Angels and Demons – Lilith

Lilith_1Lilith has been around a long, long time in myth, legend, and appearing in all sorts of cultures, mostly as a demon. The Babylonians, Assyrians, and Sumerians all cast her as a demon. Lilith or “lillit” translates as “Night Hag” or “Night Monster” or “Screech Owl” in Hebrew language texts. Literature often enhances these references. However, I understand her. She might be wrong, but heaven knows, she has her reasons.

In Jewish lore, Lilith is Adam’s first wife.  She appears as his first wife, created equal from the very same dirt that brought about Adam. It is satire, this folklore so we are not meant to take it seriously. In this story, Adam divorced Lilith when she refused to “obey” him.

Subsequently, Eve was then created from Adam’s rib. Clearly, I was Lilith’s progeny and not from subservient and idiotic Eve. What kind of woman accepts an apple from a serpent? Seriously, Lilith did less damage leaving Adam behind in the garden.

Yes, this is just a story, one of many with no hard proof of veracity,  but it makes me rip-roaring furious. There are lots of examples of  female deities, both demonic and divine, getting pushed into the trash heap of history. It is not only Lilith, cast as a villain (first wife, demon- what man doesn’t think of his first wife as a demon?) .

There is also Asherah. She was the wife of God, also consort to the Sumerian deity, El.  In the Bible, in the book of Deuteronomy, God commands her shrines destroyed so as to keep his worship pure.  Even though Jeremiah proclaims her to be the “queen of heaven”, there is not a lot of talk about how God is both male and female.

Honestly, I’m too weary to rail on about the patriarchy. It’s been wearing on my nerves for half a century. No wonder Lilith went full-on demon. She was created equal and told by Adam that he wasn’t having it. Yeah, at that point, fire starts pouring out my eyeballs too.

 

 

Angels and Demons – Lucifer

TheDevilMadeMeDoItMost find Lucifer’s story to be the most compelling in angel and demon lore. He rebelled against God (stupid) and for his trouble, he and a third of the angels were expelled from Heaven. Oops.

When I was about seven, my dad gave me a t-shirt that read “The Devil Made Me Do It”.  I thought it was a funny sort of thing because no one could make me do anything. Not even the devil. I misbehaved often because being good seemed intolerably boring when it involved sitting down and asking no questions. A time or two at school, when in trouble, I would tell Sister Mary Margaret, “It wasn’t me. It was the devil.” It went over like a ton of bricks.

LuciferFallI once read that an angel is pure love, even a fallen angel like Lucifer. The Light Bearer, once the most beautiful of all the angels or so the poets have us believe, was cast from Heaven and scattered into a billion pieces. Nothing can put him back together so here is a thing of great love utterly broken. Isn’t that what we all are? Broken creatures of great love?

I don’t think we would recognize the devil if we met him in the street. Like Simon in “Lord of the Flies”, I worry that maybe he is just us. And that’s a terrifying thought. Lucifer_GaimenAlthough, the idea that we are cosmic puppets whose strings are being pulled by divine and demonic beings we can’t see is even scarier.

I wish Neil Gaiman had the right of it. Angels and demons are charming English people and quite fun to have tea with. His version of Lucifer is far more palpable than the force that spilled its guts and corrupted all of creation.

I suspect Tolkien hit closer to the truth with his Sauron, a force of absolute power and oppression. Yes, that seems more likely than a nightclub owning playboy in LA.  And seems the devil is alive and well and wreaking havoc in this world we must share, dividing us, scattering us like leaves in winter.

Angels and Demons – Raphael

RaphaelThe first time I stumbled across a reference to Raphael as an angel, I was surprised. I had thought for the first dozen and a half years of my life that Raphael was an artist who sometimes painted angels. Back in the 16th century, Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino began the trend of one-name artists that continues today. And it is still as annoying now as it was then. Lots of people were named “Raphael” in the 16th century, and even more today.

Turns out, Raphael is also an angel whose name may or may not translate into “God’s healing” or some variation thereof.

RaphaelMadonnaPaintingWhen I adapted the name, Raphael, into one of my more mystic characters, it is the healing that interested me. That and the paintings that filled several art history classes I enjoyed in my university days.

To me, Raphael will forever be the painter who depicted healthy women and plump babes in his madonna paintings as well as choruses of cherubs looking so thoughtful while often shooting arrows at naked people. I understand the sentiment.

Raphael-lots of angelsRaphael would not have understood this modern world’s obsession with wraith thin women. Any sign of hips, busts, and buttocks, and we are considered unseemly, unattractive in this space and time. Many women literally torture themselves to keep themselves bone thin.  I was one of them. A thing of my youth I do not miss.

A bit of fat in the 16th century was beauty, and good health. Of course, there were no fashion magazines and social media bombarding people with impossible scions to which to aspire.

Raphael would no more have painted me in my anorexic youth than Twiggy. Now in my late middle years, I could be the model for one of his famed madonna pictures. And I really appreciate that about the 16th centuries ideal for beauty. I like cake and still feel crippling guilt whenever I eat it. May the angel, Raphael, cure me of this so that I can feel good about looking more like the woman in a 16th century painting than a photoshopped slender woman on the cover of some supermarket rag.

Angels and Demons – Gabriel

GabrielAs a small child, there was a tiny picture at my bedside of the angel Gabriel speaking to the Virgin Mary. This was very early in my life before I knew or thought much about angels. I knew Gabriel because of my Catholic upbringing. And Michael. If felt like the majority of little boys I knew were named for him, and not a one of them seemed much like an angel to me.

It was in this very innocent time, I had my first dream of angels. Perhaps, it was more of a night terror. It had to be the early 70s, perhaps 1975 at the time. If I cared, I could research the old microfiche of the local newspaper to find the exact date of this nightmare/dream/vision – whatever it was.

I woke in the middle of the night to one of those heavy rain storms that come in the summer in the South. I was frightened so I went to turn on my night light, but the power was out. I hated being alone in the dark and for whatever reason, the dog was not sleeping with me that night. I would have been fine if the dog had been there.

So I wondered out into the hall, intent on finding my parents, but outside the door of my room, there was nothing. The hall was gone. The bathroom was gone, and the door to the front of the house was gone. It was only darkness so I retreated back into my room.

EeyoreI thought, perhaps, my parents had gone to visit their friends. They did that sometimes. So I crawled out my front window into the rain in my Eeyore nightshirt holding my picture of Gabriel in my little hand.

I ran down our hill to the street and followed it to the corner. I turned and left my quiet neighborhood, well out of bounds from where I was allowed to wander. I found the main road utterly deserted. No traffic lights (I do not think there were any back in that time), no cars, no street lights, no house lights. Just a dark-paved road with a yellow line running down its middle and rain. Loads of rain. I was lost alone in the dark. And the wet. And I was getting cold.

I turned and could see nothing. For a terrifying moment, I believed I had been struck blind or something. I wanted to go home and a voice cried out.

“Run and hide, little one.”

A light shone from the picture I held in my hand. I suppose that is when I woke up. My mother was in my room as the first light of dawn came through my open window. She was cursing that I had knocked out the screen again. I did that a lot. It was much later before I really saw much difference between doors and windows. My mother fussed at me as she packed a bag, sometimes sniffing a shirt that I failed to throw in the laundry closet, giving me the “when will you ever learn” glare.

“You and your brother are going to stay with your grandmother,” she said.

“Why?”

“Your father and I are taking a little trip. Don’t worry. It will be fine.”

I heard a siren outside. It caused my mother to jump and me to run to the window. Children so love flashing lights, and there were two police cars, sirens blaring, blue lights spinning, racing down our little country street.  I looked to my mother for an explanation, but her attention was elsewhere.

“Child, you’ve removed Gabriel from his frame again.” My mother was very angry about that. I made her angry a lot. “Why do you do that?”

“To keep me safe,” I told my mother in a small voice.

It would be years later before I learned why the police had been racing down our street and why my brother and I had been banished to my grandparents that summer. Two doors down from us, two men broke into the house, robbed it, stole the car, and murdered everyone inside; the mother, the father, and their two children. Children I had played with. Little children.

For years, my parents told me the family had moved away while we were staying with my grandparents. They would say little else. I do wonder, now, looking back. Did Gabriel keep me safe that night? The bad men could have chosen any house they wished.

Back then, we did not often lock our doors.

Angels and Demons – Jeremiel

JeremielSo Jeremiel is one of those angels who is less known than Uriel, Gabriel, and Michael. He is one of those angels that gets overlooked by the casual angel observer.

Jeremiel is the angel of dreams. Fun stuff. He is also very popular in angelic tarot card decks.

img_1072For me, Jeremiel is the angel of second chances and lost causes. Being a long, lost cause myself, this ingratiated me to the particular angel.

Like Uriel, Jeremiel is an archangel. Like his better known compatriots, Jeremiel is low on the totem pole of the Hierarchy of immortal divinity. Of course, being at the bottom is the only reason these angels get to talk to us at all.

Do you suppose angels get promotions? I mean, eternity is a long time to spend at the same position. It seems Gabriel should have risen to Throne at least. Or not.

I will have to ask my angel buddy, Jethro, about that. He probably won’t tell me. He has always been a bit sensitive about being a guardian angel, the lowest in the divine order.

I have often wondered who Jethro pissed off to be saddled with me. I am Hell on an angel. I stuffed him into the body of a female pug recently, and I am not sure that went over well with him at all. It could be worse. I could have stuffed him into a cat.

Angels and Demons – Uriel

Uriel_1Uriel is one of the few angels called by name in the Hebrew Bible. He is credited with warning Noah about the flood. In the apocryphal, he gets up to all sorts of divine shenanigans. Most famously, Ezra asks God a question and Uriel is sent to answer him.

He is also credited with being the angel of Wednesday. So he’s the hump day angel. Yeah, I don’t quite get that either. Human calendars and clocks have never much interested any of the angels or demons I have run into so far. Most think nothing of making you late to work or early to your grave.  Flesh, after all, is meant to rot.

Uriel is considered an archangel.  That sounds far more grand than it is. Archangels are part of the Third Sphere of angels – and the only sphere that deals with us fallen mortals. There are seven forms of angels that are higher in the divine Hierarchy. Uriel_2

If you ran into Uriel on the street, he would not have his wings or the customary bowl of fire with which artists often depict him.  He would look like your average Joe or Joan. That is the way of angels and demons. You might find yourself feeling great hope as you passed him on the street where a moment ago you had been in despair. Uriel is also credited in some corners of theology with being the archangel of Salvation. We could all use a little of that sort of thing, couldn’t we?

img_1071I created my own Uriel for my stories of Alleysiande. What the heck? I could hardly butcher the poor angel more than other authors already have. I created the character about twenty-five years ago after having a long discussion with Jethro about the nature of angels and how some fell and some remained all pure and above board. At this time, Jethro was hanging out in the guise of a Brittany spaniel.

cavaliers king charles spaniel

Of course, Jethro is always insufferably vague about the ways of his kind so most of what I came up with, I had to string together out of apocryphal and imagination. I am sure the archangel won’t mind too much. After all, authors have been having their way with him for millennia.

An Ancient Tome

I wrote a paper on JRR Tolkien for an independent study while in school in London, this thirty years ago. Time is beating the crap out of me, no doubt. So I wanted to travel to Oxford to have look at a few original sources kept in the University libraries.  I am big on original sources. 

One of my professors proudly supplied me with a pass. However, I did not realize there were limitations to the pass. Much to the horror of the librarians, I was drawn to a restricted section full of ancient tomes. Most were locked behind glass. That should have been a hint. 

There was, among those moldy old books, one left unintended written in a script and language I could not decipher. On impulse, I picked it up thus earning my lifetime banishment from that library. 

It was totally worth it, despite the possible apocalyptic horror it might have unleashed. Oopsie. 

In the  moment I touched that book, I felt a surge of energy pulse through me. Possibly  brought on by the horror of the ruddy security guard sputtering at me, but I rather believe that electrified pulse came from the book itself, the book wanting to impart its contents to someone, anyone. Or possibly it unleashed the apocalypse, given current events. 

All books are magic. I have no clue what was in the book I came across, be it spells of a lost power or possibly a transcription of some church records. I never could find out. My escort, the one that unceremoniously threw me out of the library into the rain, only lectured me on how rude Americans could be and would hear no excuses from me. 

I only had my imagination to go by. I think the script was Gaelic of some kind. It possibly came from a monastary but I don’t even know how old the book might have been. I did not have enough time to examine the vellum. Might it have been crafted of human skin? There was a time… but such parchment would not hold ink for so long. Well, unless there was some evil enchantment at work. Definitely a possibility. 

Yes, all books are magic and so, some are quite dangerous. Magic and truth in equal measure all in black and white. Most people avoid both of these more vehemently than they do root canal. 

My imagination crafted that old restricted book into a grimoire, a spell book for the darkest of sorcerers. And so filled my nights with horrors for years after, some demon force chasing me across time and space. 

Now, I seek a way to defeat the dark magic unleashed on me by that ancient tome, to tame or banish the demons that rose with its powers. Sadly, books of miracles, are so rare. Well, I never could find one equal to the demons that haunt me so I decided I would write one, an Idyll. I am running out of time. I can’t hold off those demons  much longer. They are consuming me so back to it.

 I do apologize if my jaunt into the restricted section of the library ultimately leads to a zombie apocalypse should I fail at my writing. Awkward.