On the 18th of December 2015, my spirit guide and I will celebrate our one-year anniversary. As it’s the middle of winter, we will probably have a long lie-in, then, weather permitting, head out into the forest for a walk. I will collect pine cones; she will hide among the trees, keeping pace. I will skip over frozen puddles; she will pad across soft moss by the side of the path, leaving sparkling frost in her wake. We will walk side by side with our little fingers entwined, though both of my hands will be firmly in the warmth of my pockets. Later, cuddled up with the curtains closed against the early night, she will sit cross-legged on the empty part of my desk as I work on my creative projects and talk to those friends who are too far away to visit. I will fall asleep listening to the storm outside and sound of her singing a song we both know by heart.
In the autumn of last year, my long-distance best friend posted a piece of artwork she’d done on her blog. I instantly recognised her in the drawing, but not the mischievous-looking boy whose hand she held. She didn’t have a brother, as far as I knew, or a beau, mischievous or otherwise. The fact that he appeared to be floating also threw me for a loop. No matter which way I looked at it, his brightly-shod feet were definitely nowhere near the grassy ground in the picture. And yet, this mysterious, gangly fellow was definitely not meant to be a ghost; he looked as real as my friend next to him. He reminded me slightly of Peter Pan, and I’m embarrassed to admit that at first I mistook him for a character from a book my friend and I both liked.
At the time, my friend and I were close enough for me to know that she had grown up in a different spiritual environment to my own — where I was raised in organised religion, in a household which, though not overly strict, still held anything remotely pertaining to “new age” beliefs in suspicion and derision, she had never been “in the broom closet” and along with her mum, practiced what I then thought of as white magic. For years I had been uncomfortable in the faith with which I had grown up, and as a child had found a home in the term “witch,” and in the books I read covering everything from the deities of ancient Egypt to the best charm for a peaceful night’s sleep. However, it was only when I began to notice the blasé, casually open way my friend lead her magical life, that I began to realise that one day that might be possible for me, too.
And then came the evening when my friend mentioned her spirit guide. “I’m going to a spirit guide workshop” she said. “I’m nervous because whenever I meet my guide I get all giddy.” And, at last, I matched her mischievous floating mystery boy to the ideas of meditation and going for dates with someone who didn’t need a space on the park bench. Although I had read widely since my teens, I had never come across the idea of spirit guides, and did not really know how to go about asking her about them. In the end, I simply came out with it, and although she warned me that she was still learning herself, she explained enough that I began to be curious. “Did everyone have a spirit guide?” I wondered. “Were you aware of them all the time, or only on certain occasions or during meditation? Did they always appear human-like, or could they take other forms?” It all seemed very grand and serious!
As it happened, I didn’t have to look very far to find my answers. Through cautious questions and a little research here and there, I found out about the different kinds of guides, that you could have more than one, and, most importantly, that they were loving, supportive beings who worked to help you along your path without impeding your free will. Finally, in December, I did my first ever guided meditation, and met my own spirit guide.
Everywhere I’d looked, I’d read warnings that it might take a few tries to connect, and so I didn’t worry when at first my guide appeared a little vague around the edges. She didn’t even tell me what to call her until about a week later. It took several more months before I learnt her true name, which I will never speak aloud during this lifetime — not because it’s some big secret, but because there is simply no need. “It’ll keep,” she says. And so it will.
From then on, things happened in leaps and bounds. I realised that she had been trying to communicate with me all my life, first as the fanciful persona I’d adopted in dreams as a very young child, and later though various recurring archetypes in my writing. I call this her “yelling at me,” though she assures me that I began to be aware of her at exactly the right time, and that I have not deviated from my life’s path — an insight I take great strength from.
Enormously helpful and patient during this process were my friend and her guide, whom I met and got to know fairly quickly. My friend and I were able share and compare our experiences — her’s was her Twin Flame, mine was more like an older sister, her’s was a fae spirit, mine was associated with Air and the cosmos. Both our guides can take different forms, and although they generally remain human-like around us, we always remember that that is only the aspect that our minds most easily give them. As I have come to know my guide better, I have learnt that there are some parts of her that I may not fully be able to experience or understand in this life, but that isn’t something that bothers me overly, as I have also learnt that all necessary things reveal themselves in good time.
One thing that I have found out about, and continue to discover through meditation and deep introspection, is that my guide and I have lived a few lifetimes together in the past. So far, I am aware that we were together at some point during the Middle Kingdom period of Egyptian ancient history, and later, as laotong, or “old-sames,” a specific kind of formal female friendship practiced in Hunan province in China, during the dynastic period. This in particular revealed to me the reasons why I had felt drawn to study late-dynastic Chinese culture and traditions all my life, and has encouraged me to broaden my knowledge of the laotong tradition and of pre-twentieth century Chinese history in general.
Being in tune with your spirit guide (or guides!) is different for everyone, and a very personal thing, but here’s how it is for me. My guide has several aspects, the most human-like and playful of which I spend my daily life with. In this aspect, she can be larger or smaller, louder or quieter, depending on my needs at the time. For example, if I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed, she can “turn down her brightness” to make it easier for me to perceive her more comfortably. When I’m out and about among people in the city, she can become very tiny and hide in my scarf or under my hat. Alternatively, if I come across a lot of negative energy or I’m going through a time of healing and restoration and don’t want to be energetically disturbed, she can become huge and act as a shield. She can also change her shape as a form of play, her favourite form at the moment being a tiny white butterfly.
This is all well and good, but having your spirit guide “around” is not like having an imaginary friend — your guide’s purpose is sometimes to tell you things that you may need, but not want, to hear. One of the ways my guide communicates with me is through intuition, and I have found over the years that no matter what actions I do or do not take on the warnings of my intuition, that warning has always turned out to be correct. My guide will also “prod me in the arm” when I am avoiding something necessary for my spiritual growth, like being creative or cleansing my chakras, and I always find that after I’ve done whatever it is, I feel a lot better than I did when I was procrastinating! Despite this, my guide is never forceful in her prodding, nor does she threaten, bribe, or argue — I’ve learnt that if a spirit companion does those things; they probably aren’t working in your best interests! My guide is there for me in times of joy, but also in times of extreme suffering, doubt, or even despair.
One of the things my friend and I are both working on is letting our guides be there for us during those occasions when we might feel we want to push them away. Spirit guides are there to guide, after all, and they have a duty of care that was agreed upon before incarnation, and will prevail through as many lifetimes as necessary. No matter how oblivious we are to their advice and warnings, a true spirit guide will always work with us and for us; as my friend said just the other night, “they have seen us at our worst and our best, and they love us always.”
©Pipa Summerby 2015
Pipa Summerby is new to the world of magickal thingumies and wossnames, but her beautiful enthusiasm and innate knowing shines through all she writes. Here at Being through Balance and Bliss appreciate and share her tendency to get excited about literally everything! Pipa can generally to be found with her face buried in some gaudily-illustrated beginner’s guide, dusting her collection of charged stones, or singing silly songs at the top of her lungs. We hope to bring you more of her musings with you in 2016! – Editor & Founder Alex Clarke
Images: By megatruh. Others? Artists unknown, if you know, let us know!