Angels and Guardians

Belief in angels forms a major part of modern folklore. Folklore about angels is influenced by a variety of cultural factors, and angels are a commercial winner, popping up in ads for cream cheese, bubble bath, and fabric softener. The angel is most often portrayed as young, white, Aryan, and sexless. The term “angel” is often used by people to describe someone who has helped them, especially in a time of need or crisis.

Angels are sustained by folk belief – those who die young are sometimes labelled as angels, with the suggestion that they have passed to the ranks of the immortal and innocent. They are significant in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religion: angels intervene to stop Abraham from sacrificing his son Isaac; the Angel Gabriel appears to Mary at Nazareth, and to Muhammad at Mecca; Mormons believe that the Angel Moroni helped Joseph Smith to unearth golden tablets in Manchester, New York, thus founding the religion.

Many people believe that they have a guardian angel, one who watches over and protects them. In the same vein, some people believe that the spirit of a loved one who has died stays with them and watches over them. Notably, many secular people who would describe themselves as atheist, or as having no religion, appear to believe in this sense of presence (see Bennett, 1985). Tara*, aged 33, was reared by her parents without any religion, any does not personally believe the idea of a “higher power” or the teachings of the Bible:

“I definitely feel since Dad died that there are points in our lives that we’ve been looked after. We’re all happier, not because he is gone, not at all, but because there is someone out there. I know he’s there. I think there’s something...It’s not [that I feel my dad is there] as a person, it’s just... like, I would ask for his help quite a lot, when needed. I think he’s trying to make reparations now for any harm during his life. We’ve been very fortunate since he died. I don’t have a feeling anything bad is going to happen to his three kids... I just get a sense... or else, it’s more that he’s at peace and I feel the peacefulness. I do get that sense.”

*Tara’s name has been changed at her request to protect identities.

previousPrevious - Abductions by Fairies
Next - Supernatural Legend: Further Readingnext