Exploring the belief in angels, husband and wife team Brad and Sherry Steiger, delve into the misty world of these powerful beings.
by Brad and Sherry Steiger
Humankind has been aware that it is a part of a larger community of powers and principalities, seen and unseen, physical and nonphysical, since at least the Paleolithic Age (c. 50,000 b.c.), when primitive artists painted images of supernatural beings on the walls of their caves. As early as the third millennium b.c., the written records of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia recognized a hierarchy of supernatural beings that ruled over various parts of the Earth, the universe, and the lives of human beings. They also believed in lower levels of entities that might be either hostile or benign in their actions toward humans. The Mesopotamians wanted to be certain that they were well protected by their spiritual guardians, the shedu and the lamassu.
Beings of Light
In the ancient Sanskrit texts of the Vedas, the word for angel is angira; in Hebrew, malakh, meaning “messenger,” or bene elohim, for “God’s children”; in Arabic, malakah. In India, multiwinged angels or beings are called garudas.
An October 28, 2005, Fox News poll found that 79 percent of Americans believed in angels. In November 2005, the Harris Poll declared that 68 percent of Americans believed in an angelic guardian. A December 2006 Associated Press survey stated that 97 percent of evangelical Christians counted on their angels to guide them through life. The same AP poll revealed that even among individuals without any religious affiliation, more than 50 percent believed in angels. Among the general population, those who acknowledged the existence of angels was 81 percent.
Sincere men and women have been sending us their personal stories of angelic encounters for over four decades and asking us to share their witness of benevolent beings from the unseen world. Since 1968, we have been distributing various versions of the Steiger Questionnaire of Mystical and Paranormal Experiences to our readers and lecture audiences, and of the more than 30,000 respondents, 78 percent claim to have witnessed angelic activity on Earth; 89 percent believe that they have personally interacted with a guardian angel or spirit guide; and 77 percent say that they have had an encounter with a benevolent being of light. These percipients generally describe the beings as appearing youthful, commanding, beautiful of countenance, and often majestic and awesome. Manifestations of light often accompany the benevolent beings, which adds to the grandeur of their appearance and the feelings of profound reverence that suffuses those who encounter them. In many accounts, the angelic beings appear to be paraphysical; that is, they seem to be both material and nonmaterial entities. Although they originate in some invisible and nonphysical dimension, they seem completely capable of shaping reality in our three-dimensional world to suit their heavenly purposes.
Messengers of Peace
One night in 1995, Darlene was lying in bed, wide awake, unable to sleep. Suddenly, she heard a sound outside her bedroom window as if someone had tapped on the window with a stick.
“My first thought, of course,” Darlene said, “was that someone was trying to get in the window. I was a single mother living alone with two small children; noises like this always gripped me with fear.”
Darlene walked cautiously toward the window, listening for movement outside.
“I heard nothing, but it seemed that the closer I got to the window, the more calm I felt within my soul. Slowly I peeked through the blind.”
Instead of an intruder attempting to break a window and invade her home, Darlene saw two remarkable beings standing in her front yard.
“Both were illuminated in bright white light. They were both dressed exactly the same in long, flowing robes of the purest white material with shimmering specks of gold and silver. There were golden belts tied around their waists. The belts were either twisted or braided; I couldn’t tell which, but they were considerably thicker than regular belts. Shining swords hung at their sides. Both men had shoulder-length sandy blond hair, and incredibly beautiful aqua-blue eyes.”
Darlene said that although the two beings looked almost identical, each had his own distinct characteristics. “One was slightly taller than the other, and the shorter one had a softer appearance, while the taller one had a stern, almost intimidating, composure. They looked like two guards, watching, looking around, pacing back and forth. Neither one of them looked at me, but I knew they could sense my presence. They knew I was looking through the blinds at them.”
Darlene remembers that the taller being, who was standing on the left, suddenly began looking intently at something that she could not see. “His hand came up to rest on the top of his sword, his fingers wrapped around the handle. When whatever it was that he thought was threatening went away, his grip loosened—but he kept the palm of his hand on top of the handle. A few seconds later he relaxed and let his hand drop back down to his side.”
Darlene told us that she immediately felt an overwhelming peace that she had never before experienced. “Seeing these two beings standing in my front yard made me more comfortable than I’d ever felt. I didn’t stop staring out the window for a very long time. I could not take my eyes off of them. I let every detail soak into my mind until I had a perfect mental picture of them. It was the most awesome experience of my entire life.”
Darlene crawled back in bed with a big smile on her face. “I knew at that moment my prayers had been answered. I knew I was being protected by these heavenly beings sent from up above. After receiving this angelic assurance, I was able to sleep better at night, and I no longer walked around in constant fear.
“This wonderful sighting of the two angels reiterated what my grandmother had told me several years ago: ‘You know God has placed angels all around you. Can’t you feel them?’
“I guess I never truly believed in angelic intervention until I actually saw this for myself. With all that I have experienced in this life, it’s comforting to know that I do not have to face it alone. My guardian angels are always close; they are barely a whisper away.”
In addition to their task as guardians, the benevolent companions have as a considerable portion of their earthly mission the task of guiding their humans toward spiritual awareness.
Gloria, a questionnaire respondent from San Antonio, reported her near-death experience while under the surgeon’s scalpel. She could clearly see her body below her, but she didn’t really want to watch the surgeons working on her so she did not resist when she felt some force pulling her higher, farther away from the operating room.
She thought of her husband and her three-year-old daughter in the waiting room, and she felt sad that she was leaving them, for she was convinced that she was dying. But she also knew that she would no longer have to feel any more sickness or pain.
She heard bells tolling, like they do after funerals; and then Gloria saw her guardian angel coming down through the ceiling to take her hand.
The angelic being accompanied Gloria toward a bright light that appeared to be shining in the center of a great expanse of darkness.
Gloria felt herself blending with the powerful energy of the light, and it seemed as if her very essence was being separated layer by layer. “It was wonderful!” she recalled. “Like each layer of my essence was being bathed in soft, warm, soapy love.”
The next thing Gloria knew, she had on a lovely white robe, and all around her were beautiful angels in bright, shining gowns. The angelic beings seemed to be glowing with an inner radiance.
And then Gloria believed that she had been blessed beyond comprehension when a magnificent angel, very feminine in appearance, manifested before her.“Because I was a devout Roman Catholic, I thought that I was beholding Mother Mary. This beautiful feminine figure was standing in the midst of a group of angels, and I fell to my knees and began to weep.”
The glorious angel spoke to Gloria in a soft, gentle voice and informed her that although she was not the being that Gloria had at first supposed, she was her guardian angel, who had been always near Gloria since her birth. The angel went on to tell Gloria that her stay would be brief; then she must return to Earth.
Gloria remembers asking the angel her name. The heavenly being smiled. “What you mean by someone’s name has no meaning to us. Angels seldom give humans their names. There is much power in an angel’s name. Know this and understand this, for great disasters may ensue from misusing holy names.”
Another angel added to the reply: “Another reason that we rarely provide our names is due to the human failing of attempting to worship us or to call us to do their bidding. We are never to be worshiped, for to God alone is the glory. And we are not to be summoned for such low-level activities as magic or sorcery.”
Gloria was confused. Was she never to be able to call upon her angels for strength or guidance?
“You must never make unwise demands of us,” she was told. “The lessons of life are best learned if you learn to make use of your own resources, thus rising to greater strength by so doing. We are always with you, providing you with inspiration and guidance from the unseen dimensions. But we are not to accomplish your lessons for you.”
Gloria’s guardian told her that since the mother vibration seemed to mean so much to her, Gloria might call her “Mary.”
Mary motioned to Gloria to follow her, and she and the group of angelic beings walked to a beautiful area of flowers, green grass, and a small stream. When the angels rested near a large tree, they formed a small circle around Gloria.
“Although you have become one with the light here on one of the heavenly spheres,” Mary said to Gloria, “you have always walked in the spiritual light, even while you were on Earth. When we angels come down to your material sphere, we can easily see which of you humans have the spiritual light within you.”
Another angel spoke up and said that it was such beacons of light that aided them in finding their way about on Earth. “And such lights certainly help us to find those to whom we are assigned to minister.”
Gloria acknowledged that she had always tried to be a good Catholic.
Mary smiled. “Yes, my child, that is fine. But the spiritual light does not belong exclusively to any single religious expression.”
Gloria was told what a privilege it was that she had been permitted to advance to the Greater Light and to become one with its beauty.
“The beauty of this Light is the beauty of Holiness,” one of the benevolent beings said. “It is past the imagining of mortals, but it can also be attained by a regular practice of meditation and prayer. And be certain to keep a memory of the Light in your mind when things become difficult on Earth.”
Speaking of things being difficult on Earth, Gloria asked the angels why—since Earth was going through such terrible times—the angels didn’t appear as often to humans as they did in biblical times.
One of the heavenly beings was quick to answer. “Angels rarely come to the earth plane with the intention of ‘appearing’ to humans. We work always for humans and are present always in some dimension of being. But we seldom visibly appear in our actual forms. We may assume other physical identities. We may even temporarily occupy the physical being of another human, but we may not appear as angelic beings unless it be for some very rare and special assignment.”
Gloria said that she understood, then commented how beautiful Heaven was and how wonderful it was to be able to have such a blessing.
“This is not the true Heaven,” one of the angels cautioned her. “This is a construct that we have created for your learning. It is our intention that this experience will contribute greatly to the positive growth of your soul.”
“But enough of our instructions,” Mary smiled. “We know that while you are here on the outer edge of Heaven, you would like to see someone.”
“My parents!” Gloria said.
Gloria said that in another “twinkling of an eye,” her beloved parents, Manuel and Felicia, manifested before her.
They all wept tears of joy at their heavenly reunion. Gloria took note of the fact that neither of her parents looked as old as they had at their time of physical death. Both of them appeared as she remembered them from her childhood.
In the account of her visit in Heaven that Gloria wrote later, she observed that it seemed as though she spent two or three days visiting with her parents in the angelic realm.
Return to Earth
Then Mary, her angelic guardian, knocked at the door of the lovely little house where Gloria and her parents had been staying and told her that it was time to return. At Mary’s side was the same angel who had ascended with Gloria into the Light.
“No sooner had my guardian angel spoken these words when I was bobbing near the ceiling of a hospital room,” Gloria said. “I was shocked to hear Father Sanchez below me, giving my body the last rites. My husband lay across my feet crying, and I somehow knew that my sister was outside in the hall with my daughter. A nurse stood at the left side of the bed, her fingers on my pulse.”
At this point, Gloria said that she received another image of Mary, her guardian angel. “You could only stay with us for a little while,” Mary said. “It was not yet your time to remain. But remember well all the lessons that you have received in the heavenly realm.”
There was a strange, crackling noise, and Gloria realized after a few moments that she was back in her physical body.
“I moaned with the pain of my illness and the surgery,” Gloria said. “When I opened my eyes, my husband and Father Sanchez were smiling, and the nurse had just reentered the room with our doctor.”
Gloria weakly found her voice and told them that she had been to Heaven and had spoken with angels.
Father Sanchez said that he did not doubt that she had gone somewhere far away, for the doctors at the hospital had only given her a few minutes more to either pass the crisis point or to pass on to another world. He had been called upon to administer the last rites, because her chances to live had seemed very slim.
“Our doctor told us that the surgeon had been certain that she had been able to remove all the cancer and that it should be a good long time before I returned to Heaven,” Gloria said, concluding her story.
Some contemporary scientists are suggesting that such mystical experiences can be explained in terms of neural transmitters, neural networks, and brain chemistry. The feeling of transcendence that mystics describe could be the result of decreased activity in the brain’s parietal lobe, which helps regulate the sense of self and physical orientation. Perhaps the human brain is wired for mystical experiences.
While the physical activity of the brain and its psychological state may sometimes serve as a conduit to a transcendent world, we believe that the appearance of the benevolent beings that we most often recognize as angels is far more than a manifestation of a belief in the unknown, a blending of brain chemistry, or a personification of our hope in a spiritual comforter. We believe that there is some spiritual reality that exists outside of us, that is interested in our human condition, and with which we may somehow communicate.
On December 12, 2000, the London Times reported on the two-year study of the phenomenon of guardian angels that was conducted by Emma Heathcote, a Birmingham University researcher. Heathcote’s study, the first academic research into the subject of angels, examined the stories of over 800 Britons who claimed encounters with heavenly beings. Almost a third of those who contacted the researcher reported seeing a traditional angel with white gown and wings. Another 21 percent saw their guardian angel in human form. Others experienced the sensation of a force around them or being engulfed in light.
One of the more dramatic accounts in Heathcote’s research was the instance in which an angel appeared during a baptism at a village church in Hertfordshire in front of 30 witnesses, including the rector, churchwarden, and organist. Confirming the story for journalist Carol Midgley, the rector said that he was baptizing a 22-year-old woman who was about to be married but had never been christened. Suddenly there appeared before the font “a man, but he was totally different from the rest of us. He was wearing something long, like a robe, but it was so white it was almost transparent.”
The angelic figure didn’t have wings, and he simply stood there silently, looking at those assembled for the baptismal service. Children came forward with their mouths open. People said later that they felt as if “warm oil” had been poured over them. Then, in a few seconds, the angel was gone. But, the rector stated, the appearance of the angel had changed the lives of everyone present that day.
Other witnesses of angelic activity told Heathcote stories of seeing guardian angels at hospital beds and deathbeds, ministering to the ill or manifesting to escort souls to Heaven. A good number of accounts reported the appearance of majestic beings to allay people’s fears, to let them know that they were not alone in dangerous or stressful situations.
Rather than external entities presenting themselves to provide assurance of a celestial helping hand, psychotherapist Dr. Susan Blackmore theorizes that angel sightings are merely apparitions created by the brain in times of crisis in order to provide comfort.
Though she might agree with Dr. Blackmore that certain angel sightings might be “crisis apparitions,” Ms. Heathcote returns to the baptism in the church in Hertfordshire as an incident to give the staunchest critic pause to wonder: “I interviewed a lot of people about that angel,” she said, “and everybody told the same story. Their descriptions were totally consistent.”
Emma Heathcote said that although humans have been preoccupied with angels for centuries, we may now be going through an increased period of interest in the heavenly beings because “people are feeling a spiritual shortage and angels fill the gap.” In her opinion, men and women in contemporary times fashion their own faiths in what often seems like a “spiritual supermarket” of choices available to them. “They might take a bit of Christianity, a bit of Judaism and Buddhism, together with a belief in angels to create their own eclectic religion,” she said.
Authors Brad and Sherry Steiger have collaborated on over 30 books. Their most recent titles are Puppy Miracles and Conspiracies and Secret Societies. Their website is www.bradandsherry.com.