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History of Angels

The art of flight is something that has fascinated and perplexed human beings since the very dawn of time. Consequently, the ‘winged-human’ or ‘angel’ motif has shown up in the art of almost every civilized culture in our recorded history. From the ancient Greeks and Egyptians to the Romans, Aztecs and Incas, and Indian tribes, hieroglyphics and carvings and cave paintings indicate a strong belief in and reverence of angels, human-like, perfected beings who characteristically had wings, a special and holy physical attribute which allowed them to communicate with both the gods and the commoners because they could fly between heaven and earth.  

Several ancient cultures believed that every man had a ‘ghost’ of some sort, a ‘guardian angel’ to watch over them and guide their actions on earth, leading them to salvation. Angels are thought to possess pure morals and bring good into the world, and are most often depicted in art as delicate, beautiful, and virtuous youthful beings. Differing religions give varying levels of importance to various angel characters. Zoroastrianism defines six main ‘archangels’, followed by at least 40 less powerful angels called the ‘adorable ones,’ who are then followed by ‘guardian angels’  on the third rank, and so-on and so-forth. Regardless of ranking in heavenly hierarchies, all good angels are considered divine gifts; manifestations of the will of the lord (or lords) of light.  

The Encyclopedia Britannica states that angels “belong to (a) marginal area between religion and folklore…they flit in and out of the imagination like bats in the evening.” Various religions have “continually invented new ones and fitted them into their complicated network of cosmic existence.




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