Catechism classes, once upon a time in my young and innocent days, involved a chapter on guardian angels. They were said to be always with children- watching over us. Good deeds made them happy. Naughty ones made them cover their faces and weep. And they were responsible for reporting all the deeds (good as well as bad) to God at the end of the day. Was it any wonder that I considered my guardian angel somewhat of a tattletale and conveniently forgot all about him/her at the earliest.
The angel hierarchy is simple enough- The Seraphim, Cherubim and Ophanim constitute the first sphere. The Seraphim are the singers and have six pairs of wings. The Cherubim, in modern usage, are depicted and commonly recognised as those flying toddlers, but in ancient mythology are shown as having four faces- that of a man, ox, lion and eagle. They had four pairs of wings and were not baby-like in the least. (The flying baby/toddler beings are actually called the “Putti”). The Ophanim are weirder-looking; wheels-within-wheels and the rims covered with eyes!
The second sphere consists of the Dominions, Virtues and Powers. The Dominions are divinely beautiful, human looking entities with feathered wings; they wield sceptres or swords and preside over nations. The Virtues supervise the movements of the cosmos. The Powers, as the name suggests, are warrior angels, also the bearers of conscience and the keepers of history.
The third sphere contains the angels who function as messengers and soldiers- the Principalities, Archangels and Angels. The Principalities are the educators and guardians of the realm of earth; they are said to inspire humans in Arts and Science. The Archangels are quite well known and commonly depicted in art- three of them especially (there are seven in all)- Gabriel, Raphael and Michael. Masculine, extremely handsome and powerful, with huge wings and generally sword-wielding. And lastly, the lowest order – Angels, the Malakhim- from which the Malayalam word for Angel- Malakha- is derived. They are the the most recognised- the ones most concerned with the affairs of the living beings.
Recently there has been a wave of revival of interest in Angel lore- one which I remained blissfully unaware of. Till recently.
Last week I came across a reference to a lady who lives in Ireland, described as “an Irish Mystic”, Lorna Byrne, who claims to have seen, and communicated with angels, all her life. Despite my first sceptical instinct to dismiss her as “highly imaginative”, I was curious and looked her up. And what I read floored me- Lorna is dyslexic and cannot read or write. All through her childhood she was considered retarded, both because of her dyslexia and because she would talk, play and smile at imaginary friends. She has come out, so to speak, only in 2008. She was not wealthy and does not use her talent to earn money. She has written at least four books; as long foretold by the angels, but which statement she disbelieved, for dyslexia prevents her from normal reading and writing; writing books did seem to her stretching things a bit too far. But, strangely enough, help arrived, in the form of voice recognition software and a Dell laptop and people, willing to help.
Lorna has been interviewed by many journalists- initially sceptical. But most interviewers have come away impressed with her gentleness, serenity and perhaps, her other- worldliness.
I’m currently reading “Angels in my Hair”- Lorna’s first book.
She writes in it- “Angels are not just found in Christian Churches; they are in the Synagogues, in the Mosques and in all the holy places. Your religion makes no difference to the angels; they have told me that all religions should be under one roof. Muslims, Jews, Protestants, Hindus, Catholics and all the different religions should be together under one umbrella. We may look different, we may have different beliefs, but we all have souls. There is no difference between a Muslim soul and a Christian soul. If we could see each others’ souls, we would not be killing each other over different interpretations of God”.
After reading that paragraph, Lorna has my vote- I really do not care whether she is genuine or not; she is NOT peddling hate, and that is enough for me!
And now, before I lose my nerve, and before you start wondering where all this is leading and whether Amazon or Lorna has engaged my services for an undisclosed sum (No, they have not and are quite ignorant of my existence!)- the facts:
I downloaded “Angels in my Hair” yesterday; mainly out of curiosity and also because I love to have something nice to read at hand, to look forward to, over the weekend. One of the first chores of my mornings is to sweep the house, because perfectionist (or finicky or cantankerous, take your pick!) that I am, no maid here has succeeded in meeting my standards. That done and after a cup of tea, I sat down to read. (Kindle has spoiled me- I read many books simultaneously now; bad habit!) Lorna’s language was simple and direct and in the first person- not surprising because she spoke, did not write, it. After reading the first two chapters or so, I got up; and as I stepped out of the room, there it was on the floor- a small, beautiful, downy little feather!
It was not there when I swept the rooms, it cannot have blown in through the window because all windows and doors are fitted with mosquito netting. I do not have a caged pet bird. No one came in or went out. It is as big a mystery to me as it is to you; yet as Lorna writes, suspend disbelief for a moment, what do you have to lose?