The word angel is derived from the Greek word angelos, which means “messenger.” Malakh, the Hebrew word for angel, also means messenger, and both words nicely coincide with the Persian word for angel, angaros, similarly meaning a courier. The word “angel” can commonly be used to describe anyone who brings a message to another, whether a human being or a spirit. However, within some religions, angels are spirit messengers who bring messages of truth to aid mankind. Angels are then traditionally believed to be supernatural beings who act as mediators between man and god.
It is taught that angels have authority over the natural world, being organized into classes or heirarchies. The origin of angels in history is quite complicated to figure out, due to angels or similar spirit beings being found within many cultures around the globe. Angels are found within three key religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Yet, angels, or divine helpers, were also found within Sumerian, Babylonian, Persian, Egyptian and Greek writings, as well, and played a major influence upon the ideas regarding angels within the key religions themselves. For example, it is well known that ancient Sumerian texts pre-dated the Hebrew book of Genesis, including the idea of the existence of angels. The Hebrew beliefs regarding angels were similarly shared with Christianity, and both Judaism’s and Christianity’s teachings of angels inspired the Islam beliefs concerning angels.
The point of origin for the current New Age interest in angels seems to have been theosophical ideas about the devas (the occult term for angels), as mediated to the larger New Age subculture by the community of Findhorn. This community in northern Scotland came to the attention of the occult-metaphysical subculture in the late 1960s. The early Findhorn community focused around a highly successful vegetable garden in which, residents claimed, community members were engaged in a unique cooperative arrangement with agricultural devas-spiritual beings which theosophical writers have claimed work at the etheric level to build up forms on the physical plane. Thus the devas, whom Theosophists had long identified with the angels of Western religious traditions, entered the consciousness of the New Age, though it would be more than two decades before they became the focus of attention.