the angel’s share

Since there has been a lengthy discussion of near-experiences with “ghosts,” it’s necessary to get to “the angel’s share.” My own angels will have nothing less.

“The angel’s share” is a term used in whiskey making, for the portion of whiskey which evaporates “into heaven” from the wooden barrels during aging. According to, the angels share is both a blessing and a curse: the wooden barrels absorb some of the harsher chemicals, and the evaporation of the angel’s share adds further smoothness. But it can also affect the proof and the volume, depending on the outer environment (dry heat, moist heat etc.). The same may be true of us!

During the quarantine my husband has become an expert in several fields, thanks to the History Channel and Discovery. Seven months of Couch Crew information absorption means that we know more than we will ever need to know about moonshining – especially since we both stopped drinking 20 years ago. And my husband now knows a great deal about mining for gold in Alaska, and searching for obscure treasure in Nova Scotia.

There have been other areas of study, but we are talking about the angel’s share. I loved that term the first time I heard it. It conjurs up images of drunken angels if you know its real meaning, but as a general term it just seems like something that should be parceled out every day. After all, angels protect us and encourage us.

For some reason, the modern church does not believe in angels, at least in real time. The church believes angels existed in the Old Testament, and the New Testament, but apparently decided to disappear for the last 2000 years.

That, alone, is one of the reasons I left churches. It’s simply ridiculous to have a “Christian faith” and yet deny the supernatural. We are supposed to believe that angels “ministered” to believers in the 1st Century, and then just stopped. Why?

Or do Christians not believe in angels at all? Perhaps they believe they are a metaphor. Perhaps they believe they were simply useful teaching tools and in the age of “science” we no longer need them.

We are supposed to accept “miraculous healing” and inexplicable escapes from death and destruction, but not embrace angels?

Because God is impossible to prove by empirical methods, angels, too, must simply be myth.

That’s fine, and if that is what you think, just stop here, and pick up the blog another time.

Ghosts, which have no basis whatsoever, except those weird sorts of experiences we talked about the last time, are fully part of our culture. We love the idea of ghosts. They are fun, and, since the majority of people don’t think they are real, they are the basis of much fiction, serious and humorous alike.

Angels, though, seem to unnerve people. Even though angels are usually considered benign and helpful, they make people uncomfortable.

Why do you think that is?

I think it’s because angels are from God, and God makes people uncomfortable. Even Christians.

Christians today like their God to stay in the Bible and to be a pleasant guide for living.

The prosperity doctrine Christians like to think God exists to reward them with wealth. A lot of people who don’t really believe in God at all think of angels as adorable, chubby cherubs who look after their grandchildren. The current “Pope” doesn’t give them a second thought, as he has rejected God for globalism.

Unlike ghosts, with which I have a somewhat humorous lack of experience, angels have been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I just didn’t realize they were angels.

It may only be one angel, or it could be random angels. I have no idea how angels are assigned, but I’ve been fortunate to have angels assigned to save my sorry self. Many times. In fact, the “little girl ghost” in Tuscany could be an angel, for all I know. They are well documented assuming unexpected forms.

What I now also realize are angels, is what I used to call “luck.”

I was “lucky” that the Slovene captain on the Marmara Sea saved our tiny sailboat in the Force 9 gale.


But maybe there was a huge angel standing behind him, helping him hold the wheel. I couldn’t hold the wheel with my then 130 lb. self. And neither of us could see a thing. Once I was able to wrestle the mainsail onto the deck, with one arm and one leg wrapped tightly around the mast to keep from being blown off the boat — all I could do was push the heavy, soaked fabric down the hatch. When I dared to look, the following sea was 12 feet above the deck and spewing off into curlers we could have surfed.

I sat in the top of the hatch opening, and prayed.

I wasn’t a person of faith in those days, but I had been before, and I would be again, and there was no other recourse. I don’t know if God answered my prayers in particular, but we made it to a safe harbor in the Dardanelles Straits, with last minute help from a Ro-Ro which shined its bow light onto the entrance, so we could find it in the huge waves.

I believe a guardian angel was there throughout.

I won’t bore you with near-misses and close-calls with death over the years. I was a drinker and did a lot of drugs during some parts of my life. I self-medicated quite seriously for a decade after my husband died unexpectedly. I put myself into precarious situations. But I was also the mother of a precious little boy, and angels kept scooping me out of those situations.

Saving my life.


They should have knocked me up the side of the head, is what they should have done. And after awhile, I realized they did that, too.

Not all angel intervention is in the shape of miraculous escapes. Sometimes we get thrown to the ground, because we’re hard-headed, and we need to understand that there are rewards and consequences. Some of us need to have dramatic lessons in order to “get it.”

So, that abusive lover who stole everything you owned and would have destroyed you? He was surely sent by the devil to turn your heart black, but angels didn’t intervene until the message was clear. Unlike the proponents of modern, feel-good faith, I’m old school. I know the devil is real and working hard every day. Again, you can leave the room now, and maybe still like a future blog. No hard feelings. (But caveat emptor: we may discuss the devil, too.)

I used to think “instinct,” that inner voice, was my own. Some form of genetic memory perhaps. I believe we do have instincts, and we should be taught to trust them more than we do. But I also believe those inner voices are a lot like the cartoon angels: sitting on your shoulder, giving you advice you can accept and believe, or reject at your own peril. Not all those inner voices have your best interests in mind, either. There was a reason the cartoon angel was balanced by a little red devil.

At this point, I’d be remiss not to recommend “The Screwtape Letters,” but let’s stick with angels here.

I’ve come to understand that much of what I’ve credited as “instinct” over the years, was my persistent, annoyingly loyal, angel. Trying to steer me in the right direction. I don’t always listen, to my detriment. Humans like to believe we are in control. And we are, we can choose to ignore good advice.

It’s interesting to me how people of faith resist angels, and other supernatural manifestations of God. I understand why non-believers have no interest in them, but how can someone who studies the Bible not believe there are angels among us?

But they don’t. Many believers dismiss the devil, too. And hell. For these people, it is all a “concept,” a way of life they have chosen in order to be better people, with some vague hope of heavenly reward.

The angels and demons are just literary devices.

Things that make you go “hmmm.”

My personal “literary device” has been saving me for 70 years, despite my best efforts to the contrary. I have no idea what God has been saving me for, if anything, but I no longer talk back when my angels advise.

I’m working on a piece of serial fiction, for older kids, and one of the first challenges faced is the adults reacting to angels. The kid gets it. So does the dog. But the adults think it must be a special effect of some kind. A big random hologram.

Or they pass out from fear.

How would you react to a larger-than-life being with wings and a sword, and a certain glow about them?

a prayer for all of us (C) Carol Joy Shannon 2020

Carol Joy Shannon is a painter who writes. Her ongoing series of dinosaurs is available in book form here. She’s received accolades, commissions and fed the family with her art. And, believe it or not, people have paid her to write since 1970.

About Carol Joy Shannon

A former sailor of the seven seas, living in my beloved Lowcountry, between the blackwater swamps and the saltmarshes, surrounded by pre-revolutionary history.....thinking about current events....painting dinosaurs and other whimsical animals for children, with the occasional abstract or new cityscape for my delightful collectors. The best thing about being a seasoned old salt is sitting down not running around, so...
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3 Responses to the angel’s share

  1. Brenda Wilson-Carver says:

    I love this one. No longer a practitioner of any faith system but was raised Baptist, Episcopal and Catholic–seriously. Depended on which relatives home I was at on Sunday. I was once a serious student of the Bible and thought I wanted to become a theologian. This was in the 80’s thru 90’s. However, I welcome the presence of angels, always have even as a child, and I have actually seen at one in my bedroom. That is a story on its own. I was very calm, to answer your question, and I was not shocked or afraid. XO keep writing, it has always been your thing.

    • CJS says:

      I am so glad to know that about you. The multiple exposures to different dogmas must have instilled curiosity that manifest later in your studies. I am delighted to know you have met an angel. You would not have been the person to be scared, or pass out! I can see you sitting down with the angel and a list of questions! Wonderful. Glad we have met here again. Our world is so strange now, and I doubt there will ever be anything resembling normal — to us, anyway! — ever again. It is not even beyond the realm of possibility that we are in the end times. It is a conceit of every era to think their time is the end time. I was talking to God last year about leaving life. I was kind of whining to God, “but I want to see the end!” God said, “Everyone does.” I had to laugh.

      • Brenda Wilson-Carver says:

        I am so glad we have reconnected and there are so many very interesting and important things we can share with and learn from each other. You once, in one of the many letters you sent to me in the 70s, told me I am a multi-faceted woman and that all I need concern myself with was getting through the one moment I was in at the time, then the next and so on. That stuck with me all these years. I may even still have that letter ‘somewhere’. Yes! I would love to converse with any being who can respond with greater knowledge than we seem to possess on this planet. When I was seven I used to write blistering stories about how aliens came down into my backyard and stole my bologna sandwich while I was sitting and eating my lunch at the picnic table. So, yeah, I am not the one who would bolt but I would definitely like to communicate and understand. My studies led me to deeper interest in other religions and belief systems. I went very deep into the Vedantas and Yoga in general as well as the other Asian systems. What I found is that everyone thinks they have the ‘right’ and ‘true’ answer. Instead of this confusing me it was quite a relief. We are all the same but culture and indoctrination is not necessarily the best formula for many. Not everyone is comfortable questioning and changing what they were taught. Now I find that my spiritual strength is a fine blend of ancient wisdom teachings and as soon as I start labeling anything or joining groups I get unsettled and lose my true north. I would like to see the end too, I have had a good run at this life and most of it has been neurotic busy work. Whatever is ahead I hope it is nothing we can not bear. This are indeed strange and abnormal times for us but I believe much of it has happened before in history and humans are amazing so here is to “the angel’s share.”

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