I want to share something I learned earlier this month in ceremony about angels. I’m sharing it because in it is a teaching about our divine nature that is inevitably going to come up in future discussions about spirituality.

(**Requisite spirituality disclaimer: I cannot, nor can you, prove anything about our spiritual beliefs beyond what we know in our hearts to be true. If you believe something different I welcome your sharing your perspective from a place of kindness, but please refrain from debates.**)

Three weeks ago I received a message from the Archangel Michael (via my shaman who channeled him in the angelic language) that I was being asked to sing more, because my voice carried the angelic chords. When I went into ceremony the following night, I set the intention to understand what that meant – and part of that meant that I needed to understand the nature of angels.

I had never really connected with angels. The oppressive nature of organized Catholicism had tainted them for me, and the imagery of cherubs with wings struck me as cheesy. Some things get lost in translation when we try to explain them in ways that we as humans can visualize – heaven and hell being classic examples – and mistaking the essence of something as its Hollywoodized translation is an easy pitfall.

During the first hour of ceremony I went to the bathroom and found a large piece of selenite on the window. I picked it up and thought to myself, “Hey, isn’t selenite a crystal that’s supposed to help teach you about angels? Ok crystal, tell me what you know.” Then I immediately thought “Arden… you’re in the bathroom talking to a crystal, you should probably get back to circle now.”

So I went back to circle. And over the course of the next 3-4 hours, I came to understand angels.

It began in a moment when I saw my shaman making healing gestures on another participant. In that moment, every move he made was precise to the point of perfection, and I saw the angelic nature come through him just as it had when he was channeling for me the night before. The nature of angels, I realized then, is precision. We often think of angels as sweet or peaceful because they are emblematic of divine goodness, but in reality angels are fearsome – anyone who encounters one is fucking terrified. And they’re not terrifying because they’re dangerous or bad, but rather because they are perfect, and perfection is intimidating because it reminds us of our own ineptitude in our human nature. To meet an angel is to be humbled.

I have seen flashes of this precision in others, and sometimes even in myself, in a speaker who captivates an audience, a musician who performs in perfect flow with their music, or in myself when I write a sentence that cuts straight to the exact message I want to convey. I have seen the glory that results when that precision is achieved, and I have seen the frustration that ensues when that precision is neared but not quite executed.

And then it occurred to me that perhaps perfectionists are simply angels in disguise who are frustrated by the limitations of their human fallibility. It’s like we’re driving a car where the steering is just a bit off. And we get angry with ourselves because our souls retain the memory of what our divine perfection is like in the astral – we get frustrated because we know that we know better. (Of course, the lesson there is that it’s not about us – we must be in human form to both learn ourselves and teach others through an earthly experience, so to focus on achieving perfection is to miss the point.)

And then I thought – if humans can be angels in disguise, are all humans angels, or just perfectionists? And then it occurred to me that perhaps angelic nature, like gender, is not a binary but a spectrum – that everyone with life in them contains a soul, the seed of angelic nature which blossoms with divine awakening. The person who spends their whole life aspiring to no more than working at Walmart and eating McDonald’s may simply be a new soul, a seedling at the start of their journey. And that means that Archangels are only different from us on a soul level in that they have seniority – they’ve been around the longest and so they don’t have to do the human thing anymore. Angelic nature is cumulative soul experience, the refinement of our souls by our karmic lessons.

Angels therefore are merely disembodied souls in the astral, the 21 grams that our bodies lose upon the moment of death. And the more we commit to our process of awakening, the more angelic we become.

I asked what this had to do with my singing, and I was told that it wasn’t about my voice, but rather about my genius, that my voice was merely the channel. I asked what made this any different from my writing or speaking, and the answer I heard was “Because you’re already doing that, but when it comes to your music you’re still playing small.” That night, I sang in ceremony, and I witnessed spirit coming through me as I did so. I asked to be shown the beauty in my singing, and my wish was granted.

The next morning I shared what I had learned in circle and asked my shaman to fact-check everything I’d said. “You know,” he replied, “there is a scripture that exists called The Doctrine of Angels, and it says exactly what you just described.”

Later that day he channeled Archangel Michael again for the entire group, and in the midst of translating, he looked directly at me and said, “…and like this one said, we are all in the process of our angelic awakening.”

So there you have it. That’s what I learned about angels, as peer-reviewed by my shaman and apparently by Archangel Michael himself.

(As a PS, because this is super weird, since I sang in ceremony that night I have noticed tangible changes in the quality of my voice. My voice requires less power behind it and I can switch registers more easily, which means it’s overall smoother and requires less muscle behind it. As a test, I was in the car and I decided to put on a Halestorm song I’d never been able to make it all the way through due to all the belt notes, and sure enough I got through the whole thing like it was nothing. Super weird but wow I’m a believer.)