Can I help my angels fight evil?

The forces of good and evil - angels and demons

The idea that there are both heaven and hell and different beings that live in them has existed for a very long time. Even older is the idea that the earth is populated by supernatural spirits who do evil as well as good. In religion, and especially in everyday life, we are repeatedly confronted with angels and demons, the exciting topic spurred the imagination of artists and writers then as now. But what do we actually know about angels and demons?

At Christmas time, angels are omnipresent as decorative items. They hang as ornaments on the Christmas tree, are printed on napkins or adorn candlesticks. The belief in guardian angels who walk on earth and protect people from harm is also widespread. They are considered forces of good and are often portrayed as winged figures of light.

Demons, on the other hand, are mainly good material for horror stories today, which is why they are preferably incorporated into films, TV series and books. They mostly represent the evil that the hero or heroine has to defeat in order to save the world. It is not uncommon for demons to possess human bodies in such stories, which makes them particularly creepy. Some authors are also directly inspired by religious ideas and scriptures or write their own versions of well-known myths that have to do with angels and demons.

Angel is not just angel

Angels are primarily considered to be God's messengers. This idea is very old, because even from the times of the Egyptians there are images of winged beings who act as mediators between humans and gods. In Islam, too, angelic beings are known, such as the scribe angels, which every person should have behind them on their left and right shoulders. According to Islamic belief, the scribe angel writes down all good deeds, the other is responsible for the bad.

In this country, the image that we have of angels is shaped by Christianity, but here an angel is not just an angel! In Judaism and Christianity, one starts out from different types of angels, which perform different tasks and are also subject to a hierarchy. The seraphim, for example, are at the head of the angelic choirs according to the Bible and are described as beings with six wings. With one pair of wings they cover their face, with the second their feet and with the third they fly. One of their tasks is to protect the throne of God.

Another high-ranking group of angels are the cherubim, which are mentioned several times in the Bible. For example, after Adam and Eve were driven out, God is said to have placed them as guardians of paradise. A number of archangels also play a particularly important role, three of which are particularly well known: Michael, Raphael and Gabriel. They protect peoples and religions and have a direct influence on events on earth. In addition to other high-ranking angel groups, there is also talk of heavenly soldiers, the Elohim. They protect the sky from the bad influences of the earth. The simple angels or angeloi should be most similar to humans and therefore accompany them through life.

Demons weren't just evil originally

The word "demon" is derived from the Greek word "daimon", which means something like "spirit" or "influencing fate". So originally the term didn't mean anything bad. The term "eudaemonia" used in philosophical ethics, for example, denotes bliss and comes from ancient Greek - "eudaimonia" literally means "having a good demon". Because originally it was believed that a person who does good and is at peace with himself is guided by a good demon.

The ancient Greeks believed that all kinds of natural phenomena were the work of demons, but especially processes that they could not explain. This included, for example, the aging and decay of living beings or the evaporation of liquids. In the Orient, too, demons were part of everyday life and were responsible for illness and death. In Hinduism one knows demons as opponents of the gods, in Islam there are the jinnes, demonic beings created from fire, who can be both good and bad.

Only in the course of time has the idea spread that a demon is a creature who intends to frighten people or harm them. For a long time, as Christianity spread, the pagan gods that humans had previously worshiped were referred to as demons. It was said that these harmful spirits brought people under their control and thus influenced them to worship them like gods. Today's Christian teaching sees something completely different in demons: They are generally considered to be fallen angels.

Fallen angels in the Christian faith

In Christian doctrine, the idea is widespread that there were rebellious angels in the kingdom of God who tried to revolt against God and were therefore ultimately banished from the kingdom of heaven. Various reasons are given for this. It is often said that the angels did not want to show respect to the newly created humans. In their eyes, people were inferior and didn't deserve the angels to kneel before them. Some artists and authors who deal with this topic even go a step further: In their eyes, the angels were jealous because God loved people more than they did and also endowed them with free will.

Some think that the angels no longer want to obey God and rise above him. Another scripture says that God chose a group of angels to help the archangels create the Garden of Eden. But something very human happened to them on earth: They fell in love with human women and fathered children with them. These children were giants known as the Nephilim. So upset was God that he drove the angels out of heaven and destroyed the Nephilim with the help of the flood.

The devil: evil in person

There is one thing that Christian sources are pretty much in agreement with: the rebellious angels had a leader who drew other angels to his side. It is said to have been the Archangel Michael who pushed this angel and his followers out of heaven. According to Christian beliefs, this fallen angel, also known as Lucifer, became the devil or Satan. Many see in him the evil in person, which moves people to lie and sin, for example, so that their souls do not go to heaven but to hell.

In popular belief, the devil was imagined with horns and a horse's foot, hairy with a long tail. This image of the devil comes from times when the pagan religions were supplanted by Christianity. The gods were simply reinterpreted so that they fit into Christian ideas. Horned deities like the Greek god Pan or the Roman god Dionysus quickly became the devil.

Today the devil is usually portrayed as evil and dangerous in books or films, but he is not always ugly and has horns on his head. The modern devil may have a somber charisma, but is often even beautiful and seductive. Sometimes a completely different side of the devil is shown, namely that of the misunderstood angel who still suffers from being banished from heaven and for whom the viewer or reader can even feel some compassion.

The eternal struggle between good and evil

There are innumerable stories in which an angel falls in love with a person or in which angels walk on earth and do good. And in probably even more stories, demonic forces play a role that must be fought. The great battle between good and evil has always fascinated people. So the pact with the devil has been and is discussed again and again in stories and films.

For example, the work "Faust" by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is world famous, in which the restless and unhappy scholar Heinrich Faust makes a pact with Mephistopheles, the devil: Faust promises the devil his soul, if he succeeds, he will feel true happiness allow. Mephisto rejuvenates Faust and helps young Gretchen fall in love with him. Before that, the Lord in heaven made a wager with the devil: He bets that he can lead Faust astray - God opposes that even "a good person in his dark urges" still recognizes the right path.

Many enjoy horror at the bad and then see that the good triumphs. Others find it more exciting to see the world - and heaven and hell too - not only in black and white, but also to explore the gray areas. Whether you are religious or not - angels and demons have always provided good material for exciting stories and will continue to occupy people.