Spirit Allies by Jan Engels-Smith
Who and what are the spirits? We live our lives often aware of “presences” that do not have normal concrete form and cannot be defined with material specificity. They may enter our consciousness through emotional reactions to events or in the simplest moments of our existence. They are non-rational in the sense that they defy normal physical definition but they are real in that they are present in our lives and affect our feelings and ultimately our actions. A spiritual life is a life inhabited by spirits and the degree to which we can benefit from these beings is directly related to the openness that we have to the possibility of their support. If you have ever felt, at one time or another in your life, that you have had some sort of interaction with the spirit realm or that you have drawn support from an other-worldly life force, you have connected to an important facet of the mystical universe. Beyond this awareness, the next stage of your spiritual development is to learn how to cultivate relationships with these spiritual allies and how to draw on their friendship and power to create a lasting bond that will provide you with newfound strength and joy.
Across all cultures there is a common belief in spiritual help in the form of an intervention from the non-physical realm to the physical realm. This intercession transcends, changes, and heals existing conditions and is accessible to all who are willing to engage openly with the spirit world and are receptive to creating lasting and beneficial relationships. In shamanism, we work with the non-physical beings, spirits, and your helpful allies to alter conditions that cannot be changed by limited thinking but that require recognition of non-rational sources that exist in the spirit world in many different forms. There are infinite beings in the unseen world—as numerous as the stars in the universe and as boundless as the cosmos.
In shamanism we enter into vast unseen worlds and it is important that we make sure that we are working with our helping, compassionate spiritual allies because they are essential to providing the support we need to traverse these mysterious realms.
From Phil CrazyBull a Lakota medicine man I learned that each person is born with 405 helping spirits or allies. You are born with them and they remain with you throughout your life. Their main function is to be of service to you and to aid you in your human experience. We might not consider 405 to be a literal number, but it suggests a vast quantity and abundance of help that is available to you at any given moment. You may choose to use this help throughout your life—or not. We may go through life thinking we have to manage ourselves by ourselves, that we are alone in our struggles with difficult situations, and that we do not have any support, but that is not the case. You have help available to you in great profusion but you may not be fully aware of its presence. Spirits are here to assist you with any type of condition or situation that you want to present to them. There is no good or bad question or valuable or non-valuable circumstance. The spirits are non-judgmental and respond to whatever need you have. Their help in life can be magical, miraculous, profound, guiding, transformative, informative and fun. You can use your spirit helpers for minor things or to gain insight and direction for the major decisions of your life. You can heal yourself and your loved ones with the assistance of your spirit allies.
Understand that shamanism, on one level, represents simply the development of life skills. I believe that in our Western culture, we have moved away from the life skills that were a part of our indigenous beginnings. In an indigenous culture, principles of spiritual connections were taught to the children from birth and throughout their lives. An awareness of our descent from and connection to the spirit world was coupled to the understanding that we are here having a physical experience in a life that extended far before our earthly birth and far beyond the ending of this brief physical existence. We are all first and foremost a spirit or an energy system experiencing a momentary presence in this physical body which is but a part of a longer chain of existence. This condition connected us with surety to the greater spiritual realm and thus afforded us with the link to the spirits, which would provide our much-needed support system. What the limited thinking of our modern culture has taken away, we can restore by reconnecting to our spiritual significance and becoming what we were intended to be.
I asked the spirits once, “What do we look like to you?” They showed me—and there was no body, there was just forms of light, sound and color, all images of energy. We are literally broadcast towers of spiritual energy. The spirits see us as an energy system, which is our true form, which is our spirit form. Our energy system, essence, spirit or soul is the part of us that lives on, and it is the part of us that allows us to communicate with other spirits because this form of us and that of the spirits are the same—one spirit communicating with another spirit. It is ordinary, it is natural, and it is normal. Our understanding and awareness of our natural being was lost or intentionally eliminated in our upbringing.
So, where do we find the spirits? They are everywhere. They are next to you now. The bridge people have to traverse in shamanic practice is the passage from believing only what can be perceived with the physical senses to acquiring an awareness of a spiritual world that can be accessed by an acceptance of greater possibilities. Personal experience will aid you as you navigate this bridge to the side that says, YES, it is real. As you participate in spiritual exercises and expansive thinking, events and phenomena will start happening in your life to demonstrate to you that non-ordinary reality is undoubtedly real. Your own personal journey through this work will help bring clarification and realization. I have confidence in the process because I have seen remarkable transformations in many people’s lives that have come as a result of their spiritual efforts.
Quantum physics states that we “see visually” less than .01% of what truly exists, but you can open your heart to the vastness that surrounds you and use different senses to perceive a far greater scope of reality. Just the intention of expanding your heart to that possibility will manifest new insights and unfold the universe that is hidden from our ordinary perception. If you begin with the intention to “prove it,” you have created a very small window through which the spirits may work. With an attitude of needing proof before trying to understand, you will always be trying to discount what you encounter and the need for proof will hinder your discovery. Non-rational reality can only be accessed if you unlock your mind to possibilities. The spirits will provide the proof through the experiences that you have in the journey. Miraculous things will happen but you might miss their importance if your mindset resists this alternative reality. Allow yourself to see with the eyes of the heart and the proof you need will come in the experience itself.
When we work with the spirits, we begin to engage with the larger picture of reality and we would have difficulty understanding this new world were it not for our spirit helpers. I asked the spirits once why we worked with them. They said, “You may know where you are going and may even be able to see the path, but we travel above the tree line and we can see where the path goes.” We use different spirit allies to accomplish different things. The goal of this work is to learn how to dialogue and interact with them in a friendly and comfortable way. With their assistance you can get guidance, be informed, and make decisions. You can ask anything you want of the spirits and get information that will serve your purposes if you do so with the right attitude and honor the spirits as they deserve. They can direct you to places, decisions, and outcomes that you might not have access to by yourself. With the assistance of the spirits, you can journey to the future and influence your prospects and you can journey to the past and alter your present. There is nothing outside the realm of possibility when you journey.
The spirits also adhere to a universal law. Human beings have free will, or what is referred to as sacred choice. We are not puppets of the universe; in fact, we are quite the opposite. You are a creator of the universe. If you do not choose to employ or activate your spirit connection, it does not happen; it is not forced upon you. As William Jennings Bryan wrote so many years ago: “Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”