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Originally, angels were known as god’s messengers, his shadows, and serve as the celestial host, but writing categorize them according to their proximity to god and his grace: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. Further definition breaks them into three houses: The Angels of Contemplation, of the Cosmos, and of Earth.


The Angels of Contemplation supervise the entire universe, concerned with the divine grace’s manifestations in the cosmos. They do not interact with humankind in a direct way.


This sect includes the Seraphim, who serve as god’s caretakers, singing his praises and circling his throne with grace. Because they bask in god’s presence, no other beings, not even other angels, can look at them, but they are described as having six wings, two covering their faces, two covering their feet, and two keeping them aloft. And as they sing tributes to the lord and god’s decrees, they never cease singing.


Also of this order are the Cherubim, who exist just beyond god’s throne and the Seraphim. Guardians of the light and the stars, they radiate divine light to cover the inverse with warmth and love. They are the keepers of knowledge and secrets, both Divine and Earthly. The Cherubim have a melding of typical angelic features; two or four wings; one of four faces, lion, ox, eagle, and man; or with the head of a lion, hands, arms, and torso of a man, and the legs and hooves of a calf.


Thrones are the last class of the upper echelon, whose primary purpose is to bare the throne of god and the first line of justice and keeping of celestial law. They ponder the initial temperament of every godly ruling on the guilty and bestow the verdict on those below. They’re known as humble creatures who maintain their neutrality and objectivity in order to dispense justice. Simple yet bizarre, thrones are large orbs or wheels covered in reflective eyes and glowing with shimmering iridescent light—often charioting god as they exist in the state between physical and celestial worlds.

The Angels of the Cosmos maintain balance between the spiritual and corporeal universes. They often pass between the planes and rarely come in contact with humans as they risk compromising man’s natural flaws. Their exposure to the constant, intense duel puts them in a precarious position, as those who are purest are the most susceptible to impurity.


The Dominions create the top tier whose primary purpose is to maintain the lines of communication between the worlds to regulate the duties of the angels below them in the hierarchy. They see across the infinite through endless eyes and have the ability to shift their physical bodies as they wish; although this makes them hard to describe, they typically carry a large orb or massive scepter as symbols of authority.


Next, the Virtues channel the vast energies throughout the cosmos in countless forms. Their chief objective is to convey the unending heavenly energy to the physical world to be broadcast into humanity’s collective consciousness. They bestow heavenly miracles and holy blessings for those god favors, so they are often associated with courageous heroes whose strive for good. These angels appear as pure light who oversee all the stars, planets, and moons that fill the galaxies—overseeing the nature of things to mark the seasons and elements.


Powers oversee the laws binging the physical realm, guarding peace, harmony, and order. The celestial energy they channel strengthens religion and bolsters the faithful against enemies of the church. They keep count of god’s followers, gather the truth, and hold all of the world’s history. Patrolling the borders of heaven, they act as the guardians in a more material manner and discourages any hellish invasion. The highest number of fallen angels come from this sect, possibly because of their proximity to temptation in the material world. Physically, they look like perfect humans with wings, marking them as the highest of the holy army.

Lastly, the Angels of Earth reside in the spiritual plane but are intricately involved with mankind’s affairs—present in the everyday lives of humanity, weaving in and out of our reality, listening and influencing. These angels are responsible for revelation, diplomacy, and retribution.


The Principalities bear the social mores needed for political and administrative success in the earthly realm. Functioning in large groups, they create positive and symbolic energies to structure the abstract and push the boundaries of what is possible. Allowed more freedom to interact with humanity, principalities determine others’ assignments. Like the other Earth Angels, few traits distinguish them apart from the Powers.


Archangels are the best known of the hierarchy. These sizable and imposing angels carry out god’s will, answering prayers, which is the main reason for their popularity. They indicate imminent great change.


The final sect of the hierarchy are simply angels, whose focus is on guarding humanity. Floating in the invisible ether, they are the lowest amongst their brethren due to their proximity to god and amalgamation of powers, but they hold an important place on Earth. Powerful and magnificent beings, they radiate perfect grace and spirituality. Some of them are actual Guardian Angels, assigned to individuals, places, and things. Innumerable others watch, record, and influence infinite worlds.


For centuries, religious scholars have categorized angels in dozens of different ways, and these nine orders are just the beginning. Stay tuned for more on angels, heaven, and hell in future Did You Know…posts.

Get to know more about my favorite angel offspring, Lily, in THE GIRL WITH THE GLOWING HAIR.