Guest Blogger: Margay Leah Justice
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In the paranormal world, walking amongst the vampires and shapeshifters, the demons and fairies, there are angels. Not the pink-cheeked cherubs adorning Christmas cards, but full-bodied, living, breathing angels. Angels with enough angst and dilemmas to rival their human counterparts. And with enough sensuality and charisma to bring a mere mortal to her knees with just a look. Angels are the new models for heroes taking their stand in the paranormal world. But what is the fascination with angels?
I have been trying to answer this question for myself ever since a certain wayward angel took up residence in my brain and started telling me his story. Or, in actuality, demanded that I tell his story. Before that, I was content with writing about mere mortals who lived, loved, lost and rediscovered along the journey that we call life. But once that angel first began to speak to me, I have become fascinated by stories of angels, be they real or fictionalized. Still I wonder, what is it about these heavenly beings that spawns such fascination?
Whether you believe in angels or not, they permeate our culture like no other symbol of hope and purity. Faith and belief. Awe and inspiration. Perhaps one of the most iconic renditions of angels is that of The Sistine Madonna, better known as Raphael’s Angels. Who hasn’t seen this painting of two cherubs watching the heavens with daydreaming expressions staring back at them from a Christmas card or festive ornament? A quick search through Google will show that, although this is perhaps Raphael’s most famous painting of angelic beings, it is not the only one in which they appear. Indeed, they show up in the backgrounds of several others, but are not limited to Raphael’s paintings. Other artists, including Bouguereau, depict angels in their works.
So is it any wonder that Hollywood would follow suit? One of my favorite movies about angels is called Michael in which John Travolta gives a tour de force performance as a bad boy angel living amongst humans. From smoking to burping after a meal, he is the antithesis of the heavenly being we associate with the word angel. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t wise. On the contrary, he gets to the heart of the matter without seeming to care if he does get there. The trick is, he gets the humans to do most of the work. And who can forget that dance sequence to “Chain of Fools” where he manages to seduce every woman in the bar away from her date?
One of the most successful shows on television was “Touched by an Angel,” which always delivered a story with an uplifting message without sounding too preachy. Della Reese was perfect as Tess, a feisty, put-upon angel who was a rallying force behind her charges and loved them like a mother. She guided everyone, including the other angels in her care, with a firm yet gentle hand, nurturing when needed and doling out the tough love when the situation called for it. On the flipside was the ABCFamily miniseries called Fallen, in which a young man, upon his seventeenth birthday, discovered that he was one of the Nephilim, which put his life – and those of everyone he loved – in danger. A somewhat darker tale, it dealt with morality and good versus evil on a different scale than its more uplifting counterpart.
Which brings me to literature and the new fascination with angelic characters. Whether they are heroes or secondary characters, angels are cropping up everywhere. Debbie Macomber writes uplifting stories about angels called Shirley, Goodness and Mercy, who make it their mission to grant people hope and give them the will to love again. One could argue that the angels are secondary characters to those they come to help. On the darker side is a series by Erin McCarthy, the Seven Deadly Sins. In book one, My Immortal, the hero, Damien du Bourg, makes a deal with a fallen angle for immortality, which poses some unique problems when he meets the woman he might want to spend eternity with. In book two, Fallen, the hero is the fallen angel Gabriel whose penance on earth is to be without love forever. So whether you like your angels lighthearted and madcap, like Macomber’s angels, or dark and tortured like McCarthy’s, there is a story out there for every taste.
Thank you for traveling with me on this little journey through angels in our culture and feel free to leave a comment on your favorite angel in art, film, or literature. You tell me, have you ever found yourself in the presence of angels?
For another take on angels, why not take a look at my debut novel, Nora’s Soul? Available on Amazon.com. For more information, you can find me at http://margayleahjustice.com/, or on Facebook or Twitter.