This particular article will focus on individuals who are interested in making relationships with the spirits, and may be informative for those who are interested in how the shamanic practitioner – spirit relationship can work. What follows applies to all of the following: people who are interested in learning how to channel, people who plan on attempting to journey on their own, individuals who have encountered or wish to encounter spirits (nature, fairy, people, animals, ancestors, holy figures, angels… etc) they would like to get to know better through conversations or other means.
Let me start by talking about trust. This is a very important of aspect of working with the spirits. For instance, there is a reason that there is a taboo around using an Ouija board: You don’t truly know who you are getting in contact with.
Are they evolved spirits?
Do they have a personal agenda?
Do they have your best interest at heart?
Do they know what they are talking about?
I believe some people have used the Ouija board safely, and I’m not making a blanket statement for or against its use. But you need to keep in mind any time you are calling spirits into an interaction, would you open you door to any stranger who showed up knocking?
You certainly do not want to start interactions with the spirit world through fear, because you don’t want to attract a situation to yourself through fear.
There is no need for fear.
What you do want to do is proceed in a smart manner, one that you would use for any absolute stranger. In shamanic work, and I believe this is likely needed in all work with the spirit world, what you are working on is BUILDING A RELATIONSHIP. You need to learn answers to all the questions I mentioned before. You need to learn if the spirits are trustworthy and build trust in your relationship with them over time.
If your instincts tell you that the spirit you are working with is loving and has your best interest at heart – that is a good piece of information. Feeling that way is a good starting point from which to begin building a relationship. Next you begin to see how the information and ideas the spirit shares with you pans out. Does the information seem to help you? Do you feel that your life moves in a healthy direction because of the interaction you are having with the spirit teacher you are working with?
Over time you should see if the information and ideas that you get through working with a given spirit or group of spirits is useful and increases your well being. Most teachers from the spirit world will not be offended if you test out the information that they give you, or if you decide to do something a different way then how you have been advised. Most spirit teachers understand that your life is yours, not theirs and that you are the person ‘steering the ship’ so to speak.
In many of the shamanic journeying classes taught in the United States, a teacher will begin by having you search for your spirit guide in the upper or lower world. The purpose of this is to move you out of the middle world. The middle world is the spiritual equivalent of the real world that you live in day to day. The spirits that you meet in the middle world can be very informative. It is also possible to meet spirits who have not passed on, or do not have good advice. Depending on what or who you are talking to, the information that you get in the middle world can have an agenda or point of view. The middle world is a good place to obtain information. It is the place where shamans find out information about nature, healing plants, and sometimes ancestral information. It is possible to obtain information that is not correct when you are in the middle world.
It is a good idea to start your first interaction with an evolved spirit. What that means is a spirit who doesn’t have an ego. This type of spirit isn’t involved with the opinions and agendas of the world. Rather this spirit will always have your best interest in mind, and will not have a personal agenda. You can ensure that you meet this type of spirit if you pass through the barrier that separates the middle world through to the upper or lower worlds. There are journey books which describe this.
I want to emphasize that there is nothing wrong with learning from spirits in the middle world. In some cases it is possible to meet an evolved spirit in the middle world. The most important thing to remember is when you travel to places that are the spiritual equivalent of the regular world and the universe it is particularly important to evaluate the information you receive.
To give you an example: You might journey and have a conversation with the spirit of a mountain. This mountain might tell you how you must follow a given rule in spiritual work. You simply must always… bury your healing crystals in the earth to clean them (their energy.) In actuality there are many ways to clean a crystal. There is certainly nothing wrong with the advice, but it may be that it’s coming to you from a specific point of view. You, being a person who has cleaned crystals successfully by placing them out in the sun, can use your common sense and reject the advice that you must always clean a crystal in the earth.
Be careful not to take on a dead person as a spirit teacher, by this I mean one that has not passed on. If they have not gone to the light, they have not reconnected with their higher knowing and their advice is suspect. You may find you have a relative or friend that has passed on, whom you work with. This is fine, as long as they have crossed over and reconnected with their higher knowing.
It is important to have an open mind for any information you are given. Sometimes advice that seems odd can yield very powerful results. This is where trust comes into play again. If you have built a relationship of trust with your spirit teacher, then you can more readily trust advice or information that you do not immediately see the value of. If you do not yet know and trust a spiritual teacher then there is nothing wrong with evaluating the advice or proceeding cautiously.
The next thing I wanted to discuss is the energy that comes with working with spirits. When you work with spirits they can effect your own energy. You can feel light headed / dizzy / spacey or feel a sense of being highly charged. The reason behind this is that the energy of some spirits work at a different speed then yours and you absorb some of that energy when you work with them. I hear of this most frequently from people who do a lot of work with angels. The angel’s energy is so high, or different than the individual, that they sometimes feel quite out of it when they do a lot of work with angels.
If you proceed to work with your spirits in a balanced way, in other words if you do not rush things and force a more powerful experience than what comes naturally, then the effects of working with them should not be too much for you to process. What is supposed to happen is that you become… more grounded. I see this as being the same way electricity works. In electricity there is always a wire that goes to ground. Perhaps the best example is the lightning rod that a person puts on the house. The lightening strikes the rod, and the energy of the lightning travels through a wire into the ground or something that disperses the energy.
The idea behind a ground connection is that, if there is any extra energy, it goes into the ground and doesn’t overload the electronic device. There is always a ground in a proper electronic device. By analogy, the same principles work with people. As a person begins to work with the spirits, they should learn how to increase their own connection to ground or the earth. As that connection improves, an individual can work with more and more energy. Just as with a lightening rod, any excess energy is sent into the earth.
Some people have this happen naturally and never realize that it has occurred. The act of doing shamanic work can naturally lead to a better connection with the earth, and therefore to a better ability to handle large amounts of energy. It is also natural for a person working with spirits to feel over charged at some point or another as the adjustment process of working with the spirits plays itself out. If this happens go walk outside in nature, or sit at the base of a tree.
What should not happen, however, is for you to lose your grasp on day to day life. You should not feel light headed all the time. If you’ve had a major healing sometimes you will feel out of it for as long as a few days or even a few weeks. But this is a special case and even then you should still be able to function in your day to day world.
I am bringing this up because of stories I have heard where an individual’s life goes through a type of train wreck as a result of doing spirit communication work. Some people like the way the energy makes them fly, or feel ungrounded. Some people seek out that feeling of not being here and wish to feel it as much of the time as possible. In shamanism, the practitioner is ALWAYS trying to make a better connection with the earth. That means being HERE, and being plugged in to your regular life.
If you feel that your work with the spirits has made it difficult to engage in the stuff of life, talking to your friends, paying your bills, going to work. If that problem does not correct itself over time, then you probably have a grounding problem. It is best in shamanism, and probably in any spiritual practice, to learn how to be in your body and remain connected to your day to day life. Shamanism is not meant to provide an escape from your life. It can change a lot. You can have a life you never thought you might have, but your eventual goal is to be plugged in to the life that you have.
I know that some people have gone through such a life change as part of their entry into spiritual work, that they had trouble getting a hold on things for a while. Over the course of a year or two years they can undergo such a transformation of self and life that they don’t necessarily feel like they can get a handle on things during this time. This is not necessarily a bad thing, so I want to be clear about what I am talking about.
What you want to avoid
is rushing the spiritual process
so that you take on so much energy
that you can’t process it.
Sometimes the energy that comes with the work feels so good, that there is a natural feeling of give me more more more. You need to know that it’s important to have balance. There is a process taking place where you are adjusting and developing your capacity to process higher amounts of energy. It’s a good idea to take your time, and let the process lead you. Some of the most powerful experiences can be very subtle.
What the Spirits Know and Do Not Know
What the spirits have to teach you can be profound and work on multiple levels of meaning and healing. A spirit teacher will often have great insight into unconscious motivations and things that are holding you back. They will often know the source of an illness or an emotional condition. However, they are not always as versed on day to day living – earth life. That is why you are always the authority on what is appropriate when interacting with others, or in certain day to day activities. You are responsible. You cannot just say ‘but they told me to’ when you gut was telling you something might not be a good idea.
If you feel that something that the spirits are advising you to do isn’t going to work for you, or the person that you are assisting through your spiritual work – talk to your spirit teacher(s) about that. Discussion is good. It’s often possible to come up with a different approach that will also work. It may be that you just need to take the plunge. It is also possible that you are taking a message too literally. Having a discussion with your spirit teacher could reveal that you aren’t supposed to quit your job, but rather it’s your focus on wanting to quit that is keeping you stuck.
When you ask a question, be clear about what you really want. For a spirit, almost all experiences are positive because of the great learning they have to offer you. If you are considering taking a job, but want to have financial security through it, don’t ask ‘should I take this job?’ Instead ask, ‘will this job provide me with financial security?’ That spirit might know that it would be a really good healing for you to deal with your fears over financial security by taking a shaky job. If it knows you do not want that, the spirit can give you a more informative answer.
The evolved spirits I mention earlier, will always give you direction and information that supports your highest good. Your highest good might not always coincide with what you want at a given time. This is where some confusion might come in. Didn’t the spirit know that I didn’t want to have a job that wasn’t financially secure? Perhaps they do, but the default answer will always be one that leads you to your highest good and the most powerful healing. That is why you need to be clear about what you want at a given time. (Right now I’m leaning away from highest good and towards financial security!!) It’s your choice to make. An evolved spirit will not interfere with your free will.
You Have Free Will
Some shamanic traditions have rules that have been handed down for generations. I have heard stories about the risks of angering the spirits by breaking with traditions. I cannot speak from that experience. I can only speak from the experience of shamanic practice in the US (those of us who came here in the last few centuries) whose traditions are lost and the chain of such rules broken. Perhaps what I say only applies to such practitioners.
A spirit who says “you must absolutely always do it this way” is probably not an evolved spirit. A spirit may start out with strict rules to help you grow. It may urge advice or a certain action very strongly. But unless you’re doing something that will harm another person, a spirit teacher should be supportive of you in your concerns. That doesn’t mean that your spirit guide will be nice. Some are pretty direct, and don’t pull any punches (which can seem like a lack of support.) Your spirit teacher may not support you to be weak, or to be in fear. This is the main point:
An evolved spirit will not seek to control you.
You have absolute free will. That is the rule of order, it is inviolable. If you ever feel like you’ve gotten in over your head with the spirit world remember that. “I have free will.” Feel the truth of that in your heart, in your gut, and in your bones, and the truth of your safety will be the reality.
If you’re a control freak… type A… very certain about what you know… be careful not to confuse a spirits attempts to loosen you up with an attempt at controlling you.
Usually people who are very clear about having their way also need to learn how to go with the flow. Such people make excellent shamans if they can ever loosen up enough to listen to the information that comes from the spirit world, and accept information that is contrary to what they might believe. That type of will is very helpful when you’re removing energy that needs to be removed, or dispelling spirits that should be moved on. It is a hindrance to becoming a hollow bone. A shaman must learn to become a servant of the healing process, so as not block someone from getting the healing that is best for them.
How the Spirits Communicate
Spirits communicate in all sorts of ways: smells, feelings in your body, sounds. Sometimes you don’t get any visual information. Partly, information is conveyed to get you out of your head, to get you to understand in a deep multi-leveled way. The spirits will often be quite insistent on communicating to you in the way they have chosen. It can be frustrating, but often turns out to be rather powerful. See more about Symbolic Communication.
In one of his essays, George Orwell talks about how the phrases we use in the media and daily talk “anesthetize the brain.” Phrases like ‘find closure,’ ‘stay the course,’ or ‘toe the line’ are so often used that we don’t really think about what they mean anymore. Orwell points out that because we don’t think about what we are saying, we really aren’t thinking at all. The ready made phrases just pop out of our mouths, or into our writing. Because of that we don’t have to stop and consider what we really mean. Do you really know what Toe the Line means or where it comes from?
I mention this because it is another way of looking at the phrase – get out of your head. How many times have you failed to notice something in your environment because you take its presence or meaning for granted? So when I say that the spirits want to get you out of your head, it may be better to say they want to “wake your brain up.” That is why the communication from the spirit world can come with strange metaphors, or baffling phrases. You need to think, you need to engage.
The oddest advice from the spirit world can be the most powerful. Shamanic healing and information do not follow the rules of the regular world. Known rules produce known results. So that is also why you don’t want to reject what you are told out of hand. It is why trust is so handy. It’s easier to give strange advice a try when the trust is there.
The Purpose of Spirit Communication
Ultimately, spirit communication is about the transfer of energy. Information is energy. Healing is energy. Through their presence the guiding spirits are trying to aid this world in our efforts to evolve, and be healed of past wounds. They are offering a helping hand. All living things have a spirit, wisdom, and something worth while to communicate. The energy of the spirit can fuel change.
The shamanic practitioner is attempting to make a link from the spirit world into this world. By being well grounded or connected to the earth, by being in their body, and by being HERE – they can become a conduit for that energy to enter and aid the world HERE. It may be to help one’s self only, or a small group, a society, or even the whole world.
If you are not living here, if you spend most of your time with your personal energy being “somewhere else” – you can’t be a bridge. You cannot be a bridge to a place you are not in. That is why shamanism is not about getting away from it all, not without bringing it all back again.
There is a free audio program / podcast which talks about connecting with Spirits:
Insights from the Edge: What are Spirit Guides?