An angel is an ethereal creature who assists and serves God or the gods of many religious traditions. In the Christian bible, angels are portrayed as powerful and dreadful, endowed with wisdom, correct in their judgment, holy, but not infallible. When their duties are not punitive, angels are beneficent to man. When their duties are punitive, they are known as avenging angels and are mentioned inverses such as II Sam. Xxiv. 15, in which an angel annihilates thousands on God's command. These avenging angels are used by God to punish men for their sins.
A supernatural being found in Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism and Islam. Angel comes from the Latin word angelus, which came from the Greek word, angelos, meaning "messenger". According to these religions Angels typically act as messengers from God.
Though superhuman, angels can assume human form and according to the Hebrew Bible, often appeared to people in the shape of humans of extraordinary beauty. They are also described as pure and bright and are said to be formed of fire, and encompassed by light. Angels are thought to possess wings, and are depicted that way in Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian art where they are also commonly depicted with halos.In the Bible, angels are a medium of God's power; they exist to execute God's will. Angels reveal themselves to individuals as well as to the whole nation, to announce events, either good or bad, affecting humans.
Never say never, (...) but in my mind, angels as supernatural beings do not exist. In my opinion there are forces of evil, but the forces of good are human. There might very well be a God, but if there is, he's working in mysterious ways through a band of very imperfect humans.
Culture & Hierarchy
God appears to have been absent from Heaven for a long period, and in his absence angels manage Heaven, as well as the spirits within it, according to Ash. Angels in Heaven dwell in a very hierarchical community, and are known collectively as The Host of Heaven. Much of angelic hierarchy appears to operate like a military organization, broken down into smaller units and factions called garrisons. While in Heaven, all angels can communicate with one another via an Enochian language. For millenia, angels were not allowed to manifest on Earth or take a vessel. They watched over humanity from afar.
The Archangel Michael appears to have been the leader in Heaven. Raphael, another archangel, was also a powerful force. The other archangels are not involved in the Host; Gabriel left Heaven and Lucifer was cast out. Archangels are the eldest angels. They are "fierce", "absolute", and are "Heaven's most terrifying weapon", according to Castiel. Unquestioning obedience is expected of lower members of the Host, and those who question orders may be tortured to force compliance. Disobedience can be punished by death. Anna explained the situation to Dean:
Anna: Dean, do you know how many angels have actually seen God? Seen his face?
Dean: All of you?
Anna: Four angels. Four. And I'm not one of them.
Dean: That's it? Well, then how do you even know that there is a God?
Anna: We have to take it on faith... Which we're killed if we don't have.
In Season 6, the only archangel that remains alive and active is Raphael, as Lucifer killed Gabriel, and both Lucifer and Michael are restricted to the Cage. Heaven has fallen into major disarray. The ongoing chaos involves a civil war, with Castiel and a number of other angels trying to prevent Raphael from becoming the paramount leader of Heaven and restarting the Apocalypse. Castiel manages to defeat Raphael by taking in souls from Purgatory. He slaughters Raphael and his followers, but Castiel cannot contain the power for long, and must return the souls. In his absence, the leadership of Heaven is unknown.
God created humanity some time after the angels, and placed a high value on them. Lucifer refused to accept the position in the divine order apportioned to humanity, and defied God's word. After Michael cast him from Heaven, Lucifer twisted a human being to create the first demon, Lilith. For his crimes, Lucifer was imprisoned in a cage locked with The 66 Seals. This conflict had lasting repercussions, including Gabriel's descent to Earth. At some point, God also departed Heaven, leaving the angels in charge.
In 1972, the demon Azazel managed to locate Lucifer's prison and to communicate with him. Azazel then proceeded with an intricate plan to release Lucifer that required decades of work by Azazel, Meg, Ruby, and even Lilith. Of special importance was the effort to ensure Sam Winchester's availability as Lucifer's Vessel. The plan culminated in the breaking of The 66 Seals.
It appears that when the highest ranking angels discovered the plan, they decided to allow it to proceed. According to Zachariah, they intend for Lucifer to be freed so that Michael can finally battle and defeat him, bringing about paradise. However, to maintain order, the angelic hierarchy commands the rank and file angels to descend to Earth, and even take vessels to prevent the breaking of The 66 Seals. Angels aware of the master plan included Zachariah and Michael. Even some of the angels who were kept ignorant of Heaven's plan decided not to oppose the breaking of the seals, but for a different reason. Uriel and his fellows wanted to see Lucifer rise so that they could follow him.
Most angels worked to maintain the seals, including Castiel. He was sent to rescue Dean from Hell, but did not reach him before he broke the first of the The 66 Seals on Lucifer's Cage. It is likely that Heaven wanted Dean returned to Earth, not to prevent the first seal from breaking, but so that he would be available to be Michael's Vessel.
Eventually all of the seals are broken and Lucifer is released. However, the ultimate goal of Michael's followers is not achieved, because the final confrontation between Lucifer and himself is prevented by the combined efforts of Sam, Dean, Castiel, Bobby Singer, Gabriel, and the demon Crowley, among others. In the end, both Lucifer and Michael are confined in Lucifer's Cage.
Following the loss of Michael, Castiel speculates that Heaven will be in chaos. He intends to return to Heaven and help if he can. When Raphael threatens to restart the Apocalypse, Castiel, at Crowley's urging, starts a civil war to stop him. Some of the angels chose sides in the war, while others have abandoned the fight to live on earth. Castiel manages to destroy Raphael, the leader of the traditionalist angels, by taking in souls from Purgatory. He then declares himself the new god.
He kills Raphael's followers and a variety of humans of whom he disapproves. However, Castiel finds that he cannot control the souls indefinitely because they are destroying his vessel. He also finds that he is host to Leviathans, who seem to be making his behavior even more violent. With the Winchesters' help he gives up the souls, but the Leviathans take him over.
The Winchesters' Beliefs
Prior to the introduction of angels on the show, Dean believed angels did not exist. Sam on the other hand believed in both angels and God, and prayed every day. Dean and Sam's mother is also revealed to have been a woman of faith; the last words Mary ever spoke to Dean were "...angels were watching over us."  When Dean first sees Mary during a djinn-induced hallucination, he checks to see if she is real by asking her what she would always say when she tucked him in at night. She answers, "I told you angels were watching over you". Mary is shown saying this to an unborn Dean during Season 5.
According to Castiel, angels are not omniscient beings, although their knowledge, especially that of archangels, is extensive. Their angelic power exists in the form of grace. Anna voluntarily removed her grace in order to be reborn human. She describes the grace as "an energy", but this energy is somehow connected to an angel's true form. Anna said that the removal of her grace was very painful. Despite the fact that an angel's power is connected to its grace, Anna still demonstrated telekinesis and superhuman strength. Anna also heard other angels conversing in Heaven but could not respond. The restoration of grace replenishes the angel's powers and abilities.
The "physical appearance" of an angel's true form varies. For instance, Lucifer's angelic form is said by Uriel to be beautiful. Zachariah's angelic form has four faces and six wings, according to him, though Sam and Dean are not able to perceive him in this way in Heaven. Castiel states that his true angelic form is the size of the Chrysler Building. Within the show, an angel's true form is often seen as brilliant white light. Psychic Pamela Barnes's eyes are burnt out when she looks on Castiel's true form. Michael's voice and true form prove fatal to several bar patrons. For these reasons, angels most often communicate with humans through dreams, or through a vessel.
An angel's true voice is often heard as an ear piercing, high-pitched sound which can shatter glass. Castiel tries to speak to Dean with his true voice and is surprised when Dean cannot understand it because he is the Vessel of Michael. Some humans, in fact, can understand this true voice, but to most is "overwhelming", painful, or sometimes fatal to behold.
When angels converse with each other in Heaven, they speak Enochian. Anna, before realizing that she was formerly an angel, was able to hear angels speaking without them being physically present. Dean referred to this communication as "angel radio", and it appears to be a common method of relaying information between angels. This might be referred to as a telepathic link; angels also have some ability to read human minds.
Angels occupy a human vessel in order to manifest on Earth. The person they possess must consent to this, as opposed to demonic possession which is non-consensual. Angels and their vessels appear to be matched based on bloodlines, some of which are preserved by Cupids. It seems that while occupied, the vessel's blood is altered by the angel's presence. Castiel has commented that he cannot use his "own" blood for a ritual, because he is "not human". See also Demon Blood.
Some angelic powers are innate, and some can be curtailed or enhanced by the hierarchy of The Host of Heaven. Castiel finds his abilities limited after he rebels and helps Dean: "I'm cut off from Heaven and much of Heaven's power. Certain things I can do. Certain things I can't.". Castiel appears essentially mortal in the alternate future in 5.04 The End, after he reports the angels have abandoned Earth. After he directly acts against Heaven in 5.18 Point Of No Return, Castiel returns almost mortal. He receives enhanced angelic powers from God in 5.22 Swan Song. Abilities are also correlated with the rank of the angel.
Angels are extremely powerful beings with a wide range of abilities. Abilities vary with the class of the angel. For example, archangels have all the abilities of a normal angel, but they are enhanced, and they seem to have abilities that average angels do not possess.
Abilities thought to be universal among angels
- Superhuman strength - The physical strength of an angel in a vessel significantly exceeds that of a human.
- Telekinesis - Angels have the ability to move and influence objects with their minds.
- Teleportation - Angels have the ability to teleport anywhere in the world as long as the area is not protected by Enochian sigils. They can teleport themselves and other beings. Dean refers to teleportation as "beaming", and on some occasions as "zapping". The process can be uncomfortable for humans, according to Dean. It may involve:
- Invisibility - Angels, even while occupying vessels, can render themselves unseen.
- Healing - Angels have the ability to heal humans. When angels are disconnected from Heaven, they lose this power, as shown during Castiel's defection from Heaven.
- For example, Michael heals Sam, and Castiel heals Dean.
- Angels are able to maintain their vessels without food, water, or sleep, and to heal them after they are injured. Lucifer healed Nick's body after he was shot by the Colt. Castiel has healed his vessel, Jimmy Novak. Their vessels also appear resistant to disease. However, when Castiel is on the verge of becoming mortal, Pestilence is able to infect him. Possessed vessels do not seem to age. Also, weakened angels in vessels can become drunk, but it takes an extremely large amount of alcohol. This was the case with Castiel.
- Sedation - As displayed by Castiel & Michael, angels have the ability to make humans unconscious by placing two fingers on their foreheads.
- Exorcism/Kill - Angels have the ability kill/exorcise demons by placing a hand on the forehead of a possessed individual as demonstrated by Uriel and Castiel. Extremely powerful demons are immune to touch, e.g. Alastair. This works on monsters like Vampires too, as displayed by Castiel in 6.19 Mommy Dearest
- Supernatural perception - Angels are able to see objects and beings that are invisible to humans, for e.g. Reapers and Enochian Sigils.
- Telepathy - Angels have the ability to communicate using their minds.
- Dreamwalking - Angels can enter human dreams in order to communicate with them. They do not need to know where the person is to use this ability.
- Soulreading - By reaching into a human's chest, an angel can read marks left on the human's soul by another angel. This procedure is very painful for the human, but leaves little physical damage. Thus far, this ability has only been used by Castiel.
- Soulchanneling - Angels can use the energy from souls to empower themselves. Castiel siphons some energy from Bobby's soul to pull Sam and Dean forward in time. He absorbs fifty thousand damned souls to declare war on Raphael. He manages to destroy Raphael by taking in the souls of Purgatory.
- Voice mimicry - Angels have the ability to sound like any human they choose.
- Knowledge of all prophets - Castiel claims that Leah, the Whore of Babylon, is not a prophet because he has every prophet's name "seared" into his brain, and it is likely that all angels do as well.
- Time travel - Angels have the ability to go backward and forward through time, though this is difficult without Heaven's assistance.
- Memory Manipulation - Angels have the ability to take away and restore a human's memories. Angels can also implant fake memories. Displayed by Zachariah, Michael, & Castiel.
- Revelation - Angels can implant visions into a prophet’s mind, as demonstrated when Zachariah uses Chuck.
- Resurrection - Some angels are sufficiently powerful to resurrect humans, even from Hell.
- Other Forms of Telekinesis
- Inflicting Harm - Zachariah gives Dean stomach cancer and removes Sam's lungs. He also injures Adam, causing him to cough up blood. Castiel uses this ability, similar to demon exorcism and the pyrokintic power used by Michael on Anna, on Lenore to kill her in 6.19 Mommy Dearest
- Pyrokinesis - Michael has shown the ability to kill another angel by setting her ablaze. Gabriel also demonstrated this when he lighted some candles. Castiel ignited and burnt Crowley's bones.
- Electrokinesis - Raphael can manipulate and control electricity. When Raphael first appeared before Dean and Castiel, electricity arcs away from him while he was manifesting in his vessel for the second time.
- Cryokinesis - Lucifer proved capable of freezing objects by breathing on them; this occurred while he was manifesting in his vessel.
- Weather manipulation - Raphael, Michael, and Lucifer all manipulated weather at will.
- Altering reality - Gabriel has shown the ability to create living beings, creatures, objects and imaginary realities out of nothing. He also showed the ability to reshape objects and human bodies, including his own vessel, and he was able to create an exact copy of himself as well.
- Matchmaking - Certain types of angels in the Cherub class, e.g. Cupids, can bring couples together by marking their hearts.
- Destructive White Light - Similar to Lilith's ability in depiction, however comes with the blue tinge that represents angelic presence, suggesting this is an extension of the Angel's true form. When Castiel used this power, he ordered the humans to "Shut your eyes!" as Anna did when she regained her true form, destroying Alastair's host. The light is powerful enough to kill a diner full of Eve's "perfect creations" the Jefferson Starships in 6.19 Mommy Dearest. This may have been what the Sherriff witnessed Raphael using on demons at a gas station in 5.03 Free To Be You And Me.
- Flaming circle of Holy Oil.
- Angel Banishing Sigil drawn in human blood. When a hand is placed on the sigil, angels are temporarily banished from the area. It can be used by humans and angels, and the angel who uses it does not disappear with the others. Castiel uses an extreme form of this when he carves the sigil into his Vessel's chest; on this occasion, he vanished with the other angels, and returned near mortal.
- Exorcism Chant - There is an exorcism chant to expel angels from their human vessels. It seems that the chant is not well known as only one demon, Alastair, has ever used it.
- Staff of Moses
- Salt Crystal
- Angel Blade - Can be used by humans or angels.
- Enochian Sigils
- Death's Scythe - Crowley states that it will kill an angel.
- Cambion - Jesse has the power to transform Castiel into a toy. Castiel says that Jesse could "destroy the Host of Heaven."
- The Colt's power against angels is uncertain. It was ineffective against Lucifer, but he stated that only five beings could not be killed with this weapon, so it is possible that the Colt could kill most angels.
- Archangels can easily overpower angels, often killing or banishing them by snapping their fingers.
- Certain beings, such as Eve, can inhibit an angel from using his or her powers. It is not known if this applies to higher tier angels, such as the archangels. Eve existed before angels, and suggests that she has knowledge that angels lack.
The following named Angels have prominent roles in the series; for information on the Archangels Michael, Lucifer, Raphael and Gabriel see the article Archangel.
Multiple angels laid siege to Hell in attempt to rescue Dean Winchester from its pits, but it was Castiel who eventually saved him. During the process of raising Dean, a hand print is burnt into his left shoulder. As a result of his interactions with Dean, Castiel begins to develop empathy for humans. This leads to his demotion because his superiors view this as dangerous. At one point, Castiel is forcibly removed from his vessel, Jimmy Novak, and sent back to Heaven where it is impressed on him, under torture, that he must follow angelic orders. Ultimately, he does disobey and acts to help Dean escape Zachariah in order to try and stop Sam from unknowingly freeing Lucifer.
As a result of this action Castiel is killed, but is then resurrected by God. He next embarks on a mission to find God in order to stop Lucifer. He becomes disillusioned after Joshua reveals that God will not intervene to stop the Apocalypse. After he takes drastic action against a group of angels in 5.18 Point Of No Return, Castiel awakes in a hospital with his angelic powers all but gone. After being killed by Lucifer in the confrontation at Stull Cemetery, he is resurrected by God a second time, with enhanced capabilities. Castiel returns to Heaven following the imprisonment of Michael to help restore order. He is fighting a civil war against Raphael. After imbuing himself with the souls of Purgatory inside his vessel, Castiel rises in power, dispatches Raphael with a snap of his fingers, and claims to be the new "God".
His reign obliteratres Raphael's followers and an assortment of humans of whom Castiel disapproves. He also heals those he finds faithful. However, he becomes increasingly influenced by another group of creatures he took in along with the souls: Leviathans. They drive him to increasingly bloody acts, while the souls begin to destroy Castiel's vessel. At a prompt from the Winchesters, he accepts their help to get rid of the souls, but the Leviathans remain, and seize control of Cas.
Uriel comes to Earth, manifests inside a vessel, and stands with Castiel in trying to prevent the breaking of a seal in 4.07 It's The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester. He is introduced to the Winchesters as a "specialist", and appears to be junior to Castiel, being placed under his authority. He exhibits disdain for both humanity and demons. By 4.16 On The Head Of A Pin, he has been made Castiel's superior. He clandestinely breaks the Devil's Trap holding Alastair, intending for him to kill Dean. Uriel secretly supports the release of Lucifer so that the archangel can return to power. He is one of a group of rebellious angels with this goal, and he has been trying to recruit other angels to the cause; he kills those who refuse. He eventually reveals his plans to Castiel in an unsuccessful attempt to recruit the other angel, and they fight. Uriel gets the upper hand over Castiel, but Anna kills him, saving Cas.
Anna was originally Castiel and Uriel's superior, but she chose to remove her grace and become human. When Dean is saved from Hell, she begins to hear the angels speaking. Alastair wants to capture her in order to find out what the angels are doing, but Dean and Sam rescue her, and Pamela Barnes helps her regain her memories of having been an angel. Anna is under a death sentence for disobedience, but she is able to regain her grace from Uriel and becomes an angel again.
Later, Anna tries to get Castiel to join her and stop following orders, but he refuses. She kills the traitor Uriel to save Cas. After the events of 4.21 When The Levee Breaks, Anna meets with Castiel in an undisclosed location, and a group of angels take her back to Heaven for "reprogramming".
When Anna returns in 5.13 The Song Remains The Same she travels back in time to kill Sam's parents and prevent his birth. She believes this will prevent Lucifer from possessing him and end the Apocalypse. She fails, and Michael disintegrates Anna with a touch for interfering with Heaven's plan.
Zachariah is a powerful celestial that was under Michael's command. In his true angelic form, has four faces and six wings. Upon Uriel's death, Zachariah is deployed from Heaven and manifests on Earth in a vessel. He has significant authority over other angels. Zachariah is a direct superior of Castiel, and can even command Joshua, an angel who talks directly to God.
Zachariah plays a major role in the plan to allow Lucifer to be released so that Michael can kill him. Once Lucifer is freed, Zachariah takes increasingly aggressive actions to force Dean to consent to being Michael's Vessel. His failures on this score embitter him. According to Zachariah, he was greatly respected by all of his angel colleagues before being assigned Dean's case because he delivered consistent successes. His reputation is damaged by Dean's refusals, and he is 'fired' by his superiors. Michael then gives Zachariah one more chance at the task of recruiting Dean with a plot involving the resurrection of Adam, Dean's brother.
Ultimately even this effort fails, and Zachariah is killed by Dean with an Angel Killing Sword.
Joshua is an angel who monitors the Garden, also called Eden, in Heaven. He is known for speaking to God, although they do not converse face to face. Joshua was seen in Heaven in 5.16 Dark Side Of The Moon.
Balthazar is an angel who fought alongside Castiel during the last angelic war. Castiel thought that he had died in the fighting. In fact, Balthazar faked his death, taking a number of powerful artifacts, including the Staff of Moses and Lot's Salt, with him. He has been on Earth enjoying a rather hedonistic lifestyle, and has bought at least one human soul. He becomes something of an ally to Castiel, but is unaware of Castiel's deal with Crowley until the Winchesters tell him about it. He decides to clandestinely support their efforts to stop Cas. Castiel kills him after he alerts them to Castiel's location.
Virgil in an angel who formerly managed Angelic Weapons as the Weapons Keeper of Heaven. He is later hired as a "hitman" by Raphael. He is currently trapped in the Alternate Earth.
Rachel is Castiel's lieutenant during the angelic civil war, and refers to herself as his friend. However, she decides that his tactics are unacceptable and attempts to kill him, but is herself killed instead.
Cupids are angels of the Cherub order, "third class", according to Castiel. They represent a lower order of angels. There are dozens of them stationed on Earth, and Castiel states that they have been misunderstood by humans. They can manipulate the nature of human attraction, allowing them to make even the most opposite of humans fall in love.
A cupid is first seen in 5.14 My Bloody Valentine.
These anonymous angels appear to serve the executive members of the Host like Zachariah and Raphael. They often accompany higher angels when a specific task must be completed. They are primarily silent.
Their first appearance may be in 4.21 When The Levee Breaks, when they come to capture and escort the fugitive Anna Milton back to Heaven. Castiel kills two angel henchmen in 5.01 Sympathy For The Devil, and in the same episode Dean banishes them along with Zachariah. In 5.18 Point Of No Return, Castiel kills two more at the site of Adam Milligan's resurrection, and a fifth in the subsequent attempt to rescue Adam. In the same episode, he banishes four others with an Angel Banishing Sigil carved into his vessel.
In Season 6, a group of henchmen acts as soldiers for Raphael in his attempts to gain control of Heaven. During 6.03 The Third Man, a henchman spying on Castiel speaks for the first time. Of the three soldiers in the episode, Balthazar dispatches one, Sam and Dean banish a second, and Castiel kills the third. The henchmen appear in the following episodes: 4.21 When The Levee Breaks, 5.01 Sympathy For The Devil, 5.16 Dark Side Of The Moon, 5.18 Point of No Return, 6.03 The Third Man, 6.20 The Man Who Would Be King, 6.22 The Man Who Knew Too Much and 7.01 Meet The New Boss.
Angels in Lore
Angels or divine beings described as messengers of God, or guardians of souls occur in many religious traditions.
- Angels on Wikipedia
- Angels in Roman Catholicism
- Angels in Islam
- Angels in Judaism
- Reported encounters with angels
- 5.16 Dark Side Of The Moon
- 4.10 Heaven And Hell
- 5.13 The Song Remains The Same
- 6.20 The Man Who Would Be King
- 2.13 Houses of the Holy
- 2.20 What Is and What Should Never Be
- 4.01 Lazarus Rising
- 4.07 It's The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester
- 4.09 I Know What You Did Last Summer
- 4.16 On The Head Of A Pin
- 6.07 Family Matters
- 5.18 Point Of No Return
- 5.14 My Bloody Valentine
- 6.03 The Third Man
- 5.02 Good God Y'All
- 5.03 Free To Be You And Me
- 5.01 Sympathy For The Devil
- 5.22 Swan Song
- 5.21 Two Minutes To Midnight
- 6.18 Frontierland
- 6.22 The Man Who Knew Too Much
- 3.11 Mystery Spot
- 5.19 Hammer Of The Gods
- 6.10 Caged Heat
- 2.15 Tall Tales
- 5.08 Changing Channels
- 5.10 Abandon All Hope
- 4.20 The Rapture
- 4.22 Lucifer Rising
- 7.01 Meet The New Boss