Are angels real?
Countless times, when I was a child, she recited the gentle prayer by my
bed: “Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom His love commits me here…” The
blurry memories of my first devotions always bring me the image of my mother,
by my bed, blessing and wishing me a peaceful sleep. Did I believe then in
angels? Certainly! My mother, with much love, seeded them in my head and there
they remained for many years. With much curiosity, I even studied the winged
beings in my teenage years.
I learned then that there were many kinds of angels; that archangels,
cherubim and seraphim were of a higher rank; that their names usually ended in
'el' (Gabriel, Michael, Raphael…); that Gabriel was Jewish in the Torah,
Christian in the annunciation to Mary, and Muslim when he dictated the Koran;
that, except for cherubim and seraphim, angels were not supposed to have wings
until sometime in the fourth century a. C. when a few painters started to add
They also taught me in school that there were good angels (Gabriel and
his comrades) and evil angels (Lucifer and his demons), and that good angels
were toward our right hand while the bad ones stayed to the left. (A fascist
probably established this sorting: The good people -conservatives,
traditionalists, capitalists, theists- are always to the right; the bad ones
-socialists, secularists, anarchists, atheists- are to the left).
Who are the angels? Angels are supernatural beings of the Abrahamic
religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) that, after the innovation of
Jewish monotheism three millennia ago, replaced, I think, the countless deities
that existed in the cults of that time. The replacing lower 'deities', it is
also my theory, 'survived' the divine downsizing to become sacred
intermediaries between the heavenly Lord and the earthly humans. The word
'angel', in fact, originates from the Latin "angelus" which means
"messenger of God".
Leaving aside far-off traditions and my modern speculations, do angels
exist? As it happens with all metaphysical beings, angels are real for their
believers. According to a survey by the Center for Religious Studies at Baylor
University in Texas, more than half of Americans have received help from their
guardian angel at least once in their lives. In other studies, 75 percent of
North Americans (gringos and Canadians altogether) and around 85 percent of
Asian and African Muslims are convinced of the existence of their corresponding
What happens in Latin America? I could not get figures for this region. I
must emphasize, however, that south of the Rio Grande a lucrative profession of
‘brokers of brokers’ has emerged, that is, earthly specialists that connect us
to the heavenly messengers who, in turn, talk to God. There is a clear duplication
of duties in this intervention. However, considering the recognition these
worldly agents have gained and the high rates they charge, it is evident that
in Central and South America the winged creatures are as popular as soccer
Why do we believe in angels? When we open the mind to metaphysics, reason
stops; all kind of beliefs, be it spirits, apparitions, astrology,
clairvoyance, telepathy or telekinesis, enter our heads. Our predisposition to
the ethereal seeded and developed by the culture in which we grow, transforms
common logic in a different way of thinking, for which sound assertions and
rigorous deductions do not longer apply. Our subconscious projects out the
entities of our unfounded faith and we then may see, hear or perceive the associated phenomena.
We cannot get out of absurdity with arguments. "You cannot reason a
person out of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place,"
wrote Irish writer Jonathan Swift. Only the impartial and detached observation
of the contents of our mind and the roots of what is sown in it will allow us
to see reality.
Am I still devotee to angels? Not anymore. However, I did not have to
rationally stop such belief, I did not have to take thoughtful ruminated decisions
to remove them from my head, I did not have to throw angels away; they went off
spontaneously. After silencing the mental noises that were so immersed in my
redundant ego, Los Angeles in California are about the only ‘angels’ that still
remain in my brain.
Houston, November 3, 2014