Angel Archetype

Learn all about the angel archetype, including definition, characteristics, examples and how it relates to the Caregiver archetype.

What is the Angel Archetype?

Almost every religious tradition or culture features the angel in some form, making them a familiar archetype within society. Largely thought of as Divine messengers representative of goodness and Light, the angel is usually depicted as maintaining the divine order of things on earth and restoring the balance between good and evil when required.

An archetypal angel will make an appearance when others are in trouble and need assistance, acting as their guide and ensuring they come through the peril they face.

Angel Archetype Characteristics & Traits

  • They succeed in bringing calmness and healing just through their presence.
  • Generally, they are attractive in appearance and gentle but strong in nature.
  • The archetypal angel usually is either directly connected to, or at least feels a connection to, a higher power.
  • It is through this spiritual or divine connection that they are able to bring healing and reconciliation to those they assist.

Dark Angels

However, like many archetypes, angels can also have a dark, or shadow, side.

Where this is the case it is manifested in one of two ways:

Firstly, a person may claim to be in touch with angelic guidance as a means of establishing control and power over another individual.

Secondly, an individual may act in an innocent, angelic manner to deceive another about their true motives or nature. This aspect of the angel archetype is often associated with Satan or Lucifer.

Angel Archetype in Religion

Associated Religious Figures:

  • Gabriel – the archangel who appears to the Virgin Mary in the Gospels and recites the Quran to the Prophet Muhammed
  • Sijil – Islamic angels
  • Tenshi – Japanese angels
  • Angiris – Hindu angels
  • Fravashis – Zoroastrian angels
  • Lucifer – an evil angel in Christianity
  • Iblis – an evil angel in Islam

Angel Archetype Examples

Many examples of the angel archetype can be found in modern culture. For example, the American TV show Touched by an Angel, which ran from 1994 – 2003, and told the story of an angel and her supervisor. Perhaps the most famous example of an angel in film is that of Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life, sent to earth to earn his wings by saving the life of George Bailey through showing him all the lives he has changed for the better.

A number of real individuals have been described as angels and can be seen to fit the angel archetype through their actions and the way they live their lives. These include:

  • Mother Teresa – honoured by the Catholic Church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta, she founded the Missionaries of Charity organisation which manages homes for people who are dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, runs soup kitchens, dispensaries, mobile clinics, children’s and family counselling, orphanages and schools
  • Florence Nightingale – an English social reformer and widely recognised as the founder of modern nursing.
  • Anne Frank – a teenage diarist and victim of the Nazi Holocaust whose diary has led to reconciliation and social reform.

Further Reading

Further reading on the angel archetype includes:

  • Angels and Archetypes: Evolutionary Map of Feminine Consciousness – Carmine Boulter
  • Angels: A Visible and Invisible History – Peter Stanford
  • Mother Teresa: An Authorized Biography – Kathryn Spink
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