His Dark Materials
His Dark Materials

"Angel is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is spirit; if you seek the name of their office, it is angel; from what they are, spirit, from what they do, angel."
St Augustine describes angels[src]

An angel was a being composed purely of Dust.[1] They also went by the names bene elim (which they called themselves) or Watchers.[2]

Though corporeal in appearance, angels' physical influence on the world was limited. Higher-ranking angels were easier to see in daylight. These were large winged creatures, human-like in form, but whose bodies were made of light not flesh. Angels were ancient and immortal beings whose true form is composed of intelligence and feeling, since they were structures of Dust.

There existed two groups of angels: ones faithful to the Authority and those who rebelled under Xaphania. Metatron was one such angel loyal to the Authority and lead the Authority's forces after being declared the Lord Regent. Two rebel angels, Balthamos and Baruch, aided Will Parry at various times.

Angels could be either humans who became angels, or simply angels formed from Dust concentrations. The most important angels were always visible, but less important angels could be seen only in the night. Angels were able to see and pass through the invisible windows between the worlds. They had the power to modify nature; angels altered the course of all evolution to create biological species to become rivals against the Authority. It also showed implications concerning the angels' view of biological sentient lifeforms.

Will told Mary Malone that, according to Baruch and Balthamos, angels wished they had bodies like humans.[3]


  • Flight: Due to their wings, angels could fly at great speed
  • Multiverse travel: Angels could travel to other worlds through invisible windows
  • Invisibility: Angels of lower ranks are almost unseen, especially in daylight
  • Shapeshifting: Some angels, such as Balthamos, could shapeshift into other species, like a bird
  • Telepathy: There was a mind link between Balthamos and Baruch and Metatron could see into the mind of Marisa Coulter with a single gaze. Balthamos stated to himself that angels could see into the minds of others, and could perceive the dæmons of humans who doesn't have one. It was later confirmed by Marisa Coulter, when Metatron "gaze" her soul
  • Atmokinesis: Metatron once made clouds appear in a room to hide his light. The clouds around the Chariot were gathered by the Authority.
  • Biokinesis (possibly): Stated by Xaphania, rebellious angel interfered with the evolutionary course of many species.
  • Photokinesis (possibly): When Metatron was about to strike Will, a great light could be seen from the cloud. it is unknown if it is just a secondary effect of his higher rank or a true power. Metatron later shows the ability to conceal himself within shadows. More powerful angels radiated their own light, becoming visible.
  • Power transference (Possibly): An angel could transfer its own power to another one, as Metatron was apparently granted strenght by the Authority.
  • Ghost conversion (Possibly): It’s hinted twice that the intervention of an angel can turn a ghost who has yet to go into the world of the dead into an angel, as it was apparently done by The Authority to Metatron(then named Enoch) and by Balthamos to Baruch, as the latter said that the former spared him the sight of the world of the dead.
  • In The Subtle Knife it is stated that the angels' true forms resemble architecture, but in The Amber Spyglass this is not brought up and is inconsistent with the mostly humanoid depiction they have.

Notable angels[]



  1. The Subtle Knife, Chapter 12
  2. The Subtle Knife, Chapter 6
  3. The Amber Spyglass, Chapter 33
Humanoid AngelsDæmonsDeathsGallivespiansGhostsHumansMermaidsWitchesZombi
Other Cliff-ghastsHarpiesMulefaNight-ghastsPanserbjørneSpectresWill-o’-the-wykes