Readers, I’m delighted to have heard from the knowledgeable Steve Evans at zstevetevans at the excellent Under The Influence! blog, and from blogger Grumpy at the also terrific Hecate’s Grove blog, about Black Angels! I posted this topic a few days ago, and what can I say, Enquiring Minds Want To Know! 🙂 Read on…
Per Grumpy, the local legend at Little Lake Cemetery in Peterborough, Ontario is that a rich old man dies. His statue turns black. Superstitious persons assume he made a deal with the devil and now haunts the cemetery! (It’s probably oxidation – but there you are). I tried to find more on the internet about this but was unable to.
Here is another very strange Black Angel legend from Council Bluffs IA courtesy the Omaha World Herald: http://www.omaha.com/living/the-true-story-behind-the-black-angel-of-council-bluffs/article_440a1d50-77ba-5b7e-9c52-40462510c759.html
I was quite intrigued by this, so I went to my favourite folklore and legend blogger, Steve Evans of ztevetevans Under the Influence blog fame! He, as always, went above and beyond the call,and provided a wonderful essay, complete with links to information about Black Angels. Please read on, and many thanks to Steve – do check out his blog, it’s marvelous!
Sorry but I cannot find any folklore on “black angels” here in the UK at the moment that but that does not mean they do not exist as there are certainly plenty of bronze statues that have turned dark rather than green. Provided here is a few rambling ideas that spring to mind and sketched out briefly below.
However, I have found similar examples in sited in the USA which include the following examples. The Dark Angel of Maple Grove Cemetery has two legends attached to it though the angel itself appears to be now kept in storage.
There is very little I can find about the Peterborough example but there is an example known as Black Aggie in Druid Ridge Cemetery, Maryland though I am not sure it is an angel and it looks more green to me. There is also Black Agnes (Though this looks like a man rather than a female or angel) which is very sinister. Here is a photo of another example A dark angel – Picture of Christopher Columbus Cemetery.
The discoloration of bronze is caused by oxidization of the copper which occurs when exposed to air and is a natural phenomenon. Natural phenomena is often the breeding ground for all types of myths, legends and folklore. Other sources are religion, death and burial grounds to name but a few so these black angels have plenty of the ingredients for legend and folklore to evolve around them
In Western culture an angel is a divine entity. There several different kinds but generally they are divided into two categories; good and bad.
Good angels tend to be thought of as being pure, unblemished spirits of light and often we think of them dressed or depicted predominantly in white. Even though the bronze angels have never been white they may still appear in our minds in that way. These angels are usually thought of as messengers or servants of God and may have different roles. Despite its name the Angel of Death is seen as servant of God and essential to the overall well being of humans
The other type of angel are the fallen, or dark angels. These should not be confused with the Angel of Death. Dark angels were evil angels that had rebelled against God and cast from Heaven.
It may be worth remembering that black is not necessarily always a negative color. For example there is the Black Madonnas and the Black Nazarene.
Even though it was of bronze the angel of Oakland Cemetery seems to have inspired all sorts of sinister stories. Despite the statues being most certainly intended as an act of love to honor and remember the deceased it may that the discoloration of the bronze to black may have been associated with the loss of purity and the fall from grace of an angel. It is also possible some of the legends may have been inspired by actual events.
I also note the sculptor of the Oakland Angel was Mario Korbel who also sculpted The Alma Mater statue at the entrance of the University of Havana, Cuba, which also has a black appearance.
The Council Bluff angel appears to be seen more as a connection between this world and the next with the legend being inspired by dream of the deceased though there do appear to be sinister qualities and stories attached to it.
Daniel Chester French Sculpted the Council Bluff angel and he also created “The Spirit of Life”
statue at Saratoga Springs, NY and curiously the Alma Mater, a bronze sculpture of the goddess Athena on the steps leading to the Low Memorial Library on the Morningside Heights campus of Columbia University in Manhattan, New York City providing perhaps rather a tenuous link to the Oakland angel.
The black angels seem to be part of a Graveyard genre which involve quite a few different myths and legends of varying kinds and below are a few links that may be useful.
Sorry I could not be more helpful but if I come across anything I will let you know.
Cheers for now,
What Are Dark Angels? – SpiritNow
What is a black angel? (Or angel of death)
Death (personification) – Wikipedia
The true story behind the Black Angel
You’ve Been Warned : The Black Ang
Black Angel | Scary Website
Black Aggie: From Scary stories at Americanfolklore.net
Black Aggie – Wikipedia
Azrael, Archangel of Death
The Alma Mater statue by Mario Korbel, at the entrance of the University of Havana in Cuba.https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AUniversidad_de_la_habana_fachada.JPG
Travels with Auntie M: The Black Angel
Black angels? It’s a hope in heaven | The Independent
The true story behind the Black Angel of Council Bluffs
NEW ENGLAND FOLKLORE: Black Agnes, the Statue That Kills
If anyone has more to add about this or other Black Angel legends, please post in comments below to share with other readers! Thanks in advance!
For more ghosts and other scary stuff like my haiku 🙂 please see: https://www.amazon.com/Jan-Olandese/e/B071FK9L75