Power Animals, Spirit Helpers, And Guides
Within many of the ancient systems of occult understanding and practice, the presence of unseen or disincarnate mentors, helpers, or allies was a generally accepted truth, and within some, it was considered essential to the practice itself. Throughout history, stories and superstitions contain a multitude of beings and entities that have had interchange with mortal man. These OtherWorld beings have been known by a variety of names and titles, including but by no means limited to; Gods, Goddesses, Archangels, angels, dragons, faeries, elves, sprites, gnomes, sylphs, undines, salamanders, Guardians, Watchers etc. Each member of one of these general groups listed above has shown very definite personality traits and predictable behavior patterns associated with their group.
This list does not include the spirits of our own deceased who once inhabited mortal bodies, who have returned disincarnate to aid man through the walk of mortality. Nor does the list include any of the wild, undomesticated animals, whose wild nature contained specific attributes and powers that could be tapped by mortal man to his betterment. It was believed that the power and allegiance of these beings could be won, negotiated or captured, depending on the tradition and teachings that you followed.
The question then becomes – who are these OtherWorld beings? What is the nature of the relationship between man and these beings? And how does Shamanism fit into the scheme of mortal man’s contact with the Divine and the OtherWorlds?
One of the most interesting and challenging aspects of relating to anyone who has had OtherWorld contact, through Near-Death-Experience, Altered States of Consciousness, Livid Dreaming or any other means, is determining exactly “who or what” was encountered. Most OtherWorld contact is extremely personal and unique. But there are some general patterns and rules that can be very helpful. Through the remainder of this page, we are going to cover both the general material, as well as my own individual experience with OtherWorld beings.
The term “Archetype” actually has two relevant meanings here. The first definition is “that which all other similar things are patterned after, the original model or prototype”. When we are referring to the archetypal Gods and Goddesses, we are referring to the original, inconceivable power or personage after whom every name, concept or image is but a human attempt to conceive or describe. In the case of the Goddess archetype, her attributes are frequently broken down into the Goddess triad of Maiden, Mother, and Crone. The use of the triad makes it possible to divide the feminine archetype by the aspect and function of the feminine being discussed. All of the names and images of Goddesses, including Isis, Demeter, Artemis, Diana, Bast, Gaea, Rhea, Astarte,
Inanna, Ishtar, Kali, Hecate, and Tiamat, to mention a few, are but the names and corresponding aspects created by man so that he could better conceive and relate to the Archetypal Feminine, which is unknowable and undefinable.
This principle also relates to the male archetype with all of his vast array of positions and functions. In many of the ancient “Schools of the Mysteries”, these male archetype positions and functions were broken into four general categories, including the King, the Magician, the Lover, and the Warrior. The use of these titles per se comes primarily from the Grail Mysteries and Arthurian “legend”; however, careful examination of history clearly shows male status and function was cast into one of these four archetypal molds even anciently.
The second association with the term “archetype” comes from the work of Carl Jung, a Swiss psychologist, and refers to “an instinctual pattern of behavior contained in the collective unconscious”. What this means is that the archetypal patterns which relate to the human experience are not unique to any one person or group. The archetypal patterns are contained in the “Human Collective Unconscious” (the human Universal Mind) and can be related to by everyone, either consciously or subconsciously, and have their expression in the group “Consensus Reality”. Or in other words, every individual within a particular culture, society, religious or political group or association will have the same or a very similar idea of what a particular name, concept or image means. Throughout the world, certain names instantly bring to mind a specific person, usually accompanied by some knowledge of their life and what act, event or concept makes them special to you, but on a larger scale, within a mass/group “Consensus Reality”. Probably one of the most common is the name “Jesus”. Jesus is a given name, “Christ” is an archetypal title denoting the “Sacrificed King”, which in this case is what makes Jesus, within a certain Group reality, very special. But this special designation is only maintained with a Mass/Group Consciousness, and is not universal to everyone.
Since, by the very definition of the Archetypal God and Goddess, they are unknowable and inconceivable to the human experience except by dissection and association, we as mortals must find ways to bridge the gap between us and Them. This brings us to a second term called “Egregore”.
An Egregore, by its simplest definition, is a being that exists between the Physical Plane of mortal existence and the Ultimate Plane of Archetypal existence, touching in both planes and acting as a conductor between man and the Divine. It is created by a combination of man projecting empowered thought forms into the ethers of the Eternal through ritual and worship (where they ripple until they touch upon the Divine), and the Archetype (the “Divine”) responding by sending an image, an aspect, a piece of Itself, if you will, back down through the ethers until it reaches man and an Egregore is created. The Egregore is the living thought-form (the being) between man and the Archetype.
Since it must be acceptable and conceivable to the mortal, it is only a shadow of the Archetype. But since it is endowed by a spark of the Divine, it is empowered with the aspects and powers that the Divine chooses to display. The Egregore becomes the “Manifest God or Goddess” of that individual or people. As man continues to empower the Egregore by consistent ritual and worship, the Egregore gains in strength and power. Through the continuation of this process, the knowledge, the power and the attributes which It can or will share may develop and grow accordingly. An Egregore is a powerful tool that allows man to access the Divine, and tap the higher knowledge, power and favors of the Divine.
Once man’s empowered thoughts (through prayer, ritual, etc.) have reached the attention of the “Divine”, and the “Divine” chooses to respond, the resulting Egregore will set the bounds of the relationship. The Egregore will direct the mortal(s), through communication or lack of response, in the terms, conditions, the person or persons the Egregore will directly communicate with, any sacred locations, symbols, tools, rituals, food/drink, and any expected homage or worship (if required).
There is a vast array of dimensions and realities that interface with the Physical Plane. Sometimes an Egregore is created by connection between man and an OtherWorld being of a much “closer” realm, such as the Astral Plane. When this happens, the “Spark of the Divine” is missing, with all its attendant Higher Knowledge, Power, Abilities and Higher Thought Processes. An Egregore created between man and a “Lesser Being” may not exhibit an independent morality or conscience.
Once an Egregore has been created, It takes on a life unto Itself. You may disempower an Egregore by failing to meet the Egregore’s “Terms Of Association”; however, this does not destroy an Egregore, it only breaks your connection to it. If at any time, someone once again meets the “Terms Of Association”, the Egregore will step forward and continue as before.
Spirit Guides and Helpers
To the Shaman, everything is exactly what it appears to be. He openly accepts the OtherWorld beings as he discovers them, in all their diversity, in their world, being and acting in their true nature. It is from this standpoint that the shaman begins to build his army of allies and helpers. For most of us, the OtherWorld will never be that simple. We will probably never go as deep or experience the OtherWorld as openly as the Shaman. Probably one of the most important lessons that I learned about the OtherWorld is that when we force the OtherWorld to meet us on our terms, in our world, they will appear to us in a form and manner consistent with our “illusion of reality”. The OtherWorld Beings that we experience may be deceased relatives, benevolent Spirits, previously incarnate humans, disincarnate Spiritual Masters, our own Higher Self or some other being which manifest within our “inner world”. They may appear in virtually any form they choose, from telepathic voice communication to full materialized apparition. They may come while you are awake, while you are asleep, or while you are in trance. Remember, the key to OtherWorld contact is a very open and fluid “illusion of reality”.
These OtherWorld beings who venture beyond their world to meet us in our world, according to our terms, vary tremendously in knowledge, power, and abilities. But one thing is for sure, if it is strong enough to manifest on the Physical Plane without your help (such as during a ritual, a seance or another activity through which a mortal or mortals open an inter-dimensional doorway between the worlds), it is deserving of your utmost concern and consideration. Spirits attach themselves to humans for a number of reasons, and for varying periods of time depending on the purpose of the attachment. He, She or It may be your “Guardian Angel” or “Lifetime Guide”. It may be an intermediate Teacher to help with some lesson or lessons. It may bring additional knowledge or power. It may assist you in some “supernatural” work you are engaged in, such as healing the critically ill. The possibilities are endless. Suffice it to say, It is here and It is here for a purpose. The High Level OtherWorld beings who transcend the veil are benevolent and interested in your best good. The Low Level (Lower Astral Beings) from “just across the border” so to speak, are generally more mischievous, but love human company. Just pay careful attention, like the trained Shaman, to who and what you align yourself with and make sure your association is mutually beneficial.
A Power Animal is generally defined as the essence or “spirit” of an animal, usually wild and undomesticated, that one has connected with and whose attributes can be called upon in time of need. In other words, a mortal person literally has the ability to call up from within themselves (from the Lower Self, where survival instincts reside) the living essence of that animal and, in all aspects except physical transformation, “becomes” that animal. The ability to literally change human form to animal form is called “Shape Shifting” and is a highly advanced form of Magick. The benefits of having a Power Animal, and being able to tap its knowledge, power, skills and endurance are quite obvious.
Laws of Human Interaction
While the desire to connect to the Divine seems to be human nature, it seems that it is equally important for the Divine to connect to the human in matters related to our physical reality. The archetypical Gods and Goddesses, as well as the other beings who have their existence in the OtherWorld, hereafter referred to as “the Divine”, are separated from mortal man by very thin layers, or veils, of energy, which separate the physical plane from the Unseen Planes of Existence. Our world and these OtherWorld dimensions and realities are separated only by the difference in the base frequency, or tone matrix, of the different worlds. Sometimes, the separation of the worlds can be extremely thin, such as during the time of year referred to as Samhain, Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve. The eternal beings within these other worlds, by choice or some eternal law, apparently must rely on mortal men and women to accomplish the desired ends of the Divine within the illusion of our physical reality. Religious records bear out this truth repeatedly. For example, the God of the Old Testament in biblical history made constant use of prophets and ministers to his chosen children to achieve his desired ends. The Gods need us as much as we need them. How a mortal human and the Divine becomes connected and the resulting relationship (the Egregore) seem to be controlled primarily by the human’s illusion of reality. (`mind over magick, mind over magick`)
I cannot over-emphasize the importance of the human factor in the connection between man and the Divine. It is universally true that those Beings who transcend the static barrier between the worlds in order to make human contact must make themselves available, acceptable and contactable within the human “Illusion of Reality” for there to actually be a working interface between man and Spirit. The Allegory of the Cave, and all of its encoded truths, makes this point perfectly clear.
Shamanism: Choice or Obligation?
Frequently in NEW AGE and METAPHYSICAL circles, I find what I tend to categorize as “Fluff and Light Magick”, working in the “Light” and having a “Spirit Guide” and being globally connected and politically correct. It’s the “IN THING”. The OtherWorld does not work like that. Every Being that makes human contact does so for a reason. Quite frequently, as I am about to explain, you may not have as much control as you believe or would even like.
When a man or a woman suddenly finds himself or herself outside the allegorical cave, the world of the Archetypal Gods and Goddesses becomes a world of living reality. The metaphors that shamans use to describe their journeys, their helpers or their experiences in the Otherworld are not there because the shaman sees his work in terms of metaphors, but the metaphor exists as the only tool that he can use to describe the indescribable. The liberated captive from the cave (see dancing shadows on the wall) becomes aware of these forces, powers, and beings outside the cave, just as forces, powers and beings, who seemingly cannot enter the cave, also become aware of that mortal human. That mortal human, chosen by virtue of his radically expanded consciousness, and whose life and desires are compatible with the needs and intent of the OtherWorld host, may now be subject to a “Divine Call”. The captive, having been irrevocably awakened and chosen as the benefactor of the “Divine Call”, faces a most difficult choice. Having received the “Divine Call” to become an intercessor between worlds, the OtherWorld host now waits for a reply from the mortal. Like heroes of ancient myth, the chosen mortal must make a choice: begin the long, arduous task of becoming a Master Shaman and a co-creator with the Universal Creative Forces, or procrastinate and/or deny the path and accept all the consequences that choice will bring. Again, as in ancient myth, the Gods and Goddesses are ever willing to protect and assist their champion, and just as willing to punish those who refuse their call. Since the call to shamanism is frequently initiated by serious, painful and/or prolonged suffering and illness (Shamanic Initiation), acceptance of the Shamanic Invitation is most frequently accompanied by sudden, often miraculous healing and transformation, such that the person who exists after the acceptance is distinctly different physically, mentally, and psychologically from the person he/she was previously. It is just as common that the person who is chosen and refuses the invitation dooms themselves to a continuation of their pain and suffering, and as often as not, their condition begins to radically worsen and the remainder of their lives are spent in misery and misfortune.
However, for those who accept the Divine Call, the promise of knowledge and power are all but assured. It has been my experience that the OtherWorld host becomes, as Mulhaleel says, “mentor, protector, guardian and guide”. The OtherWorld host may or may not immediately become the Master Teacher, depending primarily on the availability of an acceptable mortal mentor, but their guaranteed assistance/protection on both the physical and etheric planes and advanced training are assured.
So what does the OtherWorld host expect in return? Since the relationship of the shaman and his allies is by mutual consent, then it seems reasonable that the efforts of the Otherworld host in training and assisting the shaman are also mutually beneficial. You literally become the tool, the portal, the doorway, if you will, that the OtherWorld host has into our physical plane. For good or evil, the same power directed in different directions by the will and intent of the practitioner, the shaman becomes the ambassador between two worlds.
Remember, by virtue of your expanded consciousness, you became a target for a Divine Call. By willingness to become the OtherWorld’s benefactor, you received knowledge and power beyond all normal human capability. By acceptance and perfection of these “divine gifts”, you became the prodigy and tool of that OtherWorld host. For all intents and purposes, the shaman and the OtherWorld host become a single working entity with vast capabilities in both worlds.
Additionally, it has been my experience that once you become visible in the OtherWorld realms, and have accepted a “divine call”, you become visible to a vast number of beings and entities throughout a broad spectrum of the Otherworlds, and additional alliances and pacts are formed. There does not seem to be an end to the number of alliances or pacts that a single shaman may have, insomuch as all the alliances are mutually compatible. Futhermore, there are many possibilities that other Helpers and Guides will come and go for purposes of training, additional assistance or even a one-time, mutually beneficial work.
The possibilities and combinations for your own personal Allies, Guides and Companions are as endless as your magickal illusion allows, or as creative as the forces, powers, and beings of the OtherWorld can be in making themselves acceptable to your magickal illusion. Beings of the OtherWorld are not above altering their appearance to make themselves acceptable to you for the purpose of satisfying your limited spectrum of what would or would not be acceptable. Your conscious mind is an open book that can easily be read by gifted individuals right here on earth, and more easily by beings of the OtherWorld. Your OtherWorld host will frequently use things contained in your conscious mind to more easily associate teachings or material being conveyed. Anyone who advocates that the forces, powers and beings of the OtherWorld can not read the thoughts of one who is visible in their realm does not have the slightest clue of what they speak.
It is my firm belief that, as society and culture give way from the rigid, dogmatic, empirically-based systems of science and religion, and we become more willing to accept what we experience within a broader framework of reality, we will experience a vast opening of OtherWorld knowledge and power. If I have come to understand life in any context of reality, it is the need for balance. As one who walks daily in two worlds, I know that my experiences in one world are just as valid as my experiences in the other, and this has been borne out through countless experiences. However, I do not dismiss or negate empirical data or walk by blind faith. In all your magickal practices, maintain your balance.