An angelophany is the appearance of an angel. The term derives from the Greek works angelos, meaning messenger, and phainein, meaning to show or to be manifest. Someone to whom an angel appears is an angelophant.
Throughout the centuries, numerous conflicting views of angels have been set forth and interpreted in different ways. As a result, there is no single, definitive account of what kinds of angels there are and what they do and numerous conflicting ideas. For example, the angel Michael is sometimes said to be in charge of the Seraphim. Elsewhere he is the head Cherub. According to others, he is the leader of the Archangels.
The word "angel" comes from the Greek word for "messenger." An important role angels play is delivering message from heaven to Earth, including news of the coming of Christ.
In Zoroastrianism, evil angels can operate independently of good ones.
Watch out for gratuitous angels! In addition to the many angel appearances mentioned in the Bible, artists and interpreters have had a tendency to add more. Usually angels appear in the Old Testament for a specific and important reason and exert a powerful influence on those to whom they appear. Often, however, paintings and drawings of Biblical scenes depict angels by the dozens as part of the scenery.
Prophetic angel encounters tend to be impersonal, but concern matters of national importance.
Selected angels were involved in the birth of Christ and in his ascension to heaven. Christian tradition says that those not directly involved were enthusiastic spectators.
Saints and angels have a great deal in common. Just as some pagan gods were incorporated into Judaism as angels (especially in ancient times long before the rise of Christianity), other gods were incorporated into Christianity as saints (especially as a result of Christian missionary activity in pagan countries). In fact, the African and West Indian religion known as Santeria recognizes angelic figures known as orishas who are both African gods and Christian saints.
Don't expect to find a single official grouping of all the angelic hierarchies. There are too many different traditions that organize angels in different ways. Pseudo-Dionysius's scheme is perhaps the most influential and widely accepted.
Thomas Aquinas argues that angels are made of an immaterial substance of pure intellect.
Common ground is a good place to start in any religious discussion. Angelic beings can often be found wherever distinct religious traditions intersect.
Some New Age teachers say that Eastern mediation techniques can help attract angels. The Eastern practice of chanting a mantra (a special word that facilitates meditation) can be used as a technique for summoning your guardian angel. Once you have named your personal angel, you can use the name as your mantra.
The convention of depicting angels with wings evidently comes from statues and paintings of pagan deities, especially Eros (Cupid) and Nike (Victory).
Don't be surprised to find people using angels to support bizarre notions of history and politics. After all, there are angles for just about everything!
It may be dangerous to draw conclusions about what an angelic appearance means for your future. If an angel appears to you, it doesn't necessarily mean that your troubles will be over for the rest of your life. Many who claim to have been helped by their guardian angels also say that they have since suffered through terrible experiences without angelic assistance. Similarly, an angelic appearance doesn't necessarily mean you are good, virtuous, or blessed. An angel appeared to Balaam, the bad magician in the Bible, and to the disobedient Laman in the Book of Mormon, both of whom later suffered punishment for their deeds.