Was she,–even she, God’s Angel, so far removed from pride, as to be uncertain of her lover’s reception of such a gift of love? Roused from his half-swooning sense of wonder, he caught those gentle hands, and laid them tenderly against his breast,–tremblingly, and all devoutly, he drew the lovely, yielding form into his arms, close to his heart,–with dazzled sight he gazed down into that pure, perfect face, those clear and holy eyes shining like new- created stars beneath the soft cloud of clustering fair hair!
And yet Corelli also mentions the stunning beauty of evil angels:
His countenance, darkly threatening and defiant, was yet beautiful with the evil beauty of a rebellious and fallen angel.
Traditionally, the good angel is not worshipped in itself but is loved as one of God’s created beings.
As for the notion that angels and aliens are two different cultural representations of the same basic essence, the American evangelist Billy Graham, among others, insists that angels and aliens are entirely different.
Throughout history many believe they have been guided by a guardian angel.
St. Basil writes,
Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life (Cited in Catholic Catechism, par 336).
The philosopher Leibniz (1646 – 1716) claimed that angels communicate with a universal language, and began to develop a universal symbolic language which would help human beings communicate among universities.†
The Roman Catholic catechism doesn’t place too much emphasis on angels but does affirm their existence as servants of both God and man.
From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care
and intercession (Catholic Catechism, par 336).
Glorifying God, Catholic angels are said to be spiritual powers whose perfection – in contrast to Gnostic belief – surpasses that of human beings.
Created by God, Catholic angels are inferior to Christ and the prophets but nearer to God, making them higher than human beings.
Christianity, Judaism and Islam all uphold Michael and Gabriel as important angels. » Archangel, Cherubim, Fallen Angels, Principalities, Seraphim.
† Geert Lovink says “Leibniz also philosophized about a computer based on a binary numerical system. In 1679 he wrote, ”Despite its length, the binary system, in other words counting with 0 and 1, is scientifically the most fundamental system, and leads to new discoveries. When numbers are reduced to 0 and 1, a beautiful order prevails everywhere” (See “The Archeology of Computer Assemblage” 1992 at http://www.mediamatic.net/article-8664-en.html).
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Most religious and mythological traditions attest to the reality of demons. For the most part, demons are regarded as dark, evil spiritual beings whose sole purpose is to wreak havoc on individuals and the world.
In Hinduism, demons appear in the Puranas as Rakshakas (evil beings capable of shape-shifting) and tramp souls. Also in Hinduism the, at one time, god-like asuras of the Vedas devolve into demonic spirit beings which, the mystic Sri Aurobindo says, try to place false and harmful ideas into the minds of impressionable, vulnerable human beings.
In Tibetan Buddhism, immediately after a person dies a priest reads the Tibetan Book of the Dead aloud over the dead body, instructing the departed soul how to avoid different spiritual lights and deceptions that demonic beings use to try to trick the deceased into falling into another earthly incarnation. And Mahayana Buddhism portrays many hells, each presided over by horrific entities
In China demons are thought to be able to inhabit dead bodies and haunt various places, both inside and out.
Demons in China… are capable of animating dead bodies, haunting cemeteries, cross roads, and the homes of relatives. Some live in Hades…others inhabit the air. Many are hungry ghosts, the spirits of those who have had no proper burial or who have no decendants to feed them sacrifices.¹
Traditional Roman Catholicism doesn’t envision the demon in terms of a psychoanalytic, physiological id or Jungian shadow archetype, as is fashionable in some circles today. Instead, traditional Catholicism makes no bones about the belief in demons. The Prayer Against Satan and The Rebellious Angels, published in 1961 by order of H. H. Pope Leo XIII refers to various “spirits of wickedness,” “diabolical legions” and “infernal invaders” that are to be driven away with the help of this solemn prayer.
Contemporary Catholicism, however, is incorporating secular and psychiatric perspectives on demons, but arguably in a clunky manner that seems to conform to ancient and medieval styles of analyzing issues. This shouldn’t be surprising as certain aspects of Catholic theological discourse borrow from Aristotelian and Thomist analytical categories and modes of analysis. And as history suggests, deeply entrenched patterns of thought and practice usually take time to be positively redirected.
In secular society alleged demons are often described as nothing more than a product of the imagination, hallucinations, an arrested or disturbed personality, mutated chromosomes, or the much debated idea of chemical imbalances. Along these lines the Catholic Catechism makes a sharp distinction between “the presence of the Evil One,” on the one hand, and current understandings of mental illness on the other:
The solemn exorcism, called “a major exorcism,” can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop. The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules established by the Church. Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.²
In contrast to the arguably underdeveloped either/or perspective outlined above, a more productive and responsible approach would intelligently consider different perspectives — physiological, psychological, cultural, transpersonal and spiritual — using as many of the analytical tools that are available to us in the 21st century.
Having said that, we should also keep in mind the very real possibility that God could permit a fundamentally good and ‘well adjusted’ person to be afflicted by evil, as we find, for instance, in the Old Testament Book of Job.
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¹ S. G. F. Brandon, A Dictionary of Comparative Religion, 1971, p. 230.
² Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1673.
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Hinduism is the main religion of India, having evolved over several thousand years.
It has no creed nor firm institutional structure, although the belief in reincarnation runs through almost every form of Hinduism.
Instead of revering one holy book like the Bible or the Koran, Hinduism relies on a variety of sacred scriptures. The oldest are the Vedas (1500-1200 BCE), with the Rig-Veda being prominent among them.
Later, the dharma sutras and dharma shastras appear (500 BCE – 500 CE). These ancient codes of conduct, numbering over 5,000 separate titles, were composed in Sanskrit. They spell out rules and regulations for a wide variety of situations. And they legitimized the caste system and the ideal Hindu stages of life (asrama). They were legally binding in India until contrary legislation appeared in 1955-56.
The Upanisads (1000-600 BCE) are an introspective set of scriptures dealing with the eternal self and its relation to temporal life.
Also important are the two epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata. While the Bhagavad-Gita belongs within the Mahabharata, most scholars believe it is was added later to the epic, crystallizing various strands of existing Hindu belief.
The most important gods of the Trimurti (Skt. = three forms, sometimes loosely translated as “Trinity”) are Brahma (Creator), Vishnu (Preserver) and Siva (Destroyer and Cosmic Dancer). But many other deities, called avatars, and their consorts are privately and publicly worshipped (e.g., Krishna-Radha, Hanuman, Ganesha, Kali).
In some strands of Hinduism the Buddha is believed to be a demonic avatar. This is probably because Buddha’s teaching challenged the Hindu priestly and caste traditions.
From the 1800′s, the Indian gurus Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekenanda, Sai Baba, Sri Aurobindo, Paramahansa Yogananda and Sri Rajneesh have been prominent. Meanwhile the Indian poet, dramatist and musician Rabindranath Tagore pioneered an innovative, internationally based ashram-style university at Santiniketan and Mohandas Gandhi, who championed the Bhagavad-Gita, has been internationally known as a key political and spiritual figure.
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Islam [Arabic: surrender] is the religion of Muslims, based on the text of the Koran (or Qur’an).
Islam contains 5 pillars of fundamental belief and practice:
- Ash-Shahada – the belief in only one God.
- Salat – daily prayer, with body facing Mecca, taking place at sunrise, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and nighttime.
- Sawm – fasting that is obligatory at puberty and also during the 9th month of the Islamic year (Ramadan), believed to be the period when the Koran was written. Eating and drinking is prohibited from dawn to sunset during Ramadan.
- Zakat - giving alms to the less fortunate, the amount being 2.5% of one’s total income.
- Hajj – the pilgrimage to Mecca that all Moslems are obliged to take at least once in a lifetime. Hajj ideally is taken on the eighth day of the twelfth month of the Islamic year.
The Sunni branch of Islam is comprised of about 85% of contemporary Muslims and is often regarded as orthodox form of this religion.
The Shi’ite branch, mostly in Iran, Persia and partly in Iraq, represent about 10% of today’s Muslims.
Historically speaking, the Shi’ites and Sunnis split over a disagreement about the legitimacy of Mohammad’s successors (Caliphs)—not entirely unlike the Protestant refusal to recognize the authority of the Catholic Papacy.
The mystically based, unorthodox branch of Sufism arose partly as a reaction to the beliefs and standardized practices of orthodox Islam. In response, aspects of orthodox Islam have been critical of Sufism, especially in regard to the Sufi belief that a person can be “one” with God.
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John Milton (1608-74) was one of the great English poets, surpassed in acclaim only by William Shakespeare.
Unlike Shakespeare, who was not affiliated with a university, Milton was educated at Cambridge and went on to become a prominent European gentleman and man of letters.
His Aeropagata on Education argues for freedom of the press and reveals his many friendly contacts with European notables-that is, persons of societal rank and so-called culture.
A Puritan, Milton became entirely blind in 1651 but later in 1667 wrote his well-known classic, Paradise Lost.
Paradise Lost includes Milton’s imaginative view of the events precipitating the original sin of Adam and Eve. The first part of the epic deals with Satan’s estrangement from God. The second portrays Satan’s arrival on Earth with legions of bellicose minions. The final portion deals with the temptation in the Garden of Eden.
Milton gave a great deal of thought to the work, considering various classical and even Arthurian texts before setting on the finished version. His general rule in writing was to use universally understood motifs. But the considerable erudition embedded within his verse demands explanatory notes for most readers.
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St. Michael is one of the four archangels in the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions. He’s generally regarded as a militant leader for God’s heavenly army against Satan and the spiritual powers of evil.
A popular Catholic prayer, the St. Michael Prayer, is addressed to him for protection from darkness and deception:
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
The prayer is said to have been written by Pope Leo XIII who, falling into a swoon while in a conference with the Cardinals, had a vision of the (Catholic) Church besieged by demons but victoriously defended by Michael and the heavenly host.
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One definition of the word spirit points to an incorporeal being which may not be seen, as compared to a ‘ghost’ which allegedly is seen by a living person.
Spirit has several other meanings, such as an animating or vital force within life, the soul or some some kind of invisible force or presence that permeates the created universe.
Spirit arguably becomes an ambiguous concept if assessed merely from a conceptual level of analysis.
Many New Age thinkers, for instance, equate the notion of spirit with that of matter/energy. This is a dubious analog when we consider Rudolf Otto and C. G. Jung‘s treatment of the term numinosity and, moreover, the Christian understanding of The Holy Spirit.
It almost seems as if those who haven’t experienced any difference between the perception of matter/energy and spirit tend to automatically equate the two, just as one might equate any seemingly similar variables without having had a significantly direct experience of them.
By way of analogy, if one had never drunk white wine they might look at its color, recognize it as a liquid and say white wine is equivalent to apple juice or perhaps urine. And so it is, many mystics content, with the experience of spirit. Those who know, they claim, realize that spirit’s character may vary significantly, not only because spirit is passing through psychological and cultural filters, but also because of the differences inherent to spirit itself.
Since the experience of ‘the spirit’ may be associated with a ‘particular spirit,’ as in the opening definition, we have the notion of ‘pure and impure,’ ‘holy and unholy,’ ‘good and evil’ spirits, along with their respective abilities to influence human beings for good or ill.
This tremendous diversity as to the meaning of spirit is not just found in Christianity but in most world religions. But again, some well-meaning but arguably unknowing individuals tend to simplify this diversity by making unsupportable claims, as did Sri Ramakrishna, that all paths involve the same type of spirit, lead to the same place, and so on.
This may have been Ramakrishna’s belief when dabbling in different religions from his master perspective of Hinduism but it certainly isn’t everyone’s.
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Aurobindo took the bellicose message of the Bhagavad Gita – that Arjuna must fight to fulfil his apparently holy duty – very seriously.
Sri Aurobindo constructed explosive bombs in a Calcutta home while resisting the British in India.
Placed in jail, he began a difficult spiritual path, culminating in his unique views and the founding of an ashram at the French settlement of Pondicherry, India.
His “integral yoga” aims to infuse what he believes is the highest “supramental” level of reality into the lowest, physical and “subconcient” level of physical existence.
Aurobindo apparently mysically foresaw his future spiritual partner, the French woman Mirra Alfassa, while she was residing in France, and well before she arrived in India, where she was renamed “The Mother.”
After establishing the ashram in Pondicherry, Aurobindo became increasingly in need of solitary meditation and eventually stopped appearing before gathered disciples (darshan).
He translated and wrote extensively on Hindu scriptures, expounded his ideas in works like The Life Divine and composed poetry such as Savitri.
Unlike Plato, Aurobindo believed that poetry is the best medium for communicating spiritual ideas.
In The Riddle of this World he tried to answer central religious problems (such as the existence of evil) and wrote about several different types of evil beings (asuras) whose sole intent apparently is to torment, confuse and detain those on a spiritual quest towards the allegedly highest, supramental level of awareness.
Aurobindo says an intermediary state, a midpoint between mundane imperfect and sacred true knowledge, exists in which
“one may go astray…follow false voices…that ends in spiritual disaster.”
These voices arise from the imperfect guidance of
“little Gods…[or from] the well-known danger of actually hostile beings whose sole purpose is to create confusion, falsehood, corruption”
(Aurobindo Ghose, The Riddle of This World, Calcutta: Arya Publishing House, 1933, pp. 56-57).
Aurobindo claims to have been divinely provided with funds for his spiritual duty but added that the Lord has a “maddening habit” of waiting until the last moment before providing for one’s needs.
He also believed that he helped the Allies win WW-II by virtue of his meditative intercession.
The ashram book publisher, Sabda, prints and binds Aurobindo’s writings.
Some of his contemporary followers reside in Auroville, an experimental town lying just outside of Pondicherry.
Lonely Planet’s TV host Justine Shapiro visited Auroville and seemed to imply that it was a haven for foreigners seeking enlightenment while exploiting local laborers.
On visiting the Sri Aurobindo ashram the author of this entry was asked to follow the Indian custom of removing one’s sandals at the entrance.
On returning to the ashram entrance at the end of his visit, he found that his sandals had disappeared.
Riding a bicycle barefoot back to his hotel made him realize the huge gulf existing in India between those who do and do not have shoes–perhaps the most important spiritual lesson learned that day. » Asura, Auroville, Clairaudience, Demons, Fallen Angels, Guru, Hinduism, Intercession, Jnana-yoga, Kabbala, Numinous, Pollution, Psychic Spies, Spiritual Attack, Underhill (Evelyn), Yoga
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The fire doesn’t consume the bush, and when the supernatural being speaks, its voice is likened to that of God’s.
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight-why the bush does not burn up.” When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am” (Exodus 3:1-4 NIV)
Another reference to the burning bush is made in Deuteronomy 33:16 where God is described as “him who dwelt in the burning bush” (NIV).
Just what happened here is a matter of much theological debate. Does God as the Holy Spirit speak to Moses? Or was it some other angel (i.e. messenger) of God?
Moreover, some take this story literally, others see it as myth and a third interpretation sees it as a combination of fact and fiction. » Angels, Fallen Angels
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