There are ALOT of angels flying around in the Major Arcana of the Tarot.
The first one to appear is in The Lovers, hovering over Adam and Eve, arms outstretched, while the crafty snake twines around an apple tree. One assumes that this snapshot was taken BEFORE Uppity Eve decided that she just had to have a goddamned apple for breakfast, because the angel seems to be protecting or blessing them as they stand there. After her snack, of course, god went into a major psychotic rage and the angel drove them out of the garden with a flaming sword. (“She ate AN APPLE! That bitch ate one of my apples! How dare she? They’re MY apples. I’ll show her! I’ll throw her skinny ass right OUT of Paradise. I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!”)
Jewish tradition holds that the angel who tossed them out was Jophiel, which is odd because she seems like a pretty nice angel. She’s known as, “the angel of beauty,” and she’s shines beautiful thoughts into people’s hearts and helps addicts and artists.
The next angels to appear are the Cherubim and we see them in both The Wheel of Fortune and The World. Cherubim have four faces, one of an ox, a man, and eagle, and a lion. The human face fits on the front and the lion face goes on the right and ox goes on the left and the eagle face goes . . . somewhere else. Must be on the top or the back, right?
What else? They have two sets of wings that join together. The top set is to fly around with and the bottom set they use to cover themselves up. For why, I don’t know. (Ezekial 1:6)
So, as near as I can tell, they look sort of like giant dragonflies only they have four faces which are placed right, left, middle, and somewhere else. And to think they didn’t even have LSD when they wrote this . . .
We should note that cherubim are NOT cherubs as we know them on Valentines Day cards. The cute, cuddly little guys who shoot arrows into your heart are actually putti. That’s right, they’re putti. Cutey puttis. Look it up.
Also, apparently the Cherubim guard the gates of the Garden of Paradise so Uppity Eve can’t sneak back in for another apple, though it’s not clear if Jophiel (remember Jophiel? Nice angel? About 5 foot 4, blonde hair?) is a Cherub.
Also, Satan was a Cherub. Who knew, right?
The next angel, who is pictured in the Temperance card, is . . . well . . . the Temperance angel. I’ve done a lot of research on him/her and no one seems to know who she/he is, although they all agree that he/she is either of both sexes or no sex, which would make he/she an it, rather than she/he. We know that Temperance is one of the christian cardinal virtues so perhaps the angel is merely supposed to be an allegorical reference to our better self.
The next to the last angel is The Devil. And perhaps I’m taking a leap here that isn’t justified. There are so many christian symbols in the Tarot that it seems logical that if they’re referring to The Devil they probably mean Satan who, as noted above, is a Cherub and NOT a putti. NOT A PUTTI!
On the other hand, he could be Beelza Bubba, or whole bunch of other fallen angels. Or the idea of evil itself. Still, it seemed better to err on the side of caution and include him.
And the last angel is the angel blowing the horn on the Judgement card to summon the dead out of their graves. We can probably go out on a limb and say that this is Gabriel the Archangel. Anal retentive biblical scholars will point out to you that the bible doesn’t say it was Gabriel and, in fact, the bible doesn’t even mention Gabriel and in fact the only archangel that the bible even mentions is Michael.
But we all know it’s Gabriel. Gabriel’s the one with the horn. Everyone knows that.
Angels. What a trip! If you want to take a deep dive into angelology (yes, there IS such a word) Wikipedia has an extremely detailed article here.
If you’re interested in exploring your personal relationship with angels and spirit guides DailyOm has several good courses with guided visualizations here.
AND . . . you can buy my ebook, “Just the Tarot,” here.