Debating over angels is nothing new. In the Middle Ages it was what everybody was doing! The Catholic Church was the governing power, making decisions for every one about everything, and their views reigned supreme. Open air debates between philosophers, politicians, and theologians took place daily and everyone had their favorites. Among the top two were Thomas Aquinas and John Dun Scotus. These two presented strong opinions about everything angels – do they live forever, do they have free will, what are they made of, what do they do, where do they live, how do they interact with humans, do they evolve to higher states of being, etc.?
Thomas’ viewpoint gained the most attention, giving him the “top dog” spot. He believed angels didn’t have specific bodies, that each one was a unique individual not belonging to a certain “angelic race.” He argued that angels came from a higher spiritual level, and could appear on earth by temporarily taking on flesh bodies at will. But primarily, they stayed within their domains, governing earth’s environment and influencing human affairs.
Thomas’ positions were deeply rooted in the teachings of a much earlier “angel-technician” from the 500s – Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, a writer based in Syria. His book, The Celestial Hierarchy, was acknowledged by the Catholic Church as a reliable textbook on angels.
John Dun Scotus believed angels were not simply individual beings, but were also part of a distinct race of beings with real human-like bodies made up of a very fine, spiritual matter. This type of “body” allowed them to transmit their appearance in a “hologram” fashion, enabling them to be in more than one place at a time. He argued that they were like humans, possessing individual personalities, being able to reason and think for themselves, but on a higher, more wise level (kinda makes me think of Spock from Star Trek). And he was convinced angels were approachable, and could be contacted.
During the Middle Ages, the most popular way of contacting an angel was to prayerfully gaze at a picture or sculpture of an angel until you felt their energy/presence. This belief eventually proved rather lucrative for the Church through the mass marketing of angel pictures, cards, charms, artwork, sculptures, figurines, and more. And, yes, this market still remains strong to this day.