Spirit guides are said to be the entities that we choose (or that are assigned to us) before birth to aid our spiritual growth and transformation.
However, not everyone holds that perspective toward spirit guides.
Other notions surrounding our spiritual helpers include the more psychologically oriented one, that spirit guides represent parts of our unconscious minds that symbolically help us find wholeness.
And still, to other people, spirit guides are personified parts of our Higher Selves that are revealed to us in various shapes and forms when we need spiritual guidance.
No matter what perspective you subscribe to, it is beyond doubt that we all need guidance, direction and support in life from guides that are beyond our own capabilities.
In modern times, spirit guides, like many other elements of spirituality, have been heavily monetized and commercialized both on the internet and in real life (I’m sure you’ve seen the wide variety of courses, meditations, decks, etc. out there helping you to “manifest your spirit guide”).
But despite the apparent new-age-ifying of spirit guides, they are nevertheless a shared human experience that still retains value and needs to be honored.
In fact, coming in contact with one of your spirit guides can mark a significant point of change, transformation, and rebirth in your life.
If you’re just beginning your journey of connecting with your spirit guides, keep reading.
Table of contents
What Are Spirit Guides?
Our spirit guides are universal forces that are here to help us. A spirit guide can appear as 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. In other words, spirit guides are archetypal forces or 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?
Do spirit guides actually exist on another dimension? Or are they all inside the mind?
Here’s the thing: I can’t answer those questions for you.
Whether spirit guides are projections of the mind, reflections of the soul, or dwell in different realms altogether is one of the great mysteries of life. Only you can decide that for yourself!
Do We Only Have One Spirit Guide?
You might be wondering whether we have many spirit guides or just one.
In my experience, I believe we have multiple spirit guides. Some we are born with, others visit us sporadically during the course of life.
For this reason, 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.
Spirit Guides and Spiritual Awakening
Of what relevance do spirit guides have on our spiritual awakening paths? Well, as implied by the name, spirit guides help our spirit, our innermost essence, to evolve in certain directions.
For example, if one of your spirit guides is Kuan Yin, the Bodhisattva of compassion, you’ll be directed to open your heart and show more mercy to others (including yourself).
If Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity appears to you, you’ll learn the value of generosity, wisdom, and clarity.
If Freyja the Norse goddess calls to you, you’ll learn how to embrace your sexuality and the cycles of life and death – and so on.
Depending on what inherited traumas, wounds, and contractions we individually possess, our spirit guides can help us work through those areas, releasing old blockages that keep us in small and constricted states of being.
My Experience With Spirit Guides
I’ve got to admit that by nature, I’m a fairly skeptical person.
I don’t like believing something unless I’m practically hit in the face with it, full force.
Until about 2015, spirit guides were just “spiritual mumbo jumbo” to me. I ignorantly assigned them to the woman-reading-a-crystal-ball-and-telling-your-future category.
But things changed on one of the first-ever shamanic trips I took with a plant teacher (psilocybin mushrooms).
My intention was clear: I wanted to get in contact with my spirit guide – if there even was such a thing.
Going into the experience with a mind half open and half closed, I journeyed inwards through dancing patterns, kaleidoscopic images, and other wild scenes.
But holding the intention to meet my spirit guide strongly in mind, I was eventually humbled. I traveled down what felt like a tunnel deep, dark into the earth. Chattering vampiric mouths, ghosts, skeletons, and other ghoulish images appeared around me. And then, finally, I reached the bottom.
A face – half-man, half-goat – appeared on a black luminous background. He smiled at me, frowned, laughed, mused, glared, and about a thousand other facial expressions that all changed every few seconds.
I had finally met him – Pan, the god of the wild places – my spirit guide. For what felt like ages I observed this trickster figure staring at me with endless different faces. I didn’t quite know what to do, say, or think!
Later, in the integration phase of my shamanic journey, I realized that Pan had led me down into my inner Underworld and had initiated me onto my Shadow Work journey. One of his messages was this: we are all composed of many, many different parts and everything is not what it seems.
But my meetings with Pan 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’re dubious about the existence of spirit guides like I was, I encourage you to approach them with an open mind. Acknowledge the possibility that you might be wrong, that they might just exist. 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’ll find some continued 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 spirit guide – in fact, 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.
As I mentioned above, 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, spirit animals come to represent and reflect a person’s own inner yearnings, passions, instincts, and needs, moving from group use to more personal and individual use in this day and age.
(On a side note, if it isn’t clear yet, the “spirit guide” of this website is Wolf!)
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 birth 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 profound capacity can be said for many other psychoactive (and non-psychoactive plants) such as certain species of cacti like San Pedro (mescalin being the psychoactive compound), certain Acacia species (DMT), and so on.
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, Kuan Yin, Apollo, Lakshmi, Lugh, Kali, Hathor, Horus, Shiva, and so on.
7. Ascended Masters
Ascended masters are beings that have already lived on this earth, gone through a spiritual awakening 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 Guides
This article is not about invoking spirit guides, as in calling on a guide who you believe will help you. Instead, the following guidance focuses on how to reveal the spirit guides who have already been assigned to you in this life.
Here are some powerful ways to connect with your guides:
Scrying is the ancient divinatory practice of gazing into a reflective surface, such as water, a mirror, or a crystal ball to receive special 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 its depths.
Scrying is, however, something that must be practiced consistently – it takes some practice.
But if you’re a visually-based person (i.e., one who receives insight through pictures or thinks visually), this path may be worth committing to.
In order to connect with your spirit guide via scrying, set an intention to ‘see’ your guide first. You may like to say a mantra or prayer to communicate with your guide beforehand and your sincere desire to meet them. Read more about scrying.
2. Dream Work
Here’s how to practice dream work:
Just before going to bed, set the intention to see, meet, or speak with your spirit guide within your dreams. Continue this dream work practice for about 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 to you (don’t overthink the answer)?
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. Learning how to lucid dream 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 exercises. 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 and 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.
Whenever a thought, storyline, image, memory, word, etc. comes up, note it silently, then let it go. For example, you might notice a memory from yesterday, and note silently “memory” or a random thought and note “thought.” Don’t try to fight these thoughts, just let them flow.
When you feel sufficiently relaxed and centered in the present moment, 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 all expectations (they will block what you are about to receive) and keep your mind open like the sky.
Journal about your experiences afterward. If you struggle with this practice, don’t worry. Most people do. Just practice it for 10 minutes each day for a week and see what happens.
Bibliomancy is the practice of seeking spiritual insight by opening a book you’ve intuitively chosen at a random place. This form of divination was popular in the middle ages, but it continues to be a valualbe way of gainin guidance, even until this very day.
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 or intuitive ‘nudge,’ pick up the book your hand has paused over. 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 that will help you explore further.
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.
(However, with this being said, spirit guides may decide to send a very loud and clear message, it all depends on your life context!)
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 at the bottom. In that white room your spirit guide will be there, waiting for you.
Remember to always set an intention for your visualization. In this case, it would be “I wish to connect with my spirit guide” or something similar to that.
6. Plant medicine journeying
Firstly, a word of warning. Plant medicine isn’t for the fainthearted and it absolutely requires a ‘sitter’ to watch over you such as a sober friend you trust or a trained shamanic guide/healer.
If you have the ability to access plant medicines such as ayahuasca, psilocybin mushrooms, or mescaline where you live, approach them with the utmost reverence. These aren’t “party drugs” – they’re doorways to profound places and must be used reverently. Even marijuana, in the right ceremonial setting, can open a portal 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 kaleidoscopic voyage into another realm or a subterranean sacred geometrical ego-death experience.
Above all, please ensure that you’re mentally sound (i.e., balanced, neutral, and relaxed) and are as emotionally prepared as possible for the experience – plant medicine isn’t something to trifle with. If you approach it with an anxious or depressed mind, chances are you’ll experience what’s known as a “bad trip.” Mindset is everything.
Remember to set a strong intention to connect with your spirit guide before going into the experience, and repeat that intention throughout the journey if possible.
No, I’m not referring to a genre of music! I’m referring to the 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) where images play out in your mind, kind of like you’re dreaming? That is the state we’re aiming for here.
When you’re 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 like catharsis, sensory deprivation, watching a pendulum, visualization, drumming, and dancing.
One simple way to enter an altered state is to stare at a candle gently while practicing the shamanic breathwork technique. Shamanic breathwork involves breathing softly in through the nose and out through the mouth in a circular or connected way. There should be no pause in between, immediately following the out breath with the in breath, and in breath with the out breath.
If you decide to try this trance-inducing practice, do it gently and slowly for about ten minutes. Stop if at any time you feel uncomfortable.
You can read our article on inducing a trance state 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.
Look around you, be mindful, and soak in the mystery. Nature teaches us so much with or without the presence of a distinct spirit guide!
9. Look For Synchronicity
Synchronicity is another word for a 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.
Synchronicity is a wonderful way of “following the breadcrumbs” and clues of who our spirit guides are.
Also, seeking out synchronicity can be used as a technique to contact your spirit guides and to ask for their guidance.
As always, if you’d like to reach out to your guides, set a clear intention that you either say internally or out loud. You can also set an intention by saying a prayer. Here is an example of a prayer you could use:
“Dear Spirit/Divine/Source, 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 being shown something? Synchronicity works best when we are in touch with our inner selves so ensure that you are practicing mindful awareness.
Spirit guides are just as varied and diverse as human beings are. It’s likely that during your lifetime you will have many different types of guides for many different purposes.
Whether you seek to connect with your guide/s through meditation, singing, trance, psychoactive journeying, ritual or simple observation, it’s comforting to know that help – in its many different shapes and forms – is always there for your taking.
What spirit guides have you connected with? What have they taught you? Please share below. I’d love to hear about your guides!