As the authors of several angel books and frequent guests on radio talk shows, the Steigers receive dozens of letters from men and women who share accounts of angelic interactions. If you'd like to ask a question, e-mail them at columnists@staff.beliefnet.com. Please put "Steigers" on the subject line.

Q: I recently went to a psychic who told me that angels were waiting to make contact with me. She suggested that I buy a particular book and tape and that I take a class that she was offering.

Are there really angels waiting to make contact with me--or was she just trying to promote her business? I am willing to give her classes in achieving angelic contact a try because sometimes I feel special. Maybe that's because angels really are trying to communicate with me.

A: Our first impulse is to advise against deliberate attempts to learn angelic contact. We believe that those angels the psychic claimed were waiting to make contact with you will be patient until you have learned to quiet your mind, body, and spirit and to achieve an attitude of openness and receptivity that will enable you to hear their words of guidance and their special teachings for you.

The situation today regarding angels is very much the same kind of faddish popularity enjoyed by spirit guides and mediums in 1986 after the publication of Shirley MacLaine's "Out on a Limb" elevated a number of them to the status of media superstars. Within an astonishingly brief time, the book, a subsequent made-for-television movie adaptation, and the rising fame of an increasingly large number of high-profile "channelers" (the new name for spirit mediums) inspired newly minted mediums to write their own books and hold classes to teach how to make contact with a wide variety of spirits, from outspoken ancient masters to departed relatives.

In recent years, with the advent of a series of successful books on angels, images of the heavenly beings were suddenly everywhere. Seemingly overnight, angels became a national fad. It took little time for some channelers to claim access to heaven itself and contact with its celestial messengers. At the same time, priests, pastors, and rabbis began to worry about the age-old warnings against angel worship.

We will not be judgmental toward those who offer angelic readings or classes in achieving contact with celestial beings. Indeed, it may be that certain individuals have been blessed with the gift of achieving communication with angels, and they may also have received a particular method of establishing contact that they feel they can share with others. Each individual must use discernment to assess such psychics' ability to establish a genuine link with the heavenly kingdom.

Our greatest objections are directed toward those who depict angels as magical servants who carry out the bidding of humans who say the proper prayers (read "spells"). Some of these people say that angels can reveal winning lottery tickets and the names of the fastest horses at the racetrack. Others imply that the wondrous beings of Light can be commanded to carry out acts of personal revenge on enemies.

We feel that those who make such claims know little of the beauty and wonder of human/angel interaction and have been seduced into bargaining with dark-side entities. We cannot imagine a true angel becoming a money machine or a brutish thug, but fallen angels would gleefully obey would-be dark magicians long enough to ensnare their souls.

If you feel that the intentions of those who claim to be able to teach you to make angelic contact are sincere, then cautiously examine the process they prescribe. If you feel that your own motive for attaining such contact is to achieve higher awareness and not simply to feel special, then you should cautiously proceed with the class.

There is nothing improper about a teacher requesting payment for classes, tapes, and books. If, however, your teacher makes additional demands, and the extra payments are for the removal of an evil spirit, bad luck, or a "dark force" from your psyche--you might seriously begin to re-evaluate your teacher's true motives.

It is to be expected that your teacher might share his or her own messages from the angels. If your mentor preaches prejudice toward any particular group, the exclusivity and specialness of his or her teachings, or his or her divinity, then you should consider finding another mentor.

We believe that every sincere seeker who is willing to practice discernment, discipline, and devoted study may receive inspiration and guidance from angelic beings. If you feel the need to have a mentor at your side until you have more confidence in your own ability to establish such communication, take some time to observe the motives and the works of any teacher before you make your final decision to take classes in angelic contact.

And if you truly believe that you have made contact with a heavenly being, remember the admonition of Scripture to test the spirits. As we have often stated in this column, don't forget that the astral masqueraders who take great delight in deceiving humans are always out there, waiting patiently to ensnare the innocent, the unwary, and the unprepared.

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