Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Will We Vanish From the Record Like the Watchers Did?

andrewcollins | Is civilisation the legacy of a race of human angels known as Watchers and Nephilim? Andrew Collins, author of FROM THE ASHES OF ANGELS, previews his history of angels and fallen angels and traces their origin back to an extraordinarily advanced culture that entered the Near East shortly after the end of the last Ice Age.

Angels are something we associate with beautiful Pre-Raphaelite and renaissance paintings, carved statues accompanying gothic architecture and supernatural beings who intervene in our lives at times of trouble. For the last 2000 years this has been the stereotypical image fostered by the Christian Church. But what are angels? Where do they come from, and what have they meant to the development of organised religion?

Many people see the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament, as littered with accounts of angels appearing to righteous patriarchs and visionary prophets. Yet this is simply not so. There are the three angels who approach Abraham to announce the birth of a son named Izaac to his wife Sarah as he sits beneath a tree on the Plain of Mamre.

There are the two angels who visit Lot and his wife at Sodom prior to its destruction. There is the angel who wrestles all night with Jacob at a place named Penuel, or those which he sees moving up and down a ladder that stretches between heaven and earth. Yet other than these accounts, there are too few examples, and when angels do appear the narrative is often vague and unclear on what exactly is going on. For instance, in the case of both Abraham and Lot the angels in question are described simply as `men', who sit down to take food like any mortal person.

Influence of the Magi
It was not until post-exilic times - ie after the Jews returned from captivity in Babylon around 450 BC - that angels became an integral part of the Jewish religion. It was even later, around 200 BC, that they began appearing with frequency in Judaic religious literature. Works such as the Book of Daniel and the apocryphal Book of Tobit contain enigmatic accounts of angelic beings that have individual names, specific appearances and established hierarchies. These radiant figures were of non-Judaic origin. All the indications are that they were aliens, imports from a foreign kingdom, namely Persia.

The country we now today as Iran might not at first seem the most likely source for angels, but it is a fact that the exiled Jews were heavily exposed to its religious faiths after the Persian king Cyrus the Great took Babylon in 539 BC. These included not only Zoroastrianism, after the prophet Zoroaster or Zarathustra, but also the much older religion of the Magi, the elite priestly caste of Media in north-west Iran. They believed in a whole pantheon of supernatural beings called ahuras, or `shining ones', and daevas - ahuras who had fallen from grace because of their corruption of mankind.

Although eventually outlawed by Persia, the influence of the Magi ran deep within the beliefs, customs and rituals of Zoroastrianism. Moreover, there can be little doubt that Magianism, from which we get terms such as magus, magic and magician, helped to establish the belief among Jews not only of whole hierarchies of angels, but also of legions of fallen angels - a topic that gains its greatest inspiration from one work alone - the Book of Enoch.

The Book of Enoch
Compiled in stages somewhere between 165 BC and the start of the Christian era, this so-called pseudepigraphal (ie falsely attributed) work has as its main theme the story behind the fall of the angels. Yet not the fall of angels in general, but those which were originally known as 'Œrin ('Œr in singular), `those who watch', or simply `watchers' as the word is rendered in English translation.

The Book of Enoch tells the story of how 200 rebel angels, or Watchers, decided to transgress the heavenly laws and `descend' on to the plains and take wives from among mortal kind. The site given for this event is the summit of Hermon, a mythical location generally association with the snowy heights of Mount Hermon in the Ante-Lebanon range, north of modern-day Palestine (but see below for the most likely homeland of the Watchers).

The 200 rebels realise the implications of their transgressions, for they agree to swear an oath to the effect that their leader Shemyaza would take the blame if the whole ill-fated venture went terribly wrong.

After their descent to the lowlands, the Watchers indulge in earthly delights with their chosen `wives', and through these unions are born giant offspring named as Nephilim, or Nefilim, a Hebrew word meaning `those who have fallen', which is rendered in Greek translations as gigantes, or `giants'.

andrewcollins |   In both the book of Genesis (chapter six) and the book of Enoch, the rebel Watchers are said also to have come upon the Daughters of Men, i.e. mortal women, who gave birth to giant offspring called Nephilim. For this transgression against the laws of Heaven, the renegades were incarcerated and punished by those Watchers who had remained loyal to Heaven. The rebel Watchers' offspring, the Nephilim (a word meaning "those who fell), were either killed outright, or were afterwards destroyed in the flood of Noah. Some, however, the book of Numbers tells us, survived and went on to become the ancestors of giant races, such as the Anakim and Rapheim.

I wrote that the story of the Watchers is in fact the memory of a priestly or shamanic elite, a group of highly intelligent human individuals, that entered the Upper Euphrates region from another part of the ancient world sometime around the end of the last Ice Age, c. 11,000-10,000 BC. On their arrival in what became known as the land or kingdom of Eden (a term actually used in the Old Testament), they assumed control of the gradually emerging agrarian communities, who were tutored in a semi-rural life style centred around agriculture, metal working and the rearing of animal live stock. More disconcertingly, these people were made to venerate their superiors, i.e. the Watchers, as living gods, or immortals.

The precise same region of the Near East, now thought to be the biblical Garden of Eden, has long been held to be the cradle of civilization. Here a number of "firsts" occurred at the beginning of the Neolithic revolution, which began c. 10,000-9000 BC. It was in southeast Turkey, northern Syria and northern Iraq, for example, that the first domestication of wild grasses took place, the first fired pottery and baked statues were produced, the first copper and lead were smelted, the first stone buildings and standing stones were erected, the first beautification of the eyes took place among woman, the first drilled beads in ultra hard stone were produced, the first alcohol was brewed and distilled, etc., etc. In fact, many of the arts and sciences of Heaven that the Watchers are said to have revealed to mortal kind were all reported first in this region of the globe, known to archaeologists as Upper Mesopotamia, and to the people of the region as Kurdistan.

Sean Thomas acknowledges my help at the beginning of the The Genesis Secret, which follows exactly the same themes as From the Ashes of Angels (and my later book Gods of Eden, published in 1998), including the fact that the Watchers and founders of Eden were bird man, i.e. shamans that wore cloaks of feathers, and that local angel worshipping cults in Kurdistan, such as the Yezidi, Yaresan and Alevi, preserve some semblance of knowledge regarding the former existence of the Watchers or angels as the bringers of civilization. Their leader, they say was Azazel, known also as Melek Taus (or Melek Tawas), the "Peacock Angel". Azazel is a name given in the book of Enoch for one of the two leaders of the rebel Watchers (the other being Shemyaza).

It is an honour for my work to be acknowledged in this manner by Sean Thomas, especially as The Genesis Secret has become a bestseller (as was From the Ashes of Angels in 1996). I won't spoil the plot, so will not reveal Sean's conclusions, or indeed the climax of the book, although I must warn you that it is extremely gory in places!