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In many western religions, Angels are supernatural beings who act as the messagers of God and/or inhabitants of Heaven or similar utopian worlds.  They are benevolent and celestial individuals who often times guide and protect humans though their lives and prevent them from being corrupted by evil.  Angels are often depicted as the good counterparts to demons (or devils).

Origin

Judaism

Judaism was one of, if not the first religion to establish the existence of "messagers of god" or "holy ones".  Daniel mentions several angels by name such as Gabriel (God's primary messanger), Michael (the holy fighter who primary fights demons), Raphael (the Healer), and Uriel (the angel that guides mortals to the afterlife in heaven).  This religion also established a hierarchy that list the ranks of angels.

Christianity

Christianity largely inherited many of the aspects of angels that Judaism had many centuries earlier, describing them as messangers of god who protect humans from evil.  In the New Testament, several angels play a major role, in one section, Archangel Gabriel meeting the Virgin Mary during an event known in the bible as the Annunciation, where he forshadows the birth of Jesus Christ.  An angel is also depicted as being present during the birth of Christ at the Navtivity.

As Jesus becomes a young man, Angels make numerous appearances, such as comforting Jesus at the garden, and after his initial death by crucifixation, one appears at Jesus's tomb announcing that the tomb is empty and that he has been resurrected and ascended into Heaven.

Islam

Like the previous Abrahamic incarnations of angels, in Islam, angels take on supernatural appearances that often act as messagers of God, and are occassionally mentioned by name.  

The belief that Angels exist is a fundamental concept in the religion.

Description

Angels are often depicted as being human in appearance and possessing large, white wings, which allow them to fly between Heaven and the Earth.  They often wear clothing that is primarily white, symbolizing purity and are either barefoot or wear sandals.  Many angels give off a halo-like glow and some are depicted as having halos over or around their head.

Many angels are assigned to different tasks, such as sending messages to and from Heaven and Earth, fighting evil, and protecting humans from danger.

Different types of angels have appeared in religous texts and cultures:

  • Archangels are the highest ranking angels in Heaven, who are tasked with the most essential jobs, these individuals include Gabriel. Michael, Raphael, and Uriel.
  • Guardian Angels are special angels assigned to protect specific humans on Earth.  These types of angels guard humans from evil influences and are often the ones attributed to miracles in which human's lives were saved from certain death.
  • Fallen Angels are darker type of angel that has been expelled from heaven for various reasons (such as committed evil actions against God's will), many (though not all) of these angels become demons/devils and desend into hell at some point.  In many incarnations, Satan is often described as one of these types of angels.

Popular Culture

Various Angels have appeared in media.

In the television series Supernatural, many of the show's heroes (such as Gabriel and Bathazar) are in act angels, with some posessing the names of angels from religious text.

The game Kid Icarus features Pit, an angel who is trapped within the Underworld and escapes following the contact for help by Palutena to defeat Medusa and save Skyworld.  Icarus possess numerous abilities attributed to both Angels and Cherubs, such as wielding a bow as his primary weapon (which he can use to convert into twin blades for close combat) and the ability to fly.

In the Diablo series, the Archangel Tyrael was originally the Archangel of Justice, who cares about the well-being of humans and protects them with his life.  This persona got on the edge of other members of High Heavens, in particular Archangel Imperius.  Believing that the High Heavens were becoming corrupted and not doing anything to help the humans, Tyrael condemns them, claiming that they "were meant for more than this - to protect the innocent", causing him to be expelled from heaven and turned to a mortal.  After defeating Diablo, Tyrael becomes the Aspect of Wisdom for the Angiris Council, and believes Heaven and Sancutary should stand together against the forces of Hell.

Angels appear in the Mobile game Clash of Clans, in which the units go by the name "Healers". They are a flying unit that as their name suggests, heals targeted ground troops to keep them fighting. They are unique as they are the only unit in-game that does not attack enemy buildings in any form.

Trivia

  • In the bible, God forbade the representation of angels as being female, as evidence by the fact that the archangels were given masculine names; this has largely since been ignored in modern times and the depiction of female angels has become common in art and literature,
    • The representation of modern angels being largely female in appearance is similar to that of Fairies.

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