THE FALLEN ANGELS
Angelic forces are regularly in contention with demonic forces. While our emphasis in this book is on invoking “good” angels, it is important to have a chapter on their opponents to understand the character of the “Other Side.” Traditionally, to avoid suggesting that there was a purposeful creation of demons, the ancient scholars preferred to develop a mythology around angels who failed their calling for one reason or another—referred to as fallen angels. However, we need to be clear that even the idea of angels falling away from the God-field and becoming separate entities in conflict with the will of God is completely unacceptable in monotheistic theology.
It is acceptable, nonetheless, to understand that each and every aspect of creation is empowered by a divine spark, which is naturally perfect and good. This, of course, brings a new perspective to the idea of good and evil being two separate qualities in opposition to one another. Divine sparks override the idea of evil being separate, but assert instead that even so-called evil could not exist without being sustained by God. If this is so, we must conclude that there is a necessary place for some degree of “evil” in the divine cosmology—albeit that this evil could not exist without God at its center.
Some say that free will could not operate if there were not an “apparent” choice between good and evil. The realization that God is everything does not preclude a universe that has a spiritual magnetism, with a pull toward the positive (good) poll and an opposing pull toward a negative (evil) poll. It can all still be under one umbrella, often referred to as the wings of the Shekhina. Good and evil in this context suggests that the attraction of good pulls consciousness to increasingly higher levels of understanding, while the opposite attraction toward evil causes confusion and casts more and more veils over one’s individual consciousness. Greater understanding leads to greater compassion and wisdom while veiled consciousness results in increased ignorance, more mental suffering, and continued unskillful actions that can cause great pain in the world.
Obviously the angels we most wish to invoke and imagine are those that have “good” qualities of loving kindness, strength, healing, the light of understanding, and so forth. But it is useful to know that there are the dark angels, so to speak, the ones that pull us off track, that trip us, that confuse and seduce us with greed, lust, desire and power. Evil is introduced quite early in the Torah, immediately after the birthing of humans, in the second chapter of Genesis: “And God formed man…and put man in the Garden…and made in the middle of the Garden the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
In the very next chapter, the serpent seduces the humans by saying, “God knows that the day you eat [the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge] …you will know good and evil, just like a god.”
A few chapters later, there were enough humans alive for God to regret, so to speak, the creation of humans. We find that, “God saw that man’s wickedness was so great that the human heart was continually thinking of evil,”
and so God decided to destroy this creation of humans. This is the beginning of the story of the Flood.
The sentence just prior to the one in which God sees the degree of man’s wickedness, reads that there were “nefilim” on earth in those days.
The standard translations for nefilim are: giants, lizards or abortions—creatures who were the cause of the evil of those times. The root n-f-l means “to fall.” It is from this that the idea of “fallen” angels is said to have been derived.
The initial reference to fallen angels in the Book of Enoch describes a group of two hundred guardian angels who descended on Mt. Hermon (in the north of present-day Israel) in the time of Jered, who was Enoch’s father and Methuselah’s grandfather. These guardian angels appeared as humans. There is a dispute about their intentions. One opinion says that their original purpose was to offer mankind the teachings of law and justice; however, the daughters of men seduced these angels, and thus they fell. The other opinion is that their decision to descend was motivated by a lust they had already developed for the young girls. In either case, their “fall” was due to their consorting with human women.
The children born of these relationships were giants who caused a great deal of destruction. At this time, men learned the use of weapons and other tools that caused much demonic wisdom in contrast to the divine wisdom that was everywhere to be seen. This was the beginning of human corruption and it was this that led to the Flood.
There are other versions of how the fallen angels came to be, but almost everyone agrees that the leader of this group was and is Satan, also known as Belial or Samael. As Belial, Satan appears in the Dead Sea Scrolls as the head of the forces of darkness. As Samael, Satan is seen as the archangel Michael’s primary foe. Initially, satan appears in the bible not as a proper noun, but as a common noun, “one who opposes,” or as a verb meaning “to oppose or to obstruct.” Later, in the books of prophets, Satan appears in proper noun form as an individual who is the main prosecutor in the celestial courts. Satan becomes well established as the main adversarial character in the story of Job.
Satan plays both the role of tempter and accuser, often in the same story. When he succeeds as the tempter, even though he is the main cause of the ensuing confusion, the tables are then turned and the confusion becomes the issue used to prosecute the offender. Satan is viewed as the one primarily responsible for major “sins” described in the Bible: the fall in the Garden, the Golden Calf, the story of Korach, the sin of David with Bathsheba, and others.
The point, of course, is that if we all lived exclusively with good angels, only under the influence of truth and clarity, we would have achieved the highest level of consciousness long ago. Yet, the ever-unfolding universe is continuously dependent upon a vast series of variables and unknowable factors that affect the shape of each moment. The tensions of opposing forces that have fairly equal strength are crucial in the give and take of how the universe unfolds. If one side had dominance, the universe would accelerate in that direction, and without a counter force, the universe would disappear. The essential structure of this universe is built upon polarities.
So, part of life is to recognize those habitual forces that pull us deeper into confusion and ignorance, and how to counter them. It is important to realize that the demonic forces are servants of Oneness, rather than as separate opponents. This means that we must respect that they are well endowed, tricky, devious and persuasive. Each time we make a resolution, and then find ourselves breaking our resolve, we can recognize the power of these opponents. We need patience, wisdom, tenacity, self-discipline, self-compassion, and strong conviction to contain these powers in a loving-kind way, without rancor, anger, or hatred. Just as some angels can be destructive, avenging, not-so-pleasant, so too can some “demons” be useful, kind, generous and helpful.
You may have your own names for these tricksters. Some of the names that come up in the Western spiritual literature are: mazikim (harmful spirits), shaydim (devils), and ruchot (spirits), kesilim (spirits who fool, misguide, and poke fun), lezim (jesters who throw and move things like poltergeists), shomer dafim (guardians of holy books who injure those who leave a book open, drop them, or who place them upside down on the shelf), seirim (hairy creatures who inhabit ruins), maveytot (demons associated with death), deverim (pestilence who accompanies YHVH on the warpath), reshephim (the plagues that follow after deverim), Aza’el (who lives in the wilderness, connected with Aza’zel, the scapegoat that gets thrown over a cliff onto rocks), alukot (vampires, leeches), belial (streams of destruction; no benefit; also "the spirit of perversion, the angel of darkness, the angel of destruction"), masteymah (enemy, opponent), asmodeus (evil demon, also a name of the king of demons), Beelzebub (sometime referred to a Lord of the Flies), and ruach tezazit (demon of madness).
This is a short list of hundreds of references that appear in the literature of demonology. The Talmud devotes a significant number of passages to caution readers on where demons lurk and how to avoid them. This subject is not treated lightly and my personal experience is that one should be circumspect in playing with these energies. The more sensitive we are to the positive uses of invoking angelic energies, the more we must be attentive to the so-called dark forces, keeping in mind at all times that they still bear the spark of the divine and we need not fear them. Simply know that there is much more happening in these worlds than we normally perceive or understand.
We are not offering techniques in this section for invoking this kind of energy. Rather, we are bringing to the reader’s attention how to recognize them and to realize how much they play a role in our thoughts and emotions. Every distracting or obscuring thought that arises in our minds can be viewed as a messenger of confusion. Every disturbing emotion is the same. When people begin to meditate, they quickly realize how little control one has over one’s own mind. The mind and feelings run here and there like a wild monkey swinging through branches at random, going nowhere.
We do not need to personify these dark or confusing energies; but it is important to know that they are not easily brought under control. However, we can learn ways to calm down our own thoughts, relax our own bodies, and balance our own emotions. There are many practices in many traditions that offer us basic instructions for finding peace of mind. Indeed, most spiritual paths ultimately have this as a primary goal.
In the end, we all discover that life is our main teacher. Daily life brings with it clarity and confusion, ease and difficulty, harmony and trouble, the list is endless. We do not have to characterize our experiences in terms of good and evil, we simply need to recognize what is happening, how it is unfolding, and how we are dealing with each situation, thought or feeling that arises. The greater our realization, the more we are able to understand the nature of things, the more we are able to bring a skillful response and reaction. So, life constantly provides new challenges and new opportunities to make wise choices. Characterizing things in terms of good and evil, or angels and demons, simply gives us tools for recognition, and through this recognition we gain greater wisdom and compassion to each event that arises.