We talk to angels
Once ridiculed as absurd, there's a growing awareness of angels and in the people who devote their lives to communicating with them for others' good, writes Sue Conley
Time was when you wouldn't hear about angels from one end of the year to the next -- except at this time of year, of course, when they did their duty in the Christmas story, bringing messages to shepherds watching their flocks by night.
It is in this capacity, however, as messengers and guides, that these 'spiritual beings' have come into the greater, everyday consciousness.
Angelology has always been a legitimate part of divinity studies, but like much else that organised religion has sought to keep from the masses, it has edged its way out into the larger world.
The past 10 to 15 years have seen a huge growth in angel awareness, thanks in large part to Doreen Virtue and Diana Cooper whose books, blogs and decks of angel cards have paved the way for the acceptance of others whose talents, and life path, have led them to chiming in with the ever-growing chorus of angel communicators.
Not that it's been an easy path to tread.
"When I started in this field 20 years ago, I was considered a lunatic," says Aidan Storey. "You were very careful about where you spoke about it."
In many ways, the current crop of angel practitioners suffered so that we don't have to.
Each of the four we spoke to has gone through dark nights of the soul before they got to where they are today, living fully in the faith that they, and we, are watched over every moment of our lives.
Lorna is the author of the international best-seller 'Angels in My Hair'. Its popularity was a greater-than-usual triumph for the Dubliner, who was dyslexic at a time when the word wasn't common parlance. Byrne received the barest education and struggled through a series of personal setbacks, including the death of her husband in 2000, that in many ways prepared her for the road she's now on.
She's a public speaker with a worldwide audience, and her third book, 'A Message of Hope From the Angels', is in a new Christmas edition for 2013.
"I always see the angels, from the moment I open my eyes. It's like you yourself just looking across this room and seeing people. That's normal for you. That's normal for me as to seeing angels. So as far as my having a reaction to seeing them, I can't give you an answer to that -- it's natural, I'm afraid.
"I don't know why God chose me, I really don't. As a child, I understood, even though I was so young, why the angels said to keep them a secret.
"I'm so glad I did, because I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you. I could have ended up in an institution. I was considered retarded because I had learning difficulties.
"I don't teach people to communicate with angels, the job that God has given me is to speak all around the world to all sorts of religious groups and to me that is amazing. I have an awful lot of inter-faith leaders wanting to interview me, asking so many questions, and wanting to change.
"Here in Ireland I'm doing as much as I can for different charities like the Simon Community and AIDS orphanages in Africa.
"One of the things that comes from talking to inter-faith people is that sometimes I'd do a talk, and the hall would be full, and if only the people could see the angels there. And yet we have wars over religion, that's where a lot of our hatred is. One of the messages that I have to give is that all religions join together and pray together, and will not be superior to each other. There is the one God. And God doesn't give up on us.
"I know that there's a lot of people out there that are cynical, but it doesn't matter. A person who is cynical is hungry and thirsty as well -- they want to know. Everybody is in the world to know that you have a soul, and that you don't die, it's only the body that dies, and that God is real. That is the biggest message to the world."
"I am not a fortune teller. People come to me who have problems, or are stuck, and the angels will give me good direction for them." The youngest of seven, Aidan is an angel therapy practitioner and spiritual healer. He too was in touch with angels from a young age; he now facilitates workshops in which people can learn how to work with the angels themselves. He's the author of 'Angels of Divine Light'.
"Angels will appear to you in whatever form you believe they are. I grew up with the old Catholic belief that they were very tall and very slim and very beautiful and had beautiful wings. That's the way they still appear to me. If I'm working with a group of people, they'll show themselves in colour or energies or orbs.
"They're very gentle, but they're very firm, they're no pushovers. They're very direct in what they tell you, and they do get a bit fed-up with us when we're too negative. They will help you without asking, but they will help you much, much more if you ask.
"It's not my mission to convince anyone. They've pulled me through really dark times, but I've had to do a lot of the work myself. I had a particularly bad childhood in that I was sexually abused.
"Abuse followed me through life, then in work and in relationships, and there came a point in my life when I asked the angels to stop appearing to me and they did.
"In my late 20s I had a nervous breakdown and the angels came back into my life and put the right people in my path after that.
"If you're going to work with people, you have to learn empathy and understanding so that you can look at people in the face and say, 'I have been there, and it is possible to come out the other side'. I remember when I was healing myself, I was going, 'I can't love the person who abused me', and the angels said, 'Well, just love them on a soul level. Every day, get up and say, 'I'm human, I don't love them, I can't -- but I love them on a soul level. I know that they were put on my soul path for some reason'.
"If you hold on to hatred and bitterness, it makes you old and grumpy first, and it kills your spirit, and it kills your soul's purpose. To forgive is to set yourself free.
"They never will explain why some people can see and some people don't. It's not that they're giving anyone brownie points. I don't get any extra brownie points because I see them. The people who can't see or can't sense and still believe? They're the people I'm really impressed with."
Marleen is a Reiki and angel healer and the proprietor of Angel World in Sligo. Originally from Celbridge, she is claircognizant, and doesn't see the angels in three dimensions -- instead, she connects with them through her intuition.
"They say it's better to step into this path rather than be thrown on to it -- I was thrown on to it!" she says. "In March 1999, my mother went for an operation in hospital and never came out again.
"This was what triggered my spiritual path, although at the time I was angry with God and the world. For about two years after this, I did the classic escapism drill, I did anything not to feel or deal with what happened. Eventually I started to look at the world differently, at myself differently, and I started my spiritual path.
"Claircognizant means clear knowing. I just know things. It can be hard to explain to people that you just know that you know.
"When I work with the angels in healing, the feeling is so calm, so peaceful -- so present.
"It's like the feeling you get when you see your friend walk up the aisle with her proud Dad on her arm, or when a baby smiles at you, or when a mother first holds her newborn child. It's pure happiness.
"I didn't find Angel World, it found me. It was the angels working with me and it was me trusting their guidance and following it. I was visiting Sligo with my husband and I found this lovely angel shop -- I ended up talking to the lady who ran the place, and I told her how I'd love to have an angel shop like this.
"We emailed a few times, and in her last email she mentioned that it was a pity I lived so far away, as they were thinking of selling the shop. It was March 2009 when I first walked into the place, and by the first of September I was standing in the same angel shop as the new proprietor.
"The angels say that life is for living. Make time to play, no matter how old you are and love. Love is the key: love yourself, love others, love life. Angels like us to go with the flow, to see the good in the world, to focus on what we want, not what we don't want and to take ourselves lightly."
Francesca grew up in Finglas in an ordinary working-class family. She worked for Players as a machinist until she developed ME and was bed bound for almost two years. She was visited and healed by an angel over time. She made a full recovery and committed to work as a channeller and teacher.
"I believed in angels as a child. The angels we were taught about in our religious textbooks. But I knew nothing about spirituality or healing. The breakthrough came as a result of my illness. I did not resist in any way. The feeling of love and being looked after was all around our house and family when the angels came.
"I see angels in every form: I sense them, feel them, hear them, and see them as if I am talking to you. My husband was a skeptic when the angels first came, today he is an alternative healer with the help of the angels. My family have been with me all of the way. There is an acceptance from them that makes my journey much easier.
"Do I feel different? Today I have no affinity with my old life. The angels explained to me when I got sick that my soul cried out to go home to God. God heard my call, revived my soul and sent me back. They say many people are called, but only a few will answer.
"I accepted this gift because I knew it was part of who I was; it was my purpose and I was never frightened of it. It is about opening that door and trusting.
"The angels say it is our heritage to communicate with them, but we are conditioned by the modern world to have fear and doubt and feel unworthy of the love of angels and God. Angels come to help and to bridge the gap between heaven and earth."