The only serious considerations of the problem so far are to be sought in the early seventeenth century. As a starting point for future investigation I recommend the following from Natvilcius (De Aethereo et aerio Corpore, Basel. 1627, II. xii.); [...] "It appears that the homogeneous flame perceived by our senses is not the body, properly so called, of an angel or daemon, but rather either the sensorium of that body or the surface of a body which exists after a manner beyond our conception in the celestial frame of spatial references'." By the 'celestial frame of references' I take him to mean what we should now call 'multi-dimensional space'. Not, of course, that Natvilcius knew anything about multi-dimensional geometry, but that he had reached empirically what mathematics has since reached on theoretical grounds.
Out of the Silent Planet, C. S. Lewis

"I have now to inform you that there are similar organisms above the level of animal life. When I say, 'above,' I am not speaking biologically. The structure of the macrobe, so far as we know it, is of extreme simplicity. When I say that it is above the animal level, I mean that it is more permanent, disposes of more energy, and has greater intelligence."
That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis

Eldila are multidimensional energy beings. They are also angels. The name is an Old Solar word; the singular form is eldil. The beings themselves, so far as we can understand them, are simple masses of unified-field energy, controlled by superhuman intelligence. They are immortal and as old as time. Eldila live all through interplanetary and interstellar space.

In the most abstract terms it might be summed up by saying that the surface of the island was subject to tiny variations of light and shade which no change in the sky accounted for. If the air had not been calm and the groundweed too short and firm to move in the wind, he would have said that a faint breeze was playing with it, and working such slight alterations in the shading as it does in a cornfield on the Earth. Like the silvery noises in the air, these footsteps of light were shy of observation. Where he looked hardest they were least to be seen: on the edges of his field of vision they came crowding as though a complex arrangement of them were there in progress. To attend to any one of them was to make it invisible, and the minute brightness seemed often to have just left the spot where his eyes fell. He had no doubt that he was 'seeing' – as much as he ever would see – the eldila.
Out of the Silent Planet, C. S. Lewis

What I saw was simply a very faint rod or pillar of light. I don't think it made a circle of light either on the floor or the ceiling, but I am not sure of this. It certainly had very little power of illuminating its surroundings. So far, all is plain sailing. But it had two other characteristics which are less easy to grasp. One was its colour. Since I saw the thing I must obviously have seen it either white or coloured; but no efforts of my memory can conjure up the faintest image of what that colour was. I try blue, and gold, and violet, and red, but none of them will fit. How it is possible to have a visual experience which immediately and ever after becomes impossible to remember, I do not attempt to explain. The other was its angle. It was not at right angles to the floor. But as soon as I have said this, I hasten to add that this way of putting it is a later reconstruction. What one actually felt at the moment was that the column of light was vertical but the floor was not horizontal – the whole room seemed to have heeled over as if it were on board ship. The impression, however produced, was that this creature had reference to some horizontal, to some whole system of directions, based outside the Earth, and that its mere presence imposed that alien system on me and abolished the terrestrial horizontal.
Perelandra, C. S. Lewis

"But do I see you as you really are?" he asked.
"Only Maleldil sees any creature as it really is," said Mars. "How do you see one another?" asked Ransom.
"There are no holding places in your mind for an answer to that."
Perelandra, C. S. Lewis

An eldil can look like anything, but its "default appearance" to human eyes is, at most, a very faint shifting play of light, best seen with peripheral vision. In the dark, they may appear as beams of light; those beams may be of no color ever seen before.

Eldilic Psychology

You are quite right about the Powers. Angels in general are not good company for men in general, even when they are good angels and good men. It's all in St. Paul.
That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis

Even though they are smarter and stronger than we are, eldila are also much simpler. You describe them largely by subtraction: they have no bodily needs; they do not have sex or breed; they do not die; they do not tire; they do not sleep.

They are capable of emotion:

But their emotions can be very unhuman. No human emotion lasts long; at the most, it recurs regularly. And humans are notorious for not even keeping the same attitude for long. Because they do not tire, and because they think with unremitting clarity, eldila can sustain emotions and attitudes for eons:

Eldil can think and emote about one thing for millions of years. And then, if circumstances change, they can change immediately and begin thinking about the new topic, the way gravity can hold a rock in place for ages and then roll it down a hill one day.

However the dark eldila, the fallen angels, have lost the good of the intellect, and though they can still think clearly, do not enjoy doing so:

But do not think, just because eldila are strange and hard for us to understand, that we are hard for them to understand. Those eldila, fallen and unfallen, who haunt Earth have been here since it formed. They have seen the origins of life and vertebrates and mammals and humans. You have had only a few decades to learn about humanity (albeit from the inside); any one eldil has had all the time in the world, quite literally, and is smarter than any of us to start with. They understand us far too well for our comfort.

On the other hand, just to keep you off balance, you cannot simply assume that the eldila know everything. They don't. Especially not in a war zone, such as Earth, where both sides spend a deal of effort hiding things from each other, and, for that matter, there are third parties anxious to hide from both.


To those high creatures whose activity builds what we call Nature, nothing is "natural." From their station the essential arbitrariness (so to call it) of every actual creation is ceaselessly visible; for them there are no basic assumptions
Perelandra, C. S. Lewis

There are fourteen Dominations, in charge of maintaining the whole physical universe. Originally, there were twenty-four, but ten fell. Three of the fallen were destroyed by Michael in the War in Heaven; the seven remaining are called the Maskim.

The Oyeresu and the Shelehim are subordinates of the Dominations.


"Oyarsa does not die," said the sorn. "And he does not breed. He is the one of his kind who was put into Malacandra to rule it when Malacandra was made. His body is not like ours, nor yours; it is hard to see and the light goes through it."
"Like an eldil?"
"Yes, he is the greatest of eldila who ever come to a handra."
Out of the Silent Planet, C. S. Lewis

Oyeresu are great eldila given rulership over parts of the physical universe. The name, like "eldil," is an Old Solar word; the singular form is Oyarsa. An Oyarsa typically holds several star systems. Various Oyeresu have established presences in the solar system, on guard outside the Leaguer of the Moon. Oyarsa Malacandra, for instance, holds Mars and Oyarsa Perelandra holds Venus, while Oyarsa Sulva, on the Leaguer border, holds the Moon.

Earth's Oyarsa is, unfortunately, fallen, beseiged in one of his own strongholds, along with his dark followers. He is referred to as "the Bent One" by Oyarsa Malacandra. Ransom identified him with Satan, but, as Ransom realized that "there is a confusion of persons in damnation," he would not be surprised to learn that the Bent One is not his own man; he was long ago "digested" by the real Satan, the fallen Archangel. He is an outpost, a limb, a facade of Satan, his individuality permanently compromised. But he's Devil enough for us.

The Space Trilogy sometimes refers to the Oyeresu as "the gods," because garbled rumors of them and their character, drifting down into human imagination, have inspired our pictures of the pagan gods.

Below the Moon – Light and Dark Eldila

From what you have told me, I begin to see that there are eldila who go down into your air, into the very stronghold of the Bent One; your world is not so fast shut as was thought in these parts of heaven.
Out of the Silent Planet, C. S. Lewis

Eldila are angels, and some are fallen angels. These are the "dark eldila." The dark eldila we know of are the ones beseiged here on Earth, the devils of Abrahamic lore. They are confined, beseiged, within a spherical boundary defined by the orbit of the Moon. Within this sublunar volume, they are battled by a special "military caste" of the light eldila, who are of course the angels of Heaven we have heard of and have occasionally encountered.

Until about 1940, it was unheard-of for bright eldila from beyond the Moon to descend to Earth. It is still very, very uncommon. But it is clear that humans will leave the sphere of the Moon some day soon – very soon, on the time-scale of the eldila – and already a handful have voyaged briefly outside it. (That handful is larger than NASA records would show). So the Leaguer of the Moon, though it has lasted for 4.5 billion years, is ending, with implications for non-human people throughout the solar system. Will there be, for a while, a Leaguer of the Comets?

Here below the Sphere of the Moon, there are five major communities of eldila:

Shelihim – Shadows of Power

Did you know that all the planets are represented in each?...There is no Oyarsa in Heaven who has not got his representative on Earth. And there is no world where you could not meet a little unfallen partner of our own black Archon, a kind of other self. That is why there was an Italian Saturn as well as a Heavenly one, a Cretan Jove as well as an Olympian. It was these Earthly wraiths of the high intelligences that men met in old times when they reported that they had seen the gods.
That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis

There are fourteen of these "wraiths" on Earth, roughly one for each Domination. They are really servants of the Dominations; to the Oyeresu, they are colleagues of lesser rank. However, they are colleagues who have been out of touch for a third of all time...

These beings may be "wraiths" in comparison to the Oyeresu, but they are mighty powers in the Earth, and have been charged with keeping the course of nature going properly, since the first keeper of the planet, the Bent One, is now fixed on its ruin. These envoys have another name in another ancient language – in Quenya they are called Valar; the singular form is Vala.

The full table of Dominations, Oyeresu, Valar, and planets is as follows:

Domination   Oyarsa Vala Planet
Ketriel Yorun Manw Neptune
Chokhmael Neruval, Silsintiu    Varda Uranus, comets,
asteroids, meteors
Biniah Lurga Ulmo, Mandos Saturn
Deuel Vunath Mandos, Vair Pluto
Chesediah Glund Manw, Nienna Jupiter
Gevuriel Malacandra Tulkas, Orom Mars
Tiphrethel Arbol Varda, Vana Sun
Netzachiah Perelandra Lrien, Est Venus
Hodiel Viritrilbia Enw the Maia Mercury
Yesodiah Sulva Nessa, Tilion the Maia    Moon
Malkothiel "the Bent One"a.k.a. Melkor Earth
Jachin    Aul Earth
Boaz    Yavanna Earth
Metheqela Arbol Arien the Maia Sun

Note that, under wartime conditions, the alignments between Valar and Dominations have become less neat. There are fourteen of each, but there is no one-to-one match, and some Dominations are represented on Earth by Maiar, not Valar.

Neutrals – Nature Angels

There used to be things on this Earth pursuing their own business, so to speak. They weren't ministering angels sent to help fallen humanity; but neither were they enemies preying upon us. Even in St. Paul one gets glimpses of a population that won't exactly fit into our two columns of angels and devils. And if you go back further . . . all the gods, elves, dwarves, water-people, fate, longaevi. You and I know too much to think they were just illusions.
That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis

The eldila of ordinary rank and power who serve the Valar are the Maiar (singular, Maia). Though they are obedient servants of God and thus bright eldila, they are not concerned with the welfare or morals of humans; it simply isn't their job. Their work is to help their masters in keeping nature on Earth running properly. Sometimes, human encounters with "nature spirits" have been with Maiar.

Neutrals – the Adhene

The vast majority of eldila are either clearly bright or clearly dark. But a few, called the adhene, genuinely fall between good and evil. Most are angels who "tripped" but did not fall, marred their allegiance to good but did not embrace evil. Some are demons who have repented but have not fully reformed their characters.

Major Adhene

Azazel – "Removal" or "Goat-god"
Mentioned in the Bible as splitting sin-offering sacrifices with God (!) and so may be a very grey demon or even an angel, but not a comfortable figure in any case. He has affinities for sin, death, exile, and wilderness. Whee.

A repentant demon who told Solomon he hoped to return to heaven after 1200 years, so he might be back by now. One-time servant of the Dominations, he has affinities for chimera, mirrors, masks, and divination; despite the association with glamour, he is notably truthful. He governed "thirty legions of spirits" and maybe still does. Cf. Phenex.

A fallen angel who told King Solomon that he hoped to return to heaven after 1200 years, so he might be back by now. One-time servant of the Thrones, he has affinities for fire, birds, singing, poetry, and learning. He governed "twenty legions of spirits" and maybe still does. Cf. Marchosias.

Taus-Melek – "the Peacock Angel"
A repentant fallen angel, angel of reincarnation, worshipped by the Yazidis, who regard him as the governor of the world.

Semyaza and the Grigori
The Griogri, the Watchers, were 200 spirits led by Semyaza. They sought some way to redeem themselves. By divine mandate, they took spouses among the djinn and raised up the "old gods" to rule over them. But they went on to "go native" among Antediluvian humanity, took human spouses, and produced nephilim. Since then, some have gone to Hell, some are imprisoned in various ways and places, usually in pairs, some became fays, and some roam the Earth, but under close supervision by Heaven and with their powers variously limited. Semyaza is their leader still. All the Grigori "out on bail," but he in particular, are very human in psychology, for eldila, and very often in human form.

Princes and Tyrants

So [Gabriel] said, "Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince.)"
— Daniel:10:20-21

Nations, as well as individual humans, have guardian angels. There are seventy of them, the Principalities, and they have, for ages, divided the human population among themselves. The Principalities do not draw borders as we do; they are in charge of cultures, not nation-states, and differences of language are better markers of the jurisdictions of Principalities than are national borders. But even language is not foolproof. The United States and Britain, for instance, have different Principalities.

The Principalities seek to bring out the best that is specific to each culture: a U.S. that is truly the land of the free and the home of the brave, a China that is really governed under the Mandate of Heaven, a genuinely merry England and a truly belle France. They are powerful and cunning spirits, which is good because they have very little help – a small court of lesser eldila and jinn, and small esoteric societies of humans under their more or less immediate direction, the Orders.

Believe me, gentledevils, the threat of something like a really healthy state of society seemed then perfectly serious.
— "Screwtape Proposes a Toast," C. S. Lewis

Opposing the Principalities are their fallen counterparts, the Tyrannies. Their human tools are the Cabals.

The Archangels

The Valar maintain nature against the Bent One; the Principalities guide the nations and oppose the Tyrannies; but the general war of Good versus Evil is orchestrated by the Seven Archangels, who are among the top twenty most powerful beings. Period. The Archangels are also known as the Seven Stars or Eyes or Fires, or the Seven Spirits of God.

The Archangels are cosmos-level beings, but Earth's war-zone inside the orbit of the Moon has the attention of their emanations. These appear as great eldila. Sometimes an emanation is the ka of its original; sometimes it is a direct projection. The distinction is too fine for most lesser beings to discern; for all practical purposes, these are the Seven Archangels.

The Seven are:

Michael – "Who is like God?"
Archangel of Loyalty and Trust, patron of the Church and Israel, general of the heavenly army, head of celestial security, president over the judging of souls; calm, saturnine, and sardonic. A patron of guardian angels, death angels, and avenging angels.

Gabriel – "Strength of God"
Archangel of Hope and Renewal, chief herald, angel of revelation, patron of communication and babies, ebullient, peppery, impatient with pessimists and fools. A patron of birth angels, dream wardens, and angels of truth.

Raphael – "Healing of God"
Archangel of Charity and Mercy, patron of healing and medicine, sweet and mild, but neither naive nor saccharine. A patron of birth angels, dream wardens, and angels of mercy.

Uriel – "Fire of God"
Archangel of Courage and Zeal, regent of the sun in "Paradise Lost," Heaven's expediter, intense, restless, a tad humorless but zestful; think of D'Artagnan. A patron of avenging angels, death angels, and courier angels.

Chamuel – "Illumination of God"
Archangel of Wisdom and Peace, chief intelligence officer among the Archangels, patron of lore, deduction, and insight, serene and scholarly. A patron of recording angels and angels of truth and intellectual inspiration.

Jophiel – "Beauty of God"
Archangel of Temperance and Chastity. You're expecting a celestial party-pooper, right? No. More fundamentally, Jophiel is the Archangel of Harmony and the Golden Mean, equally opposed to asceticism and debauchery. In personality, bubbly and even seemingly airheaded, but with much practical wisdom. A patron of angels of artistic inspiration and guiding angels.

Zadkiel – "Righteousness of God"
Archangel of Justice and Humility, supreme jurist among the Archangels, polite and formal, a little intense, but the, ah, soul of honesty. A patron of avenging angels, recording angels, and guiding angels.

The match-ups to the Seven Splendid Virtues (and against the Seven Deadly Sins) are only approximate and only one aspect of the Archangel in question. So, for instance, Michael is not just a personification of Faith. Also, they are not competitive. Gabriel does not want to promote Hope at the expense of Temperance, for instance. Indeed, they are intensely cooperative.

Do not confuse the Seven Archangels with members of the choir of lowercase archangels. It's like the difference between the Secretary of State and the secretary who takes dictation. You may wish to refer to the uppercase Archangels as "the Seven" or "the Fires."

Other Major Angels

Metatron – "Behind the Throne"
Metatron Seraphiel, called Prince of the Countenance, is the chief seraph and formally presents all prayers to God. As angel of prayer, Metatron has access to all the prayers uttered by Earthly souls, and thus serves as an important intelligence channel for the Archangels and Principalities. Metatron is also much involved in Mysterious Ways (as in "the Lord works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.")

Like the Archangels, Metatron is present by emanation. He is a heavenly version of a mastermind, always more well-informed than you'd think possible, calmly (and, blessedly, benignly) presiding over an endless web of schemes.

Abaddon – a.k.a. Apollyon, "Destruction"
An angel of God, not a demon as widely believed, given the keys to the Abyss and eventually to confine Satan to the Abyss for the duration of the Millenium. Chief of the avenging angels.

A seraph once subordinate to Lucifer, who nevertheless remained true to God and thus walked out on the Rebel. He and Metatron have jointly inherited the vacant position left by fallen Lucifer.

Chief of the angels of death.

Duma the Silent – "Angel Grey"
Chief of the dream wardens.

Sandalphon Cherubiel, called "twin brother" to Metatron, is the chief cherub. Like Metatron and the Archangels, he is present by emanation. He is chief of the guardian angels.

Angel of music and resurrection.

Raziel – "Secret of God"
In legend, the angelic author of a book of vast knowledge, given at first to Adam, then Enoch, then Noah, finally Solomon. The Angel of Magic.

The Infernal Hierarchy

It is cold, it is hungry, it is violent, it is illusory. The warm blood of children and the intercourse at the Sabbath do not satisfy it. It wants something more and other; it wants 'obedience', it wants 'souls', and yet it pines for matter. It never was, and yet it always is.
Witchcraft, Charles Williams

Like the bacteria on the microscopic level, so these co-inhabiting pests on the macroscopic permeate our whole life invisibly and are the real explanation of that fatal bent which is the main lesson of history.
Perelandra, C. S. Lewis

We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. .
The Screwtape Letters, letter VIII, C. S. Lewis

At the top of the infernal hierarchy is, of course, Satan the Devil, a.k.a. Lucifer, the fallen Archangel, the Proud Spirit, Old Scratch, Old Nick, and a huge number of other epithets. His satrap/extension on Earth is our imprisoned Oyarsa, called "the Bent One" in Old Solar, called "Melkor" and "Morgoth" in Quenya.

The Devil's cabinet, the highest dukes of Hell are:

He is bitterly envious of anyone's happiness, having none of his own. The Tyrannies, charged with sickening the health of nations, report to him, but theirs are not his only schemes. Every moment you are contented, you annoy him. He can't touch the joys of God and the blessed, but he still has you...

He wants Heaven and Earth to stop bothering him, keeping pain alive, reminding him how all he tried came to nothing. He wants an end to all doing, striving, talking, knowing. He wants silence, stillness, dark, "peace" as the grave is peaceful.

A rat in a trap. He wants to kill or die, and he's immortal, so... He wants to hurt as much as possible, wants revenge on a cosmic scale. Only in the spiritual version of berserkergang can he find momentary release from the humiliation of his ancient defeat.

Bereft of Heaven, he wants Earth as a consolation prize. To that end, he wants everything owned, so he can own the owners.

Samael & Lilith
He's bleeding, starving, fading, melting, running out. To stanch that wound, to feed that hunger, he needs ... as much as he can possibly get. Matter, flesh, blood, prana, lives, souls, gulp, gulp, gulp. He makes monsters by spawning, emanation, corruption, sends them hunting, then eats them. He's like Dracula's Renfield on a cosmic scale.

And she's his "wife." She is a mighty and ancient djinnia, not an eldil. She wanted to be queen of all djinn. Ages ago, she made a deal with him: she feeds him and he gives her monsters and other minions to use for her ambitions. But it's never enough, and her empire is mostly a pyramid of incubi and vampires, sending her prana to power her battles.

If she can't have love or joy, she'll take pleasure, as much as she can. She wants to get as many souls as possible mad and drunk on lust, then claim them – possess them or digest them – so she can tap into their empty thrills. Most of the damned from the Grigori work for her.

Other Major Devils

Not an eldil, but the greatest of infernal djinn. He used to have honorary rank among the unfallen eldila, but defected when he learned that humans were to be the ruling race of Earth. Now he is the Devil's steward, in charge of the day-to-day running of Hell.

Head of the Infernal Secret Police. How scary is that?

Return to Inkliverse
Return to Wind Off the Hilltop

Copyright © Earl Wajenberg, 2010