Is There Really an Angel Named Castiel?
Give it a minute…the Supernatural fans will be here momentarily. All here? Good. I just had to get my Caligula cat to move from my computer chair. She causes major problems if you move her from where she sleeps. Anyway, this post is a long one. Turn on your best of mullet rock and get ready for some learning!
Recently there has been some flailing about wildly and complaining/sobbing/whining/rejoicing/hoping-for-the-best in the Supernatural fandom due to the season 9 finale and JIBCON 2014. I have remarks on both and will talk about them, but today is not that day! Today is Fun Fact Friday. Being a religious studies person fresh from university I get asked a lot of questions about various religions and aspects of religions. You have no idea how delighted I was when Supernatural took a turn for the “OMG! A show that I can analyze in a philosophic way! Yes!” awesome sort of way. I love the show and, unlike at lot of my friends that watch it, my brain goes straight into the philosophic and religious analysis mode when watching it. That led me to a ton more reading about various mythologies, religions, and customs than what was probably necessary for a religious studies scholar should have done. All of that study turned out to be a good thing and has actually been fairly useful outside of my school work and intellectual chit-chat with my nerdtastic friends and family. You all get to benefit from my unnatural love of learning too! So, what is today’s topic? Well, this topic was requested by a friend of mine. So, to indulge him, and add my 2 cents to the Supernatural fandom discussions all over the interwebs, today’s Fun Fact Friday is about Castiel. No, not the Castiel Misha Collins plays, the one from Gnostic/occult texts. Although, I will mention Misha’s Castiel. Anyway, enough introduction let us get started!
No Pinterest/Tumblr! Castiel does NOT mean “to fall from God”! I am not entirely sure where the heck that came from. The name Castiel, like 99.999999% of all other names that are used to refer to Angels of the Lord, is of Hebrew origin, not Latin so putting a Latin meaning to it does not really make much sense. Especially when you remember that Christianity branched off from Judaism and not the other way around. What does the name Castiel mean then? The name Castiel means “God is my cover” or “God is my shield” in Hebrew. How do you get that meaning? Well, if you have done any part of religious studies you will know about a branch called Theophory. Theophory is basically saying that you are putting the name of your god or goddess in a name. This is done with the name Castiel by putting the –el at the end of the name. That particular Theophory uses the Hebrew El which is used to refer to might of God. In English it is sometimes rendered as God Almighty. The first part of Castiel’s name is where you get the “is my cover” or “is my shield”. I will give the Supernatural people kudos in that they actually pronounce his name correctly despite using the Latinized spelling of the name. I cringe a little when I hear Gabriel pronounced the way that 99% of English speakers pronounce it. There is a distinct separation between the “Gabri” and “el”! AHH!!! If you are going to pronounce one of their names right, please pronounce them all right. In actuality, the spellings should be Casti’el, Gavri’el, Micha’el, ect… That apostrophe is not just there for looks in the Hebrew language people! It tells you how to pronounce the dang word! Okay, okay, let me get off of my language rant and get back to the actual post. For the purpose of keeping consistent with what most people recognize, I will leave out the apostrophe for this post.
To answer the question of whether or not Castiel is an actual angel, yes and no. How can Castiel be both? Well, I say no because it is not listed in any form of the Biblical cannon, nor is it listed in any Gnostic, Apocryphal, or Deuterocanonical texts. Trust me on that. I have read over those numerous times for my own personal desire, for class, and just for funzies. I try to read through them at least once a year. It does take that long if you are actually reading those. There is a reason that in the back of the Bible it gives you a list of how to read it in a year. It wants you to understand what you are reading. Oh, and while I am thinking about it, Castiel is also not listed in any of the Kabbalistic or Jewish mysticism texts either. I have read those too. So, in that way I will have to say that no. I will say yes because, honestly, in the Bible it references there being numerous angels that are left unnamed and who knows, maybe there is an actual Castiel. Who know? I do not. If there is, can you imagine how confused it is.
However, during the time of the Inquisition, because nobody expects them, an Italian philosophy by the name of Pietro d’Abano wrote a grimoire called “The Heptameron”. It is a book of medieval spells, stories, and lore with a Judeo-Christian flair to it as was common at that time for those daring enough to write what they wanted and to heck with the Inquisition that nobody ever expected. In this grimoire it lists the angels associated with each day of the week. Now, most fans of Supernatural will already know that Castiel is the angel of Thursday, but what they do not know is that there are actually three angels of Thursday. The other two are Sachiel and Asasiel. In addition to just telling what days of the week these angels were related with, this text also listed other aspects of said angels! Yes, there is more to this version of Castiel than just being the angel of Thursday! A lot more. As an angel of Thursday, Castiel is placed in the Sixth Heaven. The whole Sixth Heaven thing is a Catholic, Jewish, Islamic, and Gnostic thing and that is a whole post to itself. I will say this though, God’s Throne is above the Seventh Heaven. If Castiel is in the Sixth Heaven that would make him either a Cherubim or an Ophanim, depending on which angelic hierarchy you are studying. An interesting thing to note is that the angels of Thursday are said to have a joyful and loving nature. They are also said to perform acts of good will to those unsuspecting of it. In other words, Castiel is literally an angel of random acts of kindness…OMG! Yeah, I am just going to stop that thought right there. See the link at the bottom of the post. Anyway, like most grimoires, it lists colours, planets, and plants associated with them. Castiel’s planet is Jupiter. The planet named after the head god of the Roman pantheon. The colour associated with Thursday’s angels is light green. As for the plant that Castiel and the other angels of Thursday, that would be saffron. Yep, that ridiculously expensive spice in the cooking aisle at the store. In the past grimoires listed saffron as an herb that could be used for a variety of things. These included: increasing psychic powers, protective spells, strength, help with new beginnings, new life, reduce conflict, bring peace, and was commonly used in love spells. Castiel was also listed as being an angel of the South Winds. In other words, Castiel was the angels of storms and the destroyer of crops. Jerk.
So, now that I have broken the minds of unsuspecting Supernatural fans, there you have it. Castiel may or may not be an actual angel. Now, before you start bickering at me because I refer to Castiel as an it, let me explain that real quick. Angels do not technically have a gender and I really do not know how to refer to them. I could have said she and I could have said he. So, I decided to just leave it with it being entirely up to you. When it comes to grimoires as a reliable source for religious reference, I am kind of iffy on what to believe, but I will say that they are fun to read. This particular post has taken me a lot of study and I have been working on it for well over a month for you all to enjoy/break your mind.