The Ancient Angel Language on Paul Bettany's Neck, Decoded

Illustration for article titled The Ancient Angel Language on Paul Bettany's Neck, Decoded

We've long speculated on the meaning of the mysterious tattoos adorning Paul Bettany's body as the Archangel Michael in the apocalyptic truck-stop movie Legion. Now, we've finally learned the secrets of Bettany's angelic ink and the heavenly LoJack system.


We spoke to Bettany and Legion director Scott Stewart about their new movie, in which God turns his back on humanity and orders his legion of angels to destroy it once and for all. Bettany, as Michael, is the only angel to side with humanity, and finds himself fending off the heavenly host from inside a truck stop, where he protects a waitress who is pregnant with the Second Coming.

We asked Bettany about his tattoos, and he explained their meaning as well as their real-life inspiration:

It's angel language, as ridiculous as that might sound to some people... I believe it was Queen Elizabeth the First's spiritual advisor who said he was in direct contact with angels and wrote down this language, this alphabet, and then proceeded to translate for everybody. So it's actually a working alphabet that goes backwards and forwards like a circuit board; it means one thing going this way and another thing going that way, and in our movie, they are prophesies.

That language would be Enochian, invented by occultist John Dee (who was, in fact, a consultant to the Queen). And that's not the only nugget of angel mythology we managed to glean. Stewart tells us that, when Michael falls, he has to break free of God's doggie collar:

[There are] the halos, the collar that breaks off of Michael in the beginning of the movie, and the glow that's this blue light and it starts to fade. We call them "halo collars" and they're like a heavenly LoJack.


John Dee? If those are the kinds of references that Legion's backstory are using, it promises to be a dark, meaty broth from which a great film might rise up from. I love these kinds of Gaimanesque British counter-factuals, even if only hinted at, as may be the case here.