Connect with your spirit allies: upper-world teachers and guides
The shamanic journey
Awakening The Shamanic Force Within
Not all schools of shamanism distinguish spirit guides or upper-world teachers from ancestral spirits, animal spirits and other spirits of the non-material invisible worlds. But, as the distinction between the upper and lower worlds gives us a structure, we can say that spirit teachers and guides are often seen as spirits of the upper world that appear to us in humanoid or symbolic form. They can be spirit entities that have been in a body, such as ancestral spirits, or that have never been in human form. As beings of the upper world, they are of a different vibration, having a mostly ethereal, cosmic quality, and their gifts have a quality of universal wisdom. They are the allies who can help us to see the bigger picture and who often answer questions, guide us, assist us and teach us about subjects concerned with soul, sense, purpose and meaning, but they also assist in healing, divination, ceremony and the energetic work we do in the different worlds.
Shamans often have several such allies, with different qualities, roles and functions. They can be acquired through journeying, plant journeys, initiation ceremonies, extreme altered state experiences or dreaming. Most importantly, as has already been emphasized, there can be no shamanic work without a strong relationship to spirit allies. I work with three upper-world guides whom I know quite well, but other guides show up at various times.
One of my teachers is quite stern and takes the form of a Native American. He is a no-nonsense, ’you haven’t all the time in the world’ kind of guy, who, together with the eagle power animal, forces me to keep the bigger picture in mind and stop wasting my time and energy with too much small stuff, which I have a tendency to do. He reminds me to push my limits when I get too comfortable. He is always there in ceremonial work and when clients face issues that require courage. He works through me in my energy-healing work and also during soul retrieval from the upper world. He isn’t always ready to show me the way. He doesn’t give me advice about trivial stuff, but lets me know — in no uncertain terms — that I am well capable of figuring it out myself. He has taught me quite forcefully that spirit teachers are not parents who do things for you and that you have to develop your own power and be responsible for your choices and the consequences.
Another of my permanent guides is a heart-centred female who has the spirit gift of expression in a gentle, soulful way. She was the first teacher who appeared to me and is more akin to my own nature. She reminds me of my own sacredness and beauty and those of everybody I work with. She shows me much symbolism when I work with clients and often also supports the people I work with in a holding, gentle way. She works with me and through me, especially with the feminine in women’s groups and when there is emotional and soul wounding present. She always answers my questions. I meet her often when I dance, and my spirit soars, dancing with her in the skies. When we merge, which happens at times, we become one rainbow-coloured being and I feel whole, powerful and quite blissed out.
Guides are available to everybody. All you need to do to make contact with them is to be open and ask serenely. To have a power animal in place is in many cases enough to begin your shamanic work, but it is beneficial to learn how to communicate with upper-world teachers and to find an upper-world ally.
Exercise: Journey to meet your spirit teacher/guide
To meet a spirit guide you need to journey to the upper world. An upper-world journey feels different from a journey to the lower world. For some people, upper-world journeys are less clear, because the ethereal realms are unfamiliar to most of us. So it is essential to take your time.
Use the drumming download and the journey outlined on pages 63—64 as a guideline and adjust the process as follows:
Your intent is:
’I am going to journey to the upper world to meet a spirit teacher.’
· Again, start in an imagined place or your power place and find a way to imagine travelling upwards. Be aware that you need to travel through layers and that the layers will often become increasingly ethereal and hazy. Let the journey unfold.
· You will meet teachers/guides in humanoid or symbolic form. Ask if they are your teacher/guide. When you have met your teacher/guide, be with them. Spend some time with them. Getting to know their qualities is important. You can ask them questions or ask for advice.
· At the end of the journey, thank the teacher or guide.
Integration work with your teacher
Afterwards, write about your journey and the qualities of your teacher/guide. Sometimes they will give you something symbolic in answer to your question or instruct you directly. Make sure you follow the advice or instruction. Put something that symbolizes your upper-world teacher/guide on your altar. To integrate them more, visualize them often, draw them, write about them and ask them for help and advice whenever needed.