Cheryl Welsh-Charrier sits in her sunny living room, tilting back and forth in a padded wooden rocking chair. She lives with her husband and child in Northeast D.C.; a picket fence surrounds their modest brick house. Wide, wire-rimmed glasses frame her blue eyes, and her salt-and-pepper hair is styled conservatively. Pinned to the collar of her purple polo shirt is the only clue to her otherworldly calling. It’s a tiny gold cherub.
“I’m an angel worker,” Welsh-Charrier says softly. “I put people in touch with their guardian angels.”
She claims that through meditation, she can communicate with not only her own guardian angel but the guardian angels of others. Once in contact—through signs, voices, or the appearance of an angel or “light being”—clients can question the angels. “They can tell you, in a general way, what might be coming up in your future and what it is you can do to achieve your highest good,” she explains.
Welsh-Charrier is riding a trend: Angels, suddenly, are everywhere. On stamps,Raphael’s red-haired, winged cupids peer up at the word “love.” Angels in America dominates Broadway. At the O.J. trial, the family members of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman wear angel pins in memory of the murder victims. And terra-cotta angels adorn gardens across the country.
Father James Wiseman, a professor of theology at Catholic University, attributes the heavenly beings’ recent popularity to something more than mere faddishness. “It’s part of that basic desire of people to have some more or less tangible sense of a higher realm that gives basic meaning to their lives,” he says.
But Wiseman stops far short of endorsing Welsh-Charrier’s practice. He notes that her “counseling” seems aligned with new-age thinking, which he deems a kind of spiritual placebo. “I think people are attracted to that because, in one way or another, they are not at ease with their place in society and the turmoil that’s going on around them, and they’re looking for answers,” he says.
Welsh-Charrier, 48, says she began “working” with angels just over two years ago, when she herself was looking for answers. After weeks of meditation and song, she heard her guardian angel speak. “He said, “I love it when you sing to me,’ ” she recounts. “It startled me right out of my meditation.”
Welsh-Charrier says her angel called himself Rad because, as he told her, “You need to make some radical changes in your life.” One of those changes entailed quitting her part-time job in direct-mail fund-raising and starting her own business, Angelic Counseling.
Now, for $75 per session, she helps a client contact his or her guardian angel, ask it questions, and learn its name. Such sessions usually last about 90 minutes. After an initial discussion, Welsh-Charrier and her client meditate, visualizing a spot conducive to meeting the angel. Once she’s established contact, Welsh-Charrier or the client ask the angel questions. Welsh-Charrier writes down its responses, and hands them to her client.
She believes that everyone possesses the ability to get in touch with his or her guardian angel. “At first I had questions about charging for it,” she says, “but my angel told me my time was worth something and I deserved to have clothes on my back and food on the table.”
Ann Macoul, one of Welsh-Charrier’s satisfied customers, says she communicated with her angel during a counseling session. The 26-year-old graphic artist says she has always been “open-minded about this kind of stuff” and “looks for possibilities in everything.” Macoul says her guardian angel appeared “in my mind’s eye” during a meditation, and channeled a message through Welsh-Charrier: “My angel told me, “Don’t fix it if it isn’t broken. You worry too much. Take it more lightly. You’ll do fine.’ ” And did that vague advice mean anything? “Yeah,” she says. “I had been creating problems for myself at work and I was worrying too much.”
Catherine Barber, a recently retired real estate broker in her 50s, says that she too met her guardian angel through Welsh-Charrier. Barber hasn’t seen her angel, but she says she has felt his presence and asked him questions. His name is Abinoga.
Welsh-Charrier explains that getting in touch with celestial beings doesn’t mean having a winged, white-robed figure at your beck and call. Angels, she says, come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and can reveal themselves through intuition, thoughts, feelings, and dreams. Sometimes, she says, an angel’s presence is “just a nice feeling of warmth and love that washes over you.”
She admits that her methods lean toward the new age (or, in her words, the “old age”) in that they incorporate elements of many world religions and thoughts. Losing negative aspects of the ego is a Buddhist concept, she says. Philosophies from various self-help programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, also play roles in her practice.
But she insists that angelic counseling is not about religion. (Welsh-Charrier herself belongs to a “forward-thinking” Unity church.) “The angels don’t think in terms of denominations,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what you call your god or your source or your higher power or whatever you think holds the universe together.”
She says her objective is to help others—via meditation and angelic forces—“lose the negative aspects of their ego, try to be nonjudgmental, and strengthen their spirituality.” The concept, she says, “is very simple,” and the angels want only one thing: “for us to allow love and light into our lives.”