To many people, spirit guides are entities that we choose or are helpers that are assigned to us before birth.
To others, spirit guides represent parts of our unconscious minds that symbolically help us to find wholeness. And still, to other people, spirit guides are parts of our higher selves that reveal themselves to us in various shapes and forms.
No matter what you think of spirit guides, and no matter how “new age” or “down-to-earth” your understanding is, it is beyond doubt that we all need guidance, direction and support in life beyond our own capabilities, or those who surround us.
Spirit guides, like many other elements of spirituality, have been heavily sullied, monetized and commercialized both on the internet and in real life, but despite the apparent tarnishing of their value, spirit guides are nevertheless a shared human experience.
Spirit guides are often thought as spirits that guide us, but in my experience with them, they are universal forces that guide our spirits to greater clarity, freedom, joy, and peace.
If you are just beginning your journey of connecting with your spirit guide, keep reading.
What Are Spirit Guides
Our spirit guides are universal forces that are here to help us. A spirit guide can be an angel, animal, mythical creature, ancestor, ancient god or goddess, otherworldly entity, or interdimensional being.
At the most basic level, a spirit guide is a type of energy that is embodied in an array of different forms. Spirit guides are archetypal forces; aspects of life which teach, warn, support, comfort, remind and reveal things that we need to learn about ourselves in order to grow.
Do spirit guides actually exist on another dimension? Or are they all inside the mind? Here’s the thing: I can’t answer that for you. It’s one of the great mysteries of life! Only you can decide that for yourself.
You might also be wondering whether we have many spirit guides or just one?
Personally, I divide spirit guides into two categories: our major guides, and our minor guides. Major guides typically accompany us throughout our lives and help us to learn major life lessons. Minor guides are temporary and help with daily concerns or issues that we struggle with.
In other words, yes, I believe we have multiple spirit guides. Some we are born with, others visit us sporadically during the course of life.
My Experience With Spirit GuidesS
Okay, I’ve got to admit: by nature, I’m a skeptical person.
I don’t like believing something unless I’m practically hit in the face with it. Evidence has to basically be falling down from the sky and crushing me flat until I relent and open my eyes.
Until about four years ago, spirit guides were just new age mumbo jumbo to me. I ignorantly assigned them to the crystal healing and fortune telling category. In essence, I judged and dismissed that which I had not yet experienced. (Hey, aren’t we all guilty of that?)
So it was with great shock and awe that I came across my first spirit guide. This experience happened on a series of shamanic trips I shared with my partner Mateo. I went into the experience with my mind half open, and half closed from disbelief. “Will this actually work?” a part of me wondered.
But holding the intention to meet my spirit guide strongly in mind, I eventually met him – Pan, the god of the wild places. For thirty minutes or more I saw this half-man half-goat guide me down into my inner Underworld. It was Pan that initiated me into my Shadow Work journey. But it didn’t just stop there, through the next coming years, I continued to see Pan every so often in daily life and in my dreams. Not only that, but I continued to meet more spirit guides. The floodgates had been opened!
If you are dubious about the existence of spirit guides like I was, I encourage you to at least try it before you brush it off. Acknowledge the possibility that you might be wrong. Allow a margin of error. On the other hand, if you believe in the existence of spirit guides – if you have had direct experience with them, but seek a stronger connection – you will find some helpful advice below.
7 Types of Spirit Guides
Right now, it seems to be a common trend to believe that spirit guides are primarily animals or angelic beings – but this is only one small dimension of the many possibilities that exist out there.
Spirit guides, I believe, can have unlimited shapes and forms. A spirit guide could just as easily be a soft gust of air that makes the hairs on your arm stand up, as it could be a full-blown godly being that you meet during a shamanic journey.
There are so many possibilities out there, and below I will break down the main “types,” “species” or forms of spirit guides which you might encounter on your path. Remember, you can have more than one, and most people often do!
1. Half Man Half Beast (Trans-Species)
Many spirit guides manifest themselves as half man/woman and half animal. Examples include centaurs, fauns, harpies, mermaids, sphinxes, fairies, and minotaurs. Many deities also appear as spirit guides, for instance, Anubis (jackal-headed Egyptian god), Ganesha (elephant-headed Indian god), Ra (falcon head, human body), etc. The first ever spirit guide that I personally made contact with was Pan, a half man half goat entity, who “revealed” to me my own personal shadow self and the need for me to embark on a journey of healing my core wounds.
Animals are well-known spirit guides and have gained a lot of popularity over the past few years, perhaps thanks to their accessibility in our everyday lives. Some ancient cultures, such as the indigenous Americans and Chinese, held animals as sacred representations of their tribes or lineages. These days, animals come to represent and reflect a person’s own inner yearnings and needs, moving from group use to more personal and individual use in this day and age. I wrote an article on animal spirit guides here.
3. Light Beings
Many people describe “light beings” (also commonly known as guardian angels), as being their spirit guides. Light beings are said to help people move through traumatic areas of life such as death, loss, and grief. Light beings are called such because of their tendency to appear bright, glowing or full of light.
Ancestral guides are entities that have some kind of blood connection to us and our lineage. An ancestral guide could be a recently deceased member of your family (mother, father, aunt, grandfather), or a long-dead relative that you have perhaps never met in your lifetime. When I have done shamanic journeying in the past, I have connected with what I consider my ancestors. To me, they appeared as shadowy beings that felt distinctly familiar. They taught me that although I felt alone and isolated in my current family, I am part of something vastly larger. The messages that our ancestors bring can be beautiful and life-changing.
Shamans believe that the world and everything in it is composed of vibrant, living energy. This includes plants. Ayahuasca – a psychoactive brew that is made out of a vine commonly found in Peru – is one of the most well-known ways of getting in touch with the spirits of nature. Interestingly the Banisteriopsis Caapi (Ayahuasca) vine is known as “the vine of the souls,” and it is common for all those taking it to feel guided by the plant into the realms of inner and outer existence. The same can be said for many other psychoactive (and non-psychoactive plants). Plants can either be symbolic, like in pagan traditions that associate certain qualities with certain plants, or experiential, where ingesting the plant stimulates mental, physical, and emotional expansion.
6. Gods and Goddesses
Gods and goddesses have been worshiped, feared and written about since the dawn of time. They span across every culture, every tradition, every religion and every part of the world. Common gods and goddesses that serve as spirit guides include Athena, Quan Yin, Apollo, Lakshmi, Lugh, Kali, Hathor, Horus, The Green Man, and Selene.
7. Ascended Masters
Ascended masters are beings that have already lived on this earth but have become enlightened, awakened or have transcended the cycle of reincarnation. Thus, ascended masters represent the ultimate teachers and gateways to the divine. It is said that ascended masters, like all spirit guides, teach all people who call on them (not just you) to achieve greater wholeness and harmony in life. Common examples include Krishna, Jesus, Confucius, Kuthumi, Melchizedek, Mary the Mother of Jesus, Babaji, Gautama Buddha, and many others.
9 Ways to Connect With Your Spirit GuidesS
This article is not about invoking spirit guides, as in calling on a guide who you believe will help you. Instead, this article focuses on how to reveal the spirit guides who have already been assigned to you and your life.
With that said, here are some different ways to connect with your guides:
Scrying is the ancient divinatory practice of gazing into a reflective surface, such as water, mirrors, or crystal balls to receive esoteric information. From a psychological perspective, scrying helps you to get in touch with your unconscious mind and the important guidance which may be locked away within it.
Scrying is, however, something that must be practiced consistently – it is not easy. But if you are a visually-based person (i.e. one who receives insight through pictures, also known as clairvoyance), it is worth committing to. In order to connect with your spirit guide via scrying, set an intention to ‘see’ your guide. You may like to say a mantra or prayer to communicate with your guide your desire to meet them. Read more about scrying.
2. Dream Work
Just before going to bed, set the intention to see, meet, or speak with your spirit guide within your dreams. Continue this practice for two weeks and see what happens. When you wake up, note any strange figures or unusual patterns that emerge in your dream. The goal is to find repetition: what messages or dream beings keep appearing?
Sometimes our spirit guides don’t directly reveal themselves, but instead symbolically reveal who they are to us. Take note of symbols that keep emerging and journal about them. What do they mean? Once you have a strong inkling of who/what your guide is, thank them. Continue to ask for guidance and for their appearance in your dreams before going to bed. Practicing lucid dreaming is also a powerful way to contact your spirit guides.
3. Silence Your Mind
One of the best ways to contact your spirit guides is by silencing your mind through practices such as meditation or mindfulness. Here is one simple practice:
Sit or lie down in a quiet place that is undisturbed by other people. Focus on your back or thighs as they come in contact with the ground. Notice the rising and falling of your chest. Listen to the sounds around you. Focus on being present in the Now. If you have raging thoughts, jump up and down for a little bit (to expel the frantic energy from your body), then resume your meditation. Let your thoughts become like a stream. Sit down and watch that stream as a silent observer. Don’t try to fight these thoughts, just let them flow. When you feel ready, ask to hear the name or see the face of your spirit guide. You might need to wait for a while, so be patient. Let go of expectations (they will block what you are about to receive).
Journal about your experiences afterward. If you struggle with this practice, don’t worry. Most people do. Just practice it for 10 minutes a day, and see what happens.
Bibliomancy is the practice of seeking spiritual insight by opening a book at a random place. This form of divination was popular in the middle ages, but it continues to be an interesting way of gaining guidance. Here is how to use bibliomancy to connect with your spirit guides:
Go to your personal library or collection of books. (Alternatively, if you don’t have any, go to a local library.) Stand in front of the books and close your eyes. Ask to be drawn to a specific book that will help reveal your spirit guide. I encourage closing your eyes as you do this so that you aren’t influenced by bias. Let your inner feelings guide you. When you feel a pull, run your hands over the bookcase or pile of books. Pick the book you feel most drawn to (remember to keep your eyes shut!). Then, either open the book at random and quickly look at the page, or wait for a page number to pop into your mind. Read what is in front of you.
Sometimes bibliomancy takes practice because it requires you to have a strong connection to your intuition. Other times, you won’t receive a direct response, but will instead receive a clue. Remember, spirit guides are powerful beings with their own personalities. Calling on them will not necessarily make them want to reveal themselves to you straight away. Often, by concealing themselves and making you work to discover them, you learn important lessons along the way.
One relatively simple way of contacting your spirit guides is through visualization. There are quite a few spirit guide visualizations already out there on the internet which you might like to try out. You might even like to create your own visualization by listening to soothing music and imagining that you are walking down dark a staircase into a white room. Remember to always set an intention for your visualization. In this case, it would be, “I wish to connect with my spirit guide” or similar.
6. Plant medicine journeying
OK, a word of warning. This is not a lukewarm approach – and it certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted. If you are serious about connecting with your guides, I highly recommend shamanic journeying with plant medicines such as ayahuasca, psilocybin mushrooms, and mescaline with trusted healers or shamans. Even marijuana, in the right ceremonial setting, can open a doorway into the ‘other side.’
Please note that journeying with sacred plant medicine doesn’t always bring what you want – it brings what you need. So while you may have the intention to meet your spirit guides, you might instead be tossed into a cosmic inner-space voyage or a subterranean sacred geometrical ego-death experience. It all depends on you and the medicine you need right now. (Note: please ensure you are mentally balanced before entering these trips.)
No, I’m not referring to a genre of music. I’m referring to a state of mind, as in, a half-conscious state. You know that strange mental space you enter before you go to sleep (technically called the hypnogogic state)? That is the state we’re aiming for. When you are in a trance, your mind is open and receptive. It no longer has the typical filters of conscious waking reality. As such, this state is perfect for connecting with your spirit guides.
Many ancient cultures used trance to ‘connect with the gods.’ Different ways of entering trance include self-hypnosis, various breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, watching a pendulum, visualization, drumming, and dancing. Read our article on inducing trance for more guidance.
8. Nature Immersion
When you take the time to look and pay attention, nature is sublimely magical. It is also a beautiful place to come in contact with your spirit guides (particularly animal spirits and trans-species beings).
Find someplace outside. Sit in a park, by a river or stream, or go hiking. Look at the clouds, bodies of water, and trees. Can you glimpse any faces? What animals keep appearing that have seemed to accompany you for a while?
Just the other week I was staring at the clouds. Out of nowhere, one particular cloud morphed into the face of Pan. I interpreted this as a clear reminder of his constant presence in my life. And yes, while this could have been a product of my imagination, the very fact that I interpreted the cloud as showing the face of Pan speaks a lot about my personal unconscious.
9. Look For Synchronicity
Synchronicity is another word for meaningful coincidence. Have you ever seen repetitive numbers (such as 3333, 1111, 1212), names, or symbols arise in your life? Pay attention. These often carry important messages.
In order to use the synchronicity technique for contacting your spirit guides, set an intention. I set intentions by saying prayers. Here is an example, “Dear Spirit, if it is your will, please help me discover my spirit guides. Please send me signs each day that I can understand. Thank you.”
Every day, look out for unusual and repetitious signs, names, symbols, places, or objects that appear. Keep a notebook and record your observations. After one week, reflect on what you have seen. Are you been shown something? Synchronicity works best when we are in touch with our inner selves so ensure that you are practicing mindful awareness.