Article Index

Angels, Archangels, Michael himself and the Winchester Brothers ’ Heavenly Connection to Cain and Abel
 
 
 
 
The Archangel Michael by Guido Reni, Santa Maria della Concezione, Rome
 
 
Dean Winchester is Michael’s intended vessel, that much we know, in fact, he is Michael fabled sword, the ultimate weapon against evil, not to be taken literally, of course. Were he a blade, Michael would not need his body to ride, would he? Alas, Dean is not yet willing to accept this fate as Michael’s boef du jour, and how could he?
 
He has not exactly had enough reason to trust the angels in general (with Castiel being – so far – a glorious exception), and archangels in particular. The higher ranking angels the Winchesters encountered so far, as Zachariah, Anna, Uriel, Rafael, Gabriel – or Michael, albeit in YoungJohn’s body – have not proved to be the epitome of trustworthiness.
 
Furthermore, after an archangel disposes of his ‘angel condom’ he leaves an empty shell, as we have already noticed – hardly anyone has forgot the expression on Dean’s face as he saw what Rafael left? And, frankly, the archangels we’ve met have not been the kind of guys you’d like to sit down and have dinner with. Do we actually believe, Michael would treat Dean’s body differently, as he offered? It might well be, since he is, after all, the prince of the heavenly army – and perhaps capable of treating his host well.
 
What’s rotten in the state of Supernatural? Why are angels dicks in this particular universe?
 
‘I thought they’d be different. I mean, I thought they’d be righteous’, Sam comments in It’sTheGreatPumpkinSamWinchester, ‘this is God and Heaven? This is what I’ve been praying to?’
 
No, this can’t be everything there is to them. After all, there have been so many references to the angels, and Michael in particular, in this show, that I felt compelled to take a closer look at the not-so-fluffy-winged chaps and Archangel Number One.
 
The first time I stumbled across Michael in Supernatural, was in the second season’s HousesOfTheHoly – the brothers come to Father Reynolds for advice and speak about the warriors of God, the angels, and Michael is specifically pointed out by Sam who is a believer, after all.
 
Then, later, in the finale of season four, LuciferRising, there were so many hints at Dean’s connection with the Archangel Michael they could not be ignored, and I actually started to believe that Dean would turn out to be in fact the Archangel.
Well, the writers proved my assumption wrong, creating another significance instead. One that keeps us on our toes from the moment Zachariah breaks the news to a shattered, broken, yet defiant Dean: ‘You’re Michael’s weapon, or rather his receptacle… You’re THE vessel, Michael’s vessel. (…) There must be a battle. Michael must defeat the serpent. It is written.’
 
‘From the get-go, you’ve been willing to buy this angel crap.’
                                                                        Dean, HousesOfTheHoly
 
The moment I began to tackle the subject on angels, I suddenly realized how omnipresent angels actually are – you find them in churches and museums, on greeting cards, in new age shops, on old buildings (I live in a city more than seven hundred years old, they are practically everywhere), on chocolate boxes and in Christmas time you can’t save yourself from a rush of angel paraphernalia.
 
How is it that in our culture angels have entered even levels of advertising? Where does the concept of angels come from? As I began my research for the article about God some of you are waiting for (don’t worry, I’m working on that while discovering how much research you need to do to find out whether He is on a tortilla or not – no wonder Cas wasn’t able to find Him as of yet), I realised that the idea of angels, as we see them, progressed with the development of monotheism. If we believe in a superior God, some feeling of closeness to Him ensues, enhanced by prayer. If we talk about the one, all-mighty God, the capability to communicate with Him comes with a problem: how does the communication work? Are there intermediaries to forward our prayers upstairs?
 
Before monotheism became the prominent form of religion, people already felt the need to personify nature in terms of spirits, minor deities, saints, etc. It was during the Middle Ages that angels became the messenger of choice with the development of more religions… So by now, there is a tremendous amount of angel lore to be found. I will focus primarily on Christian, Muslim and Hebrew ideas and only brush ancient ones, as Supernatural’s concepts of angels have connections with all three.
 
‘I don’t know, Dean, I just, uh, I wanted to believe so badly. It’s so damned hart to do this, what we do. All alone, you know. And… there’s so much evil out in the world, Dean, I feel like I could drown in it. And when I think about my destiny, when I think about how I could end up…(…) I needed to think that there was something else watching, too, you know? Som higher power, some greater good. And that maybe I could be saved.’ (Sam, HousesOfTheHoly)
 
When Sam spoke those words, his view of the world was still somehow intact. The lines between good and evil were still clearer defined than they have become later on. He struggled for some innocence he has lost long ago, and the thought of being watched over by angels must have seemed consoling to him. Little did he know at the time.
 

Comments  

Supernarttu
# Supernarttu 2010-02-11 04:03
Wow Jas. This is a really interesting article! Got all kinds of crazy possibilities (regarding our Show) running through my mind... You're right, there are SO many ways that this mytharch can go down. I'm so excited!!

I've never researched the angel lore... Ofcourse I've heard of them, I've read of the Bible (well not the whole thing naturally lol) in school many years back. I used to go to sunday school as a kid and I had a lot of story books of biblical tales. But since my school days my touch on religion has dimished quite a bit...

Hmm... Actually, I had one optional course in upper secondary school that had some discussion about the Apocalypse, but since it's been "a while" I've forgotten alot *grin* But I faintly remember conversations about angels and their ranks, and their role in the end of days. I recall being a little spooked at the time (end of days don't sound like a dance party), but it sparked some amazing debates in my class. I'm not that much of a religious type but I like talking about it sometimes, people have so many different angles and definitions of their own religion.

But that course way back was basically just from Christianitys POV. You've got here Hebrew and Muslim too, truly an interesting read my dear :-)
Randal
# Randal 2010-02-11 13:34
Good stuff, Jas, big things (literally!), good stuff. This is where my pragmatic, snarky American brain gets in the way of cosmically apocalyptic poetry and storytelling: it had to be these two nondescript humans right now to bring this all about? Not very powerful, are ye, O heaven. 8-)

Of course, since we in the audience only have access to the tourist version of the Bible (I'd really love a copy of the Real® one) flush with myriad inconsistencies (even Ned Flanders knows this) we'll just have to hope Kripke & Co. know what they're doing, because there are about 52 billion different ways this can play out. Out, damned destiny, out I say!

But you don't think the show needs more tragedy? If the hills are alive with the sound of AC/DC, who wants to watch that? Muah.
Kaffeklubben
# Kaffeklubben 2010-02-12 05:58
Great stuff Jas, a very well worked through text with lots of meat on it. Thanks for sharing your finds! And Nike of Samothrace is my all-time favourite statue and my number one reason to want to visit the Louvre. I got my parents to make a pretty big detour on our road trip in Italy just so I could spend some time with David in Florence. The things you do for good art...
Freebird
# Freebird 2010-02-12 10:38
Great article, Jas. Again :-) Love reading your stuff, thanks for your time and effort!
This whole angels thing can be pretty confusing - who is who and where do they come from and go to. But for me one thing's for sure: I'll never look at angels the same way, surely no more fluffy winged Cate-Blanchett- like angel christmas cards for me. What an illusion to picture them like that, when they've always been described as warriors. F* commercials.
One thing I'm still confused about, and maybe it's just a language thing: the Heavenly Host. Who or what is that? I used to think it's God, but now I'm not sure. Anyone can help me out?
Cheers!
Lara
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-02-12 16:57
Supernarttu, Randal, Kaffeklubben and Freebird, thanks for reading my ramblings here, guys!

Supernarttu, I was equally amazed about the lore you can actually find on angels, from good old heathen concepts to strict Christian… I’m so looking forward to see what will go on on Supernatural. That celebrity death match will surely be epic.
I’ve often detected problems when you bring the topic of religion on the table. You just need one fundamentalist and suddenly you’re somewhat at war.

Randal, of course this show needs more tragedy! I haven’t cried my eyes out enough.

Kaffeeklubben, hey, you wouldn’t be another Scandianvian in our midst? I feel just like you about the Nike. And I wish to see David one time, too. I have a beautiful book about him, though, that shows him from all angles, beautifully photographed, like a nude portrait. Wow.

Lara, hey, you wouldn’t believe how many angels there are, I have one of the smaller dictionaries, and you can hardly get them all… If I got it right, the Heavenly Host means simply the armies of Heaven. Somebody correct me please, if I’m wrong.

Thanks again , y’all, take care love Jas
B.
# B. 2010-02-12 19:00
Hey Jasminka - a great article but I'm going to disagree on the Cain and Abel thing. :D Cain and Abel is one of those stories that seems a perfect fit for Supernatural, since it's about two brothers, but I think if it's looked at in terms of how the story is told in the Bible, it's actually not a good fit to the mythology. (Unless they're going down a really obvious story telling myth arc and then I'm just going to be disappointed. Heh.)

If Dean or Sam are descended from Cain's bloodline then the only conclusion is that one of them will try to kill the other in a fit of jealousy. God warns Cain before the killing that sin is crouching at the door and that it's eager to control him if he can't do what's right. But it just seems such a clunky and obvious thing to play out over the mythology of the show. Mainly because as a story, it doesn't really go anywhere. Good guy dies, and becomes a martyr and bad guy is doomed (but not that doomed since he marries and has kids. Mind you, his descendants appear to have their own problems).

God appears not to favor Cain's bloodline since there's no mention of Cain again after Genesis. God actually seems to favor Seth (Adam and Eve's third son) since this line eventually results in Noah. (Mind you, it appears that the rest of the flock is annoying God quite a lot by then.) Anyway, in Dean's case it would make more sense for someone who is (presumably) going to stop the Apocalypse to be descended from Seth (and therefore, Noah).

Okay, I'll stop waffling now. My argument could be as confused as some passages in the Bible. Heh. Great article!

B.
Narcissus
# Narcissus 2010-02-12 23:26
Hey Jas..this article looks awesome. I've only read halfway, but I want to mention something before I forget. The name of the Angel of Death is never mentioned in the Quran. I'm not sure where or why people started thinking that his name is Izrail, but it is a mistaken belief. Even some Muslims have the impression that his name is Izrail. However it came about though, that is not his name. We simply refer to him as the Angel of Death.

And strangely enough, even though I am a Muslim, I've never heard the story about him being the one who took the clay from earth. Sounds interesting...I think I better go look it up. And finish reading this article as well :-)
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-02-14 14:06
B. and Narcissus, thanks for your enlightening remarks!

B., a corner of my cortex also finds the Cain and Abel connotation a bit far fetched. Almost every story of conflicting brothers is being compared to the first pair of brothers. I felt I’d tackle the subject, as the writers decided to have the Winchester blood line go back to the first people.
I do appreciate your objection! We will probably have to wait for the writers to explain that connection (then again – they have been known to throw in elements that were not explained as of yet, like Dean’s bleeding eyes in BloodyMary. I know, I know, but I just can’t leave it alone. That one bugs me.) Thanks so much for putting a finger to that inconsistency!

Narcissus, this is really interesting! I did not find that in the Koran, either, but I have to admit I haven’t read it thoroughly. I’m not a Muslim, but I read some of it in the past to understand that religion better, just like I read about Judaism or Buddhism and others. I believe the Angel-of-Death concept here comes from some Sufi interpretations (though for the life of me I cannot remember who it is attributed to, forgive me, and I can’t find my notes). I hope I haven’t hurt any Muslim feelings.

Thanks so much. Please, should you find more inconsistencies , let me know. Chance for me to learn more….

Love Jas
Narcissus
# Narcissus 2010-02-14 21:36
Oh not at all Jas...I've always loved having a go at this sort of subject every now and then. And then you come along with your articles and tie it all in with the show..I love it :-) I've learned a lot from you too..I've looked into Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism before, but I don't think I ever dredged out as much detailed info as you have, unless it's for an assignment, which means that whatever I've learned somehow gets erased from my brain the moment I hit 'print' :roll::
ElenaM
# ElenaM 2010-02-15 01:11
Holy Comparative Religions, Batman! Very impressed, Jas--just wanted to let you know :D This was fascinating.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-02-15 10:21
Happy to hear that, Narcissus, *sigh of relief*. I've always loved details. You should see my lectures... ;-)
I can only hope to not overcook the recipients... Thanks, dear. Jas
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-02-15 10:22
Thank you, ElenaM, I'm glad you liked this. Makes my job here even better.
Cheers, Jas
Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2010-02-15 19:21
Great article Jas. Didn't know all the different levels of the angels. Guess Kripke is keeping those the same. Don't know about the stories ties to Cain and Able though. Not that it hasn't come up in the past, but remember what Castiel said "Your bible gets more wrong than it does right."
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-02-16 07:18
Thanks Sablegreen for your comment. I guess Kripke will give us the 'real' Bible version as opposed to the tourist version we normal people use... Hate him. Love him. Can't wait to see how all will go down... ;-) Jas
B.
# B. 2010-02-19 23:11
This is in response to Dany's post (and anyone else who is interested). Hope this helps!

First off, I have to admit to a sideline hobby of reading books about early Christianity (100 to 400CE). Back then, the beliefs were all over the place. The 'official' version of the Bible is a result of the First Council of Nicaea. An untold number of 'books' were dumped during this council. So I've always considered the 'real' Bible to also be the books that were judged to be heretical. Some of them, quite frankly, read like the writer was taking a serious amounts of hallucinogenics . Have a crack at reading the 'Pistis Sophia' and tell me it doesn't read like a plot line from Dr. Who. Heh.

If you (and any other readers) would like to read some of the funky stuff that was circulating at the time, you can plug the term 'Nag Hammadi' into Google. The Nag Hammadi Library refers to texts that were discovered in 1945 that relate directly to the New Testament. Many of the books are in fragments but there are plenty of almost complete texts including The Gospel of Thomas.

What's interesting about many of these books is that there is a heavy emphasis on the independence of women and that they had equal rights in the church. (So you can see why they might have been considered to be heretical). In the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, Jesus conveys secret teachings to Mary. Upon learning of this his males disciples are less than impressed that he's seen fit to say these things to a woman. There is also the Acts of Paul and Thecla. Thecla is a young roman women about to be married when she meets Paul. She is converted, and then refuses to marry, causing much consternation for her Roman family. She also becomes a devoted companion of Paul, which causes even more outrage.

Finally, there's no official (tourist) versions of the Bible even now... There are variants in the books included in each 'version', depending on the church. For example, the Book of Tobit (Old Testament) is not included in protestant version of the Bible.

It's a very interesting subject and I think provides a much better understanding of Christianity than the view that thinks the Old and New Testament have somehow existed as exactly as they have, since Day One. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-02-21 11:33
Dany and B., thank you for your comments and thanks B. for our additions!

I’ve always been somewhat irritated about the fact that some people who considered themselves worthy went and decided which chapters the bible should contain and which not (back at Nicaea), but I reckon is has always been a matter of politics. Some chapters obviously were too dangerous for the ruling class of the time. When I find time I will most definitely check out the online library you mention, thank you.

I believe the tourist version the show refers to might be simply the standard bible the regular person might own or have access to.

I agree with you that taking only Old and New Testament as an account of Christianity would be too narrow a view. After all, religion is what people make of it.

It is a comforting thought, though, that most religions evolve around one simpe rule: love, kindness, respect.

Cheers. Jas