Everyone talks about guides. Everyone has one or two or fifty. And they are all big, sexy, strong predators, right? Lol. Guides of all kinds seem to be in vogue at the moment. A quick google search will find hundreds of pages on animal guides, totems and other spirit guides. It’s very in to talk about your spirit guide. But these are not toys we collect, but big energies in their own rights who chose to help or not help us.
I am not sure I want to teach you guys yet another guided meditation to find your totem. The truth is this: guides are not static, they come and go from your life as needed. So whatever we could find today in a meditation may not help much 6 months from now. Whatever creature I could pull from the eather for you may not be what you want. That being said, I am a huge fan of spirit guides. I adore mine, the ones who stick around and the ones who have moved on.
Mountain Lion was the first guide I met. She used to laze in the sun with me on the red rocks of our plateau. She taught me he basics of journey work and how to be safe. She snuggled me when I was depressed and introduced me to other animal guides. Through her I met Badger. Badger kicked my ass as I struggled to find a job. Badgers only care about one thing: food. Remember the honey badger? Oh yeah. Badger, with his nose to the ground, ran me ragged till I finally was employed. Badger didn’t care about excuses or me being tired or depressed. Badger had one focus and I was it. And it worked, I found a job and Badger trundled off into the sunset. Mountain Lion also took me around and introduced me to some others. Bear, Sea Otter, Hawk, Wolf and Horse all came to greet me. Each one sat for awhile and chatted, telling me what it was like to live as a totem and interact on a mega-scale. Not all of these hung around very long, each had their own message and purpose. Hawk taught me to shapeshift into a bird and fly. Otter rolled with me in the currents. But I was learning, not only how to interact with acceptable social etiquette, but also the basics of journeywork and the landscape of the Otherworlds.
When Mountain Lion passed me off onto Tiger, I was very sad and cried. Tiger popped up everywhere. I would turn the radio on and “Eye of the Tiger” was playing. I saw tiger artwork and figurines in every store I went into. A friend bought me a fake tiger’s tooth necklace, just because. And so I accepted the transition and said goodbye to Mountain Lion. Tiger taught me to fight, taught me not to bow my head. But Tiger wanted to hunt and kill more than I was comfortable with. Tiger was in my head, craving raw meat, wanting to rip into people who made me mad with her razor sharp teeth. It was slightly disconcerting. I found myself pacing rooms like a caged animal in the zoo and baring my teeth in anger. And so I slowly started seeking out human guides.
Human guides too have come and gone. The Gods train us in specific ways, till we have the skills we need to be who They need us to be. I have met the Morrigan, Airmid, Lugh, Rhiannon, Cerridwen, Nokomis, and some humans whose names were never mine to know. They each passed me skills. They each taught me magic in their own way. Today, beyond my 2 patron Goddess’, I recognize Raven and Snake as my birth totems, Snake especially as being a rebirth totem, and Barn Owl as my fylgja or soul totem. I also work with Wolf, both as a shapeshift form and as the tribe I was initiated into. Ok, I know thats a lot of information, but I wanted to show you how guides can… guide us. They have the ability to help us mold our path, not necessarily keep us safe but keep us alive and whole.
One of the ways to recognize a guide is to start to pay attention to the patterns in your life. Do the ravens and crows follow you around? They might be trying to talk to you. Do you start to see mice everywhere, living and representative? You might want to look up what Mouse has to offer you. Don’t discount the smallest guides, snails, frogs, ants and bugs of every type all have something to teach us.
Once you begin to build a relationship with the guide, the best thing to do is start honoring them. I love tattoos and tend to get a new tattoo for each guide that sticks around in my life. My last one was raven feathers, for my birthday. Does your guide belong to an animal group that is being threatened with extinction? Do what you can to preserve their habitat. Volunteer when you can. Sign petitions. Speak up. Listen to what they have to say and really try to follow the advice. These Beings don’t have to help us, they aren’t sitting around waiting for the right “hooman” to notice them in the store window. So when someone takes the time and energy to advise you, it behooves you to pay attention. Does someone want you to be bolder/kinder/sleep more/take better care of yourself? Do it. Of course, as with Tiger, it helps to have a grasp on boundaries and be willing to say no when needed. But most guides are truly here to help.
Its also important to remember that these animal guides are representations of the entire community of animals and as such, can act in ways entirely foreign to us. They will have an agenda, that goes with the territory. But that doesn’t mean that the agenda and the Being behind it are necessarily good or evil. Just realize they have their own power, their own goals, their own eccentricities. This comes with working with an energetic representation of an entire animal species. For example, I think the reason I was having issues with Tiger stems from the fact that tigers are notoriously solo creatures, they don’t like anyone else in their territory.
Of course, the same applies for any human or humanoid guide as well. (I will use the term human here to simply.) Pay attention. Follow their advice. Be polite. Don’t offer anything you aren’t willing to give up. Human guides though can be trickier. Not every human you will run into is going to be your guide, please don’t run up to the first entity you meet and demand they train you in anything. Not every human is doing it from the goodness of their heart. Like a twelve year old wandering in New York City by themselves, we are all susceptible to cons and trickery. Test everything.
One way to do this is to double check with other practitioners. UPG is a wonderful source of knowledge. “So-and-so told me to strip naked and dance in the town square. Have you ever heard of this?” Chances are, your friends will be able to point out the traps pretty quickly. Another way to test is divination. Ask again. And a third time. And even a fourth. Ask until the divination system and the Universe at large gets angry and tells you to stop asking. Have a third party do divination on your behalf. How else can we test? Read the lore. Read other culture’s lore. Read as much as you can from the original founts of knowledge.
Ok, I’ve run out of steam. That happens when you work nights and type this at mad speed at 8 am. The point I was making here is that guides are good, they are a resource to help us grow and mature on our path. And I like adding pictures to my posts.