An illustration from the Codex
|Occupation:|| Soldiers of God|
Patrons of the Shadowhunters
|“||Angels are not just messengers. They are soldiers.||”|
Angels are winged celestial beings who serve as messengers of God, guardians of his creations, and soldiers in his eternal war against the denizens of Hell.
In the Shadow World, the Angel Raziel, an angel of high rank, is the being from which the Nephilim came from. After a warlock summoned the Angel, his blood was mixed with that of Jonathan's in the Mortal Cup and given to humans to drink, who in turn became the first of the Nephilim.
Description and abilities
Among Shadowhunters and Downworlders, little is known about angels and much is conjectured; few who might speak knowledgeably live to do so. The Nephilim see them as the great absent generals of their army, having left them a thousand years ago with their heavenly endorsement, basic orders, and enough magic to fight for themselves. The blood of the Angel Raziel runs in the veins of every Nephilim, flowing through the transformative properties of the Mortal Cup. Angels may be absent patrons, but the Nephilim regard them as their spiritual parents, and they recognize them with their prayers, their invocations, and in the names of their most holy weapons.
The general consensus is that the physical forms of angels are shaped like humans, but are much larger, winged, and glow with heavenly fire; however, many authors have suggested that when angels do manifest on Earth, they take whatever shape witnesses will recognize as angelic. As immortal beings of pure spirit, angels must take on a corporeal form to exist on Earth. So far, they have been witnessed as luminous beings of great stature; beautiful, ethereal, nude, and speaking with an otherworldly voice.
They possess superhuman strength beyond that of any Downworlder, Nephilim, or lesser demon, sufficient to hurl whole hoards of demons into outer space from the surface of the Earth. Angels of high rank, such as Raziel, are supposedly strong enough to defeat the higher Greater Demons, such as the Princes of Hell. Supposedly, angels possess the abilities as those of Marked Shadowhunters, though at a much greater degree. Also, much like with faeries and some old warlocks, time flows or is perceived differently by angels compared to humans.
Fallen angels are angels who have been cast out of Heaven for their rebellion. It is often believed that most fallen angels are those who sided with Lucifer when he made his war against God. After they were cast into Hell and the Void, they took on monstrous corporeal forms and later became known as Greater Demons, led by the Princes of Hell. These now demonic fallen angels created lesser, common demons as well as the chaotic ethereal force that animates them and gives them their powers.
It is considered unwise to attempt to summon an angel for several reasons.
Summoning an angel is considered by many as futile and a waste of time, since angels do not respond to summons in the same way that demons do. They cannot maintain their corporeal form on Earth for long, any more than other non-demon creatures can in a dimension not their own. Additionally, the summoning rituals that claim to bring angels are obscure, difficult, and unreliable; they have been accomplished so rarely that there is not much evidence for what does and does not work.
Along with these factors, the danger and risk of disaster, injury, or death from a misunderstood or misapplied summoning ritual is very high. It is even forbidden for some angels to be summoned unless through the proper methods and in the proper time, like Raziel, who could be summoned, though infrequently, with the Mortal Instruments—when tried without the tools, Raziel was angered and threatened to blast Simon Lewis, the summoner, from the world and was only spared because he had the Mark of Cain that served as his protection, powerful enough to withstand Raziel's wrath.
Even if the summoning was successful, there is currently no known way to oblige an angel to cooperate with the desires or needs of the summoner. An angel cannot be bound in the way that a demon is bound, except by the application of forbidden and blasphemous rituals, such as the circle of Marks that Valentine used to bind Ithuriel and attempted to compel Raziel with, the performance of which are among the worst violations of the Law that a Shadowhunter could commit.
Finally, if a summoning is successful, the summoner and any of his/her assistants risk quick death at the hands of the summoned angel because, unlike demons, angels do not want to be on Earth; they do not like manifesting into corporeal form, nor do they like helping humans, and they are not known for their mercy. They are on the whole deeply indifferent to the travails of the mortal realm. They are not merely messengers or guardians, they are the soldiers of God's army and emissaries of his wrath and vengeance. They are not patient or tolerant of human vicissitudes.
Despite their intimidating appearance, some angels are not all-powerful and can be defeated. John Shade and Valentine Morgenstern were both able to summon Ithuriel, the first managed to trap a piece of him in a device and the latter was able to bind the angel in a circle of Marks. Additionally, seraph blades are somehow deadly to angels, as shown when Ithuriel used Jace's seraph blade to commit suicide. Also, when angels make promises, they are tied to it and its conditions, meaning they will not be allowed to break it.
Other than the fact that they were created by God, their early history remains unknown. It is known that they are as old, or possibly older, than the Earth itself. Much has been done in their name, both good and evil, even though the number of confirmed manifestations of angels on Earth in the entire history of the Nephilim can be counted on one hand.
Some time in 1000 AD, several demons invaded the Earth. At one point, the mortals Jonathan, Abigail, and David battled demons as best as they could and were eventually overwhelmed. Brought to a lake to drown, Jonathan used what little breath he had to ask a blessing on the lake, to sanctify it as a place where things of darkness, such as demons, would not be welcome. He prayed and his prayers were answered.
Raziel rose from Lake Lyn, bearing with him the Mortal Instruments. Jonathan asked him to save his comrades. Introducing himself as an angel of God, Raziel heeded his prayers and lifted the three of them from the lake and placed them on the shore and flung the remaining demons high into the air. Seeing that Jonathan's intent was good and true, he gave him the Mortal Instruments for him to start the race of the Nephilim.
Angel Hoax of 1832
In 1832, a Prussian farmer and Shadowhunter, Johannes von Mainz, called the entire Clave to his farm to witness the "angel" he had summoned to his cow barn. Awe quickly turned to chagrin when some of the neighbors recognized the "angel" as Johannes's son, Hans, covered in gold leaf and bellowing pronouncements in a vulgar mix of Latin, German, and what appeared to be a nonsense language of Hans's own invention. The "angel's wings" turned out to be a mix of goose, duck, and chicken feathers haphazardly pasted to a wooden frame. Johannes retreated to his farm in humiliation, and Hans was no longer able to so much as go into town without receiving catcalls and being pelted with feathers. Since then, most Shadowhunters have been very cautious in either making or checking claims of angel appearances.
Shadowhunters are required to know the names of the angels. One reason is because they are of their blood, so they learn their names out of respect. Also, they name their seraph blades after them, and it is believed that the seraph blades are infused not just with the generic heavenly fire of adamas, but with some of the spirit of the angel named. Nephilim rarely name their seraph blades after the most famous and powerful of angels due to the fear that such angelic power might overwhelm and destroy the wielder of such a weapon. They also never name their blades after Raziel for fear of his wrath.