What is a Spirit Guide?

Just what is a spirit guide?  Is it like an angel?  A deceased relative or ancestor?  Is it a higher being evolved beyond reincarnation yet continues to grow through service?  Is it God, or simply the subconscious mind in touch with the collective wisdom of all that has happened throughout time?  There’s a lot of information out there.  I can only speak from my own experience and that is what I will share here.  

Is A Spirit Guide…

Let’s start with the heaviest hitter, God.  The information I get when communicating with spirit guides, be it my own or another person’s, is different from the communication I get when God communicates with or through me.  So I don’t think they are the same thing.  Angels are beings that have never been human.  They are divine beings, even when fallen (the fallen have forgotten or denied their holiness), whereas spirit guides have directly and indirectly mentioned that they were once human.  So angels and spirit guides are not the same although they may offer similar information and protection.  Spirit guides are rarely deceased relatives since most deceased relatives aren’t evolved enough to act in that capacity.  Even when ancestors are guides they don’t serve the same function.  There are also rare occasions that an ancestor from several generations back will offer guidance and may seem like a spirit guide, but the kind of information and influence they offer tends to be supportive or protective which is different from spirit guides who are more concerned with your spiritual evolution.  Sometimes a spirit guide will communicate using the subconscious mind as the tool, but I don’t believe a spirit guide is a metaphor for the subconscious mind.

Origins Of The Spirit Guide: An Experiential Perspective

I believe the modern concept of the spirit guide was influenced by Native American beliefs and practices. Native Americans have spirit guides that come in many forms such as animals, god-like beings, and signs in nature.  I know a Qigong Master of Chinese birth who has been visited by the Quanyin a few times in his life, but he does not think of her as a spirit guide, yet many New Age practitioners claim her as a spirit guide.  I can get confusing.  Americans during the 60’s through the influence of the mediumship and seance writings of the Spiritism movement of the 19th century in England bunched together many such encounters into one category – spirit guides.  The next evolution was the universalization of all spiritual beings so anyone could call on and communicate with beings ranging from Quanyin, all the Catholic Saints, Mother Mary, Jesus, many of the Hindu Gods, Buddha, and many more from spiritual traditions the world over.  Naturally traditionalist are often insulted by a cavalier approach while the less traditional wonder what all the fuss is about.  

Mother Mary and Jesus, well sort of

There’s a story where a clairvoyantly gifted massage therapist had a vision of Virgin Mother and Jesus while working on a client. She asked the client if she was perceiving anything.  The client said she was seeing a Native American shaman and a Japanese woman.  The Virgin told the confused therapist that she didn’t care how the client received their presence and healing, the main thing is she received it.  These kinds of encounters seem to give permission to accept anything as  valid, but doing so can be dangerous. 

Examine The Effect More Than The Cause

Rather than get into arguments about the validity of one encounter or another I think it is more important to examine the quality and influence of the encounter.  If the information is effective and creates love, compassion, forgiveness, wisdom, understanding, charity, healing, wholeness and peacefulness it is probably from a holy divine source.  If the encounter influences pride, gives an ego boost, inspires judgement, righteous bravado, meanness, a feeling of great authority or aggrandizement of self or other, be cautious since the source is likely a low level entity or demonic.  Even positive feelings can be misleading.  If something feels too good to be true, double check it.  If something doesn’t feel right, even if it also feels good, figure out exactly what it is that doesn’t feel right.  Is something missing?  What feels off?  Are you feeling compassion or pity?  Is it wisdom or dominance?  Do you feel important?  Special?  Such feelings can be the first step down a slippery slope of suffering caused by bad influences that seem like helpful spirit guides.

A Personal Example

One day I was at a bookstore considering purchasing a book when a calm peaceful feeling came over me.  A gentle voice said, “You shouldn’t buy that book.”  


“You will be slow next week so you need to save money.”  

It wasn’t the first time I received such a message and the voice was usually right.  As I slid the book back onto the shelf something inside me snapped,

“Fuck you!  Get away from me.  If this if book, is going to help me to help people, why would I be slow next week.”

I bought the book and was busier the following week.  That encounter made me realize there are spirits that try to prevent you from your purpose.  They pretend to be helpful, but are not.  They often come uninvited; I had not asked for help.  Double check, triple check “guidance” not asked for.

Looking back the calm feeling was murky, sedated, versus the open relaxed peacefulness of higher beings.  I realized that by listening to that voice I allowed it to influence me into self-fulfilling a negative prophecy.  Allowing myself to be taken off purpose manifested less people to help.  Sure there are naturally slow times that have nothing to do with negative spiritual influence. During those time I am happy that bad things aren’t happening to people, or bad things are happening but people are strong enough to manage it themselves.  This is just one small example of the difficulty and complexity of spirit communication.  This is the reason I feel many religious traditions are against personal spiritual development and seeking the advice of fortunetellers.  In a very real way fortunetelling, not properly done, works against the development of faith.  It doesn’t have to be this way but the fact that spiritual development is big business makes it harder to keep a clear heart and mind.  

Learn and Grow

I don’t feel it is necessarily better to avoid developing spiritual abilities.  If you are already opening up or have had experiences you don’t understand then in many cases there’s no turning back.  If a person hasn’t had unexplainable experiences, or isn’t opening up, then they most likely have no interest in this topic.  The most dangerous are those who seek experiences just for fun. If you are exploring spiritual and psychic development for fun keep respect for yourself and others a priority.

Any serious explorer should study broadly, not with the aim of being a jack of all trades, but to understand the lessons from other traditions.  Some religions advise people to avoid fortunetellers, psychics and psychic development as a way to oppress and control, but the original caution came from hard won wisdom due to problems caused mostly by the human ego and from negative entities.  Discouraging spirit communication and psychic development was meant to protect people.  Humans are good at self-deception and being deceived by those who use power inappropriately.  We easily fool ourselves and it is easy to become egotistical or power hungry, even when it is disguised the power to do good.  The reality is psychic ability is nothing special; it is just a type of sensing and perceptual ability. Think of the way we misuse our normal five senses and you begin to see how easy it is to misuse this ability.  Still, wisely used, it can be a beautiful and wonderful way to experience existence.  Being able to feel the energy of nature and the Divine is beyond description, not to mention the beauty of really connecting to another human.  

A Blessing and A Curse

Imagine two hundred years ago you lived on a small farm your whole life.  Maybe you heard of and dreamt of visiting far away foreign lands and people.  Now compare that with today where it is much easier to travel, in person or virtually, and experience more of life.  In a similar way spiritual development expands the way we can experience life.  Ultimately the end game of spirituality is living with heaven and earth in harmony and transforming you into pure love.  Spirituality is not the kind of development anyone can cheat at.  You have to go through each stage, and expanding conscious awareness is one stage.  Good education allows each stage to be less rocky.

Some people sail through stages the way some students sail through math or art class while others struggle. That’s life. One way isn’t necessarily better than another.  They are just different experiences, different growth paths.  They can’t be avoided.  So there may as well be good spiritual education. Many people are awaken psychic ability without seeking it; it just happens.  It’s cruel to tell them to ignore it.  It won’t pass. It’s not like a hemorrhoid.  The more we understand ourselves the less likely we will be fooled by spirits, dead or alive.  Think of growth like puberty. The changes of puberty can be a blessing or a curse.  It can lead to the blessing of beautiful intimacy and family or the curse of selfish and greedy accumulation of pleasurable experiences. 

Clusters: Spiritual, Karmic or Otherwise

Do spirit guides communicate with each other?  If so, do they work with clusters of humans, kind of like group therapy?  My sense is that each human is like a case and each spirit guide is like a case worker. Spirit guides use me to communicate to the person they guide when they can’t get their message across any other way.  The spirit guide will guide the person to get a book, class, reading, see a movie or tv show, converse with the right person, whatever it takes.  When it comes to readings the spirit guide might first peak the persons interest in spirit guides or spirit communication which then leads them to a reading.

Sometimes people are on the same path and their guides cooperate in their growth.  This kind of situation can very easily go bad, especially when people are just beginning with spirit guide communication and attempt to give messages to each other.  There are those who believe nothing is bad and if people get hurt in the process then it is their karmic lesson and meant to be.  It happens, I get that, but good education can soften development.  As far as people who say they learn the hard way, they ought to consider the things you don’t need to experience to know that you don’t want to, things like cancer, HIV/AIDS, Covid-19, food poisoning, drowning, falling off a cliff, run over by a car, add your own to the list.  

It is important to be vigilant about the effects and results the messages are having. This is especially true when dealing with multiple guides since it is easy for lower entities to slip in messages that seems very positive or protective that have the intended affect of creating conflict through ego boosting or defensiveness.  There are many scenarios and it is best examined on a case by case basis.  The best general advice I can give is to be mindful of the effects the information your spirit guide or guides are having on you.  Another false assumption is believing connection means you have the same lessons.  It is more accurate to say you have the same setting or situation.  A good comparison is soldiers on a battle field.  Whether they are comrades or enemies, they are sharing the same experience, but it doesn’t mean they are sharing the same perspective, goals, or lessons.  Even without entity influence our own egos can be subtly deceptive.  These are a small sampling of the pitfalls me, my students, and clients have experienced.  Many people have sought me out to clean up or understand the mess created from bad information or a hard lesson with other people.  

Good Spirit, Bad Spirit

Just as there are good angels and bad angels there are good and bad spirit guides. Bad spirits work to bring you down, draw your into conflicts, distract and discourage you from your light and purpose, make you feel superior to others, isolate you, and compromise your loving values. 

A good spirit will rarely tell you what to do.  Good spirits will show you choices and not ultimatums.  They work to open and soften your heart, encourage your light and purpose, inspire cooperation and compassion, and strengthen your loving values.

An angry hateful vegan is less spiritual than a peaceful loving meat eater.  Advanced Buddhist will tell you that it is most important to have a mind free of greed and hatred.  In the end this is also the goal of spiritual development.  

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